Catnip (Nepeta cataria) or catmint, is probably best known as a stimulant for cats, inducing euphoria and friskiness. The scent alone is irresistible to most felines—my own kitty immediately darts into the kitchen the moment I open my jar of catnip. So as not to undermine her feline superiority, I share a pinch with her before adding it to my tea cup and then watch her bounce around. Interestingly, its action in humans is exactly the opposite!
Lemony-mint tasting, catnip is a cooling, gentle, and relaxing herbal nervine especially good for children, and soothes hyperactivity, colic, fever, constipation, stomach ache, and insomnia. It helps relax the smooth muscles of the intestines, and is an anti-catarrhal (dissolves and prevents formation of mucus and prevents mucus membrane inflammation).
Easily grown in a sunny garden (if safe from free-roaming cats), catnip is a perennial mint that produces a considerable harvest in just one season with flowers that attract butterflies and other important pollinators. Harvest leaves and flowers just when it begins to bloom, shade-dry thoroughly, and store away from light and heat for upcoming cold and flu seasons.