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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Catnip, not just for kitties.

 
If you set it, the cats will eat it. 
If you sow it, the cats won’t know it. 
- English folklore
 Nepeta cataria - Catmint, Cataria, Catrup, Cat's Heal All, Cat's Play, Catswort, Chi Hsueh Tsao, Catnep, Catswort, Field Balm, Menta De Gato, Cat Nip.

Catnip is a mild medicinal herb. It makes a soothing tea which is mild enough to give to small children. The tea has a calming, sedative effect on humans.  Useful for settling an upset stomach, for insomnia and headaches.
More medicinal uses for catnip are: Anaesthetic, antibiotic, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, muscular aches and pains, chills, cold in the joints, haemorrhoids, toothache.

Bruising the leaves and stems of catnip releases an essential oil called nepetalactone. Other constituents include Acetic Acid,  Alpha & beta-nepetalactone, Citral,  Nepetalactone,  Geraniol, Dipentene, Citronellol, Nerol, Butyric Acid, Valeric Acid and Tannins.
Interestingly, researchers say that nepetalactone is about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitos than DEET, which is the active ingredient in most insect repellents. It was also discovered that catnip repels cockroaches too! Plants aren't alone in containing nepetalactone, some insects & ants also contain it.
Rats & mice are also believed to have a strong dislike of catnip & will avoid places where it grows. 

Catnip is fairly easy to grow from seed or purchase a plant from your local farmers market. It likes like sandy soil and grows best in full sun.

To dry fresh catnip, hang upside down in a dark, dry, ventilated area.

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