CATNIP, Nepeta cataria

Catnip plant

About twenty years ago I wasn’t into herbs like I am now. In fact I had low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) real bad and so my attitude, as well as my outlook, was not the best. We had just bought a few hives of bees and a wonderful couple came out to help us. We were really busy that afternoon and I didn’t have a chance to eat much and my low blood sugar was making things real bad. The lady could tell I was in bad shape. As we were all driving back she called to her husband to stop the truck. She got out and walked back up the road over to fence to a patch of weeds. She picked a handful of a particular plant and came back to the truck and got in. She said “I just happened to see this catnip growing by the fence. I know you don’t feel too good and I think the cup of catnip tea will help you to feel better.”

When we got to their place she got some hot water going and made me up a cup of catnip tea and put a little honey in it. Now I have never been a tea drinker. I figured that was for uppity society women and Englishmen. When she came to me with that cup of tea with honey in it, I thought, “Wow, how can I refuse it, they have been so good to us.” So I took the cup and sipped the tea. You know, it tasted real good, that cup of catnip tea hit a warm spot in my heart. It took away a lot of stress. Also, my stomach didn’t feel like I wanted to throw up and I could think straight. I guess that catnip really impressed me because for awhile I guess that catnip in everything.

Catnip is a gray-green perennial plant that grows to about two feet high. It is a member of the mint family with square stems that branch out. The leaves are pointed and the top of the leaf is deeply wrinkled. The bottom of the leaf and the stems are covered with a while wool-like coating. There is a rosette of small white or light-blue blossoms or flowers that grow out of the base of the upper leaves. These bloom from June to September. It will grow in almost any kind of soil, especially loamy ground that has a lot of mulch from dead trees or leaves. However, it will also grow well in adverse conditions like dry ground that is clay or gravel.

Every house should have some catnip growing around it. When we live in the country I planted some around our back door. My wife likes cats so we had a few to help keep the mice and snakes away. Two of those cats really loved that plant. They would act crazy, roll around on it and have a good time. They kept it mashed down so much that you really couldn’t tell if it was catnip or what. Every once in awhile, I would bring home a fresh branch of catnip and throw it on the lawn. One of the cats would throw it in the air and wrestle with it. It was fun to watch.

Before the English started to import tea in China, catnip tea was a favorite. It is a good social tea or a tea to help you relax. Many people swear by it as a tea that helps them sleep better. Catnip is used in Grandma’s herbal Night-Nervine formula.
For centuries catnip has been hailed as a tea that will aid digestion. Besides helping digestion, catnip is a carminative that helps to get rid of gas on the stomach. Some say that catnip tea will help to overcome nervousness and stress, and even help a nervous headache.

If taken real hot it will cause perspiration and get rid of a cold or a fever.
Sometime, of you want to liven up a salad, pick some fresh catnip leaves, wash, clean and put them into the fridge to chill. Serve them in your salad. Not too many though, they are spicy. Enjoy.

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