In the next few weeks I'll be posting excerpts from my Healing Herbs ebook. The whole book is now available for free at LearningHerbs.com - check it out!
Most of us are probably familiar with catnip’s alluring qualities for cats, whom it was commonly named after. Whether growing fresh in the garden or dried and placed in a little toy, catnip attracts cats!.
The reaction to
catnip is because of the nepetalactones present in the plant. While most cats react to this chemical, up to 30% don’t.
While catnip is stimulating to cats, it has the opposite effect on humans. Drinking this relaxing nervine before bed can help wind us down after a busy day, promoting rest and sleep.
Taken after meals, catnip can relieve indigestion and flatulence, promoting better digestion.
Catnip is safe for young children and is often used for calming fevers, diarrhea, and colic. Moms of breastfeeding babies can drink a tea of catnip to help their young ones sleep.
Herbalist, Heather Nic an Fhleisdeir especially likes the use of catnip for fevers because its high potassium content helps to prevent dehydration.
Women with painful menstruation can also use catnip to ease uterine cramping.
To harvest this plant, gather it just before it blooms. You can snip the stem six inches above the ground to ensure next year’s growth. Although it can certainly be tinctured in alcohol, I prefer drying the leaves and making tea.
Freshly dried catnip is a far cry from the often old and stale catnip sold in toys for cats. Below are simple instructions for creating cat toys for your feline friends. There are a variety of simple patterns for catnip toys found at http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=63399.0
Cut two pieces of fabric to desired size. I suggest 4 inches by 4 inches.
Place the good sides of the fabric together, leaving the wrong sides facing out.
Sew by machine or hand around three edges of the fabric.
Turn the fabric inside out, using a pencil or other instrument to poke out the corners fully.
Fill with catnip.
Turn the edges of the un-sewn edge in and finish sewing together.
Voila, a new toy for kitty.
This same technique can be used when making dream pillows for your human friends.