Alternate Title

  • Nepeta cataria

Related Terms

  • Catmint, catnep, catnip oil, catswort, citronellol, citronellyl acetate, field balm, geraniol, geranyl acetate, Lamiaceae (family), Nepeta cataria, Nepeta cataria L., Nepeta coerulea, Nepeta nepetella, Nepeta tuberosa, Nepeta ucrainica L., nepetalactone, perennial herb, verbascoside.

Background

  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb. In traditional use, catnip is believed to have sedative, carminative, and antispasmodic properties. As such, it has been used to treat insomnia, flatulence, and upset stomach. It has also been used traditionally to treat colds, the flu, and fevers. In Kazakhstan, Nepeta ucrainica L. has been traditionally used as an herbal tea.
  • There is limited available scientific research on catnip. In vitro studies with the aqueous extract and with specific constituents suggest that catnip may have antibacterial, antiviral, and immunomodulatory properties. Early evidence suggests that the essential oil may act as an insect repellant. Aside from case reports, there is a lack scientific data available regarding catnip’s alleged psychoactive properties.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not list catnip on its Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.

Evidence Table

    Disclaimer

    These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

    I – I


    C – C

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    Disclaimer

    The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

Dosing

    Disclaimer

    The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

  • Adults (18 years and older)

    • Tincture: According to some herbal texts, 30-90 drops or 2-4 milliliters of catnip tincture has been taken three times daily.
    • Tea: According to some herbal texts, an infusion of catnip, made with 2-3 teaspoons of the dried herb steeped for 10-15 minutes in one cup of boiling water, has been taken three times daily.
    • Insect repellent (mosquito): In laboratory research, catnip essential oil has been applied to the skin (at concentrations of 23 and 468 micrograms per square centimeter of skin) and was effective for six hours.
  • Children (under 18 years old)

    • There is no proven safe or effective dose for catnip.

Safety

    Disclaimer

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

  • Allergies

    • Avoid in individuals with known allergies or sensitivity to catnip, its constituents, or members of the Lamiaceae family.
  • Side Effects and Warnings

    • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not list catnip on their Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.
    • Use cautiously in patients with psychiatric disorders, as some researchers have discussed the “alleged psychoactive capabilities” of catnip and its possible effects on consciousness.
    • Use cautiously in patients taking medications that affect the central nervous system, as there has been one case report of central nervous system depression in a toddler who consumed a large quantity of catnip, where no other cause could be found.
    • Avoid in pregnant and breastfeeding women due to a lack of available safety information.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    • Catnip is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

    Disclaimer

    Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

  • Interactions with Drugs

    • Catnip may have antibacterial effects.
    • Two catnip extracts showed antiviral effects against herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) and vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), but not against poliovirus type 1.
    • Use catnip cautiously in patients taking medications that affect the central nervous system. There has been one case report of central nervous system depression in a toddler who consumed a large quantity of catnip, where no other cause could be found.
    • Verbascoside, a compound in catnip, may affect the immune response. Use cautiously with drugs that affect the immune system.
    • Early evidence suggests that catnip may have sleep-inducing effects, although human evidence is lacking.
  • Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

    • Catnip may have antibacterial effects.
    • Two catnip extracts showed antiviral effects against herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) and vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), but not against poliovirus type 1.
    • Use catnip cautiously in patients taking medications that affect the central nervous system. There has been one case report of central nervous system depression in a toddler who consumed a large quantity of catnip, where no other cause could be found.
    • Verbascoside, a compound in catnip, may affect the immune response. Use cautiously with drugs that affect the immune system.
    • Early evidence suggests that catnip may have sleep-inducing effects, although human evidence is lacking.

Attribution

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to . Selected references are listed below.

  • Abad, MJ, Guerra, JA, Bermejo, P, et al. Search for antiviral activity in higher plant extracts. Phytother Res 2000;14(8):604-607.
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  • Akbay, P, Calis, I, Undeger, U, et al. In vitro immunomodulatory activity of verbascoside from Nepeta ucrainica L. Phytother Res 2002;16(6):593-595.
    View Abstract
  • Baranauskiene, R, Venskutonis, RP, and Demyttenaere, JC. Sensory and instrumental evaluation of catnip (Nepeta cataria L.) aroma. J Agric Food Chem 6-18-2003;51(13):3840-3848.
    View Abstract
  • Bernier, UR, Furman, KD, Kline, DL, et al. Comparison of contact and spatial repellency of catnip oil and N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (deet) against mosquitoes. J Med Entomol 2005;42(3):306-311.
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  • Cauffield, JS and Forbes, HJ. Dietary supplements used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Lippincotts Prim Care Pract 1999;3(3):290-304.
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  • Chauhan, KR, Klun, JA, Debboun, M, et al. Feeding deterrent effects of catnip oil components compared with two synthetic amides against Aedes aegypti. J Med Entomol 2005;42(4):643-646.
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  • Harney, JW, Barofsky, IM, and Leary, JD. Behavioral and toxicological studies of cyclopentanoid monoterpenes from Nepeta cataria. Lloydia 1978;41(4):367-374.
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  • Jackson, B and Reed, A. Catnip and the alteration of consciousness. JAMA 2-17-1969;207(7):1349-1350.
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  • Massoco, CO, Silva, MR, Gorniak, SL, et al. Behavioral effects of acute and long-term administration of catnip (Nepeta cataria) in mice. Vet Hum Toxicol 1995;37(6):530-533.
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  • Nostro, A, Cannatelli, MA, Crisafi, G, et al. The effect of Nepeta cataria extract on adherence and enzyme production of Staphylococcus aureus. Int J Antimicrob.Agents 2001;18(6):583-585.
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  • Osterhoudt, KC, Lee, SK, Callahan, JM, et al. Catnip and the alteration of human consciousness. Vet Hum Toxicol 1997;39(6):373-375.
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  • Sherry, CJ and Hunter, PS. The effect of an ethanol extract of catnip (Nepeta cataria) on the behavior of the young chick. Experientia 2-15-1979;35(2):237-238.
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  • Zhu, J, Zeng, X, Yanma, Liu, T, et al. Adult repellency and larvicidal activity of five plant essential oils against mosquitoes. J Am Mosq Control Assoc 2006;22(3):515-522.
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