To all you feline fans out there: take a look at your kitty companion next time he/she rolls in a handful of catnip. Looks like fun? Secretly wishing you could do that yourself? (Please, don’t get carried away with the fantasizing–you, there, stop trying to wash yourself with your tongue!) If your cat isn’t into this kind of thing, don’t worry–it’s a genetic matter, not an acquired taste. Except for young kittens, cats will eventually either go berserk over the stuff or ignore it completely.
According to the website http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/zipbyzip.php?zip=90034, this member of the mint family will do well in the Los Angeles area gardens (what won’t in our climate?). As well, it’s not difficult to find it growing wild in the region, as many outdoor felines may be observed to have discovered. If your furry companion returns home looking a little happier than usual, he/she may well have been into a patch of purr-fect bliss.
Cats aren’t the only ones who can use this herb, though; their human friends may not experience the same reaction, but catnip has been known for centuries to be useful to our own species. As a stimulant it affects the central nervous system, explaining its results with cats as well as humans. Yet for the bipedal user, it also can have a soothing effect. Many have, for centuries, sworn by catnip in pillows to induce restful sleep and insure against nightmares.
The number and variety of applications of this plant is amazing: catnip is an antispasmodic. It has value in cases of bronchitis, colds, fevers, headaches and anxiety. There is even evidence that it repels mosquitoes and other insect pests.
For intestinal pains, the flowers and leaves are also useful, and can be of assistance in stopping diarrhea. Where PMS is concerned, catnip also is known to work, stimulating the menstrual flow to “get it over with.” For colicky infants, try catnip tea. Even for migraines, according to some traditions, the effects can be lessened by this plant’s leaves.
Externally, those suffering from a toothache may make an infusion of catnip leaves and blossoms, then soak a clean gauze cloth or small cotton ball in the solution. Use this as a remedy (but please seek dental help when you can!) by placing it on the tooth involved in the manner of a compress.
So go ahead–borrow some of the dried herb from Fluffy and brew a cup next time you’re up late wondering where she is. You’ll find yourself plasantly relaxed and soothed. Of course, you may start chasing mice…