Catnip is well known for its gentle and calming properties as it has been employed in traditional western folk practices for centuries. Nepeta cataria is a member of the mint family and features a square stem, heart-shaped leaves, and small fragrant pink to white flowers on a terminal spike. The leaves can be tinctured, steeped into a relaxing catnip tea, and added to herbal tea blends.
The ultimate feline herb, for centuries cats have been going crazy over this plant. It can make them happy and spunky yet can have a more calming effect on people. Catnip has been used in European folk medicine for generations as a calming agent for body and mind. It is considered gentle and could be very useful for children and infants.
Catnip was part of American folk medicine and Native American healing systems and employed as a gentle tea for children in cases of occasional upset stomach or sleeplessness. Catnip was used by the Hoh, Delaware, and Iroquois tribes for children's complaints due to its mild nature. The Cherokee used the plant similarly to other indigenous groups and also considered it to be an overall strengthening tonic. They chose this herb when a relaxant was needed in cases of irritability or sleeplessness, just like the Europeans.
In the southwestern United States, catnip or 'nebada' amongst the Spanish speakers, was utilized in traditional folk medicine to allay a range of digestive challenges. It was considered particularly useful for soothing the stomach and enhancing digestion in infants. Also, it was sold as a brandy infusion with 'hinojo' or fennel as a digestive tonic.
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