When you’ve bought some of our lovely catnip for your cats, have you ever been tempted to have a little smell, maybe even a little taste*, just to see what your feline friends find so overwhelmingly desirable about the catnip plant? No, me neither! However, there are some people around the world who believe that catmint can actually have significant benefits on human health and wellbeing. In fact, in some countries and cultures, this belief is so strong that even major international companies are getting in on the action, and are starting to produce food and drink products that contain Nepeta Cataria – the scientific name for the plant. The catnip plant contains a compound called nepetalactone, which has been shown to have various effects, including mild sedation, muscle relaxation, anti-inflammatory, and has even been used as an anti-bacterial source.
Have you ever witnessed cats on catnip? While they become very playful, they also tend to really chill out, with the effects actually being far more noticeable than some commercial cat calmers, such as Feliway for example. These effects are so strong that they can actually affect humans, too, but on a much milder scale. In Japan, a popular soft drink that you can buy from practically any vending machine, both in the big cities and the rural towns, is a drink by Yakult (the people that make the ‘good bacteria’ yogurt drinks here in the UK). Containing classic relaxation herbs, such as chamomile, passionflower, and lemongrass, there’s also a healthy dose of catnip in there, as consumption is believed to have a calming effect (some even claim it’s useful as an antidepressant), and induce sleepiness. Believe it or not, catnip is quite a common treatment for insomnia – move over Night Nurse!
Bugs and mosquitoes can be a real nuisance, especially when you’re trying to enjoy a quiet glass of wine in the garden in the summer, or are travelling abroad where flies are attracted to your tasty foreign blood (it’s the bug equivalent of exotic cuisine!), so what’s the solution? Catnip? Perhaps! In a study that looked at the topical application of catnip oil, thyme oil, amyris oil, eucalyptus oil, and cinnamon oil, it was found that the most effective at warding off unwanted visitors was the catnip, with a whopping six hours of protection against those little nasties. To put this in perspective, the thyme oil, the next best contender, only managed a measly two hours of protection. The one downside is that some people can react to high doses, so it’s best to limit topical application to less than 20mg to restrict the irritability. Whether that’s enough evidence to convince you to have a little nibble is up to you, but, believe it or not, catnip use in humans may be more common than you think! Although it’s rare to find catnip anywhere other than pet stores in the UK, some health food shops across the pond are mad on the stuff, and catnip is purposefully grown around the United States. Whether we’ll follow suit remains to be seen.
*Please note our catnip is sold for pet use only.