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.
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.
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.
Early research suggests that catnip oil or its constituents may repel mosquitoes. However, additional research is needed to confirm these findings.