Catnip doesn’t just help kitties get down and rowdy. Humans can also consume this plant from the mint fam when its leaves are dried and made into a tea.
So what are the health benefits of drinking catnip tea?
Sippin’ on catnip tea *might* help with:
- period problems
- colds and pain
But research on catnip’s effects on humans is super slim and outdated, and catnip tea comes with major risks for certain people.
Here’s what to know about catnip tea before you start sharing herbs with your cat.
A cup of catnip tea is fairly easy to make.
- Boil 1 cup water.
- Add 2 teaspoons dried catnip leaves or flowers to your cup of hot water.
- Let the tea steep for 10 to 15 minutes and cool down before you drink it.
- For more flavor, add some lemon, honey, or agave.
If you’ve smelled catnip from your feline’s stash, you know it has a distinct earthy smell. It has a similarly woodsy, grassy taste. Adding lemon while the tea steeps will also help bring out its low-key mint and citrus flavors.
Anxiety relief and improved sleep
While this hasn’t been heavily researched in humans, catnip tea is believed to have a calming effect thanks to a compound called nepetalactone. This is similar to valerian and acts as an herbal sedative. The relaxation effect may help reduce anxiety, improve your mood, and help you sleep.
Take note: If you have insomnia and take a sedative like clonazepam (Klonopin) or zolpidem (Ambien), catnip tea could cause too much sleepiness. Chat with your doc before adding catnip tea to the mix.
GI issue relief
If spicy foods and hot sauce are the loves of your life, your gut might pay the price. Catnip tea may help ease stomach cramps and gas by relieving muscle spasms in your intestinal tract.
Period pain relief and regulation
Period pain can suck, and catnip might help with cramps by relaxing your body. Catnip can also stimulate uterine contractions, which could potentially help irregular periods get back on track. But again, there’s not much science backing these claims.
Cold remedy and pain relief
Catnip has been used as a cold remedy, a pain reliever, and a treatment for hives. But once again, this is strictly based on anecdotal evidence. You can try some catnip tea for your aches and cough, but it’s not proven to work.
A screaming, restless baby can lead parents to try all possible solutions, but catnip tea shouldn’t be one of them.
Catnip tea is often marketed as a remedy for infant colic and a way to help bébé sleep through the night. But there aren’t enough studies on infants and catnip to know whether the herb is safe.
Catnip can cause vomiting in children, and the sedative effects could be too much for little humans.
One of catnip tea’s biggest benefits can also be its downfall. If you’re not trying to relax and catch some Zzz’s, you’ll want to avoid catnip tea. It’s especially not a good idea to drink catnip tea in the morning before that Zoom meeting.
Drink the tea at night to see how the drowsiness hits you.
If you’re preparing for surgery, stop drinking catnip tea a few weeks before you go under the knife. The tea could interfere with your central nervous system or the anesthesia.
Catnip tea shouldn’t be mixed with other sleeping medications. Mixing it with over-the-counter cough and cold medicines is also not recommended.
Too much catnip tea may act as a diuretic and make you pee way more than usual. If you’re taking prescription lithium, this could affect how your body gets rids of lithium and result in too much of the drug staying in your body.
Some people tout catnip tea as a “cure” for morning sickness, but it should actually be a hard pass for pregnant peeps.
Because catnip tea can stimulate uterine contractions, it’s possible that drinking the tea while preggo could lead to premature labor.
Worsening PID and heavy periods
The uterine contraction effect also makes this tea a bad idea for folks with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or heavy periods.
Catnip tea can make PID symptoms and heavy flows even worse.
Upset stomach and vomiting
Even though some folks drink the tea to soothe and relieve digestive problems, it can bother others. If you experience an upset stomach after some sips, stop drinking the tea.
Too much catnip tea can also cause vomiting in adults and children.
Although some people swear catnip tea helps relieve pain, it can cause headaches for others. Again, skip the tea or drink less if you’re getting headaches.
If you’re allergic to any plants in the mint family, you may have an allergic reaction to catnip. Seek medical attention ASAP if you experience an allergic reaction.
Catnip tea may help improve sleep, reduce anxiety, address period probs, or relieve pain, but research on this is slim and outdated. Keep it to a few cups per day to avoid excessive drowsiness and GI effects.
Because of its side effects, you’ll want to totally avoid catnip tea if:
- you’re pregnant
- you have PID
- you have heavy periods
- you’re taking lithium
- you’re taking sleep medications
- you’re preparing for surgery
You also shouldn’t give catnip tea to babies or children.
Before you start sippin’, it’s also a good idea to talk with your doctor to make sure the tea won’t interact with any medications or health conditions.