Ozark Encyclopedia – C – Catnip

Catnip – Nepeta cataria

Parts used: leaf, flower

Traditional uses: Infusion used for female obstructions. Infusion used for worms. Infusion used for spasms. Syrup with honey used for colds and infusion used for babies’ colds. Syrup with honey used for coughs. Infusion taken for hives and poultice of leaf used for boils and swellings. Infusion taken for fevers and poultice of leaf used for boils. Infusion used for colic and infusion of leaves used for stomach.

“Carminative, tonic, diaphoretic, refrigerant and slightly emmenagogue, specially antispasmodic, and mildly stimulating. Producing free perspiration, it is very useful in colds. Catnep Tea is a valuable drink in every case of fever, because of its action in inducing sleep and producing perspiration without increasing the heat of the system. It is good in restlessness, colic, insanity and nervousness, and is used as a mild nervine for children, one of its chief uses being, indeed, in the treatment of children’s ailments. The infusion of 1 OZ. to a pint of boiling water may be taken by adults in doses of 2 tablespoonsful, by children in 2 or 3 teaspoonsful frequently, to relieve pain and flatulence. An injection of Catnep Tea is also used for colicky pains.” ~Grieve MH

As a sedative – “Catnip tea is a common sedative, taken warm just before going to bed.” ~Randolph OMF 114

For sleep and colic – “Catnip is good for babies, infants, makes them sleep and good for their nerves, also good for hives.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

For colic – “Catnip-tea was given to babies for colic.” ~Parler FBA II 1858

Steam used for an earache – “To stop an earache, put cat-nip tea in a cup, cover the cup with a rag and hold ear over the cup.” ~Parler FBA II 2106

For hives – “Boil catnip leaves until tender and liquid is medium strong. Feed small quantity to baby at intervals until baby breaks out in hives. This tea doesn’t taste bad at all.” ~Parler FBA II 2470 (“break out” here means the hives go away)

Tea for the nerves – “Take a double handful of fresh catnip leaves and boil them in a pint of freshly drawn water. After it has boiled thoroughly, set it off the stove and strain it. Sweeten very sweet. Drink one teacup full before going to bed. Good for the nerves.” ~Parler FBA III 2768


Carter, Kay & Bonnie Krause Home Remedies of the Illinois Ozarks (HRIO)

Grieve, Margaret A Modern Herbal (MH)

Moerman, Daniel E. Native American Ethnobotany (NAE)

Parler, Mary Celestia Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)

Randolph, Vance Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)

Source: Ozark Encyclopedia – C – Catnip

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