Catmint: Everything You Need To Know

Catmint: Everything You Need To Know
Nepeta Cataria


What is catmint?

 Catmint, also called catnip and catswort, is herb most famously known for being able to send cats into nirvana. Belonging to the same family of plants as many mints and deadnettles (the Labiatae family), catmint can be found growing wild throughout the central and southern areas of England – amongst the country’s many hedgerows and field boarders. From England it was introduced to areas of the European mainland, and subsequently Asia and North America.

When it comes to cats, catmint owes its popularity to its unique scent, which resembles both the Pennyroyal and mint. When catmint is bruised it gives off its irresistible aroma, to the point where cats will end up destroying the plant from spending so much time lounging about and rolling in it. This means most transplanted catmints will likely be destroyed unless protected from cats, as they go through minor bruising during the planting process. On the flipside, if catmint is grown from seed, cats might leave it alone, as it rarely gets bruised and thus doesn’t give off its scent as readily.


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Catmint isn’t just for cats though, it has been used as a herbal remedy for centuries. For one, it has a similar relaxing effect on humans as it does cats – but not quite to the same extent. In addition, it is widely used in herbalism to treat gastric ailments, such as upset stomachs and diarrhea.

The effects of catmint

The effects of catmint

Catmint doesn’t quite have the same intoxicating effects on humans as it does cats, but it still makes for a very useful tonic. It is a mild sedative, but it won’t get you high. However, the relaxing qualities make it ideal to calm down after a stressful day. This combined with its rich vitamin and mineral content has led it to be used as a modern day digestive aid, as well as a detoxifier, reliever of anxiety, stress, headaches and troubled sleep. Traditionally, catmint was brewed into a soothing tea, which was used to ease an upset stomach, help fight the common cold and flu, reduce fevers, act as an antispasmodic and reduce flatulence.

How to use catmint

How to use catmint

Catmint Tea

The most effective way to get the most out of your catmint is to make it into a tea, the same way it has been used for centuries.

To make a strong and flavorful tea, you will need to boil 25 grams of catmint in 1 liter of water. Once it has boiled, allow the mixture to stand off the heat for 15 minutes, before straining it into your cup. You can add a little honey as a sweetener if you wish.


Vaporizing catmint will ensure you get a great deal of its active content, but it will be a shorter lived effect then if it were a tea. The ideal temperature for vaporising catmint is between 100 – 150 degrees Celsius.

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Some herbs go well with smoking, other don’t. Catmint belongs to the latter, most likely a lot of its active content is destroyed by the heat. Smoked catmint doesn’t produce much of an effect, it’s much better to prepare it as a tea or vape it.



Catmint (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial plant found growing naturally in the wilds of Europe and North America. It grows to a height of around 60 – 90 cm, producing branched stems that become very leafy and covered in a mealy down. The leaves themselves are heart shaped and have a serrated, toothed edge.

The flowers of the catmint bloom from July to September, and grow in dense whorls. The flowers themselves are small and trumpet like in nature, and tend to be a white/pale pink color, dotted with red spots.


The active chemical structure of catmint is very similar to that of the valepotriates (similar to those found in valerian), which act as a mild central nervous sedative. In addition, there are tannins, iridoids, nepetalic acid, thymol, nerol, carvacrol, geraniol and citronellal.

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