Catnip works wonders for your cat. It’s like feline marijuana. It sends them loopy, often making them sedate and even more chilled than they usually are, but also stimulating them depending on how they ingest it. But what about humans? Catnip tea is a thing and apparently catnip has been consumed by humans of hundreds of years.
So is this one of those herbs that has a lot of anecdotal support but no real scientific basis, or is there some weight behind it?
What is Catnip Tea?
You could have probably answered this one for yourself. Catnip tea is basically catnip made into a tea. For humans, we should add, because you shouldn’t be giving your cat hot tea (again, we really shouldn’t need to tell you that). The tea should be made from dried leaves or flowers and to stay on the safe side, get a preparation made for human consumption and don’t rely on the sifted, refined catnip sold in your local pet store.
Catnip as a medicine goes back a few hundreds years, which is a long time in anyone’s book but a short time where herbal teas are concerned, especially when you consider that green tea, black tea and pretty much every other popular type of tea has been consumed for thousands of years for their health benefits.
Catnip Tea for Humans
We probably didn’t need to reiterate that it’s for humans in the header, but we can’t help but picture a few crazy cat people brewing up tea for their little feline friends. And we can’t help but picture that because we are those crazy cat people most of the time.
To make catnip tea just take 1 to 3 teaspoons of dried leaves or flowers and leave these to steep in a mug of boiling hot water for ten minutes. It’s a long steep, but if you’re in a hurry (or are just impatient like us) then you can add a little more and cut the infusion time in half. You can also just keep stirring it to agitate the tea.
Start small to get a taste for it, add a little sugar, honey and/or lemon to make it more palatable (we’ll discuss the taste soon) and after a couple drinks you begin to work out just how you like it, and if you like it at all.
Catnip Tea Benefits
One of the main health benefits of catnip—as far as the anecdotal evidence is concerned—is the fact that it can relax you. It has been consumed as a mild sedative and anti-anxiety herb since the 18th century and this is the main reason it is consumed by humans. However, as you might have guessed from the fact that your doctor never prescribed you it the last time you had a panic attack, it isn’t very strong, it doesn’t work for everyone and there are experts who dispute the fact that it works at all.
We can be more confident in its ability to ease indigestion and to help with stomach cramps, gas and other digestive disorders. This is a go-to health benefit for most herbal teas and it’s as true of catnip tea as it is of everything from raspberry leaf tea to lemon balm. It can also act as a mild diuretic, much like nettle tea and dandelion root tea.
Now for another dose of good/bad news. The good news is that it’s a mild tea unlikely to cause any side effects (except for rare allergies), it’s cheap and it’s abundant. If you don’t mind drinking it and want to try those potential benefits for yourself, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t add it to your daily liquid consumption.
The bad news, however, is that there are herbal teas out there that are much more effective. We pride ourselves on being honest on this site because if we did what other tea sites would do then we’d just end up with a list of hundreds of teas that apparently all did the same thing, leaving customers like you confused about which ones you should drink. If you need something to relax you, try chamomile or valerian instead; if you need something to soothe your digestion, try peppermint or lemon verbena; if you need a diuretic, opt for nettle tea. If you want something that can heal, check Solomon’s Seal.
If you have already tried them and they don’t work then there’s a slim chance that catnip tea won’t work either. But it’s not going to cost you much to try it.
What Catnip Tea Contains
Now for the science stuff, if we put these health benefits under the microscope, how do they stack up? Well, catnip contains nepetalactone, which is one of the compounds responsible for the sedating effects of valerian. That’s promising and suggests it should work to an extent, but its’s not as strong.
Also, because of the diuretic effect and the risk of uterine contraction, catnip tea is not recommended during the initial stages pregnancy. Some teas like this are recommended late on to induce labour, but there is little evidence to suggest that they work and we wouldn’t recommend it unless you have consulted with a medical expert first (I.E. someone other than a bunch of writers who happen to like tea).
What Does Catnip Tea Taste Like?
We saved this for the end because we didn’t want to put you off. We’re hoping that knowing the potential health benefits of catnip will convince you to stick it out even when you take your first sip and realize that your cats were wrong all along and it tastes terrible.
It has a very earthy, pungent taste. The good news is that it doesn’t taste anywhere near as bad as valerian tea does. The bad news is that we can’t think of anything more positive to say. If you’re a hardened herbal tea drinker, someone who isn’t averse to a little musty nastiness every now and then and someone who is happy to ride out bad flavors for good health benefits, then it won’t be an issue.
If you baulk at the idea of drinking anything that doesn’t taste like sunshine and rainbows dipped in sherbet, then you’re going to either want to give this a miss or buy a lot of honey. We love tea. No doubt we’ve made ourselves pretty clear on that front. We love the taste of chamomile, lavender, lemon verbena, sideritis and everything that comes from the magical plant that is Camellia Sinensis.
However, after buying a bag of catnip tea and then taking one sip, we gave up. There isn’t enough honey in the world. On the plus side, our cats have never been happier.