What is Catmint?

Catmint, also known as Nepeta cataria, is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and has been cultivated for centuries for its medicinal and culinary uses. Catmint is known for its attractive flowers and strong fragrance, which is particularly appealing to cats. In fact, it is often referred to as “catnip” or “catnip herb” because of its effects on felines.

History and Cultivation

Catmint has a long history of cultivation and use. It was first recorded as a medicinal herb in ancient Rome, where it was used to treat various ailments, including digestive disorders and insomnia. The herb was later introduced to other parts of Europe and Asia, where it became popular for its medicinal properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, catmint has also been cultivated for its ornamental value. The plant produces beautiful flowers in shades of blue, purple, and white, which attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. As a result, catmint is often grown in gardens and used as a decorative plant.

Medicinal Uses

Catmint has a wide range of medicinal uses and has been used for centuries to treat various health conditions. The herb contains several active compounds, including nepetalactone, which is responsible for its effects on cats.

One of the most common uses of catmint is as a sedative. The herb has a calming effect on the nervous system and can help to relieve anxiety, stress, and insomnia. It is often used as a natural alternative to prescription sedatives.

Catmint is also known for its digestive properties. It can help to relieve indigestion, bloating, and stomach cramps. The herb has a carminative effect, which means it can help to expel gas from the digestive system and relieve discomfort.

Effects on Cats

As mentioned earlier, catmint is particularly attractive to cats. When cats come into contact with the herb, they often exhibit a range of behaviors, including rolling, rubbing, and purring. These behaviors are believed to be a response to the nepetalactone compound found in catmint.

The effects of catmint on cats can vary. Some cats become hyperactive and playful, while others become more relaxed and sedated. The herb is often used as a form of enrichment for indoor cats, as it can help to stimulate their natural instincts and provide mental and physical stimulation.

Culinary Uses

In addition to its medicinal and ornamental uses, catmint is also used in cooking. The leaves of the plant have a minty flavor and can be used to add a unique taste to a variety of dishes.

One popular culinary use of catmint is in herbal teas. The leaves can be steeped in hot water to create a refreshing and aromatic tea. Catmint tea is often used to promote relaxation and relieve stress.

The leaves of catmint can also be used as a seasoning in savory dishes. They can be added to salads, soups, and stews to add a hint of minty flavor. Catmint can also be used to make flavored oils and vinegars.


In conclusion, catmint is a versatile herb that has been used for centuries for its medicinal, ornamental, and culinary properties. It is known for its attractive flowers, strong fragrance, and effects on cats. Whether you are looking to relax, improve digestion, or add a unique flavor to your dishes, catmint is definitely worth considering.