Tuesday, June 16, 2009
How to use fresh herbs: catnip
When we went herb shopping this year, my husband accidentally picked up some catnip. I think he thought it was mint. It actually is a member of the mint family. I had no idea how we should use our catnip. Someone mentioned to my husband that it used to be used to help colicky babies and I have always heard that cats find this herb very enticing, though I have never seen their crazy behaviors when they smell it.
I do know that it is a very full and lush herb and looks very impressive as it grows. I have also read that it has very attractive flowers and comes back year after year. We have enjoyed watching our catnip grow so I decided to read up on catnip to see if it could be beneficial for humans.
We had an unusual thing happen last evening around dusk, while in our garden. We noticed that Tia, our garden mascot was very interested in the catnip. She was sniffing and going through it like she was hunting for something. My sister kept telling her to stop but to no avail. Then I saw what I first thought was a mouse crawling from the catnip. After taking a closer look, I realized it was a baby bunny. Eventually we rescued four from Tia who wasn't interested in the catnip after all, but the bunnies.
After I read a bit about the uses for catnip I found it can be made into a toy for cats by taking two squares of cloth and sewing in catnip, like a sachet. Some recommend including rose petals.
Also, catnip is said to have some very helpful medicinal properties. You can make a tea that is often described as "pleasant." I can tell you that it doesn't have the most pleasant smell to me in the garden but I haven't tasted it in a tea, yet. I intend to try it very soon and I will let you know if it is good.
It is credited for inducing sleep, calming an upset stomach, lowering blood pressure, calming nerves and it is supposed to have some antibiotic qualities, as well. It is supposed to be safe for small children..
A very interesting use is as an insect repellent. The oil of catnip is supposed to contain a repellent that is as strong as DEET and far safer.
It is supposed to be easy to dry for later use and some have reportedly put small amounts in salad.
One negative thing is that it seems to attract aphids Apparently, it also attracts bunnies.