Sold by evil drug people to marks in lieu of grass.
Also used as a verb: "to catnip someone", to sell them catnip instead of ganjia.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a hardy perennial herb attractive to cats. Also known as cat-mint or catnep, it belongs to the mint family. The whole cat family (Felidae) reacts to catnip. These animals will become playful by rolling over, rubbing their faces, extending their claws, and dooing body twists when they smell catnip's pungent odor. It is speculated that the oil from the leaves of catnip excites cats because it contains a chemical called trans-neptlactone, which closely resembles an excretion in a female cat's urine.

The other day, while helping my parents pack up their possessions for the move to a new house, I found what looked like a small bag of marijuana. I knew it couldn't be since my parents are not that liberal and I don't smoke the stuff myself. I suspected it might be catnip, so decided to try it out on the cat. Cat cat (yes, the house cat is known to us as cat cat), leapt out of the depths of her deep, mid afternoon nap and met me on the stairs. Then she proceeded to completely lose the plot.

I thought she would be frisky for a short time and get over it. This has not been the case and the family has endured a long night and, what is now turning out to be an even longer day. I have on my hands a totally catnip dependent feline who won't leave me alone for more than 20 minutes. She prances in, screaming (for surely, the sounds coming out of her small body can no longer be called simple meows) and rubs herself against anything that might have had contact with this herb. I threatened her with a cold shower to no avail. Now I have had to barracade my door and she is scratching her way through. I only have a short time before she makes it in.

Now big cats are my forte, and this is ridiculous. A simple, small house cat has me stumped and tearing at my hair in frustration. I searched all over the net for a cure. This is what I found.

Catnip: Aromatic; Antibacterial; Antispasmodic; MILD ASTRINGENT; Carminative; Very mild Sedative/hypnotic; Diaphoretic; Stomachic; Refrigerant/Febrifuge; Tonic; SLIGHT Emmenagogue; Stimulant to some patients; Emetic in large hot doses; Cat FELINE ! Aphrodisiac

From the Iridology Page of Gary Ozarko, DNMN, ND, MD(MA)

Catnip, Nepeta cataria is a member of the mint or labiatae family. It is also known as catnep, catrup, catwort, cataria, or catmint and is indigenous from the eastern Mediterranean region as far as the eastern Himalayas. Catnip has been naturalized to North America and can be easily grown in many conditions. It is a perennial herb.

Nepetalactone is a terpene composed of two isoprene units, with a total of ten carbons. Its chemical structure is similar to that of the valepotriates derived from the herb valerian, which is a mild central nervous system sedative (or stimulant to some persons).

Anne Marie Helmenstine

Nepetcalactone seems to have a mildly hallucinogenic effect on most cats. It is similar to a chemical found in female cats' urine, which might explain why unneutered male cats reactions are usually more pronounced than those that are neutered. There is some speculation that catnip might stimulate the region of the brain associated with sexual behaviour.

Catnip affects different cats in different ways. Most common reactions include: cheek and chin rubbing, sniffing, licking or chewing the plant, rolling over and general ecstasy.

Larger cats (lions, tigers, pumas) are also known to react to catnip, in larger doses of course. Kittens, however, do not show any reaction to this herb until they reach about 3 months. Sensitivity to catnip is genetic and about 20-30% of cats demonstrate no reaction at all. Nepetcalactone is non-addictive. (tell that to cat cat)

Catnip in the past was widely used by humans. Before the advent of Chinese teas to the Western world, catnip was a very popular tea. Catnip was also used as treatment for colic, headache toothaches, colds and spasms. It is a good sleep-inducing agent, like valerian. It is also somewhat anti-bacterial. Lastly, cooks in the 15th century rubbed catnip on meats to enhance flavor as well as using it in salads.

Studies have shown catnip to be an excellent cockroach repellent. Researchers at Iowa State University found that purified nepetcalactone is 100x more effective than DEET. Nepetcalactone has also been used to kill flies and aphids.

Since the effect of catnip normally wears off within 20 minutes, there is no antidote. My cat is still going mental and I have to assume that I have broken her.


Shortly after writing this node, I ventured to try catnip tea for myself. I didn't use enough of the herb to get a full flavour, but what I did have was quite tasty and I am surprised that more people don't enjoy catnip tea on a regular basis. Cat cat, did enter my room and annoy me for some time, but was more tame than when fully exposed to it. I highly recommend you try it, but don't let your cat know.

Sources:
http://chemistry.about.com/library/weekly/aa103001a.htm
http://ask.yahoo.com/ask/20020130.html

Catnip, Nepeta cataria, contains nepetalactone (nepeta lactone), which is what makes Cat Cat go crazy. It also contains some amount of valeric acid. I don't know if this contributes to its relaxing effect or not.

Worldwide, there are over 100 species in the genus Nepeta. One of the most common species (besides Nepeta cataria) is Nepeta mussinni, which is often called catmint, which is confusing, because Nepeta cataria is also called catmint... Hence the importace of botanical names. Nepeta mussinni is less attractive to cats, but looks prettier, with purpleish-blue flowers instead of the whitish-pink of Nepeta cataria. It's usually only about a foot tall, and is grown often as a border for gardens. There's also Nepeta cataria var. citriodora (lemon catnip), which contains higher-than-normal amounts of limonene. Nepeta camphorata is a smaller plant, with white purple-dotted flowers, and bearing camphor-scented leaves. Nepeta parnassica, Greek catnip, is low growing, usually about eighteen inches tall. Its leaves are sweeter than normal catnip, and its flowers are white to pale pink and sometimes blue.

Catnip does make a good tea, and, depending on the strength, can be anywhere from somewhat relaxing (mostly from drinking hot, yummy liquids) to very relaxing. I've heard of people having sucess smoking it, but have only burned enough to know how it smells (sort of funny, like burned rubber, not at all like catnip, but sort of interesting anyways). I've had the strongest effects from snorting it. I know that sounds gross. I don't care, E2 made me a twisted person. Just get some good dried stuff, powder it in your hand, and snort it. Yeah. Like snuff. I wouldn't say it makes you high, but it is quite relaxing, and there's definitely something there. And yeah, I've only snorted it a couple times. I've heard mixing catnip with your bud enhances the feeling, and that mixing it with tobakkey increases the feelings of both.

I grow my own (it's Nepeta cataria). It's easy to grow, just pick up a packet of seeds from any local store, plant in some nice healthy, well drained soil, keep moist, and within two weeks, they should sprout. Pinch them off once they reach their fourth set of leaves (or so), and again whenever it looks like it needs it; catnip can get quite leggy indoors. If you haves cats around, you can put a birdcage over it. Harvest leaves for use as needed, or cut it off down to about six inches when its flowers are in bloom. Hang it upside-down somehere cool, dry, and dark for a couple weeks (or until the leaves crumble easially), strip the leaves, flowers, and buds, put them it into airtight jars, and compost the stems. Or you can freeze it without drying it. It's a perennial in most places, and can become quite prolific if allowed to go to seed outdoors, so be careful!

Meow!

Cat"nip` (?), Cat"mint` (?), n. Bot.

A well-know plant of the genus Nepeta (N. Cataria), somewhat like mint, having a strong scent, and sometimes used in medicine. It is so called because cats have a peculiar fondness for it.

 

© Webster 1913.

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