Catnip (Mao Bo He)

Botanical Name: Nepeta cataria

Catnip is a gentle edible herb that is ideal for treating children’s fevers, but strong enough to be used by adults. Often used by women to help induce stuck menses.

Below is an overview of catnip, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of catnip.

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Western Name: Catnip

Also Known As: Catswort, Catmint, Field Balm, Ment De Gato

Organs/Systems: Stomach, Uterus, Lungs, Skin

Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Relaxant, Tonic, Antifungal, Bacteriacide, Sedative, Febrifuge. Insomnia, anxiety, migraines and headaches. Good for colds, flu, swine flu, hives, and worms. Treats indigestion, colic, cramping and gas. Increases urination and helps move delayed menses. Applied to skin to treat arthritis, hemorrhoids, swelling.


Pin Yin: Mao Bo He

Also Known As: N/A

Meridians: Stomach, Lungs

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Release to the Exterior/Clear Wind Heat: colds, flu with headache, chills and fever, sore throat, congestion, wheezing, restlessness. Relieve Stagnant Qi: emotional, mental or nervous tension, gas, cramping. Reduce Inflammation/Benefit Skin: dermatitis.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

In the family Lamiaceae (mint family). It is a short-lived herbaceous perennial, growing 20-39 inches tall and wide (20-100 centimeters). Square stems with brown-green foliage and coarse-tooth leaves that are triangular to ovate. The flowers are small bilabiate and can be white, or white with spots of pale purple or pink. Blooms late spring to autumn. Drought tolerant and deer resistant. Native to Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, China. It has become widely naturalized through Europe, New Zealand, and North America.

CatnipParts Most Frequently Used: Flowering Top, Leaf

Flavors: Slightly Pungent and Bitter, Cool, Dry

Caution: None noted.

History/Folklore: Traditionally used to start menses and aid children’s coughs. Culpeper said, “taken alone or with other herbs in a decoction to bathe in, or sit over the hot fumes thereof; and by the frequent use thereof it takes away barrenness, and the winds and pains of the mother.” Especially effective in cases with congestion and restlessness or delirium. Has been used to treat psychological and physical unrest. Used in cooking to impart a subtle mint flavor. In early colonial times, it was suggested that ingesting catnip would somehow make even the kindest person mean. It was consumed by hangmen to “get in the mood” for performing their job.

Key Constituents:

Terpenoid nepetalactone, essential oil, Vitamins E and C

Did you know?

Attracts Cats

Terpenoid nepetalactone is the constituent that attracts cats and butterflies.


Insect Repellent

It is a repellent for aphids, squash bugs, mosquitoes, and flies. The plants’ distilled oil repels cockroaches and termites and is considered ten times more effective than DEET, the active ingredient in most insect repellents.

Fun fact!

Mild Relaxant

Smoking catnip has a mild relaxant effect and aids respiratory conditions.

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References: For a complete list of references please visit our References and Resources page. Disclosure: If you purchase from some links on this web page, we may receive some kind of affiliate commission. However, we only ever mention products we would recommend whether we were being compensated or not. Thank you so much for your support of White Rabbit Institute of Healing!

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ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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