Category: Medicines - plant based
Introduction and description
Catnip – known as Catmint in the UK - is an aromatic perennial herb native to central Europe and now naturalized throughout the northeastern US and Canada. As far as I can tell it should not be ingested – the reasons are explained below. But it does seem to have one useful property - as a mouthwash - because it has anti-bacterial action against the bacteria that cause tooth decay and it has an analgesic effect.
It has also been tested as a preventative agent against mosquitos.
Cat mint contains two chemicals that appear to have an effect on us [as opposed to cats]
Nepetalactone - is an organic compound first isolated from Nepeta cataria but also present in the wood of tartarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica). Its full name is 4aα,7α,7aα-Nepetalactone and it is the active chemical in Nepeta cataria. The other chemicals [besides Actinone described below] are 4aalpha,7alpha,7abeta-nepetalactone (6.0%), thymol (2.3%), and 4aalpha,7alpha, 7abeta3-nepetalactone (2.5%).
The essential oils of a number of Nepeta species have been tested scientifically. N. caesarea [so note the different plant] showed significant analgesic activity, besides marked sedation, and it has extremely high (over 90%) Nepetalactone so is a good indicator of the effects of this particular chemical. Its effects were blocked by naloxone, indicating involvement of opioid receptors. The activity, however, seems to be quite specific in that it was only active on mechanical, not thermal, analgaesic response which suggests specificity for only some opioid receptor subtypes, BUT excluding mu-opioid receptors. It is thus has very specific opioid receptor subtype agonistic activity, which appears not to be mu related. My own feeling is that it acts on kappa and delta receptors principally because the effects seem to so closely mimic this form of activity, for example, but this is pure speculation.
Actinidine is a pyridine derivative also found in the essential oil of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) root and Actinidia polygama (silver vine). Pyridine is harmful if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin. Effects of an acute pyridine intoxication include dizziness, headache, lack of coordination, nausea, salivation and loss of appetite. They may progress into abdominal pain, pulmonary congestion and unconsciousness. It appears that Actinidine is anti-fungal but obviously not if ingested!
"Iridodial beta-monoenol acetate, isolated from the essential oil of Nepeta leucophylla Benth, and actinidine from N. clarkei Benth were screened for antifungal activities against Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus ochraceus, Penicillium citrinum, and Penicillium viridicatum, all known mycotoxin-producing taxa, and Sclerotium rolfsii and Macrophomina phaseolina, potential soybean pathogens. Iridodial beta-monoenol acetate was most effective against S. rolfsii, while actinidine was highly active against M. phaseolina. PMID: 8593072"
In a number of funny but rather tragic cases on EROWID, some brave experimenters, who appear to believe all they read on the Internet, ate catmint in quantity because they had been told it was an opium substitute. The following is the result...
I bought a huge bundle of herbs off the net and been experimenting with them for awhile with little results. Getting fed-up with smoking the stuff I decided to make a tea and actually drink the herb, thinking if a cat can do it can't I? I weighed exactly 4 g on my digital scale and put it in my coffee blender. I let it run for about 45 seconds until it was almost all in a powdered form. I then boiled a cup of water, put the powder in and let it soaked for about 15 mins mixing it once every 4 mins. Next it was time to drink it. I was not under the influence of any substances at the time.
I didn't enjoy the taste very much, I have a really weak stomach, so I put in two sugar sweetners and a little milk. I was still hard to digest because the powder kept sticking to my throat. At first I thought I had a slight rushed feeling that MAYBE lasted a few minutes and feeling a bit relaxed.
Day 1: That day I had to take 10 shits throughout the whole day. On two occasions the shits were REALLY sneaky too, the ones where you fart and a little slush is right between your crack. It always had this certain awfull smell to it.
Day 2: I still had the shits but it wasn't as bad as the day before. The same smell. I had to take around 5 that day.
My advice. If you want to drink catnip PLEASE don't eat the herbs unless you aren't feeling regular
Stick to the mouthwash theory.
How it works
It heals if used as a mouthwash - see the observations and has other uses that do not involve eating it [or smoking it].
- Catmint and malaria 006772
- Catmint and mouth disease 006726
- Dr Duke's list of aluminium chelating plants 017803
- Dr Duke's list of Chemicals and their Biological Activities in: Nepeta cataria L. (Lamiaceae) -- Catnip 019241
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing SELENIUM 020550
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antidote (Mercury) activity 018376
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antistreptococcic Activity 018392
- Search for antiviral activity in higher plant extracts 020740
- The effects of oral administration of (-)-menthol on nasal resistance to airflow and nasal sensation of airflow in subjects suffering from nasal congestion associated with the common cold 017696