Catnip – Not Just For Cats

In middle school I recall hearing a few urban legends that smoking certain common items like banana peels and catnip would produce a high similar to marijuana.   I recall a kid claiming that he went on top of his grandmother’s garage to smoke catnip.   He apparently started hallucinating – he believed a black dot was chasing him and he ended up falling off the garage and breaking his leg.   Whether or not that’s how he actually broke his leg, I don’t know, but up until last year that was the only time I had heard of catnip being consumed one way or another by humans.

Towards the end of summer I had heard about all of catnip’s benefits and was able to pick up a few plants from a garden center very cheap – unfortunately I had passed up on several free plants from a different garden center closing down for the season within days of hearing that it’s actually useful from this website

Anyways, I have four plants around my yard, mostly worked into rockbed landscapes.   Catnip (nepeta cataria) is a perennial and sure enough, the plants came right back this spring.   I have them all in semi-shady areas where they seem to be doing fine.    Like other members of the mint family (catnip is also known as “cat mint”), it can be invasive and get out of control.  My plants are in places where I’ll be glad to have them take over and just consider that good fortune – it doesn’t need much attention, it looks nice, it attracts beneficial insects and it’s useful.   What’s not to like about that?

Catnip is a calming herb without harsh sedative effects due to the nepetalctone content so it’s good when you’re feeling tense or just looking to wind down one way or another.    I like to have a tea with catnip when I’m planning on tuning out and drifting off for the rest of the night, sometimes mixed with chamomile.

Catnip also helps with when dealing with an upset stomach and other digestive disorders as well as helping relieve headaches and symptoms from PMS.    The link I posted has a laundry list of all the benefits of catnip and I’d suggest going through the list to get an idea of all the different things catnip is good for.

As previously mentioned, the herb is in the mint family so naturally the taste is minty, although a lot more subtle than spearmint or peppermint.   It’s mild, kind of grassy and slightly citrus-like (I think).    I usually mix it with other herbs when I make teas, but it would be just fine on its own with maybe a bit of honey. Just put some fresh or dried herbs in a tea ball of some sort and let it steep.

This is a plant that be grown hassle-free just about anywhere with a ton of uses.  If you don’t have any catnip around your oikos, I’d strongly suggest looking into throwing a plant into your landscape or a container (not garden spaces though because it might be too invasive).

As far as smoking it goes, I have a feeling it’s just a school yard legend.    As for banana peels, well, I tried it in 8th grade after seeing the Dead Milkmen’s “Smokin’ Banana Peels” on Beavis and Butthead and it didn’t work.   Tasted nice enough though, I guess :::shrugs:::