“Young leaves are edible raw. They have an aromatic mint-like flavor eaten in salads. As the name (cat-nip) suggests, cats love to nip at it, although watching them it might better be called (cat-roll) for they seem to roll, rub, and totally crush the plant into the ground. They discover that the more they crush it the more oil it releases. Plant constituents include Nepetalic acid, Alpha- & beta- Citral, Nepetalactone, Limonene, Geraniol, Dipentene, Citronella, Nerol, a terpene, Acetic acid, Butyric acid, Valeric acid and Tannin. The leaves and flowering tops are strongly antispasmodic, antitussive, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, slightly emmenagogue, refrigerant, sedative, slightly stimulant, stomachic and tonic. Catnip has a long history of use in alternative medicine, being employed especially in treating disorders of the digestive system and, as it stimulates sweating, it is useful in reducing fevers. The fresh juice is used as an emmenagogue (to promote menstruation). Mild catnip tea is used to relieve colic in babies, restlessness and nervousness, and is very useful as a mild nervine for children. Stronger tea relieves fevers due to colds and flu as well as calming the stomach and preventing nausea and diarrhea. The fresh young shoots are good in spring salads and rubbed into meat for flavor. Applied externally or added to bath it is good for skin irritations. Catnip oil is great for aroma therapy. A strong infusion can be used to repel fleas from carpets or the fur of animals. An extract from the leaves (called nepetalactone) has herbicidal and insect repellant properties.” — copied from… um, some website.
Catnip is a favorite at our house… tea, iced or warm, sweetened or not. It has an aromatic, minty yumminess… and neither child has yet connected the near instant sleep achieved after a cup! safe during pregnancy and lactation, catnip is the herb of choice for relaxation and sleep. some herbs– valerian, kava kava, etc. are controversial for their relaxing properties for little ones (even tummy achin’ babies) and new mothers; however, catnip is tried and true.
2 tsp (steeped in a tea ball or other such contratption) to 1 cup (8 oz) hot, hot water. steep 10 minutes. julie has experimented with orange oil (for cooking) and i have tried a splash of juice if your littlun is convinced herbal tea is not for her. agave nectar can be enticing too… have a pallet prepared for crashing.
ps. guard your cup from sensitive kitties. mine go absolutely insane, like crack addicts, and i must hide the cup in a cabinet while in steeps and then hold it in hand once finished.