There are various benefits of catnip tea, including relaxation and mood improvement. Risks include headaches and digestive discomfort.

Catnip is a herb frequently used in pet toys. Historically, people used it as a home remedy for its calming, soothing properties.

A member of the mint family, catnip was a popular remedy consumed through tea, tinctures, poultices, and more. It was used for conditions ranging from measles to the common cold.

It fell out of favor when more effective medicines became available. Now, it is primarily used for pets.

However, some people still enjoy using catnip for its sedative effect. Brewing it as a cup of tea is a popular way to consume the herb.

Read on to learn more about how to make catnip tea, its benefits, its side effects, and more.

A cat on a windowsill sniffing a mug of catnip tea.Share on Pinterest
Thais Varela/Stocksy

Catnip, also called Nepeta cataria, is a medicinal herb. People make catnip tea from the dried leaves of the catnip plant.

There is very limited research on the effects of catnip tea, and most of the information is anecdotal.

However, catnip contains a compound called nepetalactone, which is known for its relaxing properties. This means it may offer some soothing, calming benefits for people who consume it as tea. Although older research says catnip tea was used for digestion, sleep, and colds, there is no evidence to show that it is effective in those ways.

Historically, catnip was used as a home remedy for a variety of ailments. It was a “folk medicine” treatment for diarrhea, gastrointestinal issues, colic, asthma, and more.

Now, catnip tea is usually consumed for its calming effects. It is said to promote relaxation and reduce tension.

It is important to note that while catnip was popular in the past, there is no evidence showing that it is an effective treatment. In many cases, it may even cause harm.

Catnip tea is slightly bitter and has a minty, earthy taste. Some people prefer adding lemon, honey, or sugar to improve the flavor.

It is available as loose tea or in tea bag form.

To make catnip tea using loose tea:

  1. Boil one cup of water.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of of loose catnip tea.
  3. Cover and steep for several minutes.
  4. Strain the tea.
  5. Add lemon juice, honey, or sweetener of choice.

Catnip tea is a mild sedative that can make people feel more relaxed.

Anecdotally, it is said to offer some benefits, but there is very limited research on how catnip affects humans.

Some possible, unproven benefits of catnip tea include:

  • a better mood
  • relaxation
  • better sleep
  • improving digestive discomfort
  • reducing menstrual cramps

In small quantities, catnip tea is safe for adults. However, larger amounts may cause headaches, vomiting, and digestive discomfort.

Catnip is a diuretic, which means it can cause frequent urination. Drinking too much catnip tea could lead to dehydration.

Additionally, because it is known for its sedative properties, consuming too much may cause drowsiness.

People should not consume catnip tea before driving or operating machines. They should also ask a doctor about any potential drug interactions before trying catnip tea.

People should not take catnip tea with any type of herb, depressant, or medication that causes sleepiness, including:

  • anticonvulsants
  • barbiturates
  • benzodiazepines
  • sleeping medications
  • kava
  • St. Johns wort
  • valerian
  • cold and cough medicines

People with pelvic inflammatory disease, heavy menstruation, or who are pregnant should not consume catnip tea.

Historically, catnip tea was said to be a remedy for colic. It is important to note that catnip should not be given to infants or children. There are safe, evidence-backed treatments for colic that people can try.

Because of the lack of research on catnip tea, some people may not want to try it. Additionally, it is not safe for everyone.

People who want a calming, relaxing beverage can try:

Catnip tea is a medicinal herb that was historically used as a “folk medicine” treatment for a variety of ailments.

Although anecdotally, it is said to improve sleep, digestion, and more, research on catnip’s effect on humans is very limited.

Catnip is known to be soothing, so some people enjoy drinking a cup of catnip tea to relax. Catnip is safe in small amounts, but people should not consume it in excess.