collage by Essine
collage by Essine

Us young femmes all share a pretty expansive knowledge of pesky problems that never seem to go away: Stress, mood swings, insomnia, cramps, pinched nerves, bloating, mosquitoes…WELL my friends, I am here to tell you that there is a one-stop cure to ALL of these problems–and it’s totally natural, legal, and maybe even in your garden or cabinet at this very moment: CATNIP.

I first discovered the magical properties of what I now consider the Holy Grail of all herbs when an afternoon of web surfing led me to a forum about holistic cures for cramps. I am a pretty natural person and dread resorting to painkillers every month to cope with the pain, so I’m always open to trying new things. I was pretty surprised to hear people talking about Catnip, but I figured it was worth a try. I am now astounded that this is not a more commonly encouraged cure for, um, EVERYTHING.

Here’s how it works against all things terrible in life:

STRESS: Catnip naturally reduces stress and anxiety levels in your body, kind of like St. John’s Wort or Bach Flower. It encourages relaxation, calming both your body and your mind so you can feel super zen.

MOOD SWINGS: Same as above, but add in the fact that Catnip produces ‘euphoria’ in humans. It’ll make you a little cheerier on your sadder days.

INSOMNIA: Catnip is a natural sedative commonly used as a cure for insomnia, very similar to valerian root. Pop a half of a melatonin with your tea before bed and you’ve got a totally safe sleep-tight cocktail.

CRAMPS: From what I’ve heard, the tea relaxes your uterus just like the relaxes the rest of your muscles, and this releases the pain of menstrual cramps. All I know is that when I have a cup or two at the start of my cramps (IE: before you‘re doubled over on the couch), I feel way way WAY better.

PINCHED NERVES: I am pretty prone to back pain. I’ve been adjusted many times, done exercises, had massages, slept with a stack of pillows under my legs, and even had to quit yoga because of it. I also popped a lot of unnecessary painkillers–but thanks to Catnip, I no longer need them. Because Catnip is a natural anti-inflammatory, it can take away the pressure from where the ‘pinching’ is happening and relax your muscles to boot! Just ONE CUP can bring you to pain free livin’–and it kicks in quick, too!

BLOATING: Guess what? Catnip is ALSO a natural diuretic, so it helps you detox, cleansing your liver, and shed extra water weight. Sip some to reduce any excess bloat before you try to squeeze into that vintage dress you bought a size too small. God knows it’s better than Spanx.

MOSQUITOES: Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better–Catnip is absolutely ABHORRED by mosquitoes, more even than Deet, that nasty chemical stuff you smear all over your skin before a barbecue. It’s also a natural repellant to rats and mice, so your house can be as pest-free as your skin. Of course, if you smother yourself with the stuff, you may attract a lot of feline attention…but that can be seen as an added bonus.


1. Go to your nearest pet store (or your grandma’s garden) and pick up some ORGANIC CATNIP. Make sure there are no weird additives, you want your herbs to be natural and safe for human consumption. Alternatively, you might find Catnip teabags at a health food store, but I prefer to buy mine by the baggie.

2. Put the loose Catnip leaves into a tea strainer. You can use the little balls or baggies that you sick in the water, or one of the bigger strainers you find at a place like Teavana. You should use about 1-2 tablespoons of Catnip, or whatever you prefer the taste of.

3. Steep your tea until you’re ready to drink it. I like mine to get pretty strong so I get the full effects of the herb.

4. Remove your strainer and drink up! The taste is kind of woodsy. Some people might add honey or lemon, but personally I like the taste straight up. It is much better hot than cold.

5. Feel amazing! Catnip is natural, healthy, and packed with vitamins to boot. In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, I’ve also heard that it can help with migraines, digestion, colic, diarrhea, colds, fevers, congestion, and gas.

Alternatively, you can make a poultice from Catnip leaves to aid any swollen-joint condition, or give some to your older relatives to help with rheumatism/arthritis. You can apply the leaves to small cuts to stop bleeding and speed up healing. For the mosquitoes, try either wearing a little sachet of the stuff, or letting it sit in oil or moisturizer to use before you go out.


You shouldn’t drive after drinking Catnip until you find out how it affects you. Some people may get very drowsy or loopy, other may be practically unaffected. THE EFFECTS WILL GET STRONGER IF YOU DRINK MORE THAN ONE CUP. One night I brewed three strong cups in a row and I ended up in a fit of hysterical laughter triggered by the consumption of Pop Rocks. DO NOT drink this if you are pregnant.

I am not a doctor or a medical professional so, you know, take all this with a grain of salt.


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June 4, 2013