Does the Inner Nature of Catnip tame and calm the beast inside? It is certainly something worth considering. When considering what effect the Inner Nature of an essential oil might have on our emotions and psyche, we take a look at the plant and how it reacts in the wild. We also have a look at how Nature and other species react to it. We know the reaction all members of the Feline family have to Catnip. So thinking that Catnip essential oil might ‘tame or calm the beast inside’ might not be such a stretch. Certainly, it is something I keep at the back of my mind when looking at what oils to choose for a client who is lashing out.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria L)
Plant Description: A grey, hairy, erect, branched perennial which grows from 40 to 100 cm in height. It is native to southern and eastern Europe and widely naturalized elsewhere in Europe and North America.
History/Folklore: It has been used as an efficient lure for trapping bobcats, lynx, cougars, pumas, mountain lions, and all predatory felines. Guenther says that “for the purpose of trapping animals, catnip essential oils should be diluted in the ratio of 35 drops to 2 ounces of petrolatum, which is used to give body to the oil and to prevent loss of scent by evaporation or exposure to rain.” Catnip is best known for its ability to elicit unique sequence in Felidae, including sniffing; licking and chewing with head shaking; chin and cheek rubbing, head-over rolling, and body rubbing; known as “the catnip response”. The Catnip Response has been observed in both domestic and wild cats. The tops of the plant can be used for a pleasant-tasting mint-like, but characteristic tea. While the flowering tops are used in infusions for colds, colic, fever, flu, diarrhea, headache, menstrual irregularities; Reputed to have diaphoretic, febrifuge, spasmolytic, mild sedative. (Leung, Foster) Catnip scent is repellant to rats, so catnip is sometimes grown around crops as a protective screen. In addition to rats, the plant deters mice and insects such as ants and beetles. (Berkowsky)
Extraction: A pale yellow to light yellow-brown essential oils is steam distilled from the leaves and flowering tops. Yield is around 0.3 – 1% (Guenther)
Aroma: Minty, sweet, hay-like odor with a heady herbal note. Tony Burfield says that it is somewhat reminiscent of Clary Sage. Dry-out is hay-like, minty and herbaceous. The oil is not as pungent as the freshly rubbed herb. (Burfield)
Odor intensity: Strong
Perfume Note: Middle Note
Blends well with all citrus oils, as well as other herb oils.
Perfume Key Qualities: May have a sedative quality.
Chemistry: Ketones (12-84%); Sesquiterpenes (6 – 25%); Oxides (15 -21%)
Cautions: Low risk of skin sensitization; maybe psychotropic. Tisserand and Young report that based on the compositional data they found it would seem to indicate the existence of at least two chemotypes a nepatalic acid chemotype, and a B-caryophyllene chemotype, both nepetalactone-rich. (Tisserand and Young)
Traditionally used on a physical level for
Skin Care: Wound healing. Effective insect repellent.
Respiratory System: Flu, pneumonia, viral infections.
Circulation, muscles, and joints: Muscle cramps
Traditionally used on a psychological level for: Nervous tension, Calming.
On a subtle level, consider adding catnip to your blend when there is emotional “crushing or bruising”. I would also consider it when someone is totally fixated on something in their outer environment.
In Dr. Bruce Berkowsky’s Spiritual PhytoEssencing, Catnip is considered to have a strong theme of invasiveness.
“If I can overcome vulnerability to external threats (via achieving personal security and linkage of the intuitive “knowing” and those aspects of the sixth sense which originate in the crown chakra with the animal instinct and other aspects of the sixth sense more closely associated with the lower chakras, including the sacral chakra) and perceive the higher world from the platform of the material world, I will be okay.”
References Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils ©1998-2018 Joseph Ben Hil-Meyer Research, Inc. Tony Burfield, Natural Aromatic Materials – Odours & Origins, 2000Ernst Guenther, The Essential Oil, Vol III, 1948 reprinted 1972 Leung and Foster, Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients, second edition, 1996 Steflitsch, Wolz, Buchbauer, Aromatherapie in Wissenschaft und Praxis, 2013 Tisserand and Young, 2nd Edition Essential Oil Safety, 2014