Catmint – that beautiful purply blue that I love so much, here shown in my garden against a background of Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) that I spoke about in an earlier post.
Catmint’s Latin name is Nepeta cataria and it is, indeed, beloved of cats, proven by my need to move away from our last house and our neighbour’s cat before I was able to establish any size of plant for the herb garden! Luckily my own cat is not quite as obsessed and in any case, this beautiful plant is now big enough to hold its own.
On the one hand, catmint is ‘just’ another variety of mint and indeed it does have a minty flavour – though less aromatic and more earthy than most. It’s true medicine though, lies elsewhere…
Catmint is known to herbalists as the key herb to take the heat out of very hot-headed people! You know, the ones who lose their temper at the slightest thing, or get hot under the colour – often physically as well as emotionally – when things aren’t going their way, or they face a frustrating problem. There’s something about catmint that allows the body AND the mind to cool down and take a moment. Which is often as much of a relief to the people around them as it is to the person themselves!
I often add catmint to the daily tincture of hot-headed people and over the period of a few weeks we often notice their tendency to react reducing significantly. I would always pair it with skullcap herb (Scutellaria lateriflora) that I wrote about in a previous post. So if that sounds like you – you might want to think about planting these two in your garden!
The other wonderful use of this herb is in bringing down temperatures. When my son was younger he would spike high temperatures very easily and sometimes the standard children’s medicine just wouldn’t shift it for him. So I found that giving cooled catmint tea often managed things wonderfully and eventually we began trying this approach first before reaching for other medicines and often it worked quickly and well.
We simply kept a supply on hand by drying the catmint thoroughly in the summertime, crushing the dried leaves and flowers, and keeping them in a paper bag until needed. To make a herbal tea from dried leaves you usually use 2-3 teaspoons per cup of hot water and infuse for at least 10 minutes. You can drink it hot or cold and can add honey (for over 1-year-olds) if necessary or even add to juice.
But I must admit, my favourite thing about catmint – is simply to look at the beautiful purply blue and the greyish green leaves in the garden and so I almost always leave a patch for me – and the bees.