Catnip is a perennial herb and member of the Mint family that is best known for its ability to make cats high. Originally native to Europe & Asia, it is now common to North America. There are over 200 species of Catnip. The most common are typically Catmint (purple flowers, small grey/green leaves, grows to fifteen inches high), Camphor Catnip (white flowers with purple dots and a camphor scent, grows to eighteen inches high), and the one cats most enjoy, Common catnip (white flowers, grows up to three feet).
According to Culpepper’s Guide to Herbal Medicine (17??), Catnip has historically been used as a tea, an infusion and in other forms to treat a variety of ailments. Although drugs have largely replaced its use, catnip tea remains a popular hair rinse to enhance hair quality.
Benefits noted by users include improved moisture, reduction of split ends and flyaway hair, softer, shinier hair. It is also purported to stimulate hair growth.
How to Brew:
1) Bring 3-4 cups water to a boil in a pot.
2) Turn off heat and add 1 tsp catnip per cup of boiled water.*
3) Cover and let steep until lukewarm or overnight.
4) Tap off the condensation from the pot lid to retain the essential oils.
5) Strain out the leaves, then if desired add a pinch of citric acid.
*Other herbs may also be brewed with the catnip, such as lavender for a lovely scent or rosemary and sage for covering grey. The tea will keep in the refrigerator for a week.
Both leaves and flower buds (as found in commercial packages) may be used. However if harvesting your own catnip to dry, the buds are purported to offer more conditioning.
Procedure for Use as a Rinse:
1) Shampoo as usual and blot hair dry with a towel.
2) Soak hair in a bowl of catnip tea for a couple of minutes, pouring the tea over scalp several times.
3) Once hair and scalp are saturated, cover with a plastic shower cap and leave on hair for an hour.
4) Rinse the catnip from hair with warm water.*
*Some users don’t rinse the tea from their hair, but others claim this causes build-up, while others keep the tea in a mister and use it to reduce frizz. Some leave the tea in for a shorter time with satisfactory results.
Precautions: Catnip tea will stain towels yellow. It may cause yellowing of white or blonde hair, although many find their light-colored hair is not affected. The effect shampoos out.
If you wish to reduce signs of grey, add an 1/8th cup each of rosemary and sage per cup of water while steeping your catnip. Repeat weekly until you achieve the shade you desire, and then monthly to maintain it.
Sniffing catnip is what produces a high in cats. So if you own a cat, be prepared that it may go a little crazy sniffing the tea as it brews. However, when eaten, catnip acts as a sedative.