If you have a feline friend, you'll know all about the effects of catnip on cats - but what about its effects on humans?

Catnip or Nepeta cataria, belongs to the Lamiaceae plant family which also includes common herbs such as rosemary, oregano, basil, and sage. The minty and lemony herb and cousin of many kitchen cupboard staples was originally native to Central Europe and Asia and has long been associated with cats.

It's Latin derivation, cataria even means "of a cat", but many people don't know that it has some surprising health benefits for humans!

1. Improved Sleep

One of the most traditional uses for catnip is as a sleep aid. The nepetalactone found in catnip is very similar to the major active compounds called valepotriates found in another popular sleep herb: valerian. Catnip has a gentle sedative effect on humans and is often used as a natural way to treat insomnia or relax tension.

2. Stress Relief 

The calming effects of catnip give it many benefits for relieving chronic stress and anxiety. It is often recommended by herbalists in supporting over all mental wellness and is a common ingredient in herbal relaxation teas.

3. Cold and Flu Remedy 

Another traditional medicinal use for catnip is using it to help with symptoms of colds and flu. Along with other herbs like liquorice root, catnip is often used as a natural cough and sore throat remedy. It has been found in studies to have soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. 

4. Improved Digestion

The minty properties of catnip is known to calm indigestion and cramps. Catnip tea is proven to relieve painful menstrual cramps, headaches, and gastrointestinal pain. 

5. Aids Skin Irritation 

Along with its calming and anti-inflammatory compounds, catnip also antiseptic properties that make it useful for treating skin infections and speeding the healing of minor wounds and cuts. Catnip can be used externally as a salve or extract for skin problems but has also traditionally been prescribed by herbalists in tea form for hives.