What Is Catnip And What Does It Do
What Is Catnip?
Catnip, or Nepeta cataria, is a flowering plant that grows in most parts of Europe and North America. It can be found in damp areas and near the coastlines. Catnip’s genus name, Nevada, comes from Ancient Greek “nevi” meaning “to creep”. The cat-arousing effects of catnip are attributed to oil which affects certain scent receptors located inside a feline’s nose. When the plant is crushed or rubbed up against wood shavings – this releases the potent oils which are then inhaled by the animal. Its scent is similar to that of mint and is most remarkable in the spring when the plant blooms. The effects of catnip vary from cat to cat. Some cats appear to be intoxicated by it, whereas other cats do not react at all.
What are the effects?
Although there are several anecdotal reports, the recommended dosage for cats is only 10-15 grams per day. After administration of this amount, many cats spend the rest of their time lying around or sleeping due to its sedative properties. Others eliminate an excessive number of urine or feces because they feel non-functional. The most curious effect of catnip is the affectionate behavior that it induces in some cats. They act as if they are drunk or high, rolling around in a euphoric state and rubbing their faces against the ground. This behavior is more commonly seen in kittens due to their lower body weight. In some cases, this causes them to go into fits of laughter that appear similar to human beings who have taken cannabis or other hallucinogenic drugs.
Catnip contains nepetalactone, which activates specific neurons located near a cat’s nose. These neurons in turn excite olfactory sensory neurons located at the back of the cat’s brain that control sexual behavior. When this happens, a cat’s pupils dilate slightly, and it may exhibit greater interest in physical contact and play with other cats. The effects of catnip only last a few minutes in adult cats and an hour or so for kittens. After this period, the catnip-induced behavior such as running around or rolling on the floor ceases.
What are the effects on humans?
Human ingestion of catnip produces a similar sensation to that produced by licking the plant. This may lead one to believe that cats only use catnip for its psychoactive properties. One may think it is only a decorative plant but the truth is that it is very useful for humans in other ways as well. If you are suffering from menstrual cramps, you can use it to relieve pain or induce sleep. The herb can also help with insomnia and anxiety in humans, but there are no scientific studies available stating this claim. As a possible alternative therapy, many people prefer to simply hold the leaves of catnip in their hands and inhale its scent.
Historically, catnip was used to treat menstrual cramps and colic through “hot” compresses. It was also used to treat anxiety and insomnia in children. The same properties which induce excitement in felines are also sedating to humans if the plant is ingested orally. However, there are no sufficient scientific studies to back these claims.
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