Week 8 – Catnip

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

by Morgana Moonfire

Catnip is also known by the names Catmint, Catnep and Catnap, Catrup, Cat’s wort, Field balm, Cat, Nip and Nepeta. The genus name, Nepeta cataria, comes from Nepeti, a Roman town where this herb was first cultivated.

The herb is named catnip because of the peculiar behaviour of cats when they get a whiff of this feline favourite. It does not cause such behavior in humans but, like many botanical, it has many excellent nutritional properties.

Catnip is called a Woman’s Love Herb because it is said to make women enticing and charming to make men ready and increase their nature. For this reason, women use it to aid in bringing about relations.

Associations: Venus, Libra, Cancer, the Moon (Tarot), the element of water, Aengus Óg, Áine and Bast, its gender is feminine.

  • Catnip, if grown near the house or hung over the door will attract good spirits and good luck.
  • Early American settlers believed catnip would make kind people mean and so the dried roots were fed to hangmen and executioners.
  • Catnip is a Druid sacred herb.
  • All through history, this herb has been used in humans to produce a sedative effect. Traditional herbalists have treated other conditions like cancer, toothache and corns with catnip.
  • Catnip does not just intoxicate domestic felines: large cats, such as lions and jaguars, are also susceptible to its effects.
  • Tradition says that growing catnip near your home will attract luck and good spirits.
  • Catnip is a perennial or biennial herb of the mint family.
  • Catnip and savory will discourage flea beetles and bean beetles on your bean plants.
  • In addition to cats, bees are also fond of catnip.
  • Catnip leaves were brewed as tea and before Chinese tea was imported.

Catnip can reach up to 3 feet high.

Catnip grows on banks and waste places in northern temperate regions around the world.

Catnip is easy to grow. They grow well with little attention and will withstand crowding.

è They thrive in sun or partial shade.

è They prefer average, well drained soil over rich soils although will grow in most soils. So fertilizer is not usually required, except in the poorest of soils. A little fertilizer is recommended at planting time and a couple of times a year to promote maximum growth.

è After the plants have grown a few inches, pinch back the shoots to promote bushy growth. It will first bloom in mid summer. After harvest, trim back the plants again. With luck, you will get three harvests in a season.

Propagation

  • Catnip can be grown by seed.

Sow seeds into your garden in the spring.

Space seedlings or thin plants to 20″ apart.

  • Propagation by division

1. Dig up the plant on a cloudy day, keeping as much of the roots intact as possible. Remove or shake off any loose soil so you can easily see the crown and roots.

2. Divide the plant into smaller pieces using the knife or garden fork to cut through the crown and roots. (You might need two garden forks to pry apart roots of extremely overgrown clumps.) Each division should have at least two to five vigorous shoots with ample roots attached. Remove any diseased or discolored portions.

3. Cut back the top growth to about 6 inches or half the plant’s height.

4. Replant or pot up your new plants immediately and water well.

Planting

* When growing catnip, allow for plenty of space. Catnip are aggressive growers and will overcrowd nearby plants in your herb garden if allowed.

Harvesting

Harvest the leaves before and while flowering. Wait until the plant is 8 to 10 inches tall before harvesting. By that stage, the leaves will be large and mature.

Gather catnip for drying in late summer. The harvest process will depend on how you will be drying the catnip. If drying flat, then snip or pinch off the top leaves. If hanging the catnip to dry, snip off long stems.

Storing

Dry the leaves before storing them.

  • Drying can be achieved by placing the snipped leaves on a screen to allow the air to dry the leaves, which can take several weeks.
  • Another option to dry flat is to place the leaves on a baking sheet in the oven on the lowest setting; it can take up to 6 hours for the leaves to dry.
  • To dry the leaves by hanging them, secure bunches with string and hang them in a dry location.

* The leaves are dry when you can easily crumble them with your fingers.

  • Crumble the dried leaves and place them in an air-tight plastic container or glass jar.
  • The leaves can also be stored in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer.

Parts used: leaves

Magickal uses

v  Love: used for luck in love affairs.

  • Traditionally used in conjunction with rose petals to bring loving relationships that last forever.
  • Use in love sachets or add a small amount to herbal teas. If you carry catnip in a flannel bag, the man you want will be attracted to you like a cat to catnip.
  • To attract a new lover: use it in an herbal bath, sprinkle it at the 4 corners of the bed or burn it with incense.
  • Soak catnip leaves in whiskey and sprinkle the liquid on your doorstep for 21 days, starting on the full moon.

v  Happiness

è Use catnip while calling on Aengus Óg, the god of love, to bring happiness and love.

v  Cat magick

  • Give it to your cat to create a psychic bond.

v  Animal contacts, familiars

v  Beauty

  • In order to experience beauty and clarity, call on the goddess Áine while using.

v  Large dried leaves are powerful markers for magickal books.

v  Courage (smudging)

  • Chewed by warriors for fierceness in battle.

v  Friendship (smudging)

Medicinal uses

Catnip is a sedating/stimulating herb which is rich in volatile oils and which can also tonify or nourish. The primary chemical constituents of catnip include essential oils (carvacrol, citronella, geraniol, nepetol, nepetelactone, pulegone, thymol), iridoids and tannins. It also contains iron, selenium, potassium, manganese, chromium and moderate amounts of other minerals & vitamins.

Catnip has a substance called nepetalactone, which is similar to valerian. The herb is anti-inflammatory and has mild antibiotic properties. In addition, it relieves stress or pain (anodyne) and is diaphoretic (increases sweating).

v  Stimulates the appetite

v  When smoked, leaves give mild euphoria with no harmful effects.

v  Hair rinse for scalp irritations

v  Controls and reduces fever and will help soothe feverish chills

v  Catnip contains antispasmodic properties that are ideal for treating abdominal and menstrual cramping, as well as chronic coughing.

Carminative herb: aids digestion, constipation, calms upset stomachs, relieves diarrhea, flatulence and indigestion

  • Particularly good for children with upset stomachs in a very mild infusion.
  • Bath herb for colic
  • Catnip tea for upset stomach, colic, spasms, flatulence and acid.

v  It is a stronger nervine (relaxing herb): Catnip is good for nervous conditions, relieves stress, good for anxiety and nervousness, induces relaxation: drink catnip or chamomile tea (infants or adults)

  • Soothes nervous headaches
  • Bath herb for stress

v  Epilepsy

v  Eyewash for inflammation, allergies and bloodshot eyes

v  Hiccup remedy

v  Catnip’s antibiotic and astringent properties are also beneficial for treating colds and bronchial infections (chronic bronchitis): keeps colds at bay; catnip tea helps reduce mucus

v  The flu

v  For a stimulating state of mind

v  Relaxes the muscles

v  Heals minor tissue injuries

  • To treat minor mishaps that occur in the garden, press some crushed catnip leaves on cuts and scrapes until you are able to get inside to wash and bandage your injury.

v  Helpful for pain: soothes headaches and reduces migraine pain

  • Use as a poultice for toothache
  • Bath herb for teething
  • As a compress or poultice for pain, sprains and bruises
  • Salve for hemorrhoids

v  Liniment for arthritis and rheumatism

v  Enema to cleanse the colon

v  Compress or poultice for insect bites

v  Boils and carbuncles

  • Poultices made of ground flaxseed, peach tree leaves, catnip leaves or roasted onion and applied hot will draw out the infection.

v  Aids sleep, insomnia, ensuring a restful sleep

  • Sweet dreams and peaceful nights: place catnip under your pillow.
  • Healing dreams: drink tea-potion made from catnip or mint

CAUTION

*** Avoid during pregnancy!

*Catnip is a gentle herb and makes a suitable drink for children.

Other uses

v  Catnip prevents mosquito bites

  • Undiluted catnip oil can provide up to two hours of insect repellant properties when applied directly to the skin. Research in 2001 showed that catnip oil repels mosquitoes ten times better than DEET. Further research showed that depending on the species of mosquito, protection lasted for up to four hours. The active ingredient in catnip oil is called nepetalactone.

***Nepetalactone can cause skin irritations to those with sensitivities, so a patch test is recommended.

v  The root and leaf scent, mint with cat pheromone overtones, intoxicates cats and repels rats and flea beetles.

Catnip medicine

  • Catnip tea can be used effectively as a drink and also as an enema.
    • To make catnip tea, use 2 teaspoons of the dried herb per cup of boiling water.

Steep for 10 to 20 minutes; then strain and drink. *Do not boil catnip as boiling dissipates the herb’s healing oil.

Drink up to 3 cups daily.

Catnip and rosemary mosquito chasing oil

Makes about 2 cups.

2 cups catnip, stemmed

1 cup rosemary, cut in 6-inch sprigs

2 cups grapeseed oil or any light body-care oil

Roll herbs lightly with a rolling pin and pack into a clean jar. Cover with oil, seal jar and place in a cool, dark cupboard for two weeks.

Shake jar lightly every day or so for two weeks. Strain into a clean jar, seal and refrigerate for up to 8 months unused.

To use, rub on exposed skin.

Herbal Tea Recipe for Aches and Pain.

1 Tablespoon – White Willow Bark.

1 Tablespoon – Catnip

Put into a Tea ball and steep in boiling hot water for five minutes.

Drink as hot as you can stand it; then lie down for a nap.

Dragons

Can create a psychic bond with certain dragons.

Dragons: Water, Earth, Light, Mountains, Guardian

Sources

Elemental Healing

Making and Using Dreampillows by Leslie Ravenwing

Garden Necromancy: Summoning Spirits ~Source Unknown~

Herbal Dreamcraft

Use Essential Oils to Prevent Mosquito Bites: Catnip, Clove, Neem and Lemon Oil by Melanie Grimes, citizen journalist

http://members.aol.com/fadedone33/herbs.html

Be Your Own Herbal Expert – Part 1: an article by Susun S. Weed

Herbal Remedies Solutions – Herbal Tea Remedies

Niche Website

Herbal Remedies for Sleeping Disorders by Pete Sharpe

Herbal Teas by Gillie Whitewolf

Herbs for every Sign! by Kim Rogers-Gallagher

How to Harvest, Dry, and Store Herbs from: “Harvesting and Drying Herbs” by James C Schmidt and Dianne Noland

Sacred Herbs Of The Goddess

The Healing Power Of Herbs by May Bethel.

Herbs That Repel Bugs

Using Herbs Simply and Safely: an article by Susun S. Weed

Herbs and their Magickal Properties-Very Long & Detailed List

Bewitched | July 6, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Tags: herbs, magickal, properties, roots, wild | Categories: Herbs | URL: http://wp.me/pYkp9-4F

Water Based Preparations by Susun Weed

Smudging Herbs by Chrissy from ‘Smudging with Sage & Other Herbs’ from the Flourescent Ranch in Grand Mesa, CO.

http://www.iampanic ked.com/anxiety- articles/ herbs-for- anxiety.htm

Herbal cures by Lady Edenbolake

http://www.herbalre mediesinfo. com/pregnancy. Html

http://www.herbcomp anion.com/ Health/Clean- Deep-Clean- Sweet-with- Herbs.aspx

Clean Deep, Clean Sweet with Herbs by Sandy Maine

March The Herb Companion (magazine)

http://seattlepi. nwsource. com/nwgardens/ 90412_lovejoy10. Shtml

Why Not Grow Some Mosquito Repellent of Your Own?

Aromathyme.com

Healing by the Moon by Rachel Raymond

Cough Relief

Farmer’s Almanac

http://www.alizons- psychic-secrets. com/magical- potions.html

Dancing with Dragons, pgs.238-256 by D.J. Conway

A Guide to Propagating Herbs by Kris Wetherbee (The Herb Companion)

Lady Becky

http://www.gardenersnet.com/herbs/catnip.htm

How to Dry and Store Catnip | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_5735047_dry-store-catnip.html#ixzz10SCVE87E

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Week 7 – Rooibos

Rooibos Aspalathus linearis

It is also called Red Bush Tea or Red Tea.

Despite the popularity of the tea, earlier, there was some confusion over its name. However, this has been settled now and it has been agreed that henceforth the plant would be generally known as Aspalathus linearis. Occasionally, the rooibos plant is also called Borbonia pinifolia Marloth or Aspalathus contaminate.

  • Rooibos tea is not a true tea since it doesn’t use leaves from the Camellia consensus plant and comes from the South African shrub Aspalathus linearis.
    • Today the red bush tea or rooibos is the most well-liked hot brew in South Africa.
    • Rooibos is an indigenous shrub, which grows exclusively on the slopes of the Cedarberg Mountains in the Western Cape province of South Africa and has been used by traditional healers of the area for centuries. This is a traditional medicine for two indigenous groups that are native to South Africa–the Bushmen and the Hottentots.
      • 300 years ago European explorers discovered the “Red Tea”. Then, in the early 1900’s, the healing powers of South Africa’s ‘Miracle Tea’ became apparent, and acclaimed as a treasured elixir for the mind, body and spirit
      • Rooibos is Afrikaans for “red bush” and is pronounced as “RoyBoss”
      • Rooibos, also known as “Red Bush” tea, is an herbal tea native to South Africa. Unlike most teas (such as black, green and oolong), which come from camellia plants, rooibos comes from the Aspalathus linearis plant. Its leaves are green, but when oxidized the leaves turn red, giving the tea a distinctive appearance. The main use of this herb is brewed tea, which has a variety of health benefits.
      • Rooibos is a member of the legume family of plants. It is a shrub that belongs to the Fabaceae family.

Harvesting

The Aspalathus linearis plant is harvested in late summer or during autumn.

Storing

After harvesting, the long stalks of the plant are chopped into smaller parts. The cut stems along with the leaves are then moisturized, crushed and then left to ferment for some time. After the fermentation, the substance is left out in the sun to be dehydrated. The end product is the red bush tea that is prepared like the common or ordinary tea.

Parts used: The leaves and twigs are used, after being cut and bruised to allow enzymatic oxidation and then dried.

Medicinal uses

Rooibos is a mildly astringent herb (because of the tannins) with restorative properties and it is antispasmodic. It contains polyphenols, shown to have anticarcinogenic, anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory and antiviral qualities.

It is an extremely nutritious herb, containing a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to keep the body healthy. Rooibos contains Vitamin C; Alphahydroxy Acid; calcium, manganese and fluoride for strong teeth and bones; iron, which prevents anemia; zinc, copper, potassium, magnesium and more than 37 natural or common antioxidants.

v  Tooth decay (due to high fluoride content)

v  Insomnia

  • The beverage prepared with the herb helps in stimulating sleep. Research has shown that rooibos induces sleep by influencing the metabolism (the process by which ingested food is transformed into energy) of acetylcholine (a substance known to be a transmitter of nerve impulses) in the brain and thwarting the discharge of neurons responsible for wakefulness. In some other way, rooibos provokes sleepiness by obstructing the reactions of the hormones that lead to pain and irritation or inflammation. * However, here is a word of caution. The tea prepared with rooibos should be used for this purpose only after consultation and consent of the physician.

v  Cramps

v  Heartburn

v  Beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure

v  Nervous tension, mild depression, anxiety

v  Diabetes mellitus

  • Rooibos can help to control blood sugar levels

v  Atherosclerosis

v  Cataracts

v  Liver diseases

v  Syphilis

  • The plant is widely recommended as a supplementary medication while treating syphilis as it inhibits common inflammation (swelling and irritation) and reduces pain. However, the herb does not cure the disease.

v  Constipation, diarrhea (because of the tannins), digestive distress and cramping

v  Asthma

v  Ulcers

v  Aging (because of the antioxidants)

v  Helps build strong bones

v  High cholesterol (helping to prevent heart disease)

v  Vomiting

v  Rooibos is also effectual in treating mental disorders related to old age.

v  Rooibos may help relieve insomnia

v  HIV

  • A couple of studies conducted by Japanese scientists have found that rooibos is active against or combats the human immunodeficiency virus. The polysaccharide (a complex carbohydrate) amalgams present in rooibos thwarts the HIV from sticking to its intended or target cells in the body.

v  Rooibos is given to babies with colic, he herb is anti-spasmodic: it relieves cramps and stomach aches

  • Many mothers use this property of the tea to ease colic and stomach discomfort in their infants by mixing the tea with milk and bottle-feeding it to their children. The soothing properties of the tea may also pass along through breast milk.

v  Allergies and hay fever

  • Research has shown that it is possible that rooibos impedes the release of histamine, an organic derivative of ammonia discharged by immune cells producing allergic reactions. In fact, the release of histamine is said to be liable for nasal congestion as well as stomach disorders during allergic effects and anxiety. Hence, this property of rooibos makes the herb immensely beneficial for everyone suffering from food allergies and respiratory allergies.

v  Calms skin allergies and other skin complaints such as eczema

  • Brew the tea and apply it to the area with a cotton ball
  • Rooibos tea contains a variety of antioxidants and flavonoids, including alpha hydroxy acid, which help control free radicals in your body. Free radicals can lead to premature aging of the skin, so this tea can help keep your skin looking young. This benefit applies to drinking the tea, but you can also apply the tea directly to the skin; many people claim that when used this way, the tea helps prevent and treat acne, sunburn and eczema.
  • It has a soothing and healing effect on the skin.

* Rooibos is very low in oxalic acid, a compound that can cause problems for people with kidney stones, so those who suffer from this problem can drink it safely.

* The beverage does not have any unwanted effect on the body or mind.

* Rooibos tea is naturally caffeine free, which means that you can drink a cup before bed without worrying that it will keep you awake. Since it lacks caffeine, people with heart conditions and expectant mothers can safely drink this tea.

CAUTION

Like black tea, rooibos also slows down the absorption of iron from the consumed food. However, rooibos is less effective than the black tea in soaking up iron from the ingested food. Hence, people suffering from deficiency of iron and related diseases should try to avoid drinking the rooibos as well as black tea. Drinking any of the two beverages may be detrimental for their health as they are likely to further bring down the iron content in their system.

Rooibos Tea

* Contains no caffeine

* Is low in tannin (the tannins in black tea are responsible for the bitter flavour): the tannin content in the red bush tea is approximately five per cent.

*** The tea prepared with rooibos contains no stimulants and is known to be safe, mild and uncontaminated.

Normally, the dehydrated leaves and the fine stems are used as tea.

The beverage is also highly refreshing.

The tea is very mild and can be taken every day, or whenever you feel the need for an extra nutrition boost.

If you drink one to three cups a day, it can help increase your overall state of health. A spot of tea? image by Gretchen from Fotolia.com

Sandalwood & Rooibos Bath Soap

150g Pure clear unfragranced glycerine soap

5 Drops Sandalwood Fragrance

Rooibos leaves

* Gently melt the soap either in microwave or on stove top.

* Add Fragrance and sprinkle a few leaves into the melted soap.

* Give the soap a few swirls.

* Pour into soap mould. Allow to cool and demould.

* The leaves work as a great exfoliator and add colour and texture.

* Use a piece of corrugated cardboard to decorate the soap and tie it with a raffia bow.

Sources:

What is herbal medicine?

http://www.umm. edu/altmed/ articles/ herbal-medicine- 000351.htm

http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Herbalism

Guide To Green Tea

How to Understand the Medicinal Uses of Rooibos Tea

By Katherine Huether, eHow Contributor

How to Understand the Medicinal Uses of Rooibos Tea | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2094552_understand-medicinal-uses-rooibos-tea.html#ixzz0zIcdV4D1

Rooibos Benefits & Uses

By StephenR, eHow Contributor

updated: July 19, 2010

Rooibos Benefits & Uses | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_6750513_rooibos-benefits-uses.html#ixzz0zId2hdrE

http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_rooibos.htm

http://www.ageless.co.za/herb-rooibos.htm

http://www.phytochemicals.info/plants/rooibos.php

http://www.theherbspiral.com/supps/herbpages/Rooibos.htm

For all green-witches-to-be

For those of you, like me, who are new to herbology and who would like to get some hands-on experience, you might want to check this out:

Thanks to some great tips, I have come across some free online gardening and herbology courses. They could of course never replace real-life botany or herbology classes but if you don’t have access to such classes, at least the online courses will provide you with a really good starting point.

Often it is not necessary to go on a raid to Asian shops to find rare herbs or to go hiking in order to locate a special plant. Most common ailments can be treated with herbs that we already keep in our kitchen. In fact, we are often not aware of the herbal treasures we house in our cupboards. So much money can be saved by using what we already have, instead of spending it on medicine. What is more: you are not even required to have an enormous garden to grow your own herbal apothecary.

Free online courses:

Supermarket Herbalism: for when you don’t know where to start because all that herbal information can be overwhelming!

http://www.learningherbs.com/herbal_course.html

Free online gardening courses:

http://www.gardening123.com/courses/default.asp?MS=10

If you are interested in learning more about herbs, make sure to check out some of the articles by Susun S. Weed as well, such as: Using Herbs Simply and Safely.

A word of caution: There are actually many things you should keep in mind when getting started with herbs. People tend to forget that plants can be quite dangerous and there’s always the possibility that you have allergies you were not aware of. Finally, when you’ve made sure you’re using the correct herb in the correct way, remember that for some ailments you will still be required to see a doctor.

To all those magnificent individuals out there…

I just have to say how grateful I am to the wonderful people who teach any paganism-related course free of charge! It is actually amazing and most admirable that so many people are doing this; they willingly lend their time and energy to share and teach the things they’ve learned without expecting anything in return! Big thumbs-up for all of you! I deeply appreciate these efforts and I hope to give something back by sharing my own journey through this blog and through my new podcast.

Brightest of blessings to you all

Morgana Moonfire

Copyright notice

All entered text is ©2010 of the author, unless otherwise stated.

In order to reproduce any material, permission needs to granted by the author, either Morgana Moonfire or Archangel Amitiel.

Dark Moon Circle

As a sister of the DMC, Morgana aka Funky Chicken would like to honour this wonderfully supportive circle of sisters who never hesitate to offer guidance and share their wisdom.