|Flowers of the plant|
Nepeta cataria, commonly known as catnip, catswort, or catmint" Urdu: Badranj boya ", is a species of the genus Nepeta in the Lamiaceae family, native to Europe and southwestern to central Asia, and is widely naturalized elsewhere. The common name catmint can also refer to the genus as a whole.
Nepeta cataria is a short lived herbaceous perennial, growing 2–3 feet (61–91 cm) tall and wide. It resembles mint in appearance by having the characteristic square stem that members of the Lamiaceae plant family has, but with grey-green foliage. The coarse-toothed leaves are triangular to ovate.
- Nepeta cataria var. citriodora (or N. cataria subsp. citriodora), Lemon catnip.
The compound "iridodial" as extracted from catnip oil has been found to attract the beneficial insect known as lacewings which eat aphids and mites.
Nepetalactone is a mosquito and fly repellent. Oil isolated from catnip by steam distillation is a repellent against insects, in particular mosquitoes, cockroaches and termites. Research suggests that, in vitro, distilled nepetalactone repels mosquitoes ten times more effectively than DEET, the active ingredient in most insect repellents, but that it is not as effective a repellent when used on the skin.
Catnip has a history of medicinal use for a variety of ailments. The plant has been consumed as a tea, juice, tincture, infusion or poultice, and has also been smoked. However, its medicinal use has fallen out of favor with the development of more effective drugs. It has also been known to have a slightly numbing effect.
Nepeta cataria (and some other species within the genus Nepeta) are known for their behavioral effects on the cat family, not only on domestic cats but also other species of cats. N. cataria is used as a recreational substance for pet cats' enjoyment, and catnip and catnip-laced products designed for use with domesticated cats are available to consumers. Not all cats are affected by catnip. The common behaviors when cats sense the bruised leaves or stems of catnip are rubbing on the plant, rolling on the ground, pawing at it, licking it, and chewing it. Consuming much of the plant is followed by drooling, sleepiness, anxiety, leaping about and purring. Some will growl, meow, scratch, or bite the hand holding it. Some cats will eat dried catnip; often eating too much can cause cats to be aggressive, typically making them hiss.
Although the physiology of intoxication is not well understood, obvious biologic and psychotropic effects demonstrate the plant should be treated like any pharmacological substance. Large doses may induce undesired effects in the individual.
Nepetalactone acts as a feline attractant. Roughly half to two thirds of cats will be affected by the plant. This chemical enters the feline's nose. Cats detect it through their olfactory epithelium, not through their vomeronasal organ. At the olfactory epithelium, the nepetalactone binds to one or more olfactory receptors. Some[who?] have speculated that it may mimic a cat pheromone, such as the hypothetical feline facial pheromone or the cat urine odorant MMB. However, this has not been tested.
Approximately two hours after an exposure, the feline will be sensitive to another dose. The phenomenon is hereditary. There is some disagreement about the susceptibility of lions and tigers to catnip.
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