Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Parts used: Leaves and flowers
Benefits: Another versatile wonder plant, catnip is safe, effective and easy to use. It grows easily both in and out of the garden - if you keep your cats away long enough for it to get a head start! While it sends cats into spasms of pleasure, it calms and sedates people, both young and old. An excellent calming herb, catnip can be used for all manner of stress and is particularly beneficial for lowering fevers and for the pain of teething or toothaches. It is especially valued as a safe, effective relaxant for babies and young children. It is also a restorative digestive aid used for indigestion, diarrhea and colic.
Suggested uses: Catnip is quite bitter, so it is often formulated with other more pleasant tasting herbs such as oats and lemon balm (two of my favorites). Serve as a tea throughout the day during teething pain. Give a couple of drops of the tincture before meals to serve as a digestive aid. A few drops of the tincture before bedtime will help calm a fussy child, too!
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is a highly aromatic plant that is easy to grow in your garden. Like many mints, it has a variety of uses and is generally safe for all ages. It also tastes wonderful, making it an easy remedy to get down picky throats. Children seeking comfort from the pain of teething can use lemon balm as a tea or can chew on a washcloth soaked in tea.
Lemon balm is an aromatic digestant that can be used for indigestion, gas, bloating, and other digestive complaints. It is also antiviral and a relaxing diaphoretic, making it an ideal choice for colds and the flu, especially when accompanied by a fever. It is often combined with St. John’s Wort, both topically and internally, to relieve cold sores. Because both of these antiviral herbs are relaxing nervines, they make an especially beneficial pairing for these stress-related sores. Lemon balm’s calming abilities are especially suited for tissues in an excited state such as hyperthyroidism. Because it is often used for hyperthyroidism, some caution those with a hypothyroid from using too much of it.
If you’re feeling overly stressed with a go-go-go-go mentality, a daily lemon balm infusion can help you to slow down and unwind. I make a nice valerian-lemon balm tea which tastes great and is so soothing!
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Another must-have herb! Chamomile is a cheery plant that looks and smells beautiful. It makes a wonderful ground cover in gardens, producing a sweet scent when walked upon. Chamomile is a very well known herb that has been used by everyone from the Ancient Egyptians to modern day Peter Rabbit who was given chamomile tea before bed. To harvest this plant, gather the flowering tops just before they fully open.
Like many herbs, chamomile is multi-purpose:
- Externally, it can be used as a poultice or salve to heal burns, rashes and eczema.
- Safe for young children, it’s often the preferred herb for a wide range of common childhood complaints such as restlessness, colic, teething, whining, and fevers.
- Adults can also enjoy a cup of chamomile tea to soothe the nervous system, allaying stress and irritability, and thereby promoting calmness.
- Chamomile’s common genus name, Matricaria, insinuates its affinity for women and mothers. The tea can be drunk to bring on delayed menses, reduce uterine cramping, and relieve heartburn when pregnant.
Chamomile is easily prepared as a tea. To make it by the cup, steep
one teaspoon of dried chamomile for ten minutes. This makes a delicious
tasting tea. For a more medicinal brew you can steep it for 30 minutes.