Best Organic Catnip: What Is It?
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a flowering perennial herbaceous plant native to Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Its leaves are dark green with white veins. They have a sweet smell when crushed or chewed. The plant grows up to 10 feet tall and wide. The flowers are yellowish-white and are followed by small seed pods containing several seeds.
The plant produces numerous tiny white berries which contain a mild narcotic alkaloid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These plants produce thousands of seeds that grow into short stalks that resemble miniature sunflowers.
When ripe, these buds release their potent dose of THC.
It is one of the most popular natural remedies for anxiety and insomnia. The leaves are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat pain, cough, fever, inflammation, diarrhea and stomach problems.
It’s use dates back hundreds of years. It was first described in 1816 by German botanist Carl Linnaeus.
In the United States it is grown commercially for its medicinal value. The plant is often sold as “Kitty Litter” and is used to produce paper, rope, textiles and insulate vinyl.
It is sometimes used as a natural pesticide.
Why Is It So Popular?
The psychoactive elements of the plant are most concentrated in the yellowish-white flower buds. When dried and smoked or eaten, it has a very distinctive euphoric effect when consumed in large quantities.
When ingested, the effects begin after about 30 minutes and can last for up to 3 hours. The user experiences a feeling of being “high” and elation.
When smoked, the effects begin after about 5 minutes and can last up to an hour. It gives a feeling of increased energy and excitement along with a very mild high.
If more is smoked, the user may experience negative side effects such as dizziness, nausea, cotton-mouth, and loss of motor skills.
When the plant is touched, a tingling sensation is felt by most people. It contains an aromatic essential oil that reacts to skin and evaporates.
This is why when animals smell it, they tend to lick or chew it.
It bypasses the usual smell-taste-bite cycle of other plants. When ingested it has a very distinctive “minty” taste.
The most common effects in cats are writhing and rolling along with a state of euphoria.
It seems that most animals have a species specific response to the plant. Most pets are more than happy to chew or roll in the leaves.
Oddly, most birds will not go near the plant and will fly away if it is placed in their cages.
How Is It Used?
The flowers are dried and smoked or made into a tea and ingested. They can also be eaten fresh, although this method is not used as often. Most people prefer to take advantage of the quick onset of action by smoking or vaporizing the dried flowers.
One dried flower bud on average contains about 2 mg of THC. This amount can vary depending on several factors such as the time of year and plant care.
It takes an average smoker about 30 minutes to smoke this amount.
The potency varies between individual plants. Some are as high as 2% while others can be as low as 0.5%.
The average bud sold on the street has a THC content between 2 and 6%.
The flowers can also be used to produce hemp oil. This is an oil that has a very high concentration of THC, about 50%.
It is often used to produce edible products such as brownies, gummy candy and soda.
It is also commonly used by people with cancer and other illnesses that cause them to experience nausea. It is a good way for them to receive the medical benefits of marijuana.
Hazards and Legality
The dried flowers are illegal to possess or sell in most countries. Even in places where the cultivation and sale of marijuana is legal, kitty litter is not considered to be a “good strain” and is not sold in dispensaries.
It is often used as a way for drug dealers to extend the amount of marijuana they can sell. It is mixed with low-quality buds or sold by the gram.
This type of sale is illegal in states where only the sale of cannabis products that are over a certain percentage of THC is allowed.
The use of kitty litter to cut other drugs is also common. The most common mixture is with cocaine which results in a substance called “Tweek”.
It can also be used to cut MDMA.
These methods of use are extremely dangerous as the user has no idea what is actually in the product. It is common for these types of drugs to result in death due to the additional poisons or incorrect mixture.
In summary, kitty litter, or as it is more commonly known – marijuana, is a plant material that comes from the cannabis sativa L. plant.
Sources & references used in this article:
… of cats (Felidae) to silver vine (Actinidia polygama), Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and catnip (Nepeta cataria) by S Bol, J Caspers, L Buckingham… – BMC veterinary …, 2017 – Springer
Changes in Essential Oil Content and Composition of Catnip (Nepeta cataria L.) During Different Developmental Stages by S Mohammadi, MJ Saharkhiz – Journal of Essential Oil Bearing …, 2011 – Taylor & Francis
Catnip as a source of essential oils by CH Park, P Tannous, HR Juliani, QL Wu… – Creating markets for …, 2007 – hort.purdue.edu
Effect of drugs on catnip (Nepeta cataria)-induced pleasure behavior in cats by RC Hatch – Am J Vet Res, 1972 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org
‘CR9’: A New Highly Aromatic Catnip Nepeta cataria L. Cultivar Rich in Z, E-Nepetalactone by W Reichert, HC Park, HR Juliani, JE Simon – HortScience, 2016 – journals.ashs.org
39. Catnip–safer pesticide potential by E Small – Biodiversity, 2012 – Taylor & Francis
Catnip (Nepeta cataria): An Evaluation of the Cold Water and Acetone-Pretreated Hot Water Extracts by CJ Sherry, TW Robinson, K Powell – Quarterly Journal of Crude …, 1981 – Taylor & Francis
Oil of catnip by supercritical fluid extraction by J Louey, N Petersen, D Salotti, H Shaeffer… – Papers of the American …, 2001 – analytix.co.uk