Nepeta cataria (Catnip): Antidepressant?

weight lossNepta plants are a group of worldwide distributed flowering plants that belong to the Lamiaceae or mint family. As with most mint family plants, nepeta plants contain an essential oil that is rich in healing phytochemicals. Mice fed repeatedly with normal chow enriched with 10 % Nepeta cataria (catnip) leaves experience significantly reduced immobility in experimental tests of despair, indicating the extracts have a significant antidepressant activity. This supports other studies that show that nepeta plants may have significant central nervous system effects, including anxiolytic effects. However, only certain types of extracts appear to be beneficial at causing antidepressant effects, and this may relate to the differing solubilities of the active ingredients. For example, non-polar solvent extracts exert significant antidepressant effects, but polar extracts do not. The chemical responsible for the antidepressant effects is therefore likely only soluble in non-polar solvents, suggesting it has some of the chemical properties of a lipid.

nepta cataria depression anxiety

Nepeta cataria is called catnip because the fresh or dried plant and its extracts can induce extreme please manifestation cats.

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Bernardi, M. M., Kirsten, T. B., Salzgeber, S. A., Lopes, E., Ricci, P. R., Lago, J. H. G. and Lourenço, L. M. Antidepressant-like effects of an apolar extract and chow enriched with Nepeta cataria (catnip) in mice. Psychology and Neuroscience. 3(2): 251-258

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Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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