Nepeta Species: Anxiolytic Plants?

weight lossNepeta is a group of flowering plant belonging to the Lamiaceae, or mint family of plants. Nepeta plants are distributed throughout the world. Nepeta cataria is perhaps the most well known example, and is commonly known as catnip, catswort or catmint on account of its attractiveness to cats. As with many plants in the Lamiaceae family, nepeta plants may have particular anxiolytic effects. For example, in one study, researchers investigated the effects of extracts of aerial parts of the Nepeta persica plant on the anxious behaviour of mice. This species of nepeta is found in Iran. The mice were administered the plant extracts and exposed to experimental stress. At 50 mg per kg body weight, the extract was observed to have significant anxiolytic effects, but did not cause a loss of locomotor activity or any sedation. However, at lower doses the extract produced a sedative effect and at higher doses the plant produced a stimulatory effect, suggesting significant central nervous system effects.

catnip nepeta plants anxiety

Nepeta species are widely used traditional herbal medicine. In this regard the plants are claimed to possess antispasmodic, expectorant, diuretic, antiseptic, antitussive, antiasthmatic and anxiolytic effects. Nepeta cataria (catnip) is perhaps the most well known Nepeta plant. The flowers of the plant may have particular use as a sedative and anxiolytic agent. Studies suggest that the main constituents of Nepeta plants are an essential oil that contain diastereomeric nepetalactones. Nepetalactones may exert sedative effects are are thought to be responsible for the plant’s effects on cats. Image is of catnip.

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Rabbani, M., Sajjadi, S. E. and Mohammadi, A. 2008. Evaluation of the anxiolytic effect of Nepeta persica Boiss. in mice. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 5(2): 181-186

About Robert Barrington

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