Essential Oil Profile: Catnip

by Amelia E. Hoard, RN


Common Name: Catnip

Synonyms: catmint

Latin Binomial: Nepeta cataria L.

Family: Lamiaceae

Production Method: steam distilled

Countries of Origin: Europe, USA

Typical Constituents: Nepetalactone isomers (12.7-84%), Nepetalic acid (1.2-43%), Dihydronepetalactone (0-25.0%), b-Caryophyllene (6.2-24.6%), Caryophyllene oxide (14.3-19.4%), [E]-b-Farnesene (0-2.1%), Humulene oxide (1.0-1.6%), Piperitone (0-1.5%), a-Caryophyllene (0-1.3%), b-Elemene (0-1.2%), 3-Hexenyl ester (0-1.2%)

Description of Oil: Catnip oil has a deep rich golden color and a sweet pastoral scent reminiscent of newly mown grass.

Description of Plant: A perennial herb belonging to the mint family. Catnip is native to Europe and grows wild in most of the United States.

History, Folklore and Myth: Long used in France as a seasoning, catnip was introduced to the U.S. in the late 18th century. Native Americans brewed the leaves for infant colic.

Properties and Uses: Catnip essential oil is proven to be more effective than DEET as mosquito repellent. It is also used for treating migraines and for inducing sleep.

Precautions and Contraindications: low risk of skin sensitization; may be psychotropic

Other Interesting  Information: Catnip has also been proven to repel cockroaches.



Tisserand, Robert, and Tony Balacs. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. 1995.

Hoard, Jeffrey S., Catnip as Mosquito Repellent. 2003

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