Oh, catnip, the feline’s version of pot. Considering the effects of catnip on cats, cat lovers can’t help but wonder what the big deal is. What makes it so desirable? Because of the euphoric effect that it seems to give felines, many people wonder: can you get high off of catnip? If you’ve got a fluffy friend at home, keep reading to find out whether it would even be possible to join in on the fun and what would happen if you did.
Catnip Effect on Humans
Catnip has long been used for medicinal purposes to relieve numerous ailments. It’s thought to have several potential health benefits, depending on how it’s consumed and the dose that is taken. To better understand whether you can get high off catnip and how it affects humans, we need to know what it’s made of.
A plant called Nepeta cataria is where catnip comes from. This is a shrub that’s part of the mint family and native to Europe and Asia. However, it now grows wildly around the United States and is therefore readily available. Catnip produces a chemical called nepetalactone in microscopic bulbs that coat its leaves, stems, and seed pods.
Relaxation and Stress Relief
When consumed, catnip can lead to relaxation, sedation, pain relief, and even increased libido. As we mentioned, the plant is recognized for its medicinal properties, some of which include anxiety and stress relief. The plant shares properties with the herbal supplement valerian, which is a popular sedative. Therefore, catnip is often taken by people to help manage stress, anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia.
Additionally, according to older studies, the calming effect of catnip in people has also been believed to relieve headaches.1 However, there is no clinical data to back this up. What’s more, headaches are actually one of the reported side effects of catnip in people.
Catnip is also believed to alleviate certain types of infections, such as those stemming from toothaches. Catnip poultices made from the dried leaves and flowers of the plant are a common folk remedy for treating toothaches that many people still use today.
Extracts of catnip have actually been reported to have antibacterial and antifungal properties that inhibit the growth and adhesion of certain types of bacteria.2 So it turns out these people were actually on to something! There’s also evidence that catnip’s antimicrobial properties could treat and prevent oral infections.3
Another supposed side effect of catnip is increased libido. The plant is believed to have aphrodisiac properties, which refers to a food or substance that increases sexual desire, arousal, behavior, performance, and pleasure. According to an older animal study in which rats were fed chow enriched with catnip leaves, the animals experienced penile erections and improved sexual behaviors, so maybe they’ve got a point.4
Can People Get High From Catnip?
Along with the supposed side effects of catnip on people, another hot topic is whether humans can get high on catnip. Is it possible? Nope.
Many people believe smoking catnip will get you high, but this isn’t the case. While you technically can smoke catnip, you probably don’t want to. There are many old reports about catnip being once used in place of cannabis or as an additive in weed since it produces similar effects, such as increased happiness and a slightly buzzed feeling.
However, this trend didn’t last very long for several reasons. First, what happens when you smoke catnip isn’t similar to marijuana’s effects. Cannabis (marijuana) is way more potent than catnip, so those looking for a psychoactive reaction don’t really need to add catnip to the mix.
Second, catnip also burns much quicker than substances like weed or tobacco, so to smoke it, it would have to be mixed with one of the two. Even so, this means that smoking would also come with the risks of using either marijuana or tobacco.
Third, even without adding substances like tobacco to the mix, smoking any items – including herbal products – is harmful. According to the American Cancer Society, all smoke contains particulates, chemicals, and toxins that can lead to cancer. There are also various reports all over the internet claiming that smoking catnip side effects aren’t worth it and don’t include a high.
So, while getting high off of catnip is not possible, there are other natural ways to get high that don’t involve drugs or alcohol, including exercising, eating certain foods, and spending time with loved ones. However, for those who have turned to substance abuse and developed an addiction, our Stuart, Florida Banyan Treatment Center can help.
We offer various forms of Florida medical detox for all kinds of drugs, both illicit and prescription. We also offer substance-specific treatment programs, including cocaine, heroin, meth, opioid, and prescription drug addiction treatment. Following withdrawal treatment, clients can then move onto a phase of treatment in which they connect with therapists privately in individual counseling sessions and with others in the recovery community in group therapy.
- NCBI - Catnip: Its uses and effects, past and present
- ScienceDirect - The effect of Nepeta cataria extract on adherence and enzyme production of Staphylococcus aureus
- National Library of Medicine - Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activities of Essential Oil of Nepeta Cataria L. Against Common Causes of Oral Infections
- National Library of Medicine - Nepeta cataria L. var. citriodora (Becker) increases penile erection in rats