Catnip Ain't Just for Cats December 18 2019, 0 Comments

Catnip for Horses Natural Insect Repellent

Meow?  Really? Catnip, also known as Catmint, or Catwort, is an awesome add to your equine herbal treasure chest.  A member of the mint family originating in Europe, China and the Middle East, this hardy herb is very easy to grow and a wonderful aide in improving your horse’s nerves and insect resistance.

Plant Parts and Uses

The leaves are the most commonly used part of the plant, often as a tea with fresh or dried leaves, or made into an essential oil for topical or internal ingestion.  In addition to being a true love for cats, catnip leaves have a whole host of medicinal benefits; it can be used as a relaxant, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, skin soothing agent, and a very effective insect repellent.  This lovely cousin of the mint plant also features purple or white flowers- a lovely fragrant addition to your garden!

Most Common Uses for Horses

Some recent studies have shown that Catnip is more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes and houseflies.  Mix some fresh leaves with water and place in a spray bottle to keep those pests away from your horse.  Alternatively, get some Catnip essential oil and mix into your favorite fly spray for an additional boost.  Showing?  Trailering? Are you expecting your horse to go through a stressful event?  No problem.  Catnip has nepetalactone, which is a chemical compound very similar to the compounds found in valerian that help horses relax. Throw some dried catnip herbs into his feed to help him adjust and settle down. 

Home Grown

This perennial herb is very invasive, just like its cousin mint, and therefore should be controlled if you are going to plant.  Place in well draining soil with plenty of light.  Water regularly, and trim for the most robust foliage.  Catnip blooms in the summer and fall and is best to plant during those periods.  Insect and deer resistant, this is a great herb to plant amongst other plants to bolster the health of your garden overall.

This is a re-print from the Herb Blurb Column I am writing in Equine Wellness Magazine, one of the largest publications in North America focused on natural and alternative therapies for horses.