If you have a “nervous” or anxious child that has trouble settling down before bedtime, this syrup is a lovely addition to hot tea or milk. A little goes a long way so a teaspoon is plenty. An infusion of catnip helped one of my daughters when she had anxiety about going to school. I chilled it overnight in the refrigerator and gave a small cup full with breakfast each morning. Young children often get an upset stomach. A tummy calm glycerite is nice to have on hand as it can be quicker and easier to use than an infusion/tea. Glycerites are often used instead of tinctures for children as they do not have the alcohol. They can be made and stored long term for future use.
Basic Simple Syrup Recipe
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of water
Chamomile flowers, lemon balm leaves, catnip leaves
1 cup packed (total) of fresh herbs ( for the sleepy syrup use a mixture of equal parts catnip leaves, lemon balm leaves, and chamomile) Heat the water to a boil on the stove. Turn off and remove from heat. Stir in sugar until it the liquid is clear and you see no sugar granules. Pour this liquid over the fresh herbs. Cover the bowl with a plate and let steep for at least 3 hours. Strain out the herbs and bottle. The syrup will store in the refrigerator for several months.
Basic glycerite recipe
1 part dried herb (for tummy calm recipe- 1/3 cup of anise seed, 1/3 cup of fennel seed/fresh tops, 1/3 cup of fresh dill tops)
2.5 parts glycerin
1.5 parts water
Mix glycerin and water, add powdered herb and stir well. Place into a clean jar and let sit 15-30 days. Strain, if possible squeeze out any remaining liquid through a coffee press. Add all liquid to small amber glass tincture bottles and store in a dark cool place until needed. Discard herb.
*NOTES: loose dry herbs work best, a dense powder or fresh herb will absorb a lot of the glycerin, leading to a lot of waste and only a small amount of product. I find glycerites not worth the trouble so I don’t make them very often.
Catnip. Latin Name-Nepeta cataria. Family-Laminaceae/mint. Like all members of the mint family, Nepeta has small white/pink flowers clustered down a stalk. The heart/oval shaped leaves are arranged oppositely on a square stem and there is a very strong scent. It can be confused with other members like lemon balm or spearmint. Catnip has its own distinctive smell which obviously cats love. The leaves are a more “silver” green and they have a soft almost fuzzy texture, a toothed margin, and a paler underside. The stem is also hairy. It can grow 3-4 feet high, especially as it shoots up to flower. This herb is almost invasive in many places as it easily grows anywhere. You will find it in backyards, wastelands, in grazing areas, along a stream as you hike in town, or in cracks in the sidewalk. It is a self seeding perennial that likes a lot of sun and does well in poor soil. There is a similar plant called “catmint”. This plant has purple flowers and much smaller leaves. It is also in the Nepeta family and there are several varieties/species. You are more likely to find it as a cultivar than in the “wild”. All Nepetas have similar properties and uses.
Catnip has been used for food and medicine since Roman times. It contains chemical constituents that are powerful sedatives, pain relievers, euphorics, and aphrodisiacs. No wonder kitties love it. Nepeta moves energy, relaxes the nerves and clears heat. Yet this herb is safe and perfect for children. Supporting them when they feel restless, feverish, or sick. It is great for babies as a weak tea or bath for colic, teething, insomnia, or crankiness. Historically catnip has been used to treat childhood illnesses, menstrual problems, anxiety, colds, bronchitis, motion sickness, toothache, parasites, diarrhea, gas, headaches, pneumonia, and indigestion. Externally people have used it for pain, injuries, hemorrhoids, acne, dandruff, arthritis, eye inflammation and allergies.
Parts used: Leaves
Energetics: pungent, bitter, cool, dry
Contraindications-do not use in pregnancy. Very large doses may cause vomiting.