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Known to scientists as the Orthosiphon aristatus, the cat whiskers plant is a member of the mint family that is often found near other plants that trail or mound when they grow. Cat whiskers typically grow to about two feet in height at full maturity, but under the right circumstances and with enough exposure to the right nutrients, can grow to four feet.
Typically, at just two feet in height, cat whiskers can actually grow greater in width than they do in height, and this width allows the plant to show off even more of its namesake blossoms as it expands to maturity. They are considered to be evergreen, though they boast gorgeous white blossoms with a great likeness to, you guessed it, the whiskers of a cat.
Image source: Wikipedia
Cat whiskers occur naturally in several Asian countries and other tropical areas, including China, Indonesia, the Phillippines, and Thailand, to name a few. Cat whiskers can grow deep in tropically forested areas, but they are hearty enough to take root just about anywhere. They even grow by the roadside in the regions where they occur naturally.
Known by a variety of other names in the countries where they are used the most, cat whiskers are often referred to as:
- Balbas-Pusa (Phillippines)
- Kabling-gubat (Phillippines)
- Mao Xu Cao (China)
- Misai Kucing (Indonesia)
- Kitty whiskers (Australia and New Zealand)
- Kidney Tea Plant (England and UK)
- Java Tea (US, UK, parts of Europe)
But, aside from the beauty they add to nature, what else are cat whiskers good for? Interestingly, they offer a host of health benefits to humans and animals. And, the fact that they are relatively easy to grow far from the regions they are indigenous to makes them all the more attractive.
Potassium & Essential Oils
Cat whiskers contain a fair amount of potassium and also offer up their own naturally occurring essential oils and flavinoids. These properties — among others — make cat whiskers useful as an anti-bacterial, an anti-inflammatory, and an anti-fungal. When added to a carrier oil for external use or when consumed in the form of a tea, the benefits of cat whiskers are almost endless.
Let’s take a closer look at the applications of cat whiskers and how these can be obtained from the plant. Then, we’ll discuss how to find and grow your own cat whiskers in your home, yard, or greenhouse anywhere on Earth without having to worry about the climate.
There are literally dozens of different ways to make use of cat whiskers for just about every conceivable part of the human body. First, let’s review some of the ways this versatile plant can be used to benefit the internal anatomy. Then, we’ll discuss how internal ingestion of the plant can positively impact other structures and systems of the body, both internal and external. And finally, we’ll look into the manners in which cat whiskers can be externally applied for relief of skin disorders, arthritis, and more.
According to a study published by NCBI, when steeped as a tea, cat whiskers can be highly effective in the modulation of arthritis pathogenesis. Through the use of the tea or tincture, cat whiskers have proven efficacy in humans and animals with reduction of inflammation and associated pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Cat whiskers teas and tinctures have also been tested and proven effective for the reduction of internal inflammation caused by other diseases. Swelling caused by gout, psoriatic arthritis, and a variety of related and unrelated inflammatory conditions also responds to cat whiskers.
The resulting reduction of inflammation caused by cat whiskers was even demonstrated through X-rays and histological evaluation. This proves that this miracle plant’s medicinal properties and related positive effects are far more than anecdotal.
Evidence of reduction of internal inflammation through the use of cat whiskers illustrates it very likely will assist with inflammation caused by numerous other illnesses. If you struggle with inflammation as so many others do, cat whiskers may very well be a phenomenal way to reduce such swelling and provide relief.
According to a 1999 study published on PubMed.gov, the leaves of the cat whiskers plant show great promise with fighting hypertension, or high blood pressure. Not only did the plant successfully reduce hypertension, but with prolonged use, proved to maintain low blood pressure.
Further studies found when used internally, cat whiskers also show great promise with treatment of tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), which can cause arrhythmia in some people. The reduction of hypertension and tachycardia makes cat whiskers incredibly valuable, especially to those who do not wish to consume pharmaceuticals unless they have to.
Cat whiskers are also known across Asia for their pain-relieving properties, and are widely used for menstrual cramps, diabetic foot pain, abdominal pain, and post-surgical pain. It’s hard to overstate the profound healing and painkilling power of this amazing plant!
Because it is an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and external anti-inflammatory, cat whiskers can also be applied externally for a host of uses.
Thanks to the plant’s anti-fungal properties, cat whiskers is an excellent way to get rid of athlete’s foot, thrush, and other forms of yeast infections. Depending on where you plan on using it, you’ll want to add it to different types of carrier oils. Two carrier oils that are safe for any internal or external use are olive oil and coconut oil, as long as they are pure.
Athlete’s foot: To use as a foot cream for athlete’s foot, simply make or purchase a cat whiskers tincture and add one tablespoon to two tablespoons of the carrier oil. Apply the mixture one to two times per day as needed for up to 10 days.
Thrush: To use for thrush of the mouth, make a strongly steeped cat whisker tea (also known as Java tea). Next, take a large sip of the tea at a heated temperature, taking care not to burn yourself. Once the tea is in your mouth, swish it around, ensuring high coverage of the tongue and gums. Finally, gargle the tea at the back of your mouth. Follow these same steps three to four times a day for seven days and the thrush should be gone!
Vaginal yeast infection: For this, you can choose between a cat whiskers tincture or tea, depending on what is available to you or what you prefer. If using tea, add a strongly steeped tablespoon of tea to a single tablespoon of coconut oil, then mix the two together well. Next, apply the mixture to a vaginal syringe-type applicator. You can find these at the drug store or inside a box of traditional over-the-counter yeast infection medication. Apply the mixture once per day for five days, and goodbye yeast infection!
You can generally purchase the already-grown plant or seeds to grow the plant on Amazon or other online retailers. To begin growing, add the seed(s) or plant to a planter at least eight inches deep. You won’t need to use fertilizer unless you want to, but quality soil with a 10-10-10 ratio mixture can be helpful for the best quality growth.
As a tropical plant, cat whiskers need either full sun or partially shaded area to grow in order for them to bloom their famous whiskers. If you don’t live in a tropical area, that’s okay — just be sure to plant them in a planter placed by a window indoors to receive the most light.
After adding potting soil to the planter, you’ll add your seed or plant, then cover with a layer of mulch. This will allow the soil to retain its proper moisture level, even when the sun hits it hard.
Watering & Pruning your Plant
To properly water your cat whiskers, add water the first time until the soil and mulch are slightly moist. You’ll want to maintain high moisture until the plant begins to either grow or blossom, depending on whether you planted seeds or mature plants. Once this has occurred, you can increase or decrease how much you are watering. This will be based on how moist the soil is when you check on it at the same time each day.
Once your cat whiskers begin to blossom, a good rule of thumb is to clip the spent blooms. This is the only pruning really required for this plant.
Enjoy the literal fruits of your labor by making teas and tinctures when you do get blossoms. Chances are, you’ll soon become an aficionado, using your cat whiskers to make all manner of creams and salves for yourself and your loved ones!