Botanical: Mentha pulegium
Family: Labiatae/Lamiaceae (mint)
Other common names: European Pennyroyal, Tickweed, Squaw Mint, Stinking Balm, Thickweed, Mock Pennyroyal, Mosquito Plant, Squaw Balm
Pennyroyal has been used for centuries to treat feverish conditions. It promotes sweat, which helps to reduce fevers and cleanse toxins from the body through the skin. The herb is also a digestive that helps to relieve indigestion, flatulence and grumbling in the intestines (griping). It has been used to relieve cough, cold and flu symptoms, and its expectorant qualities help to expel phlegm and chest congestion, and alleviate dry hacking coughs.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Pennyroyal is a pungently aromatic, bitter, astringent herb. It is a member of the mint family, and exact naming of the different species has been difficult, as mints interbreed so readily. Pennyroyal is a perennial with variable growing habits and may range from a low-growing, spreading plant to a lanky upright shrub. Its leaves are bright green and exude a strong peppermint scent, and the herb prefers rich, damp, sandy soil in sun or partial shade. It is considered a weed in many places, and one of its folk names is "Grows-in-the-Ditch." Pennyroyal is said to be native to Ireland, spreading across south and central Europe to the Ukraine and parts of Asia. The herb was introduced to North America centuries ago, and it grows abundantly in the wildlands of the world. American Pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegiodes) has a long medicinal history in North America, where it was used by the native tribes and settlers alike for headaches, feverish colds, menstrual cramps and to produce abortion. Pennyroyal was listed in the United States Pharmacopœia from 1831 until 1915. An herbal extract oil or tea was derived from the leaves and flowering tops of the plant and was used in folklore medicine to induce abortion and menses and to treat inflammatory conditions, chronic bronchitis, minor ailments, colic, indigestion and gas pains. Mentha pulegium (European Pennyroyal) and Hedeoma pulegiodes have a similar chemistry and are used in the same manner, but the herb carries severe warnings and should be used only under the supervision of a health care practitioner. In Europe, the leaves of Mentha pulegium are used in herbal teas that relieve the symptoms of cold and flu and for culinary purposes as a flavoring for black pudding and sausages. Some of the constituents in Pennyroyal include volatile oils: Monoterpenes (e.g. pulegone, 3-octanone, 3-methylcyclohexanone, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, p-cymene, limonene, p-mentha-1,4(8)-diene, pulegol, menthone, isomenthone, menthofuran, isopulegone, pulegone epoxides, piperitone and piperitenone), monomeric flavonoids, 3-octylacetate, 3-octanol, 1-octen-3-ol, hedeomal, tannins and paraffins.
Pennyroyal has been used to promote perspiration and reduce fevers. It is said to alleviate feverish colds and the symptoms of coughs, colds and flu. The herb is considered an expectorant that provides relief from dry, hacking coughs and helps to expel phlegm and chest congestion. Pennyroyal is also thought to improve whooping cough. Pennyroyal's mint properties, attributable to its menthol component, theoretically may act in dilating respiratory passages in cases of bronchitis or asthma.
Pennyroyal is said to be good for the digestive system, and thus helpful for easing indigestion, colic, nausea, flatulence and intestinal griping (the grumbling and pain in the intestines and bowels associated with gas).
As an emmenagogue, Pennyroyal helps to promote and regulate menstrual flow and may thus allay painful menstruation. It stimulates uterine contractions and was sometimes used to ease childbirth, but the herb was also used to induce abortion and, as such, was considered extremely dangerous, often causing hemorrhaging and serious complications for the mother. Pennyroyal's abortifacient properties are thought to be due to irritation of the uterus, causing contractions, but lethal doses are necessary for this to occur and the effect is inconsistent. Therefore, it should never be used for that purpose, as amounts needed may cause death.
Pennyroyal Herbal Supplement should be used only with medical supervision. Pennyroyal should never be taken when pregnant. It is not recommended for lactating women and should not be taken by those suffering from kidney problems. The essential oil should never be taken internally, as it is highly toxic.