- Hedeoma pulegioides L.
- Mint family
Parts Usually Used
The herb and oil
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
The American species of pennyroyal is an aromatic, soft-hairy annual
plant; the erect, square, branching stem grows from 6 to 16 inches
high and bears small, opposite, thin, ovate leaves which are sparingly
toothed. Axillary clusters of small, tubular, lavender or purplish
flowers; calyx two-lipped, with 3 short and 2 longer teeth; appear
from June to October. The whole plant has a pleasant, aromatic odor.
European pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), or true pennyroyal, is similar
to the American species in odor and uses. Do not confuse the two herbs.
Found in dry fields and open woods along the Atlantic coast and west
to Minnesota and Nebraska.
Carminative, diaphoretic, emmenogogue (promote menstruation), antispasmodic,
mild sedative, sudorific, stimulant, aromatic
Oil: anti-emetic (Do not use in pregnancy), anti-spasmodic,
Ketone puligone and about 1% volatile oil.
Legends, Myths and Stories
Flavorful and fragrant tea with a somewhat minty taste. Another of
the teas used as an oriental tea substitute during the American Revolution.
Back in olden times when abortion was illegal, pennyroyal was used
to induce abortion. In some cases it resulted in hemorrhage and serious
complications for the mother. Therefore, it should never be used for
that purpose. Helps in labor and delivery, though. Do not use without
The oil of this herb is a good insect repellent.
Strip the leaves from the stalk, put the leaves in a muslin bag,
sew up the bag and put in pets bed. Fleas are chased away. Or sprinkle
with pennyroyal oil or essence.
Pennyroyal was commonly used in the 19th century medicine to induce
perspiration at the beginning of a cold
and to promote menstruation. It was taken also with brewer's yeast
to induce abortion. It is helpful against nausea and nervous conditions
but should not be taken during pregnancy. Native Americans used pennyroyal
tea for headaches and for
menstrual cramps, PMS,
and pain. The tea also make a
good external wash for skin eruptions, bruises, rashes, and itching.
Used for phlegm, respiratory disorders, jaundice,
nausea, ulcers, consumption,
dropsy, toothache, leprosy,
whooping cough, convulsions, sores
in the mouth, colic, snakebites,
expel after-birth, sore
gums, fainting, fever, and
the blood, relieves gas
and stomach pain, stimulates uterine contractions. Oil used externally
for rheumatism and insect
Also used as a flavoring.
Formulas or Dosages
Infusion: use 1 tsp. herb with 1 cup hot water. Take 1 to
2 cups a day.
Tincture: take 20-30 drops at a time, as needed. For children,
give small, frequent doses.
Extract: 20-60 drops in liquid daily for relief of symptoms.
The oil externally applied wards off mosquitoes. For this purpose
it is used alone or combined with citronella.
All essential oils are life-threatening if taken internally. To take
pennyroyal oil internally to terminate an unwanted pregnancy is very
dangerous and in a few cases has resulted in death. There is possible
fetal damage from the use of pennyroyal in any form during pregnancy.
Ingesting essential oil can be lethal; contact with essential oil
(a popular insect repellent) can cause dermatitis.
May cause severe kidney/liver damage used in excess of 2 ounces.
Do not be used during pregnancy, it is a uterine stimulant.
Use only with medical supervision.