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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Mentha
Species: M. pulegium
Binomial name
Mentha pulegium

The herb Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium, family Lamiaceae), is a member of the mint genus; an essential oil extracted from it is used in aromatherapy. Crushed Pennyroyal leaves and foliage exhibit a very strong spearmint fragrance. Pennyroyal is a traditional folk medicine, poison and abortifacient. This oil is high in pulegone, a highly toxic volatile, which harms the liver and can stimulate uterine activity.


Since the U.S. Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act in October 1994, all manufactured forms of pennyroyal have carried a warning label against its use by pregnant women. This substance is not regulated by the FDA.[1]

Pennyroyal essential oil is extremely concentrated, it should not ever be taken internally because it is highly toxic even in small doses, the poison can lead to death. Complications have been reported from attempts to use the oil for self-induced abortion. In 1978, a pregnant woman was admitted to the hospital two hours after consuming approximately two tablespoonfulls (30 ml) of pennyroyal oil; she subsequently died. The oil can be used for aromatherapy, a bath additive and as a insect repellent.

Pennyroyal tea is the use of a tincture made from the herb, the tincture is widely reputed as safe to ingest in restricted quantities. It has been traditionally employed and reportedly successful as an emmenagogue (menstrual flow stimulant) or as an abortifacient. In 1994 a young woman died from an undetected ectopic pregnancy while performing a self-induced abortion using pennyroyal tea, reports say that she had consumed the tea for longer than the recommended time length of five days. [2][1] The most popular current use of the tea is to settle the stomach. Other reported medicinal uses through history include fainting, flatulence, gall ailments, gout, hepatitis (presumably Hepatitis A), a lung cleanser, a gum strengthener and, when ground with vinegar, a tumor remedy, although there is little to no medical evidence on any of these treatments.

Dried pennyroyal has also been recommended as a natural flea control.[3]

See also

  • Hedeoma pulegioides — American Pennyroyal, distantly related species
  • "Pennyroyal Tea" (1993), grunge rock song by Nirvana
  • Aristophanes made referance to pennyroyal as abortifacient in Lysistrata and Peace
  • Mari Sandoz writes in her book, Slogum House, "She was the fifth of twelve children in the river-bottom family, with a mother who laid the cards and brewed tansy, pennyroyal and like concoctions for luckless girls who were in need."


  1. ^ a b U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus website, Pennyroyal patient information retrieved on August 6, 2007.
  2. ^ Metro Silicon Valley, December 14, 1995. "Lifestyle on Trial" by Gordon Young. Metroactive online edition, retrieved on August 6, 2007.
  3. ^ Natural Flea Control, 1987, Mother Earth News, Retrieved 2007-12-18
  • Comprehensive profile for Mentha pulegium from the website
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pennyroyal". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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