Pennyroyal Mint
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Mentha pulegium of LamiaceaPennyroyal

Of all the edible flowers and plants out there, there is one that sticks out to me as both extremely useful, and yet so feared for its potency at times that it seems people shy away from using it even though it could really help in terms of living a sustainable lifestyle. I think, just like anything with natural medicine, one must take a scientific approach before deciding one way or another on a plant being a useful to them or a specimen to keep away from and simply acknowledge.

Pennyroyal Uses

One of the lesser known and most potent members of the mint family, pennyroyal is a very poignant flowering plant whose dried leaves and oil have numerous uses by people both present and in the past.

A member of the Lamiacea family, Pennyroyal was used as a culinary herb, folk remedy, insect repellant, and emmenagogue (or menstrual flow stimulant) among the Greco-Roman and European cultures. Frequently misunderstood, the essential oil of Pennyroyal can be used in aromatherapy, but if ingested, can be highly toxic to humans and animals affecting liver and uterine functions.

Background

Despite this fact, in the past dried leaves of Pennyroyal were actually used as a cooking herb and flavor for wines by the Greeks and Romans. Even in the Medieval Ages, the leaves were used to flavor pudding. As English settlers colonized Virginia, the herb was widely relied upon for pest eradication and as a tea that would treat many conditions and disease such as smallpox and tuberculosis.

Uses

Although in the modern day, pennyroyal could probably not stand a chance against RAID or other cans of mosquito repellant or bug killer, the flowering herb does have many utilities I would like to at least speak of due to its usefulness.

Insect Repellant: I have personally used pennyroyal essential oil as a way of preventing mosquitos from biting me, as they are very prone, and have had a good amount of success. Since I wear it on the skin, it has never bothered me, but I would not recommend contacting any hand that touches or rubs the oil to the mouth, for the oil can be toxic even in very small doses.

Aromatherapy: Pennyroyal has a very potent mint scent to it. This can be used in aromatherapy to help clear up a cold, flu, or just making a place smell really, really clean.

Pest Control: Although I have used pennyroyal essential oil before to clear out some unwanted fleas brought in by my dog, I would advise caution on where you dabble it and how much. Since the oil is toxic to humans and animals, it is personally recommended that you use it only on items or in ways that no one or furry family member will ingest. Otherwise, it really does the trick in sending those fleas packing! They can’t stand the stuff.

A Word of Caution

Pennyroyal was used famously in the past as a menstrual flow stimulant and an abortifacient or abortion inducer. It was usually turned into a tea, or some women have even taken the essential oil down directly. This is most certainly NOT RECOMMENDED, as multiple deaths have been attributed to an overdose of even a minute quantity of this plant’s oil. When it comes to uses involving this plant’s potent properties taken internally, I cannot recommend any use other than the three listed above, for as of now I have not heard of any safe dosage amount to be used by people of this plant

Final Note

If one were to ask me about what I thought in regards to Pennyroyal, I would say that I think it is one of the most intriguing members of the mint family. Its strong scent and potency as well as the curious history it has had through its uses have made it a plant that is quite memorable. Around my home, I frequently carry a bottle of pennyroyal essential oil in my medicine cabinet since discovering it during my days of studying ethnobotany in college. I have found it to be very useful at times, and if you are a fan of natural replacements for things such as bug spray, this might be a convenient plant oil for you.

Here is a link to Eden's Garden Pennyroyal Oil for you to check out. It consistently has satisfaction ratings of 5/5 and is therapeutic grade:

For more reading, there are books I recommend out there such as The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood that go in depth to the benefits and uses of essential oils like Pennyroyal.

Do you have an essential oil that strikes your fancy? Share with us your story!


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