Family: Labiatae or Lamiaceae
Other names: Melissa pulegium, Mentha albarracinensis, Micromeria fenzlii, Pulegium heterophyllum, Tickweed, Squaw Mint, Stinking Balm, Thickweed, Mosquito Plant, Squaw Balm, Lurk in the Ditch, Run by the Ground.
Habitat:A common wild or garden plant, in America, Britain, France and Germany. Moist meadows and sandy soils by streams etc.
In large quantities this plant, especially in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so it should not be used by pregnant women. Avoid if patient has fits or seizures and those with liver or kidney disease. Oral intake may cause abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting, confusion, delirium, auditory & visual hallucinations. Pennyroyal Oil should not be used by pregnant women.
Pennyroyal has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. Its main value is as a digestive tonic where it increases the secretion of digestive juices and relieves flatulence and colic. Pennyroyal also powerfully stimulates the uterine muscles and encourages menstruation, thus it should not be prescribed for pregnant women since it can procure abortions, this is especially the case if the essential oil is used. The herb is antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, sedative and stimulant. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, minor respiratory infections, digestive disorders, menstrual complaints and various minor ailments. It is occasionally used as a treatment for intestinal worms. Externally, an infusion is used to treat itchiness and formication, inflamed skin disorders such as eczema and rheumatic conditions such as gout. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses.
Description of Pennyroyal:
Mentha pulegium is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in) by 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone 7 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to October, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation of Pennyroyal:
Succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry. Plants are very quickly diminished by dry conditions. Prefers a stiff moist soil that is slightly acid. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but plants succeed in partial shade. Pennyroyal is often grown in the herb garden and is also cultivated commercially as a medicinal plant. There are two main forms of this species. One has weak prostrate stems and spreads by rooting where the stems touch the ground, it is only 10cm tall. The other is erect, does not spread so freely and grows about 30cm tall, thus making it easier to harvest. There is also at least one named form, called ‘Dwarf’ it is only a few centimetres tall. The whole plant a strong spearmint smell. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies. A good companion plant for cabbages and tomatoes, helping to repel cabbage root fly and other burrowing insects. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
Propagation of Pennyroyal:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will not be uniform and so the content of medicinal oils etc will vary. When growing plants with a particular aroma it is best to propagate them by division. Division can be easily carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best done in the spring or autumn to allow the plant to establish more quickly. Virtually any part of the root is capable of growing into a new plant. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. However, for maximum increase it is possible to divide the roots up into sections no more than 3cm long and pot these up in light shade in a cold frame. They will quickly become established and can be planted out in the summer.
Collection: The stems should be gathered just before flowering in July.
Culinary uses of Pennyroyal:
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.
Leaves – raw or cooked. Used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods. A spearmint-like flavour, though rather coarser, it is not used very often in Britain. A herb tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves. For drying, it should be harvested as the plant comes into flower.
Actions: Carminative, diaphoretic, stimulant, emmenagogue.
Part Used: Aerial parts.
Indications: With its richly aromatic volatile oil, Pennyroyal will ease flatulence and abdominal colic due to wind. It will relax spasmodic pain and ease anxiety. However, its main use is as an emmenagogue to stimulate the menstrual process and to strengthen uterine contractions. As it has been used in large doses as an abortifacient, it should be avoided during pregnancy. The oil should be avoided as it can act far too strongly.
CAUTION: Avoid during pregnancy.
Preparations & Dosage of Pennyroyal:
Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried leaves and let infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.
Tincture: take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.`
Other uses of Pennyroyal:
Cleanser, Essential, Pot-pourri, Repellent, Strewing.
An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant, used in soap making and as a cleanser for fabrics. A yield of 14kg of oil per hectare is considered good. The plant has a low spreading habit and can be used as a ground cover, though it is somewhat sparse in the winter and can be invaded by the more aggressive weeds. The growing or dried plant repels fleas, ants, moths, mice etc. Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint. The plant was therefore used in homes as a strewing herb and has also been spread in granaries to keep the rodents off the grain. A strong infusion applied to the face will keep gnats away in the summer. The aromatic leaves are used as an ingredient of pot-pourri.
Esoteric uses of Pennyroyal:
Magickal uses include peace and tranquility. Carried to avoid seasickness or for physical strength & endurance. Worn to bring success to business. Use to rid the home of negative thoughts against you. Carry when dealing with negative vibrations of any kind. Place on a candle before or during uncomfortable meetings.
* Volatile oil, consisting mainly of pulegone, isopulegone, menthol, isomenthone, limonene, piperitone, neomenthol
* Miscellaneous; bitters and tannins.