Health Benefits and Uses of Pennyroyal

Health & Wellness

Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)Health Benefits of Pennyroyal / Improves Digestive Health: / Respiratory Health: (Cold and Flu) / Kills Bacterial Infections: (Germs) / Supports Cardiovascular Health - Heart Health: (Blood Circulation, Purifies Blood) / Relieves Pain and Cramps: (Arthritis Pain, Muscle and Joint Pain) / Women's Health: (Menstrual Cramps) / Psychological Benefits: (Stress and Depression, Hysteric Attacks) / Aids in Dental Care: (Strenghts Gums) / Eliminates Insects and Pests | Benefits of Pennyroyal Essential OilUses of Pennyroyal (Traditional Uses of Pennyroyal, Other Uses of Pennyroyal)Ayurvedic Uses and Health Benefits of PennyroyalProperties of Pennyroyal Essential Oil

Pennyroyal is known botanically as Mentha pulegium. It belongs to the Lamiaceae or mint family and is commonly known by other names, including European pennyroyal, pennyrile, squaw mint, mosquito plant, and pudding grass. The plant is native to Europe, parts of Asia as well as to the Middle East. It was introduced to places in Africa along with Australia and New Zealand. Both Hedeoma pulegioldes (American pennyroyal) and Mentha puleguim (European pennyroyal) are referred to as pennyroyal. They are both creeping plants with small lilac flowers and grayish-green leaves. Although considered unusual in much of California, pennyroyal occurs in the Sierra foothills, Central Valley, and most coastal counties from the Mexican border to Oregon. It is common as a necessitate wetland indicator species in seasonally flooded soils of valley bottomlands, usually below 1,640 feet (500 m) elevation.

Along with other herbs such as oregano, coriander and lovage, Pennyroyal was used by the Romans as a flavoring agent for food. The use of pennyroyal as a culinary herb continued through the Middle Ages and was normally used to flavor wine and pudding, however, the use of this plant as a flavoring agent gradually decreased and it is now used for medicinal purposes today. It is a traditional folk remedy, emmenagogue, abortifacient, and culinary herb, but is toxic to the liver and has caused some deaths. Crushed pennyroyal leaves emit a very strong fragrance comparable to spearmint.

Pennyroyal has been traditionally used to deal with colds, breathing problems, gall bladder and liver disease, flatulence and stomach pain. It was also used to induce an abortion or to start menstrual periods. If you are unfamiliar with Pennyroyal, let me tell you right now that its use is controversial. While it does undoubtedly have health benefits when used by healthy adults in moderate doses, it can also be extremely toxic in higher doses. For that reason, its consumption is not generally recommended especially. An essential oil made with Pennyroyal is very potent and should never be taken internally, however milder variants such as pennyroyal tea are not considered to be as dangerous.

Improves Digestive Health:

Going back many generations, pennyroyal has been used to improve general digestive health and to treat several common digestive complaints. You can drink small doses of the tea to help treat bloating, gas or stomach pain. The plant also has antispasmodic actions that can help soothe stomach pain or cramp. Many proponents believe that the plant can be consumed in moderation to improve liver function and stimulate the production of bile which can help aid digestion.

In an animal study published in 2018 for the Journal Heliyon, it was found that pennyroyal essential oil improved performance, organ weight, serum lipids and intestinal morphology.

It increased nutrient absorption in the intestines. Pennyroyal is been in used in folk medicine to facilitate digestion. This property is also reportedly present in its essential oil and it promotes digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive juices. A drop of Pennyroyal oil in a glass of water can stimulate bowel movement, which can clear up digestive issues.

Intestinal Discomfort:

Pennyroyal is very useful in favoring the digestive process. Specifically, it has a cholagogue effect, which implies that it generates the expulsion of bile from the gallbladder (something fundamental for the digestive process) and in turn facilitates the evacuation. Besides it is antispasmodic, decreasing sudden contractions or spasms that can occur viscerally . It also has the interesting property of facilitating the expulsion of gases, something that diminishes possible discomfort.

Stimulates Appetite:

It has been observed that pennyroyal is a plant that has the ability to promote an increase in appetite and hunger, something that may be useful in those people who show little appetite (for example in the face of displeasure or depression).

Respiratory Health:

Because of its high menthol content, pennyroyal has been used over the years for its expectorant qualities and its ability to relieve the symptoms of colds or flu. It may help aid breathing and act as a decongestant for the respiratory system and the lungs. According to proponents, the expectorant properties in pennyroyal can help loosen build ups of mucous or phlegm and clear it out of your system.

Cold and Flu:

Pennyroyal consists of high menthol content and has been used over the years for its expectorant qualities and its ability to relieve the symptoms of colds or flu. It may help aid breathing and act as a decongestant for the respiratory system and the lungs. According to proponents, the expectorant properties in pennyroyal can help loosen build ups of mucous or phlegm and clear it out of your system.


In some cases, Pennyroyal is used to treat pneumonia, due to its powerful antiviral and antimicrobial properties. As always, however, extreme caution is required, and be sure to speak with a doctor before using this herb.

Kills Bacterial Infections:

Pennyroyal essential oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which is highly toxic even in small quantities. A little bit misbalance in amounts could result in death. It eliminates bacteria and microbes and also counteracts infections which are caused by them.


A 2021 study "Antifungal activity of essential oil from Mentha spicata L. and Mentha pulegium L. growing wild in Sardinia island (Italy)" published in Nat Prod Res by A Piras, S Porcedda, D Falconieri, A Maxia, Mj Gonçalves, C Cavaleiro, L Salgueiro aims to evaluate the antifungal activity of Mentha spicata L. and Mentha pulegium L. from Sardinia and to assess their efficacy on virulence factors for Candida albicans, particularly on the inhibition of the germ tube formation. The major compounds of the essential oils were carvone 62.9% for Mentha spicata and pulegone 86.2% for Mentha pulegium. The essential oil from Mentha spicata showed a more preeminent effect against Cryptococcus neoformans and the dermatophytes Trichophyton rubrum and T. verrucosum (0.32 μL/mL). Both oils were very effective in inhibiting C. albicans germ tube formation, at doses well below their MIC (0.16 μL/mL).


Uterus, kidneys, urethra, urinary tract and wounds has high chances of being septic due to the infection made by germs. Due to its antiseptic properties, it is highly poisonous and destroys bacteria, germs that are the cause for sepsis. As it is irritant and poisonous, it should be used in moderate amounts.

Supports Cardiovascular Health - Heart Health:

Blood Circulation:

Pennyroyal essential oil increases the blood circulation that warms the body and provides relief from fever and cold.

Purifies Blood:

Pennyroyal essential oil purifies a blood being a depurative. It nullifies the toxins from the blood. It promotes the circulation of blood by assisting the proper mixture of oxygen and blood. It purifies the blood as well as cells and organs by making it oxygenated.

Relieves Pain and Cramps:

Being a depurative, it promotes the removal of toxins like uric acid from the body, thereby eradicating the biggest cause behind rheumatism. The numbing effect on the nerves also helps withstand the pain of rheumatism and arthritis. Its cordial or warming effect heats up the affected area and gives a more comfortable feeling. Finally, its stimulating effect on blood circulation increases blood flow to important organ systems, bringing warmth to the affected places, while also curing them of rheumatism and arthritis.


It has depurative property which provides numbing effect on nerves, stimulating and cordial effects on blood circulation. It also provides anti-arthritic and anti-rheumatic treatment. It eliminates toxins such as uric acid which is the cause for rheumatism. It has stimulating effect on the circulation of blood that increases the flow of blood to vital organs and cures arthritis and rheumatism.

Muscle and Joint Pain:

Pennyroyal oil has a warming and numbing quality and is used in massages to help treat sore muscles and joints. Also, because of its depurative qualities, pennyroyal makes for a good treatment for rheumatism and arthritis because it can help eradicate uric acid from the system.

Women's Health:

Menstrual Cramps:

Pennyroyal is well known for its emmenagogue activity. It has been used throughout the years to help stimulate menstruation in women with irregular cycles or in those who do not menstruate at all. There are however many alternative options to stimulate menstruation, many of which are far safer than pennyroyal. For this reason, most experts would not recommend using pennyroyal for this purpose.

Psychological Benefits:

Stress and Depression:

Pennyroyal may have mild sedative properties. It was used in the past to combat hysteria and may help to calm the nerves and help people overcome their difficulties with sleeping. However, there is no evidence that pennyroyal works beyond the anecdotal and there are definitely safer and better researched natural options for dealing with stress and sleeplessness.

Hysteric Attacks:

Hysteria patients experience hysteric attacks such as unconscious violent behavior, convulsions and fainting. They should be away from height, abrasives, water, fire as they are likely to fall, cut, drown and burn when they undergo from these attacks. Pennyroyal essential oil is useful for hysterical fainting by controlling these attacks.

Aids in Dental Care:

Strengths Gums:

It possesses astringent properties which strengthen gums and contract gums and also tighten the grip on teeth. It stimulates the contraction of muscles. It prevents hemorrhaging by contraction of blood vessels.

Eliminates Insects and Pests:

The essential oil of Pennyroyal is toxic to humans as well as animals and insects. It kills insects if used in sprays, vaporizers and fumigants. This oil is highly regarded as insect repellant.

Pennyroyal essential oil is extracted form a plant belonging to the mint family. It is a grass-like creeper herb bearing the scientific name Mentha Pulegium. Its leaves smell like mint when crushed. The essential oil of pennyroyal is derived from the fresh plant by steam distillation and contains isomenthone, neomenthone, menthone and pulegone as its chief components. This oil is high in pulegone content and this makes it a deadly poison.

It is indeed a wonder why such a poisonous plant or oil has been in use as a folk medicine from ancient times. But again, it is also true that most of the medicines (particularly in homeopathy) are based on poisons collected from plants and animals. It is the accuracy in the number of doses, frequency of administration, and diagnosis of a disease that their use as a medicine depends upon.

The essential oil should be avoided internally, as it can cause a level of toxicity that could be fatal. However the Pennyroyal tea benefits include a low dose of the active compounds, which makes it safe for consumption. It is beneficial to use externally to reduce swelling from bug bites, and can also reduce bruising, can help treat acne and can help remove spots and scars on the skin. It contains alkaloids that act to strengthen the gums, and is believed to be an excellent and ancient remedy for whooping-cough and can help clear the liver of toxins with its diuretic qualities.

Traditional Uses of Pennyroyal:

  • Pennyroyal has been used for centuries in herbal medicine.
  • It increases the secretion of digestive juices and relieves flatulence and colic.
  • It also powerfully encourages the uterine muscles and encourages menstruation; therefore it should not be recommended for pregnant women since it can procure abortions.
  • The herb is antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenogogue, sedative and stimulant.
  • 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.
  • An infusion is used to treat itchiness and formication, inflamed skin disorders such as eczema and rheumatic conditions such as gout.
  • Leaves are harvested in the summer as the plant comes into flower and are dried for later use.
  • It is also beneficial in cases of spasms, hysteria, flatulence and sickness, being very warming and grateful to the stomach.
  • Pennyroyal tea has been used for cold relief, coughs, indigestion, liver and kidney problems.
  • Fresh or dried leaves of pennyroyal have also been used when treating influenza, abdominal cramps, to induce sweating, as well as in the treatment of diseases such as smallpox and tuberculosis.

Other Uses of Pennyroyal:

  • An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant, used in soap making and as a cleanser for fabrics.
  • 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.
  • Growing or dried plant repels fleas, ants, moths, mice etc.
  • Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint.
  • Plant was thus used in homes as a strewing herb and has also been spread in granaries to keep the rodents off the grain.
  • Strong infusion applied to the face will keep gnats away in the summer.
  • The aromatic leaves are used as an ingredient of pot-pourri.
  • Abortifacient: Prepare an infusion of Pennyroyal plant. Have two- four teaspoon two times a day.
  • Altitude Sickness: Make a decoction of the dried leaves of Pennyroyal. Have a cup once a day.
  • Body Lice: Prepare a decoction of dried Pennyroyal plant. Wash the affected area with the decoction of 30 g per liter of water. Repeat it 2-3 times a day.
  • Dyspnea: Take few leaves of Lemon Balm. Add Hyssop and Pennyroyal in equal quantity. Prepare a decoction. Have one cup once a day.
  • Rheumatism: To get relief in Rheumatism massage well with Pennyroyal oil.
  • Small Pox: Prepare an infusion of the Pennyroyal plant. Have three- four teaspoon three to four times a day.


When pennyroyal essential oil is used in very low doses, then it can cure stomach problems and settle the stomach. It cures infections in the stomach, helps maintain the acid-base balance in the stomach by stimulating secretion of acids and bile into the stomach, and also soothes inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract.


This essential oil has been used in the traditional medicine to facilitate digestion. Also it can promote digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive juices.


There are certain reports that say that this oil can be used as a depurative, that is, a blood purifier. Certain components of this oil may help neutralize the toxins in the blood. Since it promotes blood circulation, it also helps proper mixing of fresh oxygen with the blood. In this way, it can purify the blood and keep the organs and cells properly oxygenated.

An animal study found that Pennyroyal essential oil increased hemoglobin, white blood cells, and red blood cells, but did not have any effect on other blood indices. The increase in white blood cells indicates that it can strengthen the immune system.


Wounds and internal organs, particularly the urinary tract, urethra, kidneys, and uterus may become septic due to infection by the germs. The highly poisonous nature of the pennyroyal oil makes it an antiseptic since it kills the germs or bacteria that cause sepsis. However, this oil should be used in very mild doses, as it is highly poisonous and an irritant.

Antimicrobial & Antibacterial:

The antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of pennyroyal oil are the results of its toxicity. You can imagine that even in trace quantities (mere parts per million) how deadly this poisonous oil might be for those tiny microscopic living beings (microbes) if it is so deadly for humans. Even a few milliliters can cause death. It kills microbes and bacteria and protects us from the infections caused by them. It also exhibits antifungal activity.

Research published in 2019 in the Journal BioMed ResearchInternational found that the pennyroyal essential oil has strong antimicrobial properties.


In the traditional medicine, the pennyroyal essential oil has been used as a gum strengthener which is probably due to the astringent properties. This makes the gums contract and it tighten their grip on the teeth. The effects of this property can be also felt on other parts of the body, because this property induces contraction in other muscles and it tightens them, helps stop hemorrhaging by contracting the blood vessels, strengthens hair roots, gives the face a lift and pulls up loose hanging skin.


Due to its stimulating property, the essential oil of Penny Royal increases blood circulation, which in turn warms up the whole body, thus behaving as a cordial. This warming effect gives relief from feelings of cold that often result from a fever.


This essential oil is toxic which is making it an antiviral and it fights against infections in the lungs. This can help to loosen the catarrh and phlegm deposition in the lungs and the respiratory tracts, as well as promoting their expectoration. In this way, the pennyroyal essential oil behaves as a decongestant for the respiratory tracts and lungs.

Anti-Rheumatic and Anti-Arthritic:

The depurative property, which is seen as the numbing effect of this oil on the nerves, as well as its cordial and stimulating effects on the blood circulation, make it an ideal combination as an anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic treatment.

Being a depurative, it promotes the removal of toxins like uric acid from the body, thereby eradicating the biggest cause behind rheumatism. The numbing effect on the nerves also helps withstand the pain of rheumatism and arthritis. Its cordial or warming effect heats up the affected area and gives a more comfortable feeling. Finally, its stimulating effect on blood circulation increases blood flow to important organ systems, bringing warmth to the affected places, while also curing them of rheumatism and arthritis.


Pennyroyal essential oil is sometimes used in herbal medicine as an emmenagogue. It is believed to open blocked and delayed menstruation cycles. The resultant stimulation of certain hormones like estrogen and progesterone makes the cycle more regular. However, there is little scientific evidence to support this.


Since this oil is toxic to humans and to other animals, it is toxic to insects as well. It is a very efficient insect killer and is very effective if used in fumigants, sprays, and vaporizers. Insects also try to stay away from this oil. This oil is highly praised and reputed as an insect repellant. An experiment undertaken to study the acaricidal effects of different herb essential oils found that the pennyroyal derivative was the most effective.

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