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Pennyroyal as an Herb

Pennyroyal as an herb plant

Mentha pulegium

Early native Americans knew all about the value of pennyroyal. Nowadays, pennyroyal is used most often to relieve the symptoms of the common cold.

Other names: Pulegium, Run-by-the-Ground, Lurk-in-the-Ditch, Pudding Grass, Piliolerial, Mosquito Plant, Squaw Balm, Squawmint Tickweed

Pennyroyal is a herbal remedy of ancient repute, used for a wide variety of ailments. Pennyroyal was held in very high repute for many centuries throughout Europe and was the most popular member of the mint family. (The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism#)

The whole plant has a pleasant, aromatic, mint-like smell. The name Hedeoma comes from the Greek "hedys" for sweet and "osme" for scent. It has also been described as having an acrid taste and aroma.

Pennyroyal as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

Pennyroyal was believed to purify the blood and be able to communicate its purifying qualities to water. Pennyroyal water was distilled from the leaves and given as an antidote to spasmodic, nervous and hysterical afflictions. The water was also used against cold and afflictions of the joints.

Pennyroyal herb removes gas from the digestive system. It is also used in pennyroyal tea, taken a few days before menstruation, to aid a suppressed flow. It is used in treatments for colds, upset stomach, and to stimulate blood flow to the pelvis area.

Pennyroyal is given to children with stomach and bowel upsets and to ease feverish symptoms in measles and whooping cough. Taken by infusion: 1 to 4gm of dried herb in 1 cup boiling water; steeped for 10 to 15 minutes. Taken 3 times a day.

In folk medicine, practitioners use pennyroyal as a tea for headaches and to promote menstruation. It was called mosquito plant because it repels the insect.

Topically Pennyroyal can be used as a wash for skin eruptions, rashes, and itching.

The strong, minty odor of pennyroyal makes the Pennyroyal Essential Oil useful for externally repelling insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, and flies. Mix with Lavender and Cedar shavings for an insect repelling potpourri to use in closets and drawers. Pennyroyal leaves are also good for insect bites after-the-fact. They act as a rubefacient...that is drawing more blood to the area which improves its cleansing action on the affected tissue.

Internally, pennyroyal is taken as a ground drug, an extract and a tea. The oil is applied topically.

Culinary Uses of Pennyroyal

North Carolina Black pudding Currently not recommened for culinary purposes. Herbalist Eric Pollard said pennyroyal oil is a "highly toxic oil, used mostly as a pesticide." He then added, "It can kill if less than a teaspoon is ingested." Having said that, however; the plant oil can be used as a flavoring agent, but only when the concentration of pulegone does not exceed 20mg parts per 1kg of the final product being flavored.

None-the-less it is used as the basic flavoring herb of North Carolina black pudding... hence the local name of Pudding Grass.

A culinary aside: In the north of England, Pennyroyal is also used in black pudding, and in Spain it is added to sausages.

Folklore

Pennyroyal protects against the evil eye, prevents weariness while travelling, and promotes peace.

Cautions

Not to be used internally and not to be used while pregnant. Large internal doses have been known to cause convulsions and coma, even death. Large doses in pregnant women have been known to cause abortion.

European Pennyroyal oil is hepatotoxic (damaging to the liver) in effect. Acute poisonings are not to be feared in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.

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