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Complementary and Alternative Medicine - Cam

Search Health Information    Pennyroyal

Pennyroyal

Uses

Botanical names:
Hedeoma pulegoides, Mentha pulegium

Parts Used & Where Grown

Two similar plants go by the name pennyroyal, one native to Europe (and therefore called European pennyroyal) and one native to North America (and therefore called American pennyroyal). Both are members of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and grow in temperate regions of Europe and the Americas. The flowering tops are used as medicine, but the internal use of the volatile oil should be strictly avoided.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
1 Star
Anxiety
Refer to label instructions
Pennyroyal is one of a group of “nerve tonic” (nervine) herbs used in traditional herbal medicine for people with anxiety, with few reports of toxicity.
1 Star
Cough
Refer to label instructions
Pennyroyal has a long history of use for relieving coughs.

The mucilage of slippery elm gives it a soothing effect for coughs. Usnea also contains mucilage, which may be helpful in easing irritating coughs. There is a long tradition of using wild cherry syrups to treat coughs. Other traditional remedies to relieve coughs include bloodroot , catnip , comfrey (the above-ground parts, not the root), horehound , elecampane , mullein , lobelia , hyssop , licorice , mallow , (Malvia sylvestris), red clover , ivy leaf , pennyroyal  (Hedeoma pulegioides, Mentha pulegium), onion , (Allium cepa), and plantain (Plantago lanceolata, P. major). None of these has been investigated in human trials, so their true efficacy for relieving coughs is unknown.

1 Star
Insect Bites and Stings
Refer to label instructions
Since the time of the ancient Greeks, pennyroyal has been considered a useful insect repellant, reflected in modern times by the common name fleabane.
Since the time of the ancient Greeks, pennyroyal has been considered a useful insect repellant, reflected in modern times by the common name fleabane.3 Pennyroyal tincture can be mixed with a skin cream and applied topically to repel insects, though it is unknown whether this is effective due to a lack of scientific study.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Since the time of the ancient Greeks, pennyroyal was considered a useful insect repellant, reflected in modern times by the common name fleabane.1 The Latin names of both plants also reflect this insect-repelling power—pulegoides and pulegium both derive from the Latin word for flea. It was also believed to stimulate menstruation. Various folk herb traditions have employed American or European pennyroyal to help relieve coughs , upset stomachs , and anxiety .2

How It Works

Botanical names:
Hedeoma pulegoides, Mentha pulegium

How It Works

Like all mint family plants, pennyroyal owes much of its medicinal activity to the presence of a volatile oil. The primary component of this oil is known as pulegone. Pulegone is converted to menthofuran by the body. If large enough amounts of pulegone are consumed, the amount of menthofuran produced can seriously damage the liver and nervous system.4 Smaller amounts of the volatile oil contained in the whole plant appear to have mild, smooth, muscle-relaxing effects that might help explain the historical use of pennyroyal for indigestion , stomach cramps, and cough .5 No modern clinical trials have been completed to support these indications, and other herbs with soothing effects on the gastrointestinal tract, such as chamomile and peppermint , have a much greater history of safety than pennyroyal.

How to Use It

For adults (excluding pregnant or nursing women, children, and people with liver or kidney disease), a tea of pennyroyal can be prepared by putting 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 grams) of the herb in 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water and allowing it to steep for 10–15 minutes.6 Up to 2 cups (500 ml) per day can be drunk. Pennyroyal tincture can be mixed with a skin cream and applied topically to repel insects, though it is unknown whether this is effective due to a lack of scientific study. The tincture and volatile oil are not recommended for internal use.

Interactions

Botanical names:
Hedeoma pulegoides, Mentha pulegium

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Botanical names:
Hedeoma pulegoides, Mentha pulegium

Side Effects

Used internally in the recommended amounts, pennyroyal is generally safe, though an occasional person may experience intestinal upset or temporary dizziness.7 Pulegone and its toxic metabolites, particularly menthofuran, damage the liver and nerves if taken in sufficiently large quantities.8 If used during pregnancy , pennyroyal may cause fetal death by liver and brain damage as well as promote uterine contractions to expel the fetus.9 Therefore pregnant or nursing women should absolutely avoid pennyroyal in any form. The traditional use of the herb to induce an abortion has led to many reports of nervous system toxicity in pregnant women. Internal ingestion of pennyroyal volatile oil should be avoided by everyone. People with liver failure or kidney failure, and all children, should avoid pennyroyal. Signs and symptoms of pennyroyal toxicity include severe stomach pain, dizziness, seizures, vomiting, difficulty walking, and coma. Since 1905, 18 cases of injury (with complete recovery in every case) and four deaths related to pennyroyal have been reported in the medical literature.10 The majority of acute poisonings and deaths reported with pennyroyal have been in cases of women using the oil attempting to induce an abortion.

References

1. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs: The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Nature's Medicines. New York: Bantam Books, 1991, 417-22.

2. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs: The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Nature's Medicines. New York: Bantam Books, 1991, 417-22.

3. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs: The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Nature's Medicines. New York: Bantam Books, 1991, 417-22.

4. Anderson IB, Mullen WH, Meeker JE, et al. Pennyroyal toxicity: Measurement of toxic metabolite levels in two cases and review of the literature. Ann Intern Med 1996;124:726-34.

5. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs: The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Nature's Medicines. New York: Bantam Books, 1991, 417-22.

6. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs: The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Nature's Medicines. New York: Bantam Books, 1991, 417-22.

7. Anderson IB, Mullen WH, Meeker JE, et al. Pennyroyal toxicity: Measurement of toxic metabolite levels in two cases and review of the literature. Ann Intern Med 1996;124:726-34.

8. Anderson IB, Mullen WH, Meeker JE, et al. Pennyroyal toxicity: Measurement of toxic metabolite levels in two cases and review of the literature. Ann Intern Med 1996;124:726-34.

9. Anderson IB, Mullen WH, Meeker JE, et al. Pennyroyal toxicity: Measurement of toxic metabolite levels in two cases and review of the literature. Ann Intern Med 1996;124:726-34.

10. Anderson IB, Mullen WH, Meeker JE, et al. Pennyroyal toxicity: Measurement of toxic metabolite levels in two cases and review of the literature. Ann Intern Med 1996;124:726-34.

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