Pennyroyal, latin name Mentha pulegium, is a member of the mint family. A mildly spicy tea brewed from the leaves of the pennyroyal plant is often recommended as a diaphoretic to inducing sweating to aid in eliminating toxins from the body. It also serves as a carminative to relieve gas, stimulate digestive action and to relieve nausea.

Pennyroyal, when brewed together with yarrow and elder flowers, results in a tea that is recommended by herbal healers as a treatment for releif of symptoms during the early stages of colds and flu. It is also consumed before retiring to bed for its mild sedative action.

Pennyroyal tea has also been traditionally employed as an emmenagogue to promote menstrual flow, and as an abortifacient to initiate self-abortion. These activities are initiated by highly volatile oils contained in the plant. These oils are high in pulegone, a highly toxic volatile, which can stimulate uterine activity.

While pennyroyal tea may safely stimulate mild increase in menstrual flow, the effects of the oil are very different. When employed to induce abortion the effects of pennyroyal oil are extremely dangerous and can be lethal. In one case, despite immediate emergency hospital treatment, an expectant mother died within hours of consuming just two tablespoonfuls of pennyroyal oil in an attempt to initiate self-abortion. Other cases have resulted in coma and convulsions after consuming much smaller amounts of this extremely toxic oil.

Such dangers do not pertain to normal consumtion of pennyroyal tea. Pennyroyal oil can only be recommended for external application to repel flying insects, and it is often found in flea collars for dogs and cats.

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