Pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides)
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There are two types of pennyroyals, an American pennyroyal and an English pennyroyal, which appear to have little in common.
American pennyroyal belongs to the mint family. And like all the mints, it has a square stem with tiny opposite
leaves and growing 6 to 18 inches high and bears small, opposite, thin, ovate leaves which are sparingly toothed. Axillary clusters of small, tubular, lavender or purplish flowers appear from July through October. The whole plant has a pleasant, aromatic odor.
Family: Labiatae (Mint family)
Other Names: Pulegium, Hedeoma, Fleabane, Tickweed, Mosquito plant, Squawmint, Squaw balm
Flowers: July – October
Parts Used: Leaves and flower tops
Habitat: Dry woods. Quebec to Georgia; Alabama to Oklahoma; Nebraska to Michigan.
Constituents: Pulegone, menthone, tannins.
Properties: Carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, sedative, insect repellent.
Main Uses: Pennyroyal’s oil contains one chemical (pulegone) that accounts for its actions as an insect repellent, menstruation promoter, and abortion inducer.
Pennyroyal oil is an ingredient in several natural insect repellents. It appears to help repel flies, gnats, mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.
As one of the most aromatic mints, the strong aroma of pennyroyal infusion acts as a decongestant and possible expectorant. A warm infusion used freely will promote perspiration. It has been used by women to promote menstruation. Also used for nervousness and hysteria, cramps, intestinal pains of colic and griping, colds, and fevers. The infusion may be freely taken several times a day.
Preparation And Dosages:
For repelling insects, rub fresh, crushed plant material around the body, or mix pennyroyal tincture into a skin cream and rub that on.
For an infusion to help treat cough, congestion, or upset stomach, use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water. Steep 10 to 15 minutes. Drink up to 2 cups a day.
Tincture: Fresh (1:2), recently dried (1:5), 50% alcohol. 20 to 60 drops in hot water.
CAUTION: Pennyroyal promotes menstruation, and should never be used by pregnant women or if pregnancy is suspected. The oil taken internally can be highly toxic. There are a number of cases of the death of women who tried to procure abortions by taking the oil.