Pennyroyal is a creeping herb that bears tiny lilac-colored flowers. When the leaves are crushed, they smell just like mint. Native to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, pennyroyal is part of the Lamiacecae family — so it’s related to various culinary herbs such as of basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, hyssop, rosemary, sage and lavender. By the way, pennyroyal is also sometimes known as mosquito plant, squaw mint and pudding grass.
For medicinal purposes, you can usually avail of pennyroyal in a couple of forms — tea and essential oil. The one you should go for will depend on certain factors, such as the reason for using the herb and your preference.
Consuming pennyroyal tea once in a while is perfectly fine, although the herbal drink is not suitable for women who are in the family way. That’s because the herb is known to have abortifacient properties. In layman’s terms, consuming pennyroyal tea or any other preparation with the herb is something that can cause abortion.
Pennyroyal essential oil is beneficial if used topically. Employing it internally, however, is not recommended. In oil form, the herb can be so potent that it is regarded as very toxic. Even small amounts of pennyroyal essential oil can cause numerous unfavorable results, including death. In order to be safe, refrain from using this particular essential oil unless you are intending to do so under the direct supervision of someone who is an expert in the use of herbs.
When used properly, pennyroyal can offer the following health benefits:
It Promotes Relaxation
People who are feeling nervous or jittery may take pennyroyal tea to help them feel more relaxed and able to focus. Yes, this herbal drink won’t make you feel sleepy as it calms your nerves. In fact, pennyroyal tea is commonly given to individuals who have fainted to help bring them back to consciousness.
It Regulates Menstruation
Women who have irregular periods may take pennyroyal tea to attain relief from such. The consumption of it is also said to be beneficial for those who experience all sorts of unwanted symptoms when having their period.
It Helps Control an Infection
Pennyroyal tea may be taken orally and pennyroyal essential oil may be used externally for controlling an infection. That’s because the herb is known to possess antimicrobial properties. Fever is one of the common symptoms of an ongoing infection, and the intake of pennyroyal tea is said to help induce perspiration and reduce fever.
It Wards Off GI Distress
Involuntary spasms of the various parts of the GI tract can cause pain and discomfort, and the intake of pennyroyal tea can help in controlling them. Traditionally, the said tea is taken to facilitate digestion.
It Drives Pesky Insects Away
Pennyroyal tea, when allowed to cool to room temperature, makes for an excellent insect repellent. Applying it on the skin helps drive away mosquitoes and various other insects that like to bite and sting. Pennyroyal essential oil, upon being diluted with carrier oil, is also an excellent all-natural insect repellant.
It Strengthens the Gums
Thanks to its astringent properties, rinsing the mouth with pennyroyal tea can help tighten and strengthen the gums. This helps save the gums from becoming inflamed, as well as keeps your pearly whites in great shape.
A Final Word of Caution
Once again, never use pennyroyal essential oil internally — the product is intended for topical application only and with the supervision of an experienced herbalist. While pennyroyal tea is safe for oral consumption, pregnant women must not take it because the said herbal drink may cause miscarriage.
If you are suffering from a medical condition and taking prescribed medications for it, always let your doctor know about your plan on taking pennyroyal tea or using pennyroyal essential oil topically. Make sure that you discontinue using products with pennyroyal if you develop unfavorable side effects.