PENNY ROYAL, Mentha pulegium

Back in Greek mythology, the god Pluto was sweet on a little nymph called Minthe. Pluto’s wife found out about it and she raised heck. To appease his wife, Pluto changed his little nymph into a sweet smelling little plant. He called the plant “Minthe.” Mentha is the latin name or genus of most of the mint family of plants.

Herbs, like people, belong to families. Some herb families, like people, have some outstanding members. The mint is a family of many special herbs. We all know about peppermint, with its wonderful pungent scent. Spearmint is similar, with a little lighter scent. Watermint is a cross between peppermint and spearmint and likes to grow around bogs or water. It is often mistaken for peppermint. Catnip is a member of this family, as is horehound and motherwort. There is apple or Egyptian mint, lemon mint, ginger mint, orange bergamot mint, bowl mint, pineapple mint, balm and about thirty more mints, including pennyroyal. Pennyroyal is the herb we will talk about today.

Pennyroyal, among other things, is good for female complaints. In an herb class, a lady told about pennyroyal. Some years before, her daughter has a terrible time with premenstrual cramps. She said her daughter would get so sick; she would have to go to bed a couple of days a month. She said her daughter would get bad cramps, throw up and lay in bed crying. They tried many kinds of remedies from the drug store. Then, they went to their doctor. The doctor gave the girl some drugs and medicines. This went on for a couple of months, but none of the drugs or medicines seemed to take care of the problem.

The mother finally called their family doctor, who was in his nineties. He reminded her that he had been retired for almost thirty years. The mother told him that her daughter took drugs and medicines for her cramps, but they only made her sick to her stomach. He told her that the girls nowadays eat a lot of junk and they get awfully constipated. The mother agreed that her daughter was constipated. The old doctor told her to make sure her bowels got cleaned out. He then said, “If the medicines and drugs are too harsh, she could use some old fashioned herbs, like pennyroyal. Just make some tea and it should help your daughter.” The mother got her daughter a laxative and a bowel cleanser and they got the bowel cleansed. Then the mother called around and found some pennyroyal. She made some tea for her daughter. She said within a short time her daughter got over her cramps and felt just fine.

Most of the mints have a square stem. The tiny lavender flowers grow in whorls or clusters just above the bract or leaf axils. The American pennyroyal or Hedeoma pulegioides have larger leaves that grow in pairs on either side of the stalk. The plant is more erect and grows to a height of one or two feet.

Pennyroyal has many uses. It is an emmenagogue to help a woman with female problems. It is also a diaphoretic that will help you sweat if the tea is taken hot. This is particularly useful when you are getting a cold. It is also a carminative, like peppermint, and it will help to expel gas. It is also a sedative and is good to use when there is stress or anxiety. Some Indian tribes use pennyroyal for headache, stress and settle an upset stomach. The Greeks used pennyroyal for an insect repellant, as did most other cultures. The Latin species pulegium or pulex means flea. In some areas, it is called fleabane.
Pennyroyal, as a tea, is used for many different health problems.
Do not use pennyroyal oil internally – it can be dangerous.

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