Pennyroyal or Mentha pulegium is a member of the mint family with a powerful spearmint scent. Though this herb does have some beneficial applications, it is also extremely toxic and considered a dangerous substance. Its essential oils are especially potent.

Pennyroyal should not be directly consumed as there is no treatment for toxicity. Use this herb carefully and only under the supervision of a medical professional.


Studies show that pennyroyal has potent antimicrobial properties. The essential oils of the plant pass through bacterial cell walls and disrupt the inner structures. Pennyroyal has a strong microbial ability against E. Coli, staphylococcus aureus, listeria, and Helicobacter pylori as well as several viruses, like influenza and herpes.


Wound Healing

One study shows that pennyroyal may be helpful in wound healing. Burn wounds treated in the study healed effectively when compared to the standard treatment of vaseline and wet dressings. At the end of three weeks, the wounds were not only sufficiently healed, but they also had minimal scar formation.

parent treating child's skinned knee



Pennyroyal is a potent insecticide. One study showed that pennyroyal worked well against Callosobruchus maculatus, a pest that affects chickpeas, and other studies demonstrate its efficacy against other insect pests at various life stages.

Although these results show promise, additional studies are necessary to determine the safety of the essential oils used in these studies and whether smaller doses present any danger of toxicity for humans who later consume the crops.

little girl looking at bug bites on her arm



Studies show that pennyroyal also has antioxidant properties. It is rich in multiple compounds, including tannins and flavonoids, making it a potential source of natural antioxidants and a food preservative. Because pennyroyal is toxic at high doses, more research is needed to determine if using it for its antioxidant properties is safe and what a safe dose might be.



Pennyroyal has also been studied for its anti-inflammatory effects. One study was done on rats and aimed to evaluate if pennyroyal could ease inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease and prevent the progression to colorectal cancer. The results were promising; pennyroyal successfully inhibited cancer cell invasion, but more research is needed.



One study showed that pennyroyal was effective at killing 98 percent of dust mites, a common allergen. Although effective, whether it is safe to use pennyroyal in this way has yet to be determined as the undesirable effects on the surrounding environment may cause other health concerns outside of a laboratory setting.



A study examined whether pennyroyal's ability to inhibit different enzymes and its antioxidant properties could be helpful in diabetes treatment. Results show that while pennyroyal may have some anti-diabetes properties, more research is needed due to the risk of toxicity and its unknown effects on insulin.

taking blood sugar measurement for diabetes



Pennyroyal has also been shown to have anticholernergic properties. Anticholinergic medications treat a range of disorders, including depression, allergies, Parkinson's disease, and asthma. While the potential is there, safety and dosage are still a concern, and further research is needed.


Drug Efficacy

Some studies examine whether pennyroyal can help increase the efficacy of other medications. Research demonstrates that pennyroyal helps other drugs penetrate kidney stones and may affect the permeability of drugs into the brain. The results of studies like this show that the plant has many potential uses, but more research is needed to determine safety.

researcher looking through a microscope


Side Effects and Toxicity

Many factors affect pennyroyal toxicity, including the route of administration, the health of the person using the plant, and what additives are used. Essential oils, including pennyroyal, can also interact with other medications, causing serious complications.

Sides effects of using pennyroyal include allergic reactions, flushing, and nausea, and studies in rats show that high doses are toxic to the liver. It is essential to carefully consider the dose when using pennyroyal and to avoid using this potentially dangerous herb without express medical guidance.


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