Pennyroyal Oil

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Information about Pennyroyal Oil

Pennyroyal is an herbal extract or oil derived from leaves of the plant in the mint genus (Mentha pulegium) that was used in the past as an insect repellent and an abortifacient. 

Liver safety of Pennyroyal Oil

When taken by mouth, pennyroyal oil is highly toxic and has been linked to several instances of toxic liver injury and death.  

Mechanism of action of Pennyroyal Oil

Pennyroyal is derived from leaves of either Mentha pulegium or Hedeoma pulegoides, plants of the mint family that are native to Europe.  Pennyroyal extract contains many components, but primarily contains the volatile oil pulegone and other monoterpenes.  Pennyroyal has a strong fragrance similar to spearmint and was used for centuries to flavor food, wine and herbal teas. 

Folk remedy

Pennyroyal extracts were also used as a traditional herb and folk remedy; a particular use was to stimulate menstruation and, in higher concentrations, to induce abortion.  Pennyroyal tea and leaf extracts have been used without serious side effects.  Pennyroyal oil, however, is highly toxic, and even small doses (one tablespoon, 15 mL) can cause syncope, seizures, coma, cardiopulmonary collapse, acute liver injury, renal insufficiency and multiorgan failure. 


Currently, pennyroyal oil is used in aromatherapy, as a bath additive and as an insect repellent, but is not recommended to be taken internally.

Herbal and dietary supplements

Chinese and Other Asian Herbal Medicines

Multi-Ingredient Nutritional Supplements

See also Nutritional supplements
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Medication resources

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