If you’ve heard of pennyroyal tea, it’s most likely either because you’re a Nirvana fan or because you’ve heard of the controversy surrounding it. Either way, pennyroyal tea is a commonly heard of, but commonly misunderstood tea.
To learn more about the tea and its health benefits, read on. And of course, before you drink pennyroyal tea, be sure to check with your doctor.
What is Pennyroyal Tea?
Pennyroyal is part of the mint family, and it grows primarily in the southern parts of the United States. Native to Kentucky, the plant has also spread to the Appalachian Mountains.
Pennyroyal has amazing health benefits to both men and women. It’s been shown to help alleviate the pain associated with arthritis. It is a calming herb, and is used to relax and help induce sleep. It’s got antibacterial properties, works as a digestive aid and pennyroyal tea can even be used topically as an insect repellant.
So what’s the big deal with pennyroyal tea? Well, it’s commonly known as a herb which induces miscarriage. For centuries, pennyroyal has been used as an abortifacient, by midwives and by laypeople. When taken during the first month or two of pregnancy, pennyroyal will end a pregnancy.
The trouble with pennyroyal tea is that, in high doses, it can be very dangerous. The pennyroyal plant contains an oil called pulegone which is extremely toxic to humans. If you drink too much pennyroyal, it is possible to overdose and it is possible that the overdose can be fatal.
Should I Drink Pennyroyal Tea?
The most common mistake people make when consuming pennyroyal is that they consume the extract or the tincture instead of the tea. There’s no antidote for the poison in pennyroyal, and extracts and tinctures are, more often than not, fatal.
Drinking pennyroyal tea isn’t necessarily fatal. But it’s also not recommended that you do so if you’re not under the strict supervision of a doctor.
Generally speaking, when pennyroyal leaves are dried a great deal of the oil is removed. That means that the dried leaves are less likely to be toxic or fatal than fresh pennyroyal leaves. However, it’s important to note that “less likely” to be fatal doesn’t mean the pennyroyal tea is not toxic.
So, should you drink pennyroyal tea? Probably not. Not unless drinking pennyroyal tea is expressly recommended by your physician.
Why Would Anyone Drink Pennyroyal Tea?
As mentioned, pennyroyal tea has a huge number of health benefits. Not only does it help with sleep and digestion, it also assists with hayfever and colds, indigestion and headaches.
But there is such thing as too much of a good thing. It’s not recommended that, even in low doses, you drink pennyroyal tea for more than a week. Any longer and you risk liver damage and buildup of toxins in your body.
Aside from the health risks, most people say that pennyroyal tea just, frankly, doesn’t taste good. Its smell is similar to a stale mint, and the taste is bitter an overbearing. Pennyroyal tea reviews say the taste can be tempered with honey or other natural sweeteners, but the bitter undertones are still enough to turn some off to the tea.
If you’re thinking of drinking pennyroyal tea for the flavor, it’s probably best not to bother. If you’re drinking the tea for the medicinal benefits, talk to your doctor first. There are other healthy teas which are much safer and less harmful to your organs than pennyroyal. Those teas are just as effective as pennyroyal tea.
Where to Buy Pennyroyal Tea
If you’ve checked with your doctor and she’s cleared you to drink pennyroyal tea, there are a number of places you can access it. The herb is likely not carried in stores local to you, so you’ll have to find it online.
Believe it or not, you can find pennyroyal tea on sites like Amazon. However, if you do this be sure to check the reviews. Many suppliers will blend their pennyroyal tea with other herbs, rendering the tea less effective.
If you do buy pennyroyal tea online, be sure you purchase the leaves from a reputable supplier. Choose someone who is a registered business, and who is certified organic if possible. There are companies like this online with great reputations for producing quality herbal teas.
Finally, be sure the pennyroyal is food grade. Pennyroyal is a natural pesticide, and may be sold as a gardening product. Obviously, this is not the pennyroyal you want to consume. Ensure that your pennyroyal tea is clearly marked “food grade” on the package.
How to Make Pennyroyal Tea
First and foremost, never make pennyroyal tea from fresh leaves. These leaves contain the toxic oils which can cause some serious problems for your health. Instead, buy fully dried leaves – it’s best to buy loose leaf teas instead of bagged tea.
The recipe for pennyroyal tea is simple. Place about a teaspoon of fully dried pennyroyal leaves in a tea cup or mug. Pour 8 pounces of water over the tea leaves, and allow to steep for ten to fifteen minutes.
Once the tea has steeped, strain the leaves using a strainer or cheesecloth. You can toss the leaves in the trash, or sprinkle them in your garden to deter insects.
To make the flavor of your pennyroyal tea a bit more enjoyable, try sweetening with honey. Pennyroyal has a strong, minty and earthy scent – the aroma is actually quite pleasant for some. But the taste is strong, and honey can help to cut that flavor.
You may also try sugar, maple sugar, or fruit juice to sweeten your tea. It’s recommended that, if you’re a diabetic, you add sugar to your tea as pennyroyal may serve to lower your blood sugar.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should never drink pennyroyal tea. The tea will cause termination of pregnancy, and passes through breastmilk causing poisonous effects to the baby.