A mildly spicy tea
brewed from the leaves
of the pennyroyal
plant (European pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium
, or American pennyroyal, Hedeoma pulegioides
To make an infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried leaves and let infuse for 10-15 minutes. Traditionally recommended as a diaphoretic to aid in eliminating toxins from the body through sweat. It also serves as a carminative to relieve gas, stimulate digestive action and to relieve nausea. When brewed together with yarrow and elder flowers, results in a tea that is recommended by herbal healers as a treatment for symptoms during the early stages of colds and flu. It is also consumed before retiring to bed for its mild sedative action.
Pennyroyal tea has also been traditionally employed as an emmenagogue to promote menstrual flow, and as an abortifacient to initiate self-abortion. These activities are initiated by highly volatile oils contained in the plant, which you probably don't want to take by itself. The oil consists chiefly of pulegone (a highly toxic volatile that affects the uterus) but also contains menthone, isomenthone, l--pinene, l-limonene, dipentene, menthol, and other compounds. American pennyroyal has a similar essential oil. Other chemical constituents include bitter principle and tannin. Pennyroyal oil is a highly toxic agent that may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, stimulation, convulsions, hepatic and neurologic injury if ingested. It can be lethal. Skin contact can cause dermatitis.
Still interested in the tea? Avoid drinking it if you're pregnant. Do not serve to infants, and check to make sure any mint teas you serve infants don't have pennyroyal in them.