Pulegium Oil


Chemical information

Pennyroyal Oil; Poleo, aceite esencial de.


Pulegium oil is a volatile oil distilled from pennyroyal herb, Mentha pulegium (Labiatae), containing pulegone (C10H16O = 152.2). It was formerly used as an emmenagogue. Severe toxic effects have followed its use as an abortifacient with convulsions, hepatotoxicity, and death. It is reported to have insect repellent activity.

Adverse effects.

Severe hepatotoxicity accompanied by seizures occurred in 2 infants each of whom had received herbal teas containing pulegium oil.1 In one of the infants multiple organ failure developed, and fulminant hepatic failure with hepatocellular necrosis and cerebral oedema proved fatal. A further 4 cases of toxicity associated with ingestion of pulegium oil have been reported;2 three of the cases were adult patients who had ingested either herbal teas to induce menses (2 cases) or a herbal extract as an abortifacient (1 fatality), and the fourth was a 22month old child who had ingested the oil.
1. Bakerink JA, et al. Multiple organ failure after ingestion of pennyroyal oil from herbal tea in two infants. Pediatrics 1996; 98: 944–7
2. Anderson IB, et al. Pennyroyal toxicity: measurement of toxic metabolite levels in two cases and review of the literature. Ann Intern Med 1996; 124: 726–34.
Published May 08, 2019.