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The Mint Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium) gets its name from the Latin puleium regium, because of its royal efficacy in destroying fleas (pulices). The French call this similarly, Pouliot. It grows on moist heaths and pastures, and by the margins of brooks, being cultivated further in our herb gardens, for kitchen and market uses.
Also, Pennyroyal is produced largely about Mitcham, and is mostly sold in a dry state. The herb was formerly named Pudding Grass, from its being used to make the stuffing for meat, in days when this was termed a pudding.
The Pennyroyal was named by the Greeks Bleekon and Gleekon, being often used by them as a condiment for seasoning different viands.
Formerly Pennyroyal was known in England as "Lurk in ditch," and "Run by the ground," from its creeping nature, arid love of a damp soil. Its first titles were "Puliall Royall," and "Hop Marjoram." A chaplet of Pennyroyal was considered admirable for clearing the brain. T
readwell says, the Pennyroyal was especially put into hog's puddings, which were made of flour, currants, and spice, and stuffed into the entrail of a hog.
The oil of Pennyroyal is used commercially in France and Germany. Its distilled water is carminative and anti-spasmodic; whilst the whole plant is essentially stimulating. The fresh herb yields about one per cent. of a volatile oil containing oxygen, but of which the exact composition has not been ascertained. From two to eight drops may be given as a dose in suitable cases, but not where feverish or inflammatory symptoms are present.
If added to an ordinary embrocation the oil of Pennyroyal increases the reddening and the benumbing (anodyne) effects, acting in the same way as, menthol (oil of Peppermint) for promptly dispelling severe neuralgic pain. With respect to the Pennyroyal, folk speak in Devonshire of "Organs," "Organ Tea," and "Organ Broth." An essence is made of the oil, mixed and diluted with spirit of wine.
The Pennyroyal has proved useful in whooping cough; but the chief purpose to which it has long been devoted, is that of promoting, the monthly flow with women. Haller says he never knew an infusion of the herb in white wine, with steel, to fail of success; Quod me nunquam fefellit. It is certain that in some parts of England preparations of Pennyroyal are in considerable demand, and a great number of women ascribe emmenagogue properties to it, that is, the power of inducing the periodical monthly flux. Many married women of intelligence and close observation, assert as a positive fact, that Pennyroyal will bring on the periodical flow when suppressed; and yet the eminent jurisprudist, Dr. Taylor, was explicit in declaring that Pennyroyal has no such properties. He stated that it has no more effect on the womb than peppermint or camphor water. So there is difficulty in collecting evidence as regards the real action of Pennyroyal in such respect.