American Pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegoides)
European Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
Pennyroyal is a well-known abortificant which causes the uterine muscles to contract, it is said to be very effective and is sometimes combined with Blue Cohosh, or mugwort. It is believed to be most effective as tea, drunk while hot. Either the fresh or dried herb can be used, some think a tea made from the fresh herb may be more effective, but at this time there is not enough information available to make a determination of which is better, if you purchase herbs of good quality it may not make any difference. For more information on purchasing herbs.
During American colonial times a tablespoon of brewers yeast was frequently added to a freshly brewed cup of pennyroyal tea to induce abortion. This combination is mentioned in King's American Dispensatory in the late 1800's, as "reputed to be a safe and effective abortifacient".
The essential oil of pennyroyal should NEVER be used internally even in small amounts it is a deadly poison, and is not a pleasant way to die, two young women from Colorado died from pennyroyal oil poisoning the doctors could do nothing to save them as their organs failed, they died a very painful death, lets learn from their tragic mistakes and not loose anyone else this way. The essential oil may be used externally only, but is very potent, if rubbed on the skin it can cause irritation. The oil of pennyroyal is VERY concentrated. It has been estimated by University of Illinois pharmacognosist Norman Farnsworth, PhD (a leading researcher on herbal emmenagogues and abortifacients) that one would have to drink 50-75 gallons of pennyroyal tea to equal a fatal dosage of pennyroyal oil. The tea poses little to no fatality hazard. Uni Tiamat writes: "I have found Pennyroyal leaf infusion to be very effective and safe in my own herbal abortion experience. But caution, anything in excess may be damaging." 4
After drinking pennyroyal tea for any length of time, or any other abortificients, it is advisable to soothe the after effects by consuming a nourishing teas and eat a healthy well balanced diet. See taking care after herbal abortion. Abortifacients can be taxing on the kidneys and liver, anyone with health problems, especially with the liver or kidneys should consult with an herbalist or midwife before consuming any of these herbs, read more about who should not use these herbs.
Susun Weed lists this recipe in The Child Bearing Year:
2 tablespoons (Tbsp) dried Blue Cohosh Root
2 Tbsp dried Tansy in flower
Boil the Blue Cohosh in a quart of water (if the tincture is used, skip this step, just boil the water) for 5 minutes.
Place the pennyroyal and tansy in a glass quart canning jar (or equivalent). Pour the boiled water (with the blue cohosh - if you used the dried herb) into the jar, cap and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Strain the herbs out and reheat before using. If you use the blue cohosh tincture add 20 drops after reheating the tea.
Together these 3 herbs can produce profuse menstrual flow in sensitive women. The usual dose, is a steaming hot cupful every four hours, day and night, for up to 5 days or until bleeding is well underway. The effectiveness of this formula is enhanced by the addition of tablespoonful of brewers yeast to every cup. 3
For the blue cohosh you may want to use a tincture, an alcohol extract is the best way to capture the uterine contracting properties of blue cohosh, its properties are not very soluble in water. Meaning an alcohol extract would be stronger. To modify the recipe to use the tincture, add 20 drops of the tincture to each cup of tea just before drinking it. In her book, she calls for the dried herb, so you decide how you want to do it, it's your choice.
Susun calls American Pennyroyal "one of the most powerful of all emmenagogues" She recommends a dose of 20 drops of tincture in a cup of hot water. Not more than four cups per day and for no more than 5 days to induce menstruation with out taxing the woman. 3
One herbalist gave me this recipe: And told me to listen to my body.
Drink a cup of pennyroyal and rue tea using the dried herb, every four hours for several days.
Other sources suggest these dosages:
Standard Infusion (leaves and flowers): Steep 15-30 min, 1/4 - 3/4, 3-4 hours.
The most common side effect with this herb seems to be nausea, and it seems to affect the majority of women who use this herb. So if you choose to use this herb be aware of this and plan to take it easy, and expect you won't feel your best.
The essential oil of pennyroyal should NEVER be used orally/internally. It is a deadly poison. Several women have died very painful deaths from ingesting small amounts of the essential oil in an attempt to end suspected pregnancy. Ending pregnancy is not worth risking your life, or damaging you organs.
Small amounts of the essential oil of pennyroyal may be used externally (on the skin). Essential oil is highly concentrated and only a few drops should be used since it tends to be irritating to the skin. A drop or two can be placed on the center-forehead, or third eye, sometimes strong uterine contractions will result for about an hour. I tried this once and felt absolutely nothing.
If you have access to the fresh pennyroyal herb you can make an oil infusion by soaking the fresh herb in olive oil. This preparation is also for external use, it may be rubbed into the bottoms of the feet, and into the abdomen, there are also uterine points on your archillies tendon, massaging them with a oil infuse with pennyroyal may also be helpful by encouraging uterine contractions. The oil infusion is not as concentrated as the essential oil, it will not irritate the skin and more liberal amounts may be used.
Words to the Wise: Uni Tiamat writes: Anyone with kidney disease or damage should not use Pennyroyal.4 I think those with a history of kidney stones should also avoid using pennyroyal. She also notes that after one week, if you have not obtained results, discontinued taking for continued use may damage the central nervous system, the kidneys and the liver. 4
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If you or anyone you know has attempted herbal abortion, I am currently collecting data for a herbal abortion database, I have created a questionnaire to assist me in collecting data, and any and all herbal abortion or emergency contraceptive experiences are welcome, pregnancies confirmed with a pregnancy test are most useful, but as stated, all experiences are welcome, even if pregnancy was not confirmed or menstruation was simply late. I have posted some of the database findings on the website. You can read about other women's experiences in the Sharing our Wisdom section, all of these women have helped to add to our body of knowledge.