Last update March 7, 2022


High Risk

Poorly safe. Evaluate carefully. Use safer alternative or interrupt breastfeeding 3 to 7 T ½ (elimination half-lives). Read the Comment.

Mentha is a genus of herbaceous plants of the Lamiaceae family. There are several species with differences in composition and properties.

Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) has been traditionally used as an antispasmodic, digestive and emmenagogue (unproven properties) (MedlinePlus2012). The flowering summits are used. It contains essential oil (70-90% Pulegone), flavonoids and tannins ( acces. 03/2022). Indications from the Commission E of the German Ministry of Health: none. (Blumenthal 1998) 

On last update no relevant published data on breastfeeding were found.

Pulegone induces abortion and has toxicity against the liver, kidney and neurological system; can cause convulsions, hypertension and be carcinogenic (Jalili 2013, Bunchorntavakul 2013, MedlinePlus2012, Chitturi 2008, Zhou 2004, Ciganda 2003, Burkhard 1999, Gold 1980, Gunby 1979, Conway 1979). It is found very concentrated in essential oil but much lesser in infusions. Lethal or severe cases in adults and infants have been reported. (Fozard 2020, Bakerink 1996, Anderson 1996, Gold 1980, Sullivan 1979, Gunby 1979, Vallance 1955)

Because of toxicity mostly for the liver, and, lack of proven beneficial pharmacologic effects, it would be wise to avoid usage while breastfeeding. Otherwise, consumption of infusion should be occasional but never use essential oil. (MedlinePlus2012)

Precautions when taking plant preparations (Anderson 2017, Powers 2015, Posadzki 2013, Efferth 2011, Kopec 1999, Hsu 1995):

  • Make sure they are from a reliable source: poisonings have occurred due to confusion of one plant with another with toxic properties (Hsu 1995), poisonings due to containing heavy metals extracted from the soil, and food poisoning due to contamination with bacteria or fungi. (Anderson 2017)
  • Do not take in excess; follow the recommendations of expert phytotherapy professionals. “Natural” products are not good in any quantity: plants contain active substances from which much of our traditional pharmacopoeia has been obtained and can cause poisoning or act as endocrine disruptors if consumed in quantity or for an exaggerated time because they contain phytoestrogens. (Powers 2015, Zava 1998)

See below the information of these related products:

  • Peppermint (Moderately safe. Probably compatible. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.)
  • Spearmint ( Safe. Compatible. Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.)

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Pennyroyal is also known as

Pennyroyal in other languages or writings:


Pennyroyal belongs to this group or family:


Main tradenames from several countries containing Pennyroyal in its composition:

  • Wunderbalsam™. Contains other elements than Pennyroyal in its composition


  1. Fozard J, Hieger M. Hepatic Failure From Pennyroyal Tea Interaction With Medications Metabolized by the Cytochrome P450 Enzymes. Am J Ther. 2020 Nov/Dec;27(6):e694-e696. Abstract
  2. Anderson PO. Herbal Use During Breastfeeding. Breastfeed Med. 2017 Abstract
  3. Powers CN, Setzer WN. A molecular docking study of phytochemical estrogen mimics from dietary herbal supplements. In Silico Pharmacol. 2015 Mar 22;3:4. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  4. Posadzki P, Watson L, Ernst E. Contamination and adulteration of herbal medicinal products (HMPs): an overview of systematic reviews. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Abstract
  5. Jalili J, Askeroglu U, Alleyne B, Guyuron B. Herbal products that may contribute to hypertension. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2013 Jan;131(1):168-173. Abstract
  6. Bunchorntavakul C, Reddy KR. Review article: herbal and dietary supplement hepatotoxicity. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  7. MedlinePlus Pennyroyal MedlinePlus Supplements 2012 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  8. MedlinePlus Poleo MedlinePlus suplementos 2012 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  9. Efferth T, Kaina B. Toxicities by herbal medicines with emphasis to traditional Chinese medicine. Curr Drug Metab. 2011 Abstract
  10. Chitturi S, Farrell GC. Hepatotoxic slimming aids and other herbal hepatotoxins. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Abstract Full text (in our servers)
  11. Zhou S, Koh HL, Gao Y, Gong ZY, Lee EJ. Herbal bioactivation: the good, the bad and the ugly. Life Sci. 2004 Abstract
  12. Ciganda C, Laborde A. Herbal infusions used for induced abortion. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2003;41(3):235-9. Abstract
  13. Kopec K. Herbal medications and breastfeeding. J Hum Lact. 1999 Jun;15(2):157-61. Review. No abstract available. Abstract
  14. Burkhard PR, Burkhardt K, Haenggeli CA, Landis T. Plant-induced seizures: reappearance of an old problem. J Neurol. 1999 Aug;246(8):667-70. Abstract
  15. Zava DT, Dollbaum CM, Blen M. Estrogen and progestin bioactivity of foods, herbs, and spices. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1998 Abstract
  16. Blumenthal M. The American Botanical Council. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Ed. Integrative Medicine Com. Boston. 1998
  17. Bakerink JA, Gospe SM Jr, Dimand RJ, Eldridge MW. Multiple organ failure after ingestion of pennyroyal oil from herbal tea in two infants. Pediatrics. 1996 Nov;98(5):944-7. Abstract
  18. Anderson IB, Mullen WH, Meeker JE, Khojasteh-BakhtSC, Oishi S, Nelson SD, Blanc PD. Pennyroyal toxicity: measurement of toxic metabolite levels in two cases and review of the literature. Ann Intern Med. 1996 Apr 15;124(8):726-34. Review. Abstract
  19. Hsu CK, Leo P, Shastry D, Meggs W, Weisman R, Hoffman RS. Anticholinergic poisoning associated with herbal tea. Arch Intern Med. 1995 Abstract
  20. Vanaclocha B, Cañigueral S. 1992 - Disponible en: Abstract
  21. Gold J, Cates W Jr. Herbal abortifacients. JAMA. 1980 Apr 4;243(13):1365-6. Abstract
  22. Sullivan JB Jr, Rumack BH, Thomas H Jr, Peterson RG, Bryson P. Pennyroyal oil poisoning and hepatotoxicity. JAMA. 1979 Abstract
  23. Gunby P. Plant known for centuries still causes problems today. JAMA. 1979 Abstract
  24. Conway GA, Slocumb JC. Plants used as abortifacients and emmenagogues by Spanish New Mexicans. J Ethnopharmacol. 1979 Abstract
  25. VALLANCE WB. Pennyroyal poisoning: a fatal case. Lancet. 1955 Oct 22;269(6895):850-1. No abstract available. Abstract

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