Herb Of The Month - February 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

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Herb of the Month for February 2012 - Pennyroyal

It's February 1st and time to discuss another herb.  I've chosen Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) as this months' herb for special reasons that I'll share later in this post.  Pennyroyal has quite a few folk names including: Lurk In The Ditch, Tickweed, Pudding Grass, Organ Tea, Mosquito Plant, Fleabane and Run By The Ground.  Demeter is this herbs ruling deity and its element is fire.  Pennyroyal is a masculine herb, a member of the mint family and its ruling planet is Mars. (This may vary depending on your source. Some people consider Pennyroyal to be feminine, ruled by Venus and Earth.)

Pennyroyal is an herb of strength and power.  It can be used for protection, strength and to bring peace.  Pennyroyal is a powerful guardian that provides protection and wards off the evil eye. The smoke from the burning leaves of Pennyroyal can be used to clear a home of negativity.  To remove evil from a location make a sprinkler using fresh sprigs of Pennyroyal, Rosemary and Marjoram.  The sprinkler is then used to sprinkle salt water throughout the location removing evil and negativity.  

Use Pennyroyal in healing sachets and spells.  Pennyroyal placed in your shoe will prevent weariness during travel and strengthen the body.  Add Pennyroyal to travelling spells, the herb will bless the trip and protect the traveler. Pennyroyal is also said to be a peacemaker.  When given to a fighting couple Pennyroyal will cause them to stop fighting.  Plant Pennyroyal around your home or keep some indoors (away from children and pets) for protection. 

Interesting Tidbit: Know any annoying people? Got a co-worker that won't shut up and leave you alone?  Pennyroyal helps keep annoying people at bay.  Place a potted Pennyroyal plant on your desk or hang sachets containing the herb around your work area.  The annoying individual will suddenly bypass your cubicle and bother the poor s.o.b. next to you.

Will Pennyroyal kill me??
The oil of Pennyroyal is poisonous and should never been ingested or used topically.  The dried and fresh leaves are a different story.  Pennyroyal has been used medicinally for centuries. Hang fresh Pennyroyal in the room of a sick person to speed healing and clear away germs. The leaves can be crushed and mixed with olive oil or cream then rubbed on the skin to repel bugs. Colds, upset stomach, anxiety, and menstruation promotion are some of the ways the leaves of Pennyroyal have been used.  The dried leaves are steeped in water for 15 minutes.  This creates the infusion used to treat coughs, cold, upset stomach etc.  However, it is still possible to poison yourself when using the leaves of Pennyroyal. Pennyroyal is an abortive herb and should NEVER be handled, ingested or used topically by pregnant woman or animals.  There are documented cases of individuals dying after ingesting even small amounts of Pennyroyal (usually in an attempt to end a pregnancy).  So, can Pennyroyal kill you? Absolutely.  Be careful when using it, even if your only making sachets. Wash your hands immediately after using it and keep it away from children, pregnant women and animals. Personally, I would never ingest Pennyroyal because it's just too risky.  If you choose to ingest it do your research and BE CAREFUL.  ***

So what's my reason for selecting Pennyroyal this month? I live in a building that is basically over run with dogs and cats. Personally I believe two, maybe three pets is plenty for a two bedroom apartment in New York City.  Apparently my neighbors don't apply the same logic because they have way more than two or three pets in their apartments. I'm talking four medium to large dogs in one apartment plus cats!! Anyway, the point of this is FLEAS!!! Recently, Atreya was sitting on the couch with one of my two cats and noticed something black on his belly.  Upon further inspection we discovered that it was a flea.  These little monsters, brought into the building by all the dogs, have now invaded the entire building including my apartment and my cats.  I was fit to be tied upon making this discovery. I've never had to deal with fleas and in the sixteen years I've had my cats they've never had to deal with anything like this either. (Which really infuriates me because at this stage in their lives they shouldn't have to deal with fleas, flea baths, flea combs, stress etc. I'm digressing, apologies.)    So what did I do? I hit the books and the internet looking for different methods to combat the uninvited guests now residing in my apartment.  The first and most common herb mentioned was Pennyroyal.  

Pennyroyal has been used since ancient times to ward off fleas and other pests (including mosquitoes and ticks).  If your taking your dog for a walk hang a sachet with Pennyroyal on his collar to help keep bugs away. Dogs, relying on instincts, will also roll in patches of Pennyroyal. Infusing Pennyroyal with olive oil will create an herbal insect repellent that is rubbed onto the skin (as long as your not pregnant or allergic).   I created my own sachet/infusion for my apartment.  

The recipe is as follows:
  • Pennyroyal
  • Rue (Be careful.  Rue may irritate the skin and cause a rash.)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Mint
  • Lavender
  • Citronella Oil
  • Lemongrass
  • Wormwood (Be careful with this guy too.)

      I don't measure herbs, I mix by eye and feel.  I mixed the herbs together and used half the mixture to make an infusion and the other half to make sachets. For the infusion: Place the herbs in a pot (a pot that is not used for food preparation) or cauldron and add water. Bring the water to a rolling boil and let it boil for about 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes turn down the flame, cover the pot and allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Make sure to stir it occasionally. Once its finished allow it to cool then, using a strainer, drain the mixture separating the herbs from the liquid.  Pour the liquid into a spray bottle.  Since the infusion is quite dark and heavy looking I deluded it with water.  The spray bottle is 1 quarter infusion and 3 quarters water.  The remaining liquid is stored in a glass container until the bottle needs to be refilled.  I used the spray on the area the directly outside my door including my doormat. I also spray the door frame, baseboards and a few other nooks and crannies the fleas may use as a hideout. Because this spray contains Pennyroyal and Rue I do not spray bedding, couches, my pet etc.

      The sachets: With the remaining herb mixture I filled 9 4x6 cheese cloth bags.  Using a spoon, scoop the herbs into the bags and tie them shut.  I hung two on the outside of the door and two inside then placed the rest throughout my apartment just out of my curious cats' reach. 

      Flea Spray for the Home

      Flea Sachet for the Home

      Pennyroyal will protect your home and ward off evil.  The smoke from the burning leaves will remove negativity from a location and  it will ease tensions between a feuding couple.  Good for healing spells, Pennyroyal will keep your energies high while traveling and strengthen the body.  Use it to keep annoying people out of your personal bubble and hang fresh Pennyroyal in your room to speed recovery from a cold or flu.  Most importantly, at least for me, Pennyroyal is a vital ingredient in the war against fleas.  Use it wisely.

      Bright Blessings,

      ***I am not a doctor and I don't play one on TV. Do your research before you consume any herbs via potions etc. 

      Sources: Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by: Scott Cunningham
      The Encyclopedia of Magickal Ingredients by: Lexa Rosean


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