The mosquito plant was around many years before insecticide sprays. Popular wisdom used sprays made with this plant as insect repellents. Its name pulegium is a Latin word that means fleas.
The mosquito plant’s medicinal properties have been known for thousands of years. Dioscorides, the great Greek physician and botanist of the 1st century, said of this plant that “it has the strength to heal, to achieve weight loss, and to digest.”
Indeed, the mosquito plant helps in these cases. However, it would be better not to have to use it to treat the symptoms. Avoiding excess is wiser than healing the consequences, even with a natural remedy like herbal tea.
Mosquito Plant Scientific Facts
- Other names: Mock pennyroyal, European pennyroyal, squaw balm, squawmint, tickweed.
- French: Pouliot.
- Spanish: Poleo.
- Environment: It grows in cool places, sometimes near brooks, all over Europe. The mosquito plant is also widespread in America.
- Description: The vibrant plant of the Labiatae family is very aromatic and grows from 25 to 40 cm high. Its flowers grow in the axils of the leaves, and are lilac, pink or white. Their aroma resembles those of lemon rind and peppermint.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The whole plant.
Healing Properties and Warning
The whole plant contains an essential oil (0.5%-1%) based on pulegone, an unsaturated ketone. It also contains menthone, limonene, and other ketones. Its properties are the following:
- Digestive and stomachic invigorator: This plant promotes digestive processes, increases the production of juices (gastric, pancreatic, intestinal), and stimulates the stomach and the small intestine action. It has carminative properties, combats intestinal fermentation, and eases headaches caused by digestive disorders. It also increases bile secretion. Thus, its use is recommended whenever promoting digestive processes is required, such as hypochloridria, heavy digestion, excess gas, and gall bladder disorders.
- Expectorant and antitussive: It is helpful for colds and whooping cough.
- Emmenagogue and antispasmodic: It promotes menstruation and eases the pain which may accompany it.
- Vermifuge: In order to expel intestinal parasites, drink a cup daily, with an empty stomach, for five days.
- Antiseptic: It is beneficial in mouth rinses for bad breath or pyorrhea, and also to wash skin wounds.
- Insecticide: Put in your wardrobe some small bags with this plant to repel moths. You can also kill pet fur parasites by rubbing pet hair with a mosquito plant concentrated infusion.
Pennyroyal is primarily used for all lung infections and fevers. It drives out inflammation and heat through the skin and helps circulation. A warm infusion used liberally will stimulate sweating. It is excellent for treating colds, nervousness, hysteria, cramps, intestinal pains, and nervous headaches. It is also used for colic, lung congestion, and convulsions.
A warm infusion helps stimulate menstruation. Hot footbaths of pennyroyal tea can be used to bring on menstrual flow. Therefore, it helps relieve menstrual cramps and flow. However, it should not be used by individuals with a propensity toward extreme menstrual cycles.
In external applications, pennyroyal can be used to repel insects like fleas, flies, and mosquitoes because it is a potent-smelling mint. It can also be used for itching and skin conditions.
NOTE: The European species (Mentha pulegium) and the American species (Hedeoma pulegioides) have similar properties. Therefore, either one is beneficial.
WARNING! Although this plant is not advised against gastro-duodenal ulcers, it must be used with caution and never in a period with ulcer attacks. The use of the plant, and particularly its essence in very high doses, may be dangerous. Avoid this plant when pregnant!
How to use This Plant
- Infusion: After boiling a liter of water, add 10-20g of the plant and steep for some minutes. It may be sweetened with honey. As a digestive invigorator, drink a cup after every meal. For bronchial afflictions or menstrual disorders, drink a hot cup every other hour.
- Mouth rinses with a more concentrated infusion (30g per liter).
- Cleansings with the infusion as mentioned earlier.
American pennyroyal grows in North America and is very similar to mosquito plants in appearance and properties. North American natives used this plant to ease headaches and menstrual pains and heal wounds.
- George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 461,462. Print.
- Vance Ferrell Harold M. Cherne, M.D. The Natural Remedies Encyclopedia [Book]. – Altamont, TN: Harvestime Books, 2010. – Vol. Seventh Edition: 7: pp. 173.