Sorry I’ve been absent in writing for so long. I’ve been focusing on my other project and working and there are only so many hours in the day, it seems. However, yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling in Burwell V. Hobby Lobby has reignited my passion in all things sexual health related so here we are.
If you’ve been an avid reader of this blog, you know that I already covered Pennyroyal about a year ago. But like any good long term project, new information is always coming to light. I’ve uncovered a few more interesting facts so I thought I’d simply rewrite the post rather than amending the old and expecting anyone to see it buried in the archives of the internet.
As we learned before, Pennyroyal is actually the common name of two different herbs: Mentha pulegium (the European variety) and Hedeoma pulegioides (the American variety). Although very similar in appearance and both members of the mint family, the European Pennyroyal is a perennial herb while the American type is annual. M. pulegium can be distinguished by the flowers which contain four stamens, while H. pulegioides has only two (Hylton and Kowalchik 1987).
When we talk about the use of Pennyroyal in antiquity this is the herb in question, since the American variety wasn’t “discovered” (and I use that term loosely) until colonization by the Europeans. And we do talk about this herb in antiquity.
In 421 B.C.E Aristophanes wrote in his play “Peace”:
Hermes: If that be so, receive Opora here for a wife; take her to the country, live with her, and grow fine grapes together.
Trygaeus to Opora: Come, my dear one, come and accept my kisses.
Trygaeus to Hermes: Tell me, Hermes, my master, do you think it would hurt me to love her a little, after so long an abstinence?
Hermes: No, not if you swallow a portion of penny-royal afterwards.
Basically, Trygaeus is given this woman as a new female companion and he immediately asks his master what would happen if he gets her pregnant. The answer is to simply apply pennyroyal, rinse, repeat. Problem solved! Continue reading