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Pennyroyal Oil Poisoning and Hepatotoxicity

John B. Sullivan Jr, MD; Barry H. Rumack, MD; Harold Thomas Jr, MD; Robert G. Peterson, MD, PhD; Peter Bryson, MD
JAMA. 1979;242(26):2873-2874. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03300260043027.
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PENNYROYAL oil has been used in folklore medicine for many years as an abortifacient and as a means to induce menstruation.1 Herbal medicine books currently in health food stores mention its use as an abortifacient and recommend its use for various minor ailments. We report two recent cases of pennyroyal oil ingestion for the purpose of abortion. One of these cases resulted in shock, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), massive hepatic nercrosis, and death.

Report of Cases 

Case 1.—  An 18-year-old girl came to the Denver General Hospital emergency department on Nov 15,1978, with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and vascilating between lethargy and agitation. She gave a history of having ingested two one-half ounce bottles of pennyroyal oil two hours earlier to abort a suspected pregnancy. She was very depressed, and the ingestion could also have been a suicide attempt. She had drunk pennyroyal tea made from the leaves of


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