hist-brewing: mint tea

isenhour at uiuc.edu isenhour at uiuc.edu
Tue Oct 26 07:49:44 PDT 1999


I have been searching hundreds of science journals trying to locate some
hard evidence that hops somehow effect male testosterone (nothing so far)
but I did run across this and thought it worth a post.

from Pediatrics, V98, N5, pp944-947 1996

Hepatic and neurologic injury developed in two infants after ingestion
of mint tea. Examination of the mint plants, from which the teas were
brewed, indicated that they contained the toxic agent pennyroyal
oil. 

METHODS: Sera from each infant were analyzed for the toxic
constituents of pennyroyal oil, including pulegone and its metabolite
menthofuran.

RESULTS: Fulminant liver failure with cerebral edema and
necrosis developed in the first infant, who died. This infant was
positive only for menthofuran (10 ng/mL). In the other infant, who was
positive for both pulegone (25 ng/mL) and menthofuran (41 ng/mL),
hepatic dysfunction and a severe epileptic encephalopathy
developed. 

CONCLUSION: Pennyroyal oil is a highly toxic agent that may cause both
hepatic and neurologic injury if ingested. A potential source of
pennyroyal oil is certain mint teas mistakenly used as home remedies
to treat minor ailments and colic in infants. Physicians should
consider pennyroyal oil poisoning as a possible cause of hepatic and
neurologic injury in infants, particularly if the infants may have
been given home- brewed mint teas.

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