Pulegone Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Pulegone is a terpene with a strong peppermint aroma. Pulegone is often used in flavoring agents, perfume, and aromatherapy. Pulegone is also an effective insecticide and is being researched to determine whether it can help the brain store memory by curbing memory-inhibiting proteins. This terpene may exhibit anti-anxiety and psychostimulant properties.

What is pulegone?

Pulegone is a fragrant, liquid monoterpene used as both a scent and flavor enhancer due to its minty profile that is comparable to menthol. It is considered one of the top three most effective mint plants to act as an insecticide. The palo santo (holy stick tree) native to Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela, is a wild source of the terpene.

Pulegone in everyday life

Pulegone occurs naturally in catnip, so you may have experienced the terpene if you've given a scented toy to your feline friend. Peppermint candies are another source of pulegone, as are certain other members of the mint family, including the pennyroyal and creeping Charlie plants. Perfumes and aromatherapy products with a cool, fresh scent may also incorporate pulegone into their formulas. The terpene has been as a brew for tea and to flavor alcoholic beverages and baked goods.

Therapeutic properties of pulegone

As a component of pennyroyal oil, pulegone has been used to treat a host of conditions, including indigestion, menstrual conditions, common colds, headaches, and convulsions. Pulegone in isolation has also shown to offer potential benefits for the treatment of anxiety, although solid research on humans is needed.


A 2014 study published in Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin found that pulegone possessed anti-anxiety effects on test mice.


The same study revealed that pulegone may have a psychostimulant effect that can improve motor and mental function.

Role of pulegone in cannabis

Pulegone is a secondary terpene that occurs in low concentrations in cannabis. Some have reported a feeling of mild sedation or stress relief when experiencing cannabis containing pulegone, such as OG Kush. Others have claimed that vaping hash oils made from varieties of cannabis that contain pulegone stimulates the brain's production of the neurotransmitter compound acetylcholine while inhibiting the production of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. The resulting effect may be a decrease in short-term memory loss.

Bottom line

A powerful insecticide, pulegone is a minty terpene that may aid in combating anxiety.

Major contributions from Dr. Adie Rae.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on June 20, 2022.