Pulegone is a monocyclic monoterpenoid found in botanicals like rosemary, catnip, pennyroyal, and various members of the mint family, including corn mint, peppermint, and spearmint. Pulegone has a strong, distinctive minty scent and flavor, and is most frequently found in perfumes and aromatherapeutic products due to its pleasant aroma.
As far as cannabis is concerned, pulegone is a secondary terpene which has shown some promise in helping people with anxiety and short-term memory loss, as well as in protecting plants from insects.
Pulegone is one of the three most effective natural insecticides which occur in mint species. 
This toxicity can potentially carry on into the mammalian body, with negative effects on the liver  and carcinogenic effects on rats in high dosages . However, being a secondary terpene, it only occurs in very small amounts in cannabis, making it safe in those particular circumstances.
According to a 2014 study, pulegone showed anti-anxiety properties in mice.  This is in line with the reports of people who’ve used cannabis products containing relatively higher levels of pulegone, stating that such cannabis products, like OG Kush or Headband, have more pronounced, pleasantly sedative effects.
The same study also found that pulegone can boost motor and mental functions.
Protecting Short-Term Memories
We all know the signature short-term memory loss most of us experience when consuming cannabis cultivars and products that are high in THC.
Probably the most intriguing effect of pulegone is its ability to inhibit acetylcholinesterase, which is a protein in the body that cleaves and gets rid of acetylcholine – a key modulator in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.  In other words, pulegone may help combat short-term memory loss and can make for a more memorable recreational cannabis experience.
These findings somewhat complement the ones regarding pulegone improving mental functions and alertness from the 2014 study, and therefore should definitely be explored further as they might be the sign of this terpene’s true potential for treating other medical conditions that involve serious memory loss.
Pulegone seems to be more than a nice-smelling compound, and further research might reveal all that this terpene can be.
- Kumar, P. et al. “Insecticidal properties of Mentha species: A review”. Industrial Crops and Products. 2011; 34: 802–817; Journal Impact Factor = 1.091; Times Cited = 189.
- Gordon, W.P. et al. “Hepatotoxicity and pulmonary toxicity of pennyroyal oil and its constituent terpenes in the mouse”, Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 1982; 65(3): 413-424; Journal Impact Factor = 3.705; Times Cited = 137.
- Da Rocha, M. et al. “Mode of Action of Pulegone on the Urinary Bladder of F344 Rats”, Toxicological Sciences, 2012; 128(1): 1–8; Journal Impact Factor = 4.081; Times Cited = 21.
- Da Silveira, N.S. et al. “The aversive, anxiolytic-like, and verapamil-sensitive psychostimulant effects of pulegone”. Biol Pharm Bull.2014; 37(5): 771-8; Journal Impact Factor = 1.828; Times Cited = 10.
- Orhan, I. et al. “Acetylcholinesterase inhibitory and antioxidant properties of Cyclotrichium niveum, Thymus praecox caucasicus var. caucasicus, Echinacea purpurea and E. Pallida”. Food Chem Toxicol.2009; 47(6): 1304-10; Journal Impact Factor = 3.8; Times Cited = 57.
Image Credits: Pulegone