Herbal abortives.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: Addendum to Herbal/Alternative abortion request
From: kyra.brewich.com (Debbie Huffman)
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 1994 22:25:28 GMT

Greetings, all. Alt.pagan just went through the very topic of herbal abortions in the last couple of weeks (which is how I come to be on this newsgroup; asked my BBS sysop to add it to the feed). The thread had the subject line: "Controversial File Wanted." I don't even want to inflict the thousand or so lines of the thread on y'all, but here is what _I_ posted. [Incidentally, the thread became a discussion of the ethics of revealing/sharing/'giving away' information....].

[My credentials? Amateur herbalist starting almost 20 years ago. Compulsive book collector. Journalism background so I proofread a lot - especially books against each other <g>.]

whom.bronze.coil.com (Whom It May Concern) writes:
>Not wishing to start a discussion about its validity/appropriateness, but I am looking for a file I've heard about on inducing abortions herbally. It is called something like "The Bootleg Guide to Herbal Abortions," or some such.

greenman.terra.oscs.montana.edu (Bruce Albert) promptly replies:
>Boiled cinnamon sticks. The info might be in Culpeper's, tho' I really don't recall where I first saw it.

markbr.radian.com (mark) retorts:
>No flame war, just a warning that such things are *extremely* dangerous, as opposed to (if it's early enough) a "routine d&c".

bast.wam.umd.edu (Jaguar) adds:
>HINT: effective dose is quite close to a lethal dose in most of the plants that I know of for the effect you want. and it is very difficult to know the exact dose of an herbal medicine...

Karen=Rodgers%Desktop%PCMkt=Hou.bangate.compaq.com follows:
>I absolutely agree with Jaguar - [....] Find a wise-woman to instruct/perform/teach, [....] Moongoo

By "validity/appropriateness" I assume you meant whether herbs work and whether it is ethical to avail oneself of them.... They do work, but only in a limited time frame, and 'appropriateness' to me is a figment of that timing. I would also assume that you had performed the 'appropriate' ritual of discussing the situation with the Guest, asking [it] to leave and explaining why you were making this request.

On this particular subject, I do actually count as a "wise woman" (tm). OTOH, I am rarely willing to instruct/perform/teach, without having some means of assessing the sincerity of the questioner. Does she want it for a one-shot use, or is she willing to accept the burden of possessing the knowledge, preserving it and judiciously passing it on? I have a saying, "The only Buddhist SIN is the failure to act upon information which you have troubled to acquire." [In this case, 'act upon' includes preserving, etc.]

Before anyone asks, yes, I used to instruct/perform back when I was just becoming a kitchen witch. A co-worker of mine approached me for help, but LIED to me about when it had happened. I provided her a packet of tea herbs, she took them as indicated but still hadn't bled after a week. When she finally went in for the "routine D&C" she was NOT pregnant, but did have some 'products of conceptus' present: The medical diagnosis was a "skipped miscarriage". The herbs had done PART of their job, but at that point she was dancing with a case of sepsis. So nowadays, if asked I simply say, "Well, if I were in this position and if [caveats and issues of timing] I would [____]," and it is up to the questioner to judge if she meets the caveats and go procure the wherewithals.

"She lied about the timing." Couple of years back I took a workshop in Menstrual Extraction at the Second International Conference on Womens' Spirituality in Austin, Texas. I WILL dig out my notes if pressed to it, but in general:

****A known herbal abortifacient, taken correctly, will have a 90% effectiveness IF TAKEN IN THE FIRST WEEK AFTER A MISSED MENSES. In the second week the effectiveness will drop to 80%. ...If you wait until the second missed menses, either the herb will not work or it will pose a potential health hazard. [Which is what happened to my co-worker.] In short, herbal abortifacients are ONLY to be used by women who can count. [With all due respect to my sisters who have irregular periods, I can.] If you wait until you suspect conception to ask about ways to not be pregnant, it may already be too late for herbs to be effective.****

Someone is saying, why Menstrual Extraction? Well, Mark, a "routine d&c" is STILL an invasive medical procedure, typically performed by a *male* "expert" on a *female* "patient". Back in the 70's a lot of women had trouble with that paradigm. Carol Downer and Lorraine Rothman figured out how to DIY. This was [slightly] before Roe v. Wade and the scenario became to have a group of women all participate, so if raided each would say, "I did [task], you'll have to arrest me too." But, still, the premise was that the woman in question could count, knew EXACTLY how far along she was, AND that this particular group of women had been together for a while and were familiar with the shapes of each other's bodies. After the workshop I never acquired the paraphernalia because I could NOT see myself invading a uterus which I had not inspected in a non-pregnant state to know which way it tipped, etc. Again, the level of knowledge is critical. One of the purposes of such a group of women would be to chart menses, learn to count, and explore the different dimensions of "normal".

All that said, for anyone who has waded through this manifesto and is still with me at this point: _Indian_Herbalology_of_North_America_, by Alma R. Hutchens, actually gives dosages of some herbs, but you'll still have to work out which ones. [Hutchens is quite dubious - she often talks about one herb but gives the name of quite another. - Henriette] My hardback copy is from MERCO (Press) of Windsor, Ontario; I have seen a trade paper edition. Yes, I have several other volumes and generally cross-reference them before assembling ANY concoction. If it is not something I take on a daily [sinuses] or other regular basis, "herbal medicine is an investment of an hour or more. Incidentally, my older yerbairies do list the word "abortion" in the indices. That word is absent from more recent editions I have perused recently. Something about legal liability and culpability, no doubt, or self-defense from the would-be book burners.

>You will, however, find the word "emmenagogue".

Someone is saying, Oh, she knows pennyroyal works, why doesn't she just say so. Someone else is saying, There have been multiple fatalities from oil of pennyroyal. Again from the ME workshop [so I can't quote any more definitive source], there has been ONE known fatality, a teenage girl in Colorado who took oil of pennyroyal to abort. The fatal dosage *appears* to be about 10 drops of oil. The effective_ dose, Jaguar, is lower but will again depend on timing. _I_ would stick to a tincture. I cannot attest any use of "boiled cinnamon sticks" as an abortifacient.

Kyra Anagke / Lady Necessity -- Night's Daughter