Herbal birth control.

Date: Wed, 8 Feb 1995 14:00:12 -0500
Sender: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants discussion list <HERB.TREARN.BITNET>
Subject: herbal birth control

Someone asked recently about herbal birth control. Susun Weed's book "Herbal for the Childbearing Year" mentions Queen Anne's Lace seeds, but only as an abortifacient. It discusses several emmenagogues as well including ginger, pennyroyal, and high doses of Vitamin C. Quenn Anne's Lace seed works when taken during the fertile days of a woman's cycle by making the lining of the uterus too slippery for a fertilized ovum to implant, or so the theory goes. I have not yet heard of an herb or preparation that can prevent fertilization or produce safe, temporary sterility in either sex.

From: Paul Bergner <bergner.TELEPORT.COM>

Herbal birth control and abortion are theoretically possible, but not very predictable. Abortion is a common reason for consultation with an herbalist, but the herbalists I've talked to say it's actually quite difficult to achieve unless using concentrated essential oils, which are also VERY dangerous, ie potentially fatal in the wrong doses. I once had someone buy an ounce each of pennyroyal, black cohosh, and blue cohosh from a store I managed after they read that these herbs were abortive. They came back the next day for two ouces of each. I usually suggest to patients that if they want an abortion, a clinical abortion is safer and more reliable than an herbal one.

Paul Bergner


>Herbal birth control and abortion are theoretically possible, but not

The original question concerned herbal birth control, which I consider different from abortion. I haven't heard of any herbs that prevent conception. The herbalists I have talked to about abortifacients say their safety and efficacy depends on the type (fresh herb, taken as a tea or infusion vs essential oil) and on the timing (ie. the sooner the better) Many women I know have been willing to try herbal methods rather than waiting through six to eight weeks of bloating and nausea for a clinical abortion. The oils, I agree, are very dangerous, and no one I know used them. The herbs, fresh or dried, worked pretty well most of the time, again depending on the timing (ie. if you know you're pregnant and don't want to be, start the herbs right away, before your period is even due). Marne

From: Melissa Cox Peterson <mcp7.COLUMBIA.EDU>

I agree that herbal tinctures [she means essential oils... -Henriette] are dangerous but an infusion made of fresh or dried tansy, pennyroyal and blue cohosh can be very effective if started at least a week before the missed period. this method is preferable to many women for the same reason that many prefer the morning after pill to an 8 week termination. it is also an option when the morning after pill is not. i don't know however the effect on the fetus. these herbs appear to work by causing smooth muscle and therefore uterine irritability and vasoconstriction. anyway, the danger in using herbal medications occurs when clients are not educated about dosages and side effects in the same way they would be when using allopathic drugs.

as for herbal birth control Susun Weed describes several methods in her book "Herbal for the childbearing year" I don't recall what they were, wild carrot seed as an implantation preventer maybe. if anyone is interested, i'll get the book out and send you the recipes.

melissa cox rn

From: Don Dancing Feather <dms.EFN.ORG>

> Herbal birth control and abortion are theoretically possible, but not

In addition to what Paul writes, my herbalist teacher friend Adam Seller, who has a lot of experience with this sort of issue, points out that things like pennyroyal, if the do NOT induce an abortion, are strong and can be mutagenic (hope I said the word right..) that is, cause birth defects! To be truthful, most herbalists I know, including women who do women's health work, tend to not want to try using herbs to abort. Make that stronger then tend not to...more like, absolutely wont!


From: Kevin Heffernan <kheffern.STUDENTS.WISC.EDU>

Pennyroyal seems to cause placental adhesion problems in a few women. Tansy definitely can cause weird breast lumps in the woman drinking it. I know many women who carried to term after attempting to abort herbally, their kids seem ok now but who knows what sort of subtle or long term damage has been done.Each of these women had heinously long and painfull labors. I realize that there could be many causes for this, but I cant help but think that the herbs may have contributed in some way, psychically if not physically. I knoe of a woman who is putting together a paper on the use of
wild carrot seed as a contraceptive. She had 50-75 women participate for 1 yr i think and only had 3 pregnancys.