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On Herbs and Contraception

Ok…I’ve seen a lot of people pushing herbal abortifacients lately and while I’m fully pro-choice, I’ve been horrified to see random lists of herbs given with no indication of how to use them, no mention that they can kill you if mis-used, or sometimes destroy kidney and liver function (and kill you) if even slightly overused, no contra-indications, etc. etc. 

People. Consult a skilled herbalist or you can die. Herbs are not harmless. Also, if you’re on any medications, there can be contraindications. There is actually a Physician’s Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines (did you know, for instance, that taking St. John’s Wort can render certain types of birth control pills ineffective? Seems like this is info people might want to know, before taking a tincture). 

Today, I saw this list: tansy, rue, pennyroyal, queen Anne’s lace. All of these are contraceptives or abortifacients/emmenagogues but taken incorrectly, three of the four can kill you. Tansy depletes the body of vitamin C, can cause scurvy, and in one of the cases that I read when I studied herbalism in my twenties, in severe cases, fatally damage the organs. The dosage one has to take to rid the body of baby is very, very, very close to a lethal dose. Don’t use this. Rue is likewise an emmenagogue and I can’t speak to its use because I just don’t remember my class notes but I’d sure as hell consult a qualified practitioner before just taking it. 

Pennyroyal will act as an emmenagogue if taken as a tea, but you ingest the oil and that is lethal. In one case we studied, a woman began to miscarry after just rubbing the oil on her abdomen. Taken internally, it will kill you. 

Queen Anne’s Lace will not kill you but how do you take it? It functions as contraception, making the lining of the womb too slippery for a fertilized egg to implant. I was taught a teaspoon of the seeds daily, CHEWED thoroughly. Taking it as a tea does no good at all. 

One amusing (and useful, not deadly) means of contraception that I read about today (and have read about in my historical studies prior to this – Casanova mentions it in his memoirs for one) was used by courtesans: cut a lemon in half and insert half, with the cut end facing out. The lemon juice is a mild spermicidal and the lemon itself blocks the cervix. Hey, if it sounds weird, it’s an improvement on what ancient Egyptians did. They used little caps of crocodile dung, which I suppose WOULD have the desired effect. LOL. One way or another. 

These are not the only herbs that have emmagogic functions but one needs to know what one is doing. That takes study, certification, and common sense. Go to a professional herbalist. Better yet, find a OB/GYN who will tie your tubes. Then you don’t have to worry. 

You think herbal is safer? Well, belladonna, henbane, and fox glove are all 100% natural.