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© 2004 Choice to Live With

Permission to Reprint & Fair Use Notice

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Herbal abortions have been around for centuries.  If you are looking for ways to end your pregnancy in the privacy of your home, you will no doubt wonder about the possibility of using herbs.  Herbs are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and therefore, their effectiveness and safety cannot be measured reliably.  This page will not be a "how-to."  It will instead speak of some of the more common methods of herbal abortion along with their risks.  Please do not use an herbal abortifacient.  Instead, use the Contact Us form to discuss safer options.

 

There are two types of herbs that can have an effect on a developing pregnancy: emmenagogues and abortifacients.  An emmenagogue is an herb which encourages your period to start.  They usually work best if your period is just plain late - not due to a pregnancy.  Some common emmenagogues include Parsley, Ginger, Yarrow, Feverfew, Rosemary, Sage, Queen Anne's Lace Seeds, Black Cohosh, Mugwort, Juniper, Angelica, Savin, Rue, Asafetida, Celery Seed, and Birthwort.  Most emmenagogues are not strong enough to cause an abortion; however, they can in some women. Abortifacient herbs can both cause an abortion and encourage your period to come. The herbs explained in detail below are abortifacient herbs. 

 

Things to Consider

  • Most herbal abortifacients work by poisoning you. They raise the level of toxins (poisonous substances) in your own bloodstream so high that a baby cannot develop. The goal is to not put too much in your body so as to harm or kill yourself, but this is not an exact science and it can be very harmful, even fatal, to you.
  • Herbal abortions do not work well. If you take them the correct way at the correct time in your cycle they only have a 20-30% chance of causing abortion.
  • Health risks can be considerable and may lead to death. See specific herbs for detailed information on risks.
  • Just because something is natural does not mean it is safe or easy to use. An herbal abortion is much more than kicking back and sipping tea throughout the day. The abortion usually does not occur for 6 days into the treatment, and the herbs can be very hard on the body, causing nausea, diarrhea, and chills. Not to mention the emotions that can occur during such a long, drawn-out process.
  • Most abortifacient herbs must be started before your period is even due! So you must know your menstrual cycle very well. Starting an herbal abortion too late will make it less likely to work.
  • Abortifacient herbs should never be used past the 6th week of pregnancy for any reason, and they should not be used for more than 2 weeks at a time.
  • You should not attempt the use of herbal remedies if you do not have knowledge in this area.  Consulting an herbalist or doctor is very important because you don't want to take the wrong herb (some sound very much alike) or take the wrong form of an herb into your body. 
  • Never use the essential oil of any herb internally. Essential oils are poisonous and will be harmful if not fatal even in the smallest amounts.
  • If an herbal abortion is attempted and fails, you may consider a medical or surgical abortion. Keep in mind that an herbal abortion does not have a direct impact on the baby, so an abortion does not need to be considered to avoid malformations. Your decision to have an abortion should be made without concerns about your baby’s health after the failed herbal abortion attempt.

Blue Cohosh

 

What is it?

Biological name:  Caulophylum thalictroides

Common names:  Papoose Root, Squaw Root, Blueberry Root, Blue or Yellow Ginseng, Beechdrops

 

What happens? Blue Cohosh is an abortifacient and a strong emmenagogue that contains two substances, caulosaponin and caulophyllasaponin, that cause strong uterine contractions when used as a tincture or decoction.  Never ingest the essential oil or the berries.

 

What are the risks?

  • Blue Cohosh is not recommended to anyone with heart problems of any kind, including a history of or heightened risk for heart attack, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, or stroke.  Low blood pressure can be lowered even further. Rapid heartbeat can occur, and arteries that supply blood to the heart can be narrowed (causing considerable damage to those with high blood pressure).  Heart damage has occurred in laboratory animals given Blue Cohosh.
  • Blue Cohosh is not recommended to women who are not supposed to use the birth control pill, since it contains estrogenic properties and can have estrogen-like side effects.  If you have an estrogen-dependent tumor, do not use Blue Cohosh.
  • Blue Cohosh should not be used if you have kidney problems of any kind, since it can stress the kidneys if used in excess.
  • Blue Cohosh should not be used if you have diabetes or glaucoma.
  • Blue Cohosh can be very irritating to the skin and mucous membranes and can cause a rash and/or irritation.  Do not inhale it or get it in your eyes.
  • Other minor side effects include pain in the arms and legs, vomiting, pounding headache, sweating, abdominal pain, and muscle weakness.

Cotton Root Bark

 

What is it?

Biological name:  Gossypium herbaceum

Common name:  Levant cotton

 

What happens? Bark from the root of a cotton plant shuts down the ability of the corpus luteum (a cyst that is left on your ovary after you ovulate) to produce progesterone.  Progesterone is necessary to maintain a pregnancy.

 

What are the risks?  The only main risk with Cotton Root Bark is the dangerous chemicals that are used on cotton plants across the country.  These plants are sprayed with large doses of pesticides and herbicides that can be very dangerous to your health.  Never go and pick a cotton plant out of the ground to get the bark needed for an abortion.  This will make you very sick.  Be careful who you buy this herb from - you don't want to buy bark from a plant that has been treated this way.

 

Dong Quai

 

What is it? 

Biological name: Angelica sinesis

Common names: Chinese Angelica, Dang Gui, Tang Kuie

 

What happens? Dong Quai is an emmenagogue that can be strong enough to cause an abortion.  It has both the ability to relax the uterus (through its essential oil) or stimulate contractions through decoction, tincture, or capsules. Do not use the fresh root, and do not ingest the essential oil under any circumstances.  Dong Quai only causes abortion in rare cases of large doses.

 

What are the risks?

  • Severe poisoning has resulted from large doses of Dong Quai when taken to induce an abortion, including damage to the liver and kidneys.
  • Dong Quai contains compounds called furocoumarins that may lead to a skin rash after being exposed to the sun.
  • Dong Quai has blood-thinning (anticoagulant) effects. Do not use Dong Quai if you take blood thinning agents like aspirin or other medications, if you tend to bleed heavily during a normal period, or if your blood has difficulty clotting.  Hemorrhage may occur if you take Dong Quai in any of these situations. Do not continue to take Dong Quai once bleeding has started to prevent excessive blood loss.
  • Women who have diabetes should not use Dong Quai because it can cause a rise in blood sugar  levels.
  • Women with a history of cancer or who have had (or are at risk for) a heart attack should not use Dong Quai.

Pennyroyal

 

What is it?

Biological names:  Mentha pulegium, Hedeoma pulegioides

Common names:  Squaw Mint, Mosquito Plant, American Pennyroyal, European Pennyroyal, Mock Pennyroyal, Squaw Balm, Tickweed, Fleabane, Lurk-in-the-Ditch

 

What happens? This herb, when taken in near-lethal doses, causes irritation of your uterus and thereby produces contractions.

 

What are the risks?

  • It is extremely important that you do not ingest the oil from this herb!  The oil is fatal, and will kill you with less than a teaspoon ingested. In addition, too much of of the herb is poisonous. This herb is used primarily as a pesticide, so you can imagine what too much will do to your body.
  • Multi-organ failure can occur with the use of this herb.  There have been cases of Pennyroyal poisoning that show total liver failure, acute kidney failure, low blood sugar, blood clotting problems, acidic pH of the blood, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, lung congestion, mental status changes, swelling of the brain, seizures, blood clots forming in blood vessels, and death.  Many of these cases are from women who took Pennyroyal oil for an abortion and died of multi-organ failure.  Studies in both animals and humans show that pulegone, a main ingredient in Pennyroyal, is directly toxic to the central nervous system. Especially do not use this herb if you have liver or kidney conditions, but this is a dangerous herb and should not be used by anyone for this purpose.
  • In addition to the above dangers, purchasing over-the-counter Pennyroyal can be dangerous because the specimen may contain bacteria, fungi, and/or yeasts that are unwanted.  Furthermore, no one can guarantee the strength of the Pennyroyal because the strength varies by location and time of harvest.
  • Symptoms of an overdose of Pennyroyal include dizziness, abdominal cramping, seizures, fainting spells, nausea, weakness, hallucinations, numbness in hands and legs, and diarrhea. It is this state of overdose that produces the uterine cramps that cause the abortion.
  • If you do undergo a Pennyroyal abortion, you might have irregular cycles for 1-3 months following as well as possible severe hemorrhaging while the abortion is occurring.

Tansy

 

What is it?

Biological name:  Tanacetum vulgare

Common names:  Bachelor's Buttons, Hindheel, Common Tansy, Bitter Buttons, Parsley Fern, Ginger Plant, Golden Button

 

What happens?  This herb causes irritation of your uterus and thereby produces contractions.

 

What are the risks?

  • It is extremely important that you do not ingest the oil from this herb!  The oil is fatal, and will kill you even in small doses. In addition, too much of of the herb is poisonous. This herb is used to kill intestinal parasites.
  • The chemicals contained in the herb vary from plant to plant since strength depends on location and time of harvest.  This means that you may be ingesting a higher dose than what is safe to ingest.
  • Side effects noticed even in small amounts include lumps in the breasts, heavy hemorrhaging in women who normally have a heavy period, and sensitivity to sunlight (you may easily burn or break out in a rash if exposed to sunlight)
  • Those who've had epileptic seizures, liver problems, kidney problems, or heavy bleeding with menstruation should not use this herb.
  • Signs that you may have overdosed on Tansy include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, uterine bleeding, reddening of the face, dilated pupils, weakened and/or rapid pulse, hyperventilation, irregular heart beat, seizures, psychotic episodes, loss of consciousness, kidney damage, liver damage, coma, and death.  It is in this state of overdose that uterine bleeding will occur.
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) has a tendency to be confused with Tansy Ragwort (Senecio jacobace), which causes irreversible liver damage and has been known to be lethal.

 

Vitamin C

 

What is it? Vitamin C is known as ascorbic acid, and it is required by the human body to form collagen and protect against scurvy.  It is found naturally in citrus fruit, green peppers, sweet and hot peppers, potatoes, spinach, parsley, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, rose hips, black currants and other berries, tomatoes, horseradish, and watercress.

 

What happens?  Vitamin C may produce an abortion when taken in high doses by interfering with progesterone production.  Progesterone is necessary to maintain a pregnancy.

 

What are the risks?

  • Those with kidney problems of any kind, a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, hemosiderosis, hemochromatosis, sickle cell anemia, or who have difficulty metabolizing Vitamin C should avoid large amounts of Vitamin C.
  • Those who take anti-coagulants (such as aspirin or other prescription drugs) also should not take large amounts of Vitamin C.
  • Side effects of taking high doses of Vitamin C include abdominal cramping, hot flashes, rashes, constipation, gas, diarrhea, headache, increased urination, irritability, joint pains, fatigue, weakness,  insomnia, upset stomach, osteoporosis, anemia, low blood sugar, kidney irritation, and may deplete the body of the essential mineral copper (which decreases the body's ability to fight disease).

 

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Herbal Abortion