What is considered now to be a long time ago, women would take care of a “woman’s business” on their own. There were no gynaecologists, no such thing as Pap smears, and no compact-size cases of little pills to take every day to prevent pregnancy. There were however wise-women and herbalists who could, with a tea or prescription of herbs, prevent pregnancies.
Contraception and Inquisition
Most of the herb lore was lost in the 17th century. The work of the Inquisition didn’t simply kill many of these wise-women as witches but also demonized their work. Upon learning that these women new brews and supplements to prevent a man’s seed from developing or terminate an unwanted fetus, they proclaimed that it was ‘witchcraft,’ and the herbs used ‘poison’ or obtained powers that could wither a man and his seed. To protect themselves and their work, these women would hide their knowledge, only passing it from one generation to the next orally, if at all.
We are only just learning what these herbs can do for women today. With pill after pill becoming available to prevent periods, pregnancy, acne, and more, there are just as many ads against these companies for loss of life and reparations due to stroke, heart attack and cervical problems. So many medicines are causing more problems then what they are said to aid or cure, causing many to turn to herbalism, naturopathy and other alternatives. The same can be done for birth control.
While many birth control methods are effective, the best form of birth control will always be abstinence. Even the strongest pill or herb will always have a chance of failing to prevent pregnancy depending on how the body reacts, if it’s fighting off illness or if hormones are in a constant state of flux. Also, condoms are the only contraceptive that prevents STDs, all other methods simply help to prevent pregnancy.
Queen Anne’s Lace – Daucus carota
Queen Anne’s Lace, or wild carrot, appears as early as the 5th century in the writings of Hippocrates as a pregnancy preventative. The seeds and their extracts blog progesterone and can prevent implantation or cause a fertilized egg to be released if taken early enough.
Queen Anne’s Lace is a common plant in many regions. Its easy access makes it ideal for many women to use and for researchers to test. Currently, Queen Anne’s Lace has been test or continues to be testing in the United States, Canada, China, and some regions of Europe.
The dosage of Queen Anne’s Lace varies from research to research. There is also some debate on which part of the plant is best used when.
Wild Yam – Dioscorea villosa
Wild yam has many beneficial effects on the body including toning and strengthening the liver. It contains steroidal saponins, specifically diosgein, a precursor to progesterone.
This herb is a multi-tasker for women’s issues. Wild yam aids menstrual irregularity, menstrual cramps, infertility, menopause, endometriosis, can prevent miscarriage, and eases the pains of after birth. When taken correctly throughout the menstrual cycle, wild yam can reduce fertility, making it a gentle contraceptive.
Much like with allopathic contraceptives, wild yam cannot skipped and still provide protection against pregnancy. Although there is some debate on the dose of wild yam to take, many herbalists agree that it must be taken daily if not twice daily.
Asafetifa – Ferula asafetida
A condiment used in Indian and Persian cuisine, Ferula asafetida is a stimulant and herbal remedy used often in some Eastern medical systems. As a birth control, asafetida has not been tested but is said to produce a high amount of iron in the body, which prevents pregnancy. Asefetida as a tincture can also be used as a morning after supplement within three days of coitus.
Many are justifiably wary of this particular herb and its properties. The USDA has not tested asafetida for consumption and there are many cases where the plant has been mixed with other members of the Ferula family or other adulterants such as clay, sand and gypsum. All women who use this herb should be warned.
White-flowered Embelia – Embelia ribes
Embelia ribes is said to be used in conjunction with Ferula asafetida, borax and long pepper to produce a contraceptive that will last a whole year. The Embelia herb has a variety of uses ranging from the aid of ulcers and indigestion to anti-fertility and an aid against insanity. The anti-fertility property is often connected to the plant’s ability to create a pH level in the womb that is inhospitable to a fertilized egg or fetus.
Embeila ribes does have parts that could be poisonous when taken internally. Most herbalists recommend only taking this plant under the care of a professional and, even then, only the fruit of the plant.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice