Women have used the seeds from Daucus carota commonly known as wild carrot or queen anne's lace, for centuries as a contraceptive, the earliest written reference dates back to the late 5th or 4th century B.C. appearing in a work written by Hippocrates. John Riddle writes in Eve's Herbs, that queen anne's lace (QAL) seeds are one of the more potent antifertility agents available, and a common plant in many regions of the world. "The seeds, harvested in the fall, are a strong contraceptive if taken orally immediately after coitus."1 (penis/vagina sex)
Research on small animals has shown that extracts of the seeds disrupt the implantation process, or if a fertilized egg has implanted for only a short period, will cause it to be released. There has been some research done on wild carrot seeds mostly in other countries, the results of those experiments have been encouraging. The Chinese view QAL as a promising post-coital agent, "recent evidence suggests that terpenoids in the seed block crucial progesterone synthesis in pregnant animals." 1 When asked about the contraceptive effects of wild carrot, some herbalists have described it as having the effect of making the uterus "slippery" so the egg is unable to implant.
Note: post-coital means - after sexual intercourse where the penis has entered the vagina.
Progesterone is essential for pregnancy to occur, progesterone's function is to prepare the uterine endometrium to receive an egg, if the endometrium isn't ready, the egg will find implantation very difficult. If the egg can't implant then the opportunity is missed, and the egg begins to breakdown and is no longer viable. Menstruation arrives as usual. Scientific confirmation is helping to further validate our ancestral knowledge.
Some women have decided to put this to the test.
Robin Bennet gathered 12 female volunteers to test the qal seeds for 12 months.
"During the study, three women apparently conceived; one confirmed her pregnancy with a laboratory test and terminated it clinically. She had been using the carrot seeds daily until the month she conceived when she used them on only three of the recommended 7-8 days around ovulation. The others felt pregnant but did not confirm their suspicions. The both used herbal emmenagogues and menstruated. One of the two women used seeds for 7-8 days around ovulation. The other women used them daily. None of the other women in the study became pregnant, and half were using QAL as their only method of birth control (including when they had sexual intercourse during ovulation). Half used withdrawal and condoms as back up but only during ovulation. One woman in the study stopped taking the seeds in order to conceive and had a healthy pregnancy and baby, suggesting their antifertility effects are temporary and reversible." 2 The majority of women in the study reported no side effects. A few women have noticed an occasional side effect of slight constipation, from the seeds being a bit too drying in the colon. Which can be remedied by increased water consumption.
Note, Robin has done another study, please see here for the results.
A friend of mine gave qal seeds a 6 month test. She uses fertility awareness methods to identify fertility/ovulation each cycle, and intentionally had sex during her fertile times, then used the seeds from ovulation until menstruation to prevent pregnancy. Each month her period arrived on schedule. The last month she decided to be more lax with taking the seeds, and skipped a couple of days, she said she felt different that the previous months, but still got her period, and a pregnancy test was negative.
I have also used qal on a couple occasions, although I do believe that only one of the times I was in danger of becoming pregnant, the other times, were more of a precaution. The first time I tried using queen anne's lace seeds, was in Sept - Oct 1995. I had risky unprotected sex, I began using the seeds, and had a reaction to them, though at the time I thought it was a yeast infection. I used the seeds for 2 days then stopped for three, took them again, then stopped the next day, by this time, implantation had already occurred. I continued to take the seeds for the rest of the cycle, but it was too late at that point I was already pregnant. I only experienced those symptoms once and I've used them on about four maybe five occasions since then. Symptoms included inflammation and irritation of the inner and outer lips of the vagina. Accompanied with a very painful itch. The whole situation was aggravated by a lover who insisted upon having sex even though my pussy was quite painful. Later, I experimented with the seeds some more and found that they symptoms began two days after taking a tsp of seeds a day, and disappeared two days after I stopped taking them. I waited about a week and took them again and experienced the same effect. Based on that experience I concluded it may take two days for the herb to circulate through the body. Several months later I took QAL seeds again and did not experience the side effect at that time, and have used them again in 2001 and experienced no negative effects.
I have also heard rumors of another informal study done in Alaska with 100 women over a 7 year period. But I've never seen any written documentation, if anyone has a copy of it, I'd love to see it.
A couple sent me an email in July 2001, telling me of their experiences with Qal seeds: Her boyfriend wrote: " We have been using Queen Anne's Lace seeds, exclusively, as a contraceptive for about a year now. Normally, Janet takes one tsp of seeds, finely chopped up in a glass of orange juice the morning after. Usually she has it just the morning after, but sometimes for two mornings after. Then, usually not for several days.
|Where Qal grows.
Although your website recommends taking QAL seeds for a week or ten days after intercourse, in our case this has apparently not been necessary. The one time that she got pregnant was the one time that she forgot to take the seeds until 36 hours after intercourse. She then took them for two days, I believe, and it did not prevent pregnancy.
Maybe we have just been lucky in not getting pregnant, but it does seem amazing to me that taking just one teaspoon of QAL seeds, for just one day, would be enough to prevent progesterone production, enough to prevent implantation of the egg, several days later. Janet has been using them consistently, about once or twice a week, for the past year and she has noticed no side-effects."
Lora, signed my guestbook way back when, writing - I tried the QAL when a condom broke. After nine years of studying herbalism, I think I can say it tastes truly awful. Not the flavor so much (which tasted like a combination of Vicks' VapoRub and castor oil) but the texture was one of the more horrible thing I've put in my mouth--like eating razor stubble liberally doused in Vicks'. Other side effects were nipple sensitivity and severe moodiness, although that can be attributed partially to my disappointment with the quality of LifeStyles products.
In the past, if you wanted to use Wild Carrot seeds, you would have to harvest them yourself. Currently, it is becoming more available, i've included some places to get them at the end of this page. If you are harvesting them, do so in late summer/fall after seed have matured. I encourage you to scout them out in summer, when their flowers can help to identify them, use a good field guide, because there are a couple of poisonous plants that somewhat resemble wild carrot, the inexperienced forager may confuse them. One key identifying characteristic, is a hairy stem.... just remember Queen Anne has hairy legs! The flower head when ready for harvest curls into a vase-like, bird nest shape making it quite easy to identify. Just snip the heads off place them in a bag, but don't take all the seed heads, and scatter some seeds to help insure future seed supplies.
Most herb stores do not carry the seeds, don't expect to walk into any herb shop or health food store and pick them up. You can order them online. This is the type of herb you need to have on hand before you need it. If stored properly, the seeds should retain potency for a few years. We're also discovering that the tincture is effective, this will increase availablity and shelf life. I have included ordering information below. And if anyone comes across them locally, if you want to send the store's contact info, I'll post it here too.
Using Queen Anne's Lace
Disclaimer: If you try this you do so at your own risk.
Also, the information on this page is slightly dated, I need to update it to reflect new available information and better dosages. Please visit Robin Rose Bennet's website and read her article on QAL in full. You will find links on this page.
The seeds, collected from the flower head in fall are thoroughly chewed, swallowed and washed down with water or juice. The taste is heavy and oily, not very pleasant, but doesn't taste terrible. It is the volatile oils contained with in the seed that prevent implantation. Chewing them releases the oils, if the seeds are simply swallowed whole, they will pass right through your system, with out releasing their oils and not be effective.
There has been a variety of methods of taking the seeds circulating for a while now. Robin Rose Bennett has worked extensively with Queen Anne's Lace, and I believe she's as much of an expert on QAL as any of us could be. She has discovered that the method is most likely to fail in women who have had a major hormonal event. Its best to allow the body to cycle naturally for a bit before relying on the seeds. She has also experimented with different methods of preparation, and has refined how to use it to receive best benefits.
Robin Rose Bennett has updated the information on dosages and more specific information, i recommend reading her article fully. She recommends using the herb within 12 hours of having sex, and repeating for up to 3 days.5
Cautions & Contradictions:
Queen Anne's Lace should not be relied on for contraception by women who are coming off the pill, hormone replacement therapy, women who have had an abortion, or a miscarriage, or who have given birth. I didn't find any recommendations on how long to wait following one of these hormonal events, so i guess the guideline would be whenever your normal cycle has returned.
At this time, we do not know about use during breast feeding, whether it will prevent implantation, or if it would be transmitted in the breast milk. The decision should be based on whether or not the normal cycle has resumed, and if baby tells you the milk tastes like the seeds, then you'll know.
Women with a history of kidney or gall stones should consult with an herbalist before using Queen Anne's Lace seeds. If you have a problem with estrogen, (estrogenic dependent tumors for example) consult with your herbalist before using QAL. Estrogenic herbs should be avoided by anyone taking birth control pills, other estrogen medications, or blood pressure medications.
QAL may be less effective if taken on a daily basis. It is suspected that part of what makes the herb work is that it is given and taken away.
Use caution if you need to use antibiotics. They mess with normal digestive flora, and can adversely affect hormonal birth control pills. Its not known if they would affect QAL's contraceptive effect, so use caution.
Women who have had problems with estrogen dependent tumors may want to consult with an herbalist before using QAL seeds. Research has shown that QAL seeds contain a weak form of estrogen. 3 When I spoke to Susun Weed, she disagreed that QAL had estrogenic properties. Again, if estrogen is a problem for you, I urge you to consult with a local knowledgeable herbalist.
Using the herb:
The form and method Robin uses is a mixture of the tinctures of wild carrot flowers and seeds. She freely uses cronewort tinctured in vodka or as a tea if she has any doubt about her cycle of fertility.
These Dosages were pulled from the data on her website.5
Fresh Flowers - Tincture: 1-2 dropper fulls (25 to 60 drops) are taken alone or with QAL seed tincture, in hot or cold water or add into wild carrot seed tea. Robin uses this method, but notes that it has less scientific or herbal research behind it than the other methods.
Fresh Flower Tea - 3 to 6 whole flower heads are brewed for tea by pouring 8oz of boiling water over them steeping, covered for 15-30 min (up to an hour). Drink one cup.
Dried Flower Tea - 2 to 3 flower heads are steeped covered in 8oz of boiling water for 15 to 30 minutes (up to 1 hour). Drink one cup.
Fresh Seed Tincture - 1/2 to 2 dropper fulls (13 to 60 drops) taken in water, alone or mixed with QAL flower tea or tincture. Or - 7 drops used 3 times daily, taken in water for 3 days following sex.
Dried Seeds Ground - One teaspoon is freshly ground just before water before use. Stir into juice or water. Drink one glass 8 to 12 hours after intercourse, or at least within 24 hours.
Dried Seeds Chewed - One teaspoon of seeds dried or fresh can be chewed well and swallowed with water or juice. This is the method used most commonly and with the longest historical record. This method is more likely to cause a reaction such as vaginal dryness or irritation.
Dried Seed Tea - One tablespoon of seeds lightly ground in a mortar and pestle just before use and brewed for tea by pouring boiling water over the seeds and steep them covered for 15 to 30 minutes.
Note: It is suggested no more than 3 days (one tablespoon) be ground at one time and stored in an airtight glass container.
Note: She's never seen any problems with fertility returning, even if a woman has been using QAL for years. 5
Please do read Robin's article on QAL yourself, she currently has her information posted online for viewing at. Wild Carrot (Daucus carota): A Plant for Conscious, Natural Contraception
I also have a scanned version of her original study here, it is stored in PDF format, an adobe acrobat file. If you don't have adobe acrobat reader, you can download it for free.
Here are the sources I have found so far to purchase organic queen anne's lace seeds.
Penny's Herb Co.
97 East 7th St.
New York, NY
Closed on Mondays, website coming soon. Will ship world wide.
The Wild Pantry
Bear Wallow Herbs
9198 St. Rt 415
Avoca, NY 14809
7247 North Coolville Ridge Rd
Athens Ohio 45701
I'm also in the process of trying to get another companies contact information who carries the QAL seeds. I'll update the website when I get it. If you are a store owner, or know of one, feel free to send me contact info and i'll update my site.
Other Websites on QAL:
Wild Carrot Alternative Nature Online Herbal
A Modern Herbal - Wild Carrot
Image Gallary - Search here for Wild Carrot
Wild Carrot (Daucus carota): A Plant for Conscious, Natural Contraception by Robin Rose Bennett
USDA Plant Profile
Poisonous Plants that could be confused with QAL
POISON HEMLOCK - (Conium maculatum), and more photos
WATER HEMLOCK - Cicuta species
1. Riddle, John M., 1997. Eve's Herbs - A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West., Cambridge, Ma., Harvard University Press.
2. Bennett, Robin Rose. Summer 1994. Wild Carrot Seeds for Herbal Contraception. Northeast Herbal Association Newsletter. 6,32-34p. ordering info
3. Sharma MM, Lal G, Jacob D. Estrogenic & pregnancy interceptory Effects of Carrot seeds (Daucus carota). Indian J Exp Biol 1976. 14:506-508
4. Tang W. Chinese Drugs of Plant Origin.
5. Bennett, Robin Rose. 2007. Wild Carrot (Daucus carota): A Plant for Conscious, Natural Contraception
6. Robin Rose Bennett and Mischa Schuler. Wild Carrot Study - Final Summary, August 2011
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This page created in 1998, and last updated June 3, 2012