A home abortion remedy?
The origin of this remedy stems in part from a scientific article that was published in the mid-60's by a Russian scientist, E.P. Samborskaia.1 The article is in Russian, and finding a copy was a problem... as was the language barrier. I had been corresponding with a lady from Slovak Republic (Slovakia) and mentioned the article. She went out looking for it, and was able to find a copy. She was able to translate it for me, and noted that the author did not specify the doses of ascorbic acid administered to the women, and the author also did not say specify how the women received the ascorbic acid; ie, liquid, injection, tablet.
The scientists who conducted the research, Samborskaia and Ferdman came to the conclusion that high doses of Ascorbic Acid appeared to increase estrogen levels which contributed to the interruption of an otherwise normal pregnancy. 20 women who approached doctors requesting an abortion participated in the study. Research was conducted by ob/gyn L.I. Ivanyuta. The women ranged from 20 to 40 years of age. The article does not say if a positive pregnancy test was obtained from the participating women. We also don't know how much ascorbic acid the women were given. They did however measure estrogen levels before and after treatment with ascorbic acid, finding that estrogen levels were higher after taking the ascorbic acid. Of the 20 women, 16 began menstrual type bleeding within 1 to 3 days from administration of ascorbic acid.
Even if these women were not pregnant, there is evidence to support that this remedy does in fact work. Much of Samborskaia's research supporting ascorbic acid's ability has been done on laboratory animals where pregnancy was confirmed, and the ascorbic acid was shown to be responsible for the interruption of pregnancy in these animals.2 Also, in my own personal research, I've come into contact with numerous women who did confirm their pregnancies with a test, then used ascorbic acid (sometimes in conjunction with other herbs) to terminate those pregnancies successfully. Many of them have been kind enough to share their experience not only with me, but with the rest of the world by allowing me to put their comments online in the Sharing our Wisdom section of my website. As I have collected this data, I eventually created a database to make use of all these bits of information, in other areas of my website, you can find some statistical information from my database. While it can't be considered scientific data, it is none-the-less proof that these home remedies do work for some women. However it is impossible to say who these remedies will work for and for who they will not.
It is said that on average 1 in every 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. This would be 25% of all pregnancies. Statistics vary somewhat, and age is a factor, some say as few as 16% up to as much as 30% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. A government website says 50% of all fertilized eggs die or are lost spontaneously - usually prior to the woman knowing she is pregnant, many of which do not implant in the uterine wall. In known pregnancies, they say that about 10% miscarry naturally and this normally happens between the 7th and 12th week of pregnancy.3, 4, 5 With this in mind, observations from my own research and data collection, about 45% of women with confirmed pregnancies are successful when using vitamin c (ascorbic acid) with the intention to end a pregnancy at home. This is well above the estimated rate of natural miscarriages (non-induced), so even if some of these women would of miscarried on their own without the steps they took to induce miscarriage at home (10% of known pregnancies miscarrying naturally or 1 in 4 pregnancies (known or unknown) ending naturally) these figures do not account for the increased rate of spontaneous abortion that I'm seeing through the data these women voluntarily provide.
First the Reality Check - These remedies have less than a 50% chance of being successful6 even in the best of circumstances and when everything is done "right". In reality, the percentage is probably somewhere between 30% and 40%, because I don't hear from everyone who tries these remedies. If these remedies are attempted, and they do not work, it is important to follow through with terminating the pregnancy, even if it means a clinical abortion.
In my opinion, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is one of the less toxic choices of the herbs available for terminating pregnancy, and seems to be fairly effective when compared with other herbs used for the same purpose. Don't misunderstand less toxic to mean that Vitamin C is not without risks. Natural or do-it-yourself does NOT mean that it is SAFE. The risks remain the same in regards to how far along the pregnancy has progressed, which determines your risk of incomplete abortion and hemorrhage.
The published USDA monograph for Vitamin C mentions that vitamin C is not teratogenic, however the dosage ranges they are looking at are considerably less than what we are discussing here. I am not comfortable saying that it would be ok to continue a pregnancy after these kinds of quantities of vitamin C are ingested during the weeks that an embryo is most susceptible to damage, regardless of what the USDA states. There are just too many unknowns and I wouldn't want anyone to take the risk of having a messed up kid if they are unsuccessful. Plus no research of this nature has been conducted that I am aware of. Its not worth the risk. If you are unsure that you will be able to follow up with a clinical abortion, please refer to the section on stimulating miscarriage without the use of Vitamins or herbs.
Vitamin C works to produce an unfavorable climate within the uterus so that the egg does not implant, or if implantation has already occurred, Vitamin C can weaken the fertilized ovum's grip on the uterine wall. Possibly by stimulating estrogen, and interfering with progesterone. This also makes it useful as an emergency contraceptive, when taken before implantation occurs on the 6th day following ovulation. The hormone, progesterone is essential for pregnancy, its function is to prepare a nourishing bed for the fertilized egg, if there is not enough progesterone the uterus becomes less supportive to the egg. Which is desirable when the goal is to end pregnancy.
What kind of vitamin c to use -
In my own quest for information, I've found that bioflavonoids protect against miscarriage, this might be because bioflavonoids strengthen capillaries. Capillaries are the tiny blood vessels found throughout the body, including in the uterus. When the goal is to stimulate bleeding, strengthening them may be counterproductive to the intended goal.
Many Vitamin C products contain bio-bioflavonoids, the most common is rose-hips. A friend told me vitamin companies started adding bio-bioflavonoids when mega-dosing with Vitamin C became the rage in the 70's - and when pregnant women started miscarrying, eventually someone made the connection. (I'm wondering if there's any documentation on this...? I've heard rumors of an article in Prevention Magazine, although I've been unable to figure out which one. If anyone else finds it please let me know.)
On this website you may come across another bioflavonoid, Rutin, which is listed as an emergency contraceptive, this has generated some confusion. Why when bioflavinoids in general are said to prevent miscarriage, would this bioflavinoid works as an emergency contraceptive? Flavonoids, also called bioflavinoids are a group substances found in plants, they often cause pigments in plants, or protection from attack by microbes and insects, they often have strong anti-oxidant effects. Different plants have different flavonoids and different chemical makeups, and so have different effects.8
People who take anti-coagulants [like aspirin or other pharmaceutical drugs], who have sickle-cell anemia, or who have difficulty metabolizing Vitamin C shouldn't take large amounts of vitamin C without the supervision of their physician.
MotherNature.com lists these conditions where people who have them shouldn't use vitamin c. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, Iron overload disorders like (hemosiderosis or hemochromatosis), History of kidney stones, Kidney failure.10 or renal disorders.
Vitamin C is nontoxic at levels far in excess of the RDA. Some individuals develop diarrhea or loose stools from taking approximately 2,000 to 5,000 mg per day, while even higher levels do not bother others. High levels of vitamin C can deplete the body of the essential mineral copper, so take a multi-vitamin that contains copper if you're mega-dosing on C. The best food sources of copper are *oysters* (with the most); nuts, dried legumes, cereals, potatoes, vegetables, and meat also contain copper. 11
High intakes of Vitamin C may also lead to reduced levels of Vitamin B12. This may be of particular concern to those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
High doses of vitamin C may also increase the risk of kidney stones in some people, although studies indicate that those who do not have a history of kidney stones, severe kidney disease, or gout are not at risk. Because vitamin C may increase iron absorption, check with a doctor if you suffer from iron overload and want to take high doses of C.
High doses of Vitamin C may also damage tooth enamel.12 I did have one woman report damage to dental work after using high doses of Vitamin C in chewable form.
Joy Gardner also expressed concern in her book about high doses of Vitamin C may teach the kidneys to excrete large amounts of Vitamin C, possibly causing deficiency when high doses were stopped. She suggested tapering doses off over the course of three days. So far, I have not heard of anyone having problems if they just stop taking the Vitamin C, so again, its a judgment call, do what feels right.
Rebecca Chalker has the dosage listed at 6-10 grams a day for 5-10 days.13 It specifically states the type of Vitamin C to use, which is Ascorbic Acid. Another feminist publication from the 70's, The Monthly Extract, lists the dosage as 6 grams for 5 consecutive days.14 Joy Gardener agrees, writing that 6 grams (6,000 mg) per day, for 5 days and menstruation should begin on the 6th or 7th day.15
When deciding how much Vitamin C to take, consider your body weight, fat vs muscle, whether you smoke tobacco (tobacco messes with Vitamin C uptake), do you already take a Vitamin C supplement?
Another thing to keep in mind that Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, which means that your kidneys will remove excess vitamin c and flush it out in your urine. So mega dosing doesn't really help, and may even teach your kidneys to excrete too much vitamin c. Small frequent doses are the key to keeping a constant level circulating in your body. Huge quantities of vitamin c will only irritate your kidneys, and probably won't make the vitamin c anymore effective.
Terminating pregnancy is a process. In cases of confirmed pregnancy, bleeding rarely starts before the 6th day of self-treatment. So it is important to pace yourself, so that you can go the duration, and not harm yourself in the process. These home remedies are hard on the body, and the process can be mentally and physically draining. Herbal Abortion is much more involved than just popping pills and sipping teas.
In cases of confirmed pregnancy, for an average woman who's period is no more than two weeks overdue, 8 to 12 grams per day should be sufficient. I prefer a slightly higher dose than Rebecca Chalker mentions in her book. Partly because the average American has their bodies subjected to environmental pollutants on a daily basis - perhaps more so now than in the 70's, and partly because lesser doses didn't work for me. But I also didn't know then what I know now. Even so, it still doesn't mean that it would work for me today either. Use your own judgment, do what feels right to you.
Divide your total grams for the day into equal doses, equally spaced. Doses consisting of one 500 mg tablet per hour are most common. It is helpful if you have a watch with a timer to set it to go off to remind you to take your dose. The idea is to keep a constant level circulating in the blood, which is also why I think waking once or twice during the night is helpful, this way the body doesn't have 8 hours to undo any progress made during the day.
NIght Dosing: Waking during the night adds additional stress to the process, but some women have felt it was important to continue putting the Vitamins and/or herbs into their systems at least once during the night. There are also plenty of other women who were also successful without taking doses during the night. Again, do what works best for you. A parsley pessary might be a good nighttime alternative.
A couple women have also placed a vitamin c tablet in the vagina next to the cervix overnight. Some used their diaphragms to hold it in place. I'm not sure if this would have a negative effect on the diaphragm material, and if you try that, you might want to replace your diaphragm after to make sure your contraceptive protection is as good as it can be. I would also be concerned about the Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) irritating the cervix or vagina. I'm not sure how I feel about doing Ascorbic Acid in the vagina on a daily basis or for weeks at a time. Again I have concerns for the safety and health of the cervix. Doing it once for emergency contraception would be ok, but I don't think putting Vitamin C in the vagina daily is a good idea at this point - I don't know enough about how it would affect the cervix cells, and I don't think anyone wants to go get a pap before they try it, then get another afterwards, or go through the invasive treatments doctors will prescribe if abnormal cervix cells are found, or time consuming naturopathic treatments.16
Vitamin c is a water soluble vitamin, so excess amounts are eliminated through the kidneys, and cause problems for those who are predisposed to kidney issues. I also think its a good idea to take a couple doses during the night to help maintain a constant level in the body.
If vitamin C starts bleeding within the allotted time, it may be discontinued once bleeding is like a normal period.
Notes on possible contradicted herbs: If you opt to work with other herbs, Joy made some notes in her book that certain herbs may counteract each other. Teas that she notes are Pennyroyal and a combination of Blue cohosh and Osha). Women who have used both remedies simultaneously have had less favorable results than those who used only one at a time. This may be because Vitamin C is a powerful anti-toxin, and could nullify the effects of the herbs.19
Personally, I have not come across anything to make me believe that vitamin c negates the action of all herbs. Joy from what I understand had worked quite a bit with the herbs listed in her books, so she may be right regarding these particular herbs. I have also seen vitamin c and other herbs not listed in her book work together successfully. I have also noticed that women who use many herbs seem not to have as good results as women who work with one to four herbs at a time. When choosing herbs to work with, I think its good to choose ones that complement each other, having different actions on the body. An example might be Vitamin C (interferes with progesterone), Dong Quai (a uterine contractor), Parsley (an emmenagogue, and to prepare the cervix).
Vitamin C and Tansy are listed as contradicting each other. I don't know how or why this might be, but have heard that they cancel each other out, and I've also heard that the Tansy cancels out the effects of the vitamin c. I would be interested to find out more about this, but so far have not found anything.
Notes on Herbs Vitamin C seems to combine well with: Vitamin C is commonly combined with Parsley. Parsley is one of my favorite herbs for bringing on menstruation when pregnancy is not the cause for delay. In my opinion, I don't think that it is strong enough by itself to cause interruption of pregnancy, but I feel it aids the Vitamin C. However, I have read accounts out of Europe where parsley has been used successfully by itself. Historically
Fresh or dried parsley can be made into a tea and drunk freely, as much as you want, as it is non-toxic (as always read up on any herb before you consume it to make sure there are not contradictions for you). Parsley can also be used as a pessary (a vaginal insert, as in like a tampon, except it is a herb). A few sprigs of fresh parsley with the largest part of the stem removed, and inserted into the vagina placed up against the cervix. It may help to soften and relax the cervix, to move toward release. Body heat and vaginal juices soften the herb, and its emmenagogual properties are released directly at the opening of the uterus. The parsley is changed 2 sometimes 3 times a day, leaving it in all night, until bleeding is underway.
Not long after starting my website, I started getting some interesting reports from women who had been taking vitamin c for several days, and when they added Dong Quai, were pleasantly surprised to have bleeding start soon after, sometimes within 12 to 24 hours. Perhaps we had stumbled onto something here..... The actions of vitamin c and Dong Quai complement each other. After several days of the vitamin c blocking the progesterone, then adding dong quai a uterine stimulant, it appeared to cause bleeding to begin, and in a couple of cases bleeding began within 12 to 24 hours. Of course it doesn't always happen this way, but when it does, it is exciting.
Dong Quai works to strengthen uterine contractions, helping to organize, coordinate those minor fleeting cramps that some women experience. Personally, I feel this combination works best when the vitamin c is used for about 5 days prior to beginning the dong quai.
Why do I feel this way?
No home abortion remedy is guaranteed to work.
Most women use a dose of 500 mg an hour, for a total of 10-12 grams in a 24 hour period, no longer than 14 days at a time. If bleeding doesn't begin within 5 days of using the vitamin C, some women have added dong quai with good results, if bleeding has not begun by the 9th or 10th day of self-treatment, others have added Black Cohosh to the combination, and this seemed to help. But, again, there is always the chance that these remedies just won't work.
Before attempting any home remedies, do your homework. This page is meant to be read as part of the whole website, be sure to review other sections so as not to miss other important information.
The following links include information on:
If you or anyone you know has attempted herbal abortion, I am currently collecting data for a herbal abortion database, I have created a questionnaire to assist me in collecting data, and any and all herbal abortion or emergency contraceptive experiences are welcome, pregnancies confirmed with a pregnancy test are most useful, but as stated, all experiences are welcome, even if pregnancy was not confirmed or menstruation was simply late. I have posted some of the database findings on the website. You can read about other women's experiences in the Sharing our Wisdom section, all of these women have helped to add to our body of knowledge.
Women who used Vitamin C successfully - Stories from Sharing our Wisdom - I chose examples for the most part where women had a positive test. Please keep in mind, there are an equal number of unsuccessful stories as well. To see all the experiences I have collected from individuals, please visit the Sharing our Wisdom section.
Ammy used Vitamin C by itself, starting at 2.5 weeks preg. and took it for 3 days, she had a positive test.
and last updated December 22, 2007