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Abortifacient Herbs

Herbs have been used by women since the beginning of time in an attempt to control their fertility. The information was passed from mother to daughter, midwives and wise women all possessed this knowledge. Starting in the 1300's on up through the 1800's possessing the knowledge of which herbs caused a woman to abort/miscarry became very dangerous, if discovered a woman would be accused of being a witch and tortured to death. Over time those who knew how to safely and effectively use these herbs were murdered or frightened into silence, terror which persisted for about 500 years.

Today clues to this once common knowledge remain,1 the names of plants which can cause abortion were preserved orally and in old books, mostly written and published by men, who's working knowledge of these plants was limited, so it seems. We are left to piece together the clues they left behind and are working to regain the knowledge of how to harvest and prepare, how much to take and what combinations are most effective. There is still much we do not know about using these herbs. But each day we learn a little bit more about them, as we experiment with them on ourselves as our ancient grandmothers did long ago.

By sharing our experiences with other women we pool our knowledge, today we have sporadic help from modern scientists to help rediscover and validate what was once known.

~ Please be sure to read this entire page before following other links. ~

Let me first share with you the first rule of using these herbs....
These are strong powerful herbs, and the essential oils are extremely concentrated and poisonous.2 As long as you DO NOT take essential oils orally/internally you should be just fine.

Only the bulk herb used in tea or capsules, tinctures or oil infusions (made by soaking herbs in olive oil), may be safely used. Essential Oils are highly concentrated, they are usually purchased at the store, they usually come in a small bottle that only allows a drop out at a time, and they generally come with a child proof cap because of their toxic nature. They are NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION, women have died very painful deaths using small amounts of essential oils internally trying to abort.3 Inducing miscarriage is not worth risking your life. Don't make that mistake.

Essential oils are different from oil infusions, which are rarely, if ever seen in stores. Oil infusions are something that is made at home by soaking the fresh herb in olive oil. These are generally used externally as well. If you have any questions please ask someone before taking anything you are unsure of. It is always wise to have the guidance of someone who is knowledgeable in the herbal kingdom. Please consult your local herbalist, midwife or wise woman.

    Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes only. There has been very little research done on herbs for abortion. I am not a licensed health care professional. I am a mere student of herbology who wishes to share information I have collected as well as my own experiences. Remember you are responsible for your own actions. I take no responsibility for your experiments with these herbs. Please use common sense and caution. Natural does not mean safe!! Please use herbs in a responsible way. If you try herbs and they don't work, (and they didn't work for me) terminate the pregnancy with a clinical abortion. If the pregnancy is carried to term the child may have physical or mental birth defects. Be aware, herbs don't work for everyone, they seem to work about 45% of the time, if the herbs are started early enough - even in the best of circumstance... when everything is done "right".... herbs still have a strong chance of NOT working, so its vital to be committed to ending the pregnancy - even if it means a surgical abortion. Anything you try, you do so at your own risk.

    Stay in contact with your local midwife or herbalist. Have a support person keep an eye on you, and check in with you. Be kind to yourself, and take good care of yourself during this time.

Abortifacients are strong, powerful herbs and should be used only for short periods of time; they are hard on the body, they can stress the kidneys and liver and often they will make one feel ill. Anyone who has liver or kidney issues should not use the vast majority of these herbs, please read contradictions carefully, do your own research, and consult with a knowledgable herbalist. Many of these herbs are toxic, and are not considered safe to use on a regular basis or for long periods of time. They should not be taken on a monthly basis for contraception. Remember, inducing miscarriage at home is not easy.

Herbs have many affects on the body, and if you have health problems, this may not be a safe route for you to go. Be sure to read Who should not use these herbs and read the cautions for specific herbs on their individual pages.

After using herbs with the intent to abort, it is wise to follow up with health restoring herbs and a wholesome nutritious diet to aid your body in rebuilding itself. Here are some suggestions.

Be aware and listen to the subtle signs your body sends you. Follow your intuition and use common sense. There can be serious complications when attempting to end pregnancy using herbs. For example, if there is a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy these remedies will not work. The only way to remove an ectopic pregnancy is surgically or by medication that only a doctor can prescribe. Symptoms include severe pain in the abdominal region, particularly on one side, irregular bleeding, accompanied with early signs of pregnancy, (breast tenderness, nausea, etc.) feelings of dizziness and weakness. Symptoms like these are not part of an herbal abortion, so don't try to tough it out. If the tube ruptures death can be as little as 15 minutes away.

Its a good idea to visit a women's health clinic when you suspect pregnancy or have just confirmed it. This way, they can do a pregnancy test, and a pelvic exam. This will tell you how far along you are, maybe you already know but even still its good to have confirmation. Also, if there is a problem such as an ectopic pregnancy it will be discovered sooner than later, or if the Rh Factor is an issue for you arrangements can be made to deal with it. At this time you can discuss abortion options, including chemical abortion, so I highly recommend a pro-choice clinic to start out with.

Know the risks when using herbs to end pregnancy, you need to know what can go wrong, its part of making an informed decision.

Please Note: When discussing weeks of pregnancy, I use the weeks starting with conception. The medical establishment and the pregnancy wheel chart that they use, starts with a woman's last period. For a woman who has an "average" monthly cycle (28 days). So when you go to a Dr. or the clinic, the number of weeks pregnant will most likely be from the last menstrual period (LMP), this can cause some confusion. So I just want to make people aware that I'm talking about weeks pregnant based on conception. When referring to the number of weeks LMP, I'll label it as such.

Herbal remedies used to end pregnancy work best when used just before menstruation is due, or when menstruation is due. The more time that passes after having missed your period, the less likely the herbs are to work.

Remember, the sooner you begin using these remedies the more likely you will be in accomplishing your goal. Herbs seem to be fairly effective through the 4th week, though chances of it working are less than if home remedies are started when menstruation is due. The further advanced a pregnancy is, the more risky ending it becomes and the less likely herbal methods will be successful.

It is not advisable to begin herbal treatment after the 6th week of pregnancy (week 1 starting with ovulation/conception) (8 wks LMP). When the pregnancy has advanced this far it often takes a few weeks to complete the abortion. Starting herbal treatment during or after the 6th week very likely will bring the abortion into the 8th week (week 1 starting with conception) where chances of incomplete abortion greatly increase, with this brings the risk of uterine infection (can be life threatening, and can also cause sterility) and hemorrhage. Ending pregnancy during this time becomes more dangerous because the placenta is firmly embedded in the uterus and is not expelled with the fetus and enclosing sac. The uterus in unable to clamp down to its original size and bleeding continues, this can be a life threatening situation.4 Your safely is of the utmost importance, its not worth the risk. The chances of the herbs causing abortion at this point are 20% or less, and may not be worth the effort that you will need to put in. The longer the pregnancy drags on, the greater strain it places on you emotionally and physically. If you are 6 weeks or more pregnant, I urge you to go for a clinical abortion rather than attempt herbal abortion. Some women will have access to chemical abortion, (the abortion pill) this alternative can be used up to the 7th week of pregnancy, so this is a great, and effective option to check out. (hopefully the republicans won't find a way to take it away from us).

For more information about herbs and the progression of the pregnancy, see Herbal Abortion Week by Week

Whenever using herbs to end pregnancy it is very important to have a back up plan if the herbs should fail, as it is important not to carry the pregnancy to term because the effects of the herbs on the developing fetus are unknown and there is a very real risk of birth defects. There have also been reports from Practitioners about complications5 with pregnancies that are continued, such as the placenta attaching dangerously low in the uterus which greatly increases the risks of harm to the mother and developing child. Risks include premature detachment of the placenta before and during birth and severe hemorrhage, which is not easily stopped, and the possibility of other complications during pregnancy.

Plan B

Generally a backup plan for most women means going to a clinic for an abortion. Many women make the appointment for the abortion when making the decision to attempt herbal abortion, giving the herbs a couple of weeks to see if they work, the abortion appointment can always be canceled if the herbs work. This helps to reaffirm your commitment to ending the pregnancy, not only on the physical level, but on the vibrational level as well. If there is any part of you that is not committed to ending the pregnancy, that would like to keep the child, then the herbs probably won't work.

For some women a Menstrual Extraction might be an option, provided she is able to find someone who does them, as they are not done by doctors or clinics. It is a very early form of abortion, and can only be done up til the 8th week of pregnancy (from conception), after 8 weeks it is no longer safe to use this method.6 To find someone who does them may be difficult, your best bet would be to contact a midwife, or feminist organization.

Please keep in mind that these home/herbal remedies are NOT a reliable way to end pregnancy. It can work for some women and not others - with no way to know if they will work for you or not. Don't attempt herbal abortion unless you are in good health - with no liver or kidney problems, AND know you can go through with a surgical or chemical abortion if it doesn't work.

The following herbs have abortifacient qualities, follow the links to find out about each individual herb, including the particulars, cautions and other stuff you should know about the individual herbs. Below the herb list you will find some miscellaneous suggestions and information, tips on ways to increase chances of success.

Angelica/Dong Quai a uterine stimulant with the ability to strengthen and coordinate contractions, to help encourage the uterus to expel it's contents. Follow the link for more information.

Black Cohosh to help the cervix relax and open. Many herbalists and midwives say it has the ability to "ripen the cervix" in preparation for childbirth. Follow the link for more information.

Blue Cohosh a uterine stimulant. With unique properties that encourage the uterus to contract. Susun Weed favors it either before menstruation is due, or at 5-6 weeks of pregnancy. Follow the link for more information.

Cotton Root Bark should be used as a simple (by itself). Interferes with progesterone, and the corpus luteum. Stimulates uterine contractions. Chinese research supports these findings. Follow the link for more information.

Evening Primrose (Oenothera hookeri) may be helpful when used externally to help "ripen the cervix", this phrase is often used during the birthing process to refer to the condition of the cervix, the cervix has to dilate to allow a newborn to pass, if the cervix is not ready, midwifes have herbs they can use to help encourage the cervix to get ready. Things happen a bit differently in a herbal abortion or miscarriage, the cervix won't dilate the way it does during birth, but some of the same herbs may still help the cervix to relax and help to facilitate release of the unwanted pregnancy.

Parsley for use with other herbs or vitamin c. Good for starting a late period (when not due to pregnancy). Can be used as a pessary (vaginal suppository) to prepare the cervix for release. Follow the link for more information.

Pennyroyal One of the more toxic choices available. A herb with a long history as an abortifacient. In my opinion, there are better choices than pennyroyal. Follow the link for more information.

Pineapple (unripe)- Commonly used in tropical areas where pineapple normally grows. One lady was kind enough to send me this information:

    "Pineapple is well known in my culture as being the fruit that able to end pregnancy. It is considered "sharp" thus women during their menses are discouraged to take pineapple as the bleeding will become heavier and women who are pregnant especially at the earlier stage are forbidden to take the fruit in fear of miscarriage.

    However my sister had tried to end pregnancy before with 2 pineapples but did not succeed. Since she's already married, she continued her pregnancy. I took one big young pineapple for the first day eaten in intervals of 1 -2 hours but I cannot stand the stomach cramps it caused me. I also tend to develop "blisters" on my tongue cause by the "sharp and stinging" taste of the young pineapple.

    Later, I was told by an elderly that it takes at least 4-5 fresh medium sized young pineapples (light yellow and hard, not juicy at all) taken raw, within 2 days along with the few glasses of pure young pineapple juice (using juice extractor, of course), for better result. I was also told that pineapple will not be able to end the pregnancy if the women has a healthy and strong uterus."

Tansy Should be used with caution, often has side effects, and is probably the most toxic herb listed here on this website. Also with a lengthy history as a herbal abortifacient. Follow the link for more information.

Vitamin C In my opinion, probably the least toxic and most effective choice available. Interferes with progesterone, works best before the 5th week of pregnancy. Follow the link for more information.

Tips and other Information

When drinking herbal teas, I feel it is important to drink the teas day and night, set the alarm to wake yourself at intervals during the night, at least once or twice to take a dose. This helps to keep a constant level of herbs circulating, and doesn't give the body 8 hours (or however long you sleep) to undo any progress you may have made during the day.

One woman I spoke with suggested vigorous exercise like jogging, dancing or jump rope along with herbal teas. This sends a message to the body that now is not a good time. Other women have reported long car rides, or train rides can also help get bleeding started. One lady said she wore her tightest jeans and rode a train for many hours. Another mentioned a long car ride - 6 to 8 hours of driving time - and she began bleeding soon after.

A hot bath can also be helpful when used in conjunction with the herbs, The water should be hot but not so hot that it burns you. Use this quiet time of soaking to sip teas and communicate with the Spirit asking for release. Joy Gardener who has guided hundreds of pregnant women through visualizations to contact their potential babies, has found that these spirit children are very understanding, and are often not in a hurry to be born, if now is not the right time. She also writes in her book: A Difficult Decision ~ A Compassionate Book about Abortion,

    "For those who believe in reincarnation, these concepts are perfectly logical. Eastern religions teach that the soul chooses its parents and the circumstances of its lifetime as a way of working through karma from previous lives. I believe that an abortion is an experience that the spirit of the mother (or parents) and the spirit of the child share together - both for their own reasons. Usually the karmic lesson requires a whole lifetime, but sometimes it can be learned in a few brief weeks or months. Since the spirit world is outside of time and space, spirits can see into the future. So a spirit would not unwittingly become involved with a body that it knew was likely to be aborted.7

Some women feel, myself included, that communicating with the Spirit Child is an important part of the abortion process. Asking the spirit for release, and communicating why is not a good time to bring a child into the world. Joy Gardener has done a lot of work in this area, I've included some of her visualizations from an out-of-print book. Another really great book that shows the amount of effort that goes into a herbal abortion - Self-Ritual for Invoking Release of Spirit Life in the Womb Many women have found the visualizations and communication with spirit helped them feel more at peace with their choice.

Sex and Orgasm can also help start menstruation. The motion of sex can help to relax the pelvic muscles, and orgasm can help the uterus contract and help "loosen" up a tight cervix, aiding in the release. Masturbation ending in orgasm will also help. Several women have reported favorable results when combined with the herbs.

Once bleeding is established NO tampons, use pads or a menstrual cup, this is important, this way you can monitor the amount of bleeding and what comes out. If you own a menstrual cup this can be used to catch the blood, just remember to check it frequently, an advantage to using a menstrual cup is that you can pour the blood into a glass of water, and see what is coming out. Carefully add water to the blood, and if you need to you can carefully pour off the diluted blood, the clots and any tissue will stay in the bottom of the glass if you are careful. Look for fibrous tissue, chorionic villi, the yellowish material with branch-like structures. This is the beginnings of the placenta, sometimes it comes out in one piece, this is what some affectionately call the sprout, contained somewhere inside is the developing egg. If you find this you know for sure you were pregnant, and that the abortion is complete.... unless twins run in the family!

Once miscarriage is well underway, make sure the food you consume is of top quality. And when bleeding has stopped drink nourishing teas to rebuild your body, as the herbs used and the process itself is hard on your body. For more information read Following herbal abortion, but these suggestions can be used following clinical abortion or natural miscarriage.

For more information:
Who shouldn't use herbal abortifacients
Know the Risks - what can go wrong.
How herbs interfere with pregnancy
Ending Pregnancy
Pregnancy Week-by-Week
What to expect when attempting herbal abortion
Suggestions for Post Herbal Abortion care

If you have used herbs in the past for abortive purposes, please consider making your story/experience available to other women. Please visit this page to find out how you can participate, how you can help other women seeking this kind information. This information also assists me with my research, I'm collecting data for a database, I have posted some to of the database findings here on the website.


1 Riddle, John M., "Eve's Herbs - A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West", Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1997.

2 Tisserand, Robert and Balacs, Tony., Essential Oil Safety - A Guide for Health Care Professionals, Churchill Livingstone, New York, 1995

3 Tisserand, Robert and Balacs, Tony., Essential Oil Safety - A Guide for Health Care Professionals, Churchill Livingstone, New York, 1995;

Chalker, Rebecca & Downer, Carol. A Women's Book of Choices: Abortion, Menstrual Extraction, Ru-486 New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1992;

Sullivan, John B. Jr, et al. "Pennyroyal Oil Poisoning and Hepatotoxicity", JAMA, Vol. 242, No. 26, Dec 1979, pp 2873-4.

4 Tiamat Uni. M. 1884. Herbal Abortion The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Sage-femme! 3445 N. University, suite #120, Peoria IL 61604.

5 Collette (based on a paper she wrote and posted online, i am unable to verify her information any further at this time).

6 Chalker, Rebecca & Downer, Carol. A Women's Book of Choices: Abortion, Menstrual Extraction, Ru-486 New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1992.

7 Joy Gardner, "Abortion ~ a personal approach," Seattle, WA; Heal Yourself Press, 1985.

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