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Cotton Root Bark
(Gossypium hirsutum)

Cotton root seems to be an effective abortifacient. Some research has been done on this herb here in the US and in China. The problem with this herb is that it is not very available. Although large quantities of cotton are grown, tons of chemicals are used in growing it, all of these chemicals are poisonous to people, because cotton is a non-food crop, the government allows more toxic pesticides and herbicides to be used. If a person uses the roots from these plants grown this way, there is a very strong possibility that these chemicals will make one very sick.

Cotton is being grown organically in some areas but the roots are not widely available. I have had reports of women finding tinctures made from cotton root bark, but at this time it is still an uncommonly found herb.

Cotton root has the effect of shutting down the corpus luteum's ability to produce progesterone. (The corpus luteum is created when ovulation occurs, it is the little hole made by the egg when it burst from the follicle. It 'scabs' over, becoming a little yellow body who's function is to secrete progesterone to prepare the uterus just incase the egg gets fertilized. If not, it dries up and fades away.) Progesterone is essential for pregnancy, without it the pregnancy cannot maintain itself. The corpus luteum is the fertilized eggs only source of progesterone until the pregnancy advances to the point where the placenta takes over hormone production.

Research in China supports this claim, showing cotton root bark has the ability to interrupt pregnancy due to its anti-progesterone and anti-corpus luteum effect. These effects cause the lining of the uterus to be non-supportive to a fertilized egg. This verifies Cotton's ability to interfere with implantation and cause abortion.

It also "seems to increase receptor sites on oxytocin sensitive cells, causing uterine contractions." Making it useful for suppressed or obstructed menstruation and to hasten or initiate childbirth as well.

A study done in New Mexico by a women's collective reported that cotton root bark was very effective at starting menstruation, and did not seem to produce any toxic effects. I have not seen the study results, I understand it the study was conducted at a women's health collective in Santa Fe, I don't know if it has appeared in any written form or if the information has been transmitted orally. All of the women's periods were late, but no pregnancy tests were taken, and no way to tell how many of them were actually pregnant. (I suspect this was back before sensitive pregnancy tests were available). But whether or not they were pregnant, Chinese researchers have shown that cotton root definitely contains elements with the ability to interrupt pregnancy.

There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of information available, this is what I found for dosages in some of my books:
12 teaspoons of the bark from the root per quart of water, 1-2 quarts of this tea per day.
10 drops of Tincture every 2 hours until bleeding is underway.

Another source gave this for the tea.4
31/2 ounce dried cotton root bark per quart of water. Boil 20-30 minutes. Strain. Take 2 ounces every 1 hour.
For the Tincture 1-4 tsp every 30 min to 1 hour.
Powder - 3-8 #0 capsules every 30 min to 1 hour.

BTW, the cotton root bark tincture is from Herb Pharm, and it is organic according to the label. I did find them when I surfed cotton root bark, and could order the tincture online - which is a big help. The address on the label says Williams, OR 97544, but no po box or street. Anyway, I though this might help some of the women who are searching for this.

I had a reader send me this experience, stressing the importance of using organically grown cotton roots.

    "I am writing concerning your section on cotton root bark. (I am writing from my friend's e-mail account, I'm not actually male. :) ) In any case, I would like to add a strong prohibition on using cotton root bark from standard agricultural sources (chemical laden farming, as you had written).

    I live in Memphis, directly across the Mississippi from the cotton fields of Arkansas. Three years ago I became very frightened of pregnancy, having had irresponsible sex during my fertile time. I read up in my herbal books, trucked myself over to Arkansas and dug roots. I peeled roots for an hour and made a mild tea because I had no dosage knowledge and began with the very smallest amount of root I could snip away. Within an hour I had cold chills, shakes, and I had my period two days later. This may *seem* like success, but during the time I was in my comforter with the chills and shaking I was *very frightened*! I would not wish this on *any woman*! I was especially frightened because I knew that some abortifacients were also known toxins, and though I had taken the smallest snip of bark I could, I was having marked reactions. A year and a half ago, I tried this again, again taking the smallest amounts possible and working my way up. This time, no reactions. (Is it obvious yet that *I didn't know what I was doing*?) By the time my period came, I was drinking pots of tea.

    The main point of my story is that just this past spring I found out that in addition to lots of other very nasty stuff, the agricultural industry uses massive amounts of *defoliants* on cotton in the picking season. The leaves fall away, and the bolls are easier to pick. This gave me the cold chills again for an obvious reason. Defoliants are among the most toxic of agricultural chemicals, *and I'd twice put them in my body*! To this day I have no way of knowing if the cold chills and scary reaction my body had was to the herb, or to defoliants or other chemicals. I have no way of knowing what I put in my body the second time I tried this, and why it did not seem to work. (I was not pregnant, as I found out). Please caution all women not to use this herb lightly, and especially *never to use the root from the commercial field*. Please, know what you are using and where it comes from, a tenet of responsible herb use not to be taken lightly. I did not know any better, but I should have known better, I should have been a responsible herbalist, and woman, and researched, researched, *researched*. I have learned from this experience. Please share my story. "

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.

Other links about Cotton
A modern herbal - cotton root

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