Hormone-based contraception like the pill, patch or vaginal ring carry hefty health risks such as cancer, heart attack and stroke. An alternative to these dangers is the ancient use of herbs to avoid pregnancy. When an individual takes active responsibility for their sexual health, herbal birth control is an excellent option.
Dangers of synthetic birth control
Whenever we add a synthetic hormone into our body, a serious imbalance tends to follow. The hormonal system is delicate, it is not something we want to disturb with harmful chemicals. Risks for women include:
- Breast and cervical cancers
- Heart attack and stroke
- High blood pressure
- Gall bladder disease
- Low bone density
- Blood clots in legs, lungs and heart
- Ectopic pregnancies
- Insulin resistance
Instead of dangerous synthetic hormones, a reasonable alternative is found with herbs. A safe form of contraception, herbs help to circumvent the hazards of the pill while providing reliable birth control.
The beauty of herbal birth control
Throughout history, a variety of plants have been used safely and effectively for contraception. And now, several herbs have been confirmed by scientific research for their anti-fertility effects.
Lithospermic acid (LA) is the active contraceptive element found abundantly in the flowers and seeds of western stoneseed (Lithospermum ruderale). LA acts on the pituitary gland to suppress the production of hormones which stimulate the sex glands, thereby encouraging sterility. Discovered by the Nevada Shoshone in the early 1930s, stoneseed was confirmed as an effective form of contraception by the USDA in 1945.
Preventing implantation of a fertilized egg onto the uterine wall is another type of herbal birth control. Wild carrot seed, rutin and smartweed fall into this category. These herbs are taken before or after unprotected sex.
Herbs that promote menstrual flow are known as emmenagogues and used when a period is a day or two late. If an unwanted pregnancy is suspected, drink a menstrual promoter a week before the anticipated flow. Ginger root, tansy and pennyroyal leaves are exceptional emmenagogues.
Susun S. Weed, Master Herbalist, also recommends high doses of vitamin C to encourage menstrual flow. For further information about emmenagogues, including instructions and doses, click here.
Neem - A miracle contraceptive?
Neem is an inexpensive, widely available herb which has been used extensively for birth control in India. The Neem Foundation states:
"Neem oil based vaginal creams and suppositories are extremely popular in India. Non-irritating and easy to use, they are almost 100 percent effective. When tested against human sperm, neem extract (sodium nimbidinate) at 1,000 mg was able to kill all sperm in five minutes and required only 30 minutes at a lower, 250 mg level. It is suggested that these creams and suppositories also prevent vaginal and sexually transmitted diseases."
Neem is used by men to curb birth rates as well. One study demonstrated the effectiveness of neem oil in creating temporary sterility. 20 married men of the Indian Army consumed daily capsules of neem oil for an entire year. After six weeks of taking the oil, the men apparently became sterile. Following this initial month and a half, not a single woman became pregnant for the remainder of the study. The effects of the herb were reversed several weeks after the men ceased to ingest it.
It is important to note that herbal contraception does not typically reach the same level of protection against pregnancy as the pill. However, it does provide a workable alternative to the dangers of synthetic hormones. When full responsibility is taken with an orientation of investigation and education, herbal contraception can be a viable possibility.