An herbal abortion makes use of herbs to terminate a pregnancy rather than surgical techniques or medical protocols such as RU-486, also known as Mifeprex or Mifepristone. Herbal abortions rely on herbs that have historically been used to bring on menstruation, cause uterine contractions, and soften the cervix. In combination, effects could result in miscarriage, thus ending an unplanned pregnancy.
While surgical and pharmaceutical abortions are legal and available in many countries, this has not always been true, and abortion remains illegal in many places. For this reason, women may rely on herbal contraception and abortion methods to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. In addition, women in countries where abortion is legal and available through conventional health care facilities sometimes choose an at-home abortion through the use of herbs. The herbs used in herbal abortion depend on availability and the mechanism required to terminate the pregnancy. Commonly used herbs include black cohosh, blue cohosh. and parsley. Other herbs reputed to be abortifacients, or substances that induce abortion, such as pennyroyal and tansy, can be very dangerous and have been connected to women's deaths.
The choice of herbal abortion by a woman who has access to legal abortion services may be made because of a woman's opposition to conventional medicine and a belief that an herbal abortion is more natural. Women who undertake herbal abortion may consume herbs orally in the form of capsules, tinctures, or teas. It is generally not advisable for anyone to orally ingest the essential oil of an herb. Essential oils are extremely concentrated, and such a dose can prove toxic and even fatal. Herbal abortions are generally performed very early on in pregnancy, and in some cases even before a woman's menstrual period is due. This may be because many herbs recommended for inducing herbal abortion are best known for their ability to induce menstruation.
Herbal abortion risks are significant for a number of reasons. They are usually not medically prescribed or supervised. A woman may be on her own in choosing the herbs for herbal abortion as well as their dosage. If she is unaware of any contraindications, such as health conditions or allergies, her choice of herbs could cause severe health competitions. For example, if the woman has a tubal pregnancy, the use of herbs to end the pregnancy is not only useless, but it may exacerbate an already dangerous condition. In addition, if the herbal abortion is not successful, the woman may have to seek outside medical care, which could be complicated by the residual effects of any herbs she has consumed.