What is an Herbal Abortion?

Lainie Petersen

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.

A woman who opts for an herbal abortion might take herbs in capsule form.
A woman who opts for an herbal abortion might take herbs in capsule form.

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.

Herbal abortions are generally performed very early on in pregnancy.
Herbal abortions are generally performed very early on in pregnancy.

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.

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Discussion Comments

@KoiwiGal - This is still a contentious issue though. Particularly for young women who might still be living at home. Obviously, it's always better to go to abortion clinics but sometimes girls might feel like they don't have that option.

It's really sad when that happens, but life can be sad and cruel. I know this is not always possible, but as much as you can try to use contraception so you don't get put in a position where this becomes a possibility.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it's good to know which herbs might do this just so that you can avoid them if you want to be pregnant.

Parsley was mentioned in the article. I don't know how much you'd have to take in order to trigger a miscarriage, but it's probably best not to eat too much at any rate. And parsley is a fairly common herb.


@irontoenail - It actually kind of annoys me that women who are in countries where they have access to abortion and to things like the morning after pill, would choose to do something so risky as to take a herbal abortion instead.

The thing is, even if you are an expert, and even if you take what you think is the exact right dosage, there's no way of telling whether it is or not. Herbs have different strengths depending on where they grow, when they grow, what specific type they are, the time of day they were picked, and so forth. No one can reasonably expect to be able to calculate all of that.

If you have access to medical care and you need an abortion, go and get the medical care. It's disrespectful to the women who have lost their lives over generations because they didn't have that kind of access to ignore it because you don't think it's a natural enough abortion.


Please, if you must insist on doing an herbal abortion, at least try to find someone who knows what they are doing and has done them before. Someone kind, not someone who is taking advantage of you.

And don't take the herbs while you are by yourself. From what I understand, the biggest danger is that you might bleed out accidentally. If you do start bleeding heavily, don't wait, go to a doctor and if you have to, tell them it was an accident, or that it was a natural miscarriage.

I understand that in some countries women might feel trapped and have no other options, but it can be so dangerous, please do everything you can to minimize the risks.

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