AmericaAbortion with herbs such as mint, wormwood, ornamental scent has not been proven effective, can be dangerous for women.
After the US Supreme Court overturned a decision on women’s abortion rights in June, social media users began spreading “herbal abortions”.
On the TikTok platform, revealing clips about the effects of mint, wormwood, angelica and ornamental parsley are spread quickly. Many suggest crushing them and drinking them in liquid form, while others advertise tablets containing extracts of these leaves.
Meanwhile, Google data shows that searches for home abortion methods and certain herbs like mint have increased in the more than five weeks since the Supreme Court’s draft decision was rejected. leaked in May.
“Some people turn to unsafe abortions because they feel they have no other choice. It’s important for people to know that social media posts can be inaccurate, spreading misinformation. deviation,” said Dr. Nisha Verma, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
In addition to possible side effects, the use of untested herbs causes women to delay their visits to the doctor, not being honest with their doctors, leading to more dangerous consequences, says Dr. Aviva Romm, expert. Women’s health and herbs, emphasis added.
The two most used hashtags on online platforms are #mint (#pennyroyaltea) and #wormwood (#mugwort). In particular, mint is a plant with thorns, purple flowers, long used as an insect repellent. However, their extracts in concentrated form are highly toxic, says the National Institutes of Health. Even one tablespoon of peppermint extract can cause fainting, seizures, cardiac arrest, coma, liver damage, and multiple organ failure. An 18-year-old woman died in 1978 after taking 29ml of peppermint oil for an abortion.
If taken in high enough doses, in certain forms, angelica, wormwood and ornamental scents can also cause poisoning.
Research published in 2021 found that about 30% of women have attempted to use herbs to terminate pregnancy, despite their unclear effects. The experts found that out of the 14 who had self-abortion, five used different herbal preparations, such as parsley, angelica or ginger root. One person even inserted parsley leaves into the vagina.
Other methods used include taking vitamin C supplements, drinking vodka for 3-4 hours, or taking ibuprofen and antibiotics. More than half of the 14 participants reported that they were not pregnant after the attempts.
In a 2020 survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that out of more than 7,000 women who had self-abortion, 38% used herbs. However, less than a third of abortions are successful.
For centuries, before surgical abortions or contraceptives, women turned to herbs for birth control. Historians have found evidence of herbal abortion in ancient Chinese and Indian texts and throughout Africa and Latin America.
In Europe, plants of the juniper genus are widely used. “You often see this plant right outside the midwives’ homes,” said Londa Schiebinger, a professor of the history of science at Stanford University.
It wasn’t until the 15th century that Western authorities began to persecute those who provided herbal abortions. Leslie Rae, an herbalist, says she respects the medical history of natural abortions. Even so, she cautions against their indiscriminate use in the modern era.
“When you go online and tell people that certain X and Y herbs can be used to terminate a pregnancy, do you know how to make them safely? Do you know the dosage, the kit? ‘Tiktok witches’ and fake pharmacists, please don’t give advice on herbal abortion,” Rae said.
Thuc Linh (Follow NY Times)