Wild Carrot (Daucus carota): A Plant for Conscious, Natural Contraception
The purpose of this article is educational. The author/publisher supports and encourages each woman’s acceptance of her own wisdom, freedom, and personal responsibility in making her own healthcare choices, and as such, accepts no responsibility or liability for any adverse consequences resulting directly or indirectly from the use of any information presented in this work. The information in this article is based on the experiences and research of the author, other women, and other professional herbalists. Scientific and historical references are provided.
A BRIEF HISTORY FROM PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED ARTICLES, WITH A FEW NEW COMMENTS AND DETAILS:
1. I first heard about using wild Daucus carota (Dc) seeds for contraception when I was living in Northern California in 1978. This plant is also commonly called Queen Anne’s Lace (Qal) when in flower. A young man introduced me to his girlfriend who used the seeds as her sole method of contraception. Upon questioning, she told me that her sister had conducted a study in Alaska (where she lived) of 100 women using Dc seeds over seven years and that no unwanted pregnancies had occurred. The women chewed a teaspoon of dried wild carrot seeds sometime shortly after intercourse. Several women went on to conceive and birth healthy babies when they stopped taking Dc seeds. I was intrigued, but incredulous, and have never been able to confirm whether this study truly took place. The woman certainly had no discernible reason to fabricate the story and so perhaps the author of the study may eventually turn up.
2. I began using Dc seeds myself in 1985 after completing an herbal apprenticeship with Susun Weed and reading about them in her book, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. I was much more attuned to the natural world by that time and ready to trust whole foods and plant medicines. I had previously thought the couple was "crazy" or at least foolish to rely on a plant for contraception, but by this point I was prepared to trust in the earth and in myself.
3. Women have been using Dc seeds to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg for at least 2000 years. The earliest written reference known is from Hippocrates, who described it as an abortive in the 4th or 5th century B.C.E. (before common era). Information on Dc for implantation prevention was recorded by Dioscorides, Scribonius, Largus, Marcellius Empiricus, and Pliny the Elder who called it an emmenagogue and noted that "4 footed animals will not eat it, except after a miscarriage." 1
Of course, women's oral tradition of usage is likely to be older still. The plant itself is ancient and grows in much of the world, and where it doesn't grow, related species probably do. Anyone can be taught to correctly identify the common biennial Dc, and to carefully avoid the more poisonous "look-alikes" such as Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum) and Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata).
Both varieties of hemlock have smooth, purple-streaked stalks, whereas Dc's stalks are covered with hair and are all green. Also, more subtly, every part of Dc smells like carrot when crushed.
4. In 1992-1993 I conducted a small, grass roots study with 13 women in New York City, 10 of whom had been pregnant previously, thus establishing their fertility. This non-scientific (no double-blind, no placebos) study showed a success rate of approximately 98%. All of the women used the same method of preparation ... one teaspoon of Dc seeds (harvested in the late autumn) was chewed well and rinsed down with something to drink. However, the women chose from one of three dosage regimes: A. Every Day B.Daily, for three days before, during, and three days after ovulation (seven days total) C.Daily, for at least seven days (or until menstrual bleeding began) after unprotected intercourse at any time of the woman's cycle.
(I would not suggest using the dosage regimes that were experimented with in the study. Please see the SUMMARY for current updated information on the most reliable methods of usage.)
5. In 1994, an earlier version of this work was published in the NEHA (Northeast Herbal Association) journal. It was also reprinted in the Spring/Summer 2002 issue. I concluded, based on the success rate, and on ample anecdotal evidence, that Daucus carota was an excellent method of contraception for any woman who was willing to be conscious and aware of her own body and cycles of fertility.
IN BETWEEN THEN AND NOW, TRANSITIONAL DEVELOPMENTS:
In my conclusion I said I would be continuing to explore ways to help wild carrot be even more reliable as a natural contraceptive. I was also going on to experiment with using wild carrot in different forms, such as teas and tinctures. (Almost nobody likes chewing the bristly little seeds). I've since switched almost completely to using teas and tinctures, and no longer have to struggle with chewing those little seeds. This has been a really satisfying change. I love using Daucus carota in liquid forms and find that it has been quite effective. There were a few women who experienced vaginal dryness when they chewed the seeds. However, all of them found that this symptom did not persist when they stopped taking the seeds and better yet, the symptom never reoccurred when they switched to teas or tinctures. Here's a quote from one of the women who wrote to me about this: "I tried your suggestion of taking wild carrot seed in the form of a tea. My body's reaction to it was totally different! Thanks so much for your suggestion. I had never considered that herbs could interact with the body so differently based on the form in which you took them. I get the impression that the wild carrot seed is working in the tea form, in a way that is more comfortable to deal with. I can tell my reproductive chemistry is altered when I drink it."
I also said I would continue to explore the possibility that Dc seeds may not be as reliable when a woman has recently undergone or is undergoing a substantial artificial or natural hormonal shift, whether from stopping HRT, directly following a pregnancy, after a miscarriage, or even during menopause, for example. I am now convinced that this cause is a substantial factor, in that the most “failures" of Dc reported are those where a woman rushed into relying on Dc seeds right after coming off of the Pill, HRT and in one instance, Lupron (a hormonal prescription drug used to treat endometriosis).
It appears to be vital for a woman to have resumed her own unique, natural cycle for several months (whatever is a normal cycle for her) before relying solely on Daucus carota. I think natural menopause, as opposed to iatrogenically (medically) induced change of life, is more compatible with continuing to use wild carrot. The hormonal changes, though vast, happen at a pace that is biologically natural to the woman experiencing them and I think that the natural medicine of unadulterated, unaltered wild Daucus carota, can adjust to meet the woman where she is in her changes, especially if she is paying attention to her body. I am in early menopause with vastly changing cycles (bleeding anywhere from every two weeks to every three months) and am still confident relying on Dc for implantation prevention in conjunction with an ongoing attentiveness to my body's cycles.
The other exciting new development has been the regular inclusion of wild carrot flowers, also called Queen Anne’s Lace, (Qal) along with the seeds. [I think mixing the flowers and seeds together is one of the keys to even safer, more effective use of the natural gifts of Dc to prevent implantation.] The use of the flower tea is an Appalachian tradition that was shared with me by my herbal sister, Phyllis Light. She learned about using Dc flowers when she was about 17 years old from an old woman who had learned of them from Phyllis' grandmother, Rosie Light. It was fantastic to realize that we had an authentic American tradition of using Daucus carota for natural, conscious contraception.
I have continued using Daucus carota and gathering stories from other women and their partners who use the plant for this purpose. I have also continued to collect anecdotal and scientific information, as well as stories from herbalists who teach about this herb as a natural contraceptive. I have wanted to be able to tell women and their partners that they could have absolute confidence in wild carrot as a safe, natural, herbal contraceptive, but the life force is a powerful thing and nothing is absolute! There are also at least three souls involved in every conception, so total control is an illusory goal.
Additionally, our entire environment is undergoing vast, and rapid changes. Our bodies and our plants are met with a barrage of chemicals, genetically altered organisms, and hormonal mimics and disrupters that are changing all of our biological chemistry (humans and plants) in ways both known and unknown. For example, I have been noticing that each year, there have been less Dc plants that have the well-known red/purple "dot" in the center. I have always intuitively felt that these are the best plants to gather for contraception because the color of this complex, central flower is evocative of menstrual blood. I suspect that if the plants are laboratory (or clinically) tested, there will be a chemical /hormonal and possibly genetic difference between the red dot flowering plants and the all white ones. According to Maude Grieve, there is a species of all white flowered wild carrot in the coastal areas of southern England, but the leaves of that plant are different. (These plants look just like the Daucus carota that I am familiar with, though there are subtle differences in the smells and tastes.)
Donna Eaton is the first herbalist to tell me that she, too, has been noticing this change in the flowers in the field, and that she, too, collects only the seeds from plants that have the traditional coloring, connecting that color with their use as a contraceptive. My imagination has taken it a bit further still, and I wonder if the all white-flowered wild carrot plants may prove to be the best for encouraging conception, whether taken by men and/or women.
Back to the main focus of this investigation: the primary question for me has been, "Why doesn't wild carrot/Daucus carota always work? Is there anything we can do in our preparation, dosage regimes or gathering of the herb that can help it be even more reliable?”
I was feeling at a loss and began to pursue getting a genetic study started through a National Institute of Health (NIH) program at the University of Illinois that one of my apprentices had just entered. Propitiously enough, her advisor is one of the authors of a scientific study on the anti-fertility effects of Dc! 2 This type of study, for which we have drawn up a rudimentary proposal includes everything from factoring in phases of the moon to an insistence upon testing the actual plant prepared in ways women actually use it, both in vitro and then in vivo, with no animal studies. However, I always remember and resonate with the words of an indigenous medicine man from South America, who said, "The plants don't like to go into the laboratory." I agree. Here's what wild carrot had to say, when I took it up with her last year.
Wild Carrot speaks:
My flowers and seeds abundantly grow
And can ease your unwanted pregnancy woe.
I change your lining,
I can make it too thin,
To keep a fertilized egg held within.
Use me as tea, or tincture, that's all
My seeds should be picked
in late summer or fall.
My flowers please pick
in the summer or spring,
Late morning's when they have
their best kind of zing.
You can tell,
By stopping to smell,
Because the oils reveal
Secrets I usually conceal
Like the slippery,
sliding way that I heal -
I help you prevent implantation,
Of an embryo,
When you have chosen
Your time to say "no."
I don't work as well
When my oils grow dry,
There are reasons you'll find
When you ask yourselves, "Why?"
Time of day, and season, too,
Matter for gathering, that's clearly true.
With complex volatile oils
it’s really best
To find the way you need to test.
Find out what's lacking
When we don't work,
The pituitary is where you'll find
some problems lurk.
As to my seeds
They work as well as my flowers
Remember a key is
When they're picked, in what hours.
The dosage, too, needs to be adjusted,
One size to fit all just cannot be trusted.
And when a woman
Is healthy and fertile,
Anything can fail her,
Save a chastity girdle.
And at menopause
You've been right to suspect
That carrot alone may not have the effect.
Mix me with Cronewort*, or Ginger*, or Royal Penny* Then unwanted pregnancies,
you won't have any.
*(Cronewort = Mugwort = Artemisia Vulgaris)
*(Ginger = Zingiber Officinale)
*(Royal Penny = American Pennyroyal = Hedeoma Pulegiodes)
Questions and Answers: Robin’s interview with Wild Carrot
RRB: How about mixing your seeds and your flowers?
WC: Yes, that enhances my implant prevention powers.
RRB: Tea, or tincture? Is one better than another?
WC: Either one will help a woman not be a mother
Before she chooses that it is her time,
To have an unwanted babe can be a real crime.
RRB: How do you promote fertility?
What decides which you'll do??
WC: This is where endocrine info needs to come through.
And how I'm extracted is also a factor
That can help my effects be ever exacter.
RRB: What should we test for, what should we ask?
Take you early in the morning?
Or at the day's last?
WC: Ask when. Ask how much.
Ask for hormonal/glandular contradiction,
And you will know all of the fact
From the fiction.
My seeds work, oh yes they do,
Except when they don't, this much is true.
RRB: I've known that for 20 years!
Is there nothing to add?
WC: You've learned to use flowers and seeds
in tinctures and teas,
Now that's not too bad!
RRB: I suspect tea is more effective
than tincture or chewing seeds.
Is there a way to investigate?
Can you give me any leads?
WC: Mix flower tea with seed tincture
for the safest, strongest brew
And find someplace you can test this too.
Ask the right questions
and you're sure to receive,
The information you need
so as not to deceive,
Women relying on me
When they choose not to conceive.
Yes, by checking the oils
and hormonal component,
You'll know how to be
a wise wild carrot proponent.
Over the next year, the light of understanding began to dawn. The answer was unfolding right in front of me.
UPDATE: OCTOBER 2002
It is now eight years since I began writing about wild carrot and from all the stories I have collected, scientific reports I have studied (poor rats), and my own experiential and intuitive understanding of herbs, fertility, and Daucus carota specifically, I realized that something very specific had revealed itself as I pulled all the information together. It appears that taking wild carrot is the ultimate "withdrawal" method, because withdrawing it (stopping the dosage) is every bit as crucial as taking it in the first place. The women who use Dc this way are the only ones reporting a 100% success rate. Yes, I said 100%!
Here are a few stories that illustrate this point:
- The Anti-Aging Manual: The Encyclopedia of Natural Health, he recommends one teaspoon of crushed wild carrot seeds in one cup of water the "morning after" sexual relations. Wisely realizing that not all sexual relations happen at night, Donna has suggested simply using the seeds eight hours after intercourse. She also has women use a second dose, eight hours later, if they are having intercourse during the most fertile week of their cycles. In answer to my questions, she told me that each of these women has a regular menstrual cycle and is of slender to medium build. They ranged, though, from being in monogamous relationships to being very sexually active with lots of partners. She has them all use the same amount of seeds and grind no more than one tablespoon (which is 3 doses) of seeds at a time in an electric coffee/seed grinder and store them in a tightly capped jar so that the crucial volatile oils won't dry out. (They could also use a mortar and pestle). Donna said that her clients all feel "really, really good" about using Daucus carota and, as was reported in the original study, they, too, find this form of contraception "really pleasant."
2. This matches what a young woman said to me recently. She used the Dc seeds successfully for six years, starting when she was 16 years old. She is now 24. She told me that her intuition tells her that the seeds benefit her reproductive organs and hormonal cycle in general. She feels they are physically good for her, as well as that they work. She says this in spite of the fact that she did have an unwanted pregnancy several years ago. She was taking the seeds by the traditional method - chewing and swallowing one teaspoon (not in water) and she took them before, during, and after ovulation. She was not, and never had been using them as a morning-after plant, but also never restricted her times of intercourse to non-fertile times, so, at least theoretically, any intercourse during her fertile time was coinciding with when she was taking her carrot seeds. The one time she got pregnant her cycle had shifted and she had ovulated at a different time of the month than she had thought. She had just fallen in love with a new guy and Nature being how Nature is, maybe that's what brought about her early ovulation! This brings up another vital point. It is wise, practically speaking, and on all other levels (spiritual, emotional, social/political), for a woman to learn the signals of her own cycles of fertility and not simplistically rely on a calendar (even a lunar one) or an external device like a fertility lens. (See Resources at the end of the article). Women need to come to know, respect and love their bodies. The same young woman recently lost track of when she was ovulating and had unprotected intercourse. The next day she chewed a teaspoon of wild carrot seeds. The day after that, she chewed another teaspoon of seeds. She got her period six days later, which was one week early.
4. A woman I know said she has used Dc seeds for contraception with 100% success ever since she first heard me speak about them in 1995 at the Women's Herbal Conference. The one time that she didn't use them at all, she got pregnant. It was the fifth day of her period and she didn't think she could conceive at that time. Surprise! Early menopause was upon her and her cycle had begun shifting. She had a positive pregnancy test, but bled a week later with the help of her own psychic and mental energy being strongly focused in that direction. A subsequent check-up showed that all is well.
Additionally, before starting to use Dc seeds she had had three unwanted pregnancies using three different methods of birth control. Her method of use is to take one teaspoon of seeds, freshly crushed in a coffee/seed grinder, stirred into a glass of water, eight hours after intercourse. She generally avoids sexual intercourse during her most fertile days of the month and considers Dc a beloved ally for contraception.
6. I interviewed Phyllis Light about her current experiences with clients who use Dc flower tea for herbal birth control. She told me that she's told women about this usage for the past 10-15 years or so (She’s always used it as a plant medicine for other things such as an excellent diuretic, and is currently focused mostly on using it as a thyroid tonic.) She estimates, though, that she knows about 40 or more women who have been using the plant regularly for implantation prevention, and she has had no reports of any unwanted pregnancies.
She describes using it as her grandmother’s generation did. They make tea from 2 - 3 fresh flower heads (umbels) depending on the size of the flowers, steeped for anywhere from 5 - 30 minutes and drink one cup, within one day after sexual intercourse. When I asked what they did when it was out of season she couldn't recall how they preserved it, though guessed that they may have preserved it in syrup, made with lots of sugar because that's how they did a lot of things. She thought that vodka tincture or drying the flowers for tea would be fine. She collects them and dries them in a paper bag (I lay mine out in baskets to dry.) She didn’t know anyone who used the seeds.
7. Herbalist and homeopath, Lise Wolff of Minnesota has been successfully using herbal tincture of Dc seeds (she has stopped taking out the seeds and instead tinctures the whole seed head thinking its “signature” is reminiscent of a womb) with clients and students for more than five years now. She has women use seven drops of tincture, three times daily, for three days after sexual intercourse with nearly total success. The “failures” actually confirm what we already suspected. The first of two unwanted pregnancies was conceived when the woman went onto Dc seed tincture right after coming off of the birth control pill. Her only other client who became pregnant using Dc seed tincture was a woman who kept lowering her dose. She got pregnant using three drops daily, once after intercourse. This is obviously not enough. I believe that if the woman had used one dropper (25-30 drops) once after intercourse, she would have been fine. Lise also notes that she includes instructions for women to take the tincture again one or two times the first day of her period. She advises this as "insurance", which I don't actually think is necessary. One other note of interest, she and her clients with irregular cycles found that their cycles became regular when they used Dc.
By the late 1990’s, a few years after the grassroots study, I knew several young women (in their 20's) who had gotten pregnant using Dc, and I became more cautious about teaching about Dc for natural, conscious contraception.
However, on reflection, the three women I know who got pregnant were all "faithfully" taking the seeds nearly every day, assuming that this was the "safest" of all the methods. What irony! More is not always better. Lise Wolff reminded me that in homeopathy the saying is, herbs cause what they cure. This is called proving. (Of course, pregnancy is not an illness!) On the other side of that coin, Lise has had only one client who takes Dc seed tincture every day, because she generally has sex daily, and so far, so good.
I am happy to have this opportunity to share some of the most important answers I've received in response to my questions, suspicions, and concerns. I am also excited to share the questions that have been raised, and of course, more remain, but I have to end this article somewhere. Still, it is heartening and exciting that wild carrot/Daucus carota has proven herself to be safe and effective as a gentle, preventative, natural contraceptive that works by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg in the womb, or perhaps sometimes by dislodging a very recently implanted egg.
One last point, herbalists and scientists (who are sometimes the same people) have all been in agreement that Daucus carota is an estrogenic herb. There are even warnings from some herbalists (misguided, I believe) about estrogenic effects from Dc that may be unhealthy for women with estrogen dependent tumors, for example.
There is now a question in the herbal community about whether it is the effects of estrogen or progesterone that helps wild carrot to do what it does, if hormonal action is what is making it work at all. Phyllis Light is adamant that it is progesterone's effect that is at work and that this is why it is key to give Dc and then take it away. She said "one way that doctors help complete a miscarriage is to give a woman progesterone for three days, and then withdraw it." There are also some birth control pills that rely on progesterone for their effect. I noticed, too, that in at least two of the scientific studies, pregnancies were maintained by giving doses of progesterone to the rats that were being given extracts of Dc.3Lise Wolff said that all the women she knows who are using Dc tincture report a copious increase in vaginal secretions within five minutes of taking the tincture, "almost like fertile mucous." Interesting!
Peter Holmes writes that estrogen stimulants tend to inhibit progesterone, but lists Artemesia vulgaris (Mugwort/Cronewort) as both an estrogen and progesterone stimulant. I think that Dc may fit into both categories, too. James Duke's web site lists Dc seeds as containing the anti-estrogenic chemical, quercetin. I believe that taking Dc and then removing it causes the internal environment of the woman to become inappropriate for conception, perhaps by causing her estrogen/ progesterone balance to change temporarily. This could be from Dc's tonic effects on the pituitary and thyroid glands. The plant has a history of promoting both healthy contraception and healthy conception. Of course it makes perfect sense that this is true, it is reflective of the essence of plant medicines - which is to naturally nourish and tone whole systems, rather than being aimed at artificially producing one specific, controlled and controlling effect as drug therapies try to do.
Still, it is the most obviously contradictory quality of wild carrot relevant to the desired effect being investigated. For example, Nicholas Culpepper recommended the "seeds boiled in wine to help conception". I wonder if anyone has tried this, and if so, did they meet with any success? Did anyone ever wonder if the seeds boiled in wine were supposed to be drunk by the man rather than the woman? I ask this because my intuition tells me that there is a potentially positive fertility effect for men, (as well as women) who use Dc seeds and perhaps flowers. I have done no experimenting with this at all yet.
Herbalist and author Susun Weed stated that if it is hormonal action that makes Dc effective, then healthy digestive flora is necessary to turn the hormonal precursors of this (or any other plant) into actual hormones. This is a caution to be heeded by a woman taking antibiotics, for example. (The same warning is true for a woman mixing hormonal birth control pills with antibiotics.) One way to nourish the digestive flora is to eat organic whole milk yogurt.
Wild carrot (Dc) is reliable enough for me and could be for any woman, anywhere, who comes to know her own body more intimately, and who gains awareness of her own body's fertility signals. It may not, however, be reliable enough for every woman, as it is currently understood, and that is okay, too.
The form I personally use most frequently is a mixture of the tinctures of wild carrot flowers and seeds. I freely use Cronewort, tinctured in vodka or as tea, or as infused oil (delicious on food) if I am in any doubt about my cycle of fertility.
I moved into my new home two and a half years ago and saw that the rocky hillsides all around my house were covered with beautiful, wild medicinal plants. Primary among them are an abundance of Artemisia vulgaris and Daucus carota plants. Hidden dancing among them is their much shorter sister, Pennyroyal, or as she told me she prefers to be called, Royal Penny. They welcomed me home and whispered to me, "Speak for us. We want to share our gifts."
Wild carrot said, "We know your fears, including your fear that we will be raped (taken without respect and gratitude), mutilated (subjected to countless laboratory experiments) and exploited (turned into a drug or "natural" product for mass consumption in the global marketplace) for our gifts. We know your worst fear, that we might be harvested into oblivion, into extinction, as Sylphium was so many centuries ago4. Your fears have held you back from sharing what we have to offer. Please don't hold back any longer. We are here to help. We want to help." How could I refuse to honor and give voice to such fearless generosity? Daucus carota is a great gift to women and the men who love them.
As numerous forms and dosages of Daucus carota/ wild carrot are detailed in this article, I am summarizing them here for easier reference. Please be sure to carefully read the summary and January 2007 update to understand the contra-indications for usage in case they may apply to you, especially regarding hormonal changes.
Please note that wild carrot may be less effective if taken daily. It appears to be at its most reliable used simply as a "morning-after" herb, taken 8-24 hours after intercourse, up to 3 times within a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 72 hours. All methods of usage are limited to 1-3 times after sexual intercourse.
Tincture: 1-2 droppers full (25-60 drops) are taken alone (or mixed with Dc seed tincture) in hot or cold water, or added into wild carrot seed tea. The author uses this form, but notes that it has less scientific or herbal research behind it than any of the other methods.
Tea: 3-6 whole flower heads are brewed for tea by pouring 8 oz. boiling water over the herbs and steeping them, covered for 15-30 minutes (up to one hour). Drink one cup (fresh flowers can be eaten, but no reliable information is available about their effectiveness as a contraceptive used this way.)
Tea: 2-3 flower heads are steeped, covered, in 8 oz. boiling water for 15-30 minutes (up to one hour). Drink one cup
Tincture: 1/2 -2 droppers full (13-60 drops) are taken in water, alone or mixed with Dc flower tincture. The tincture can also be added into a cup of wild carrot flower tea. OR: 7 drops are used 3x daily, taken in water for 3 days following sexual intercourse, with the optional addition of using them this way for the first day or two of menstruation.
One teaspoon of seeds is freshly ground* just before use and stirred into a glass of cold water. Drink one glass, 8-12 hours after intercourse, or at least within 24 hours. (Dried or fresh seeds can be chewed, 1 teaspoon per dosage, but are more likely to cause vaginal dryness this way. This method has the longest historical record).
Tea: One tablespoon of seeds is lightly ground in a mortar and pestle just before use and brewed for tea by pouring boiling water over the seeds and steeping them, covered, for 15-30 minutes.
* Note: it is suggested that no more than 3 days (one tablespoon) of seeds are ground at one time and that they be stored in an airtight, glass container.
UPDATE JANUARY 2007
I gather wild carrot seeds when they have turned from green to brown and are seed-like in texture — a little crunchy as contrasted with soft, mushy, and/or not fully formed yet. I gently bruise them, fill a jar with them, then cover with 100 proof vodka, letting the tincture steep for a minimum of 6 weeks. You can shake the tincture if you like. I love the flowers too, and find them gentler, tastier, and also effective. I gather flowers with the red center in late morning when they are in full bloom, gently bruise them, and follow the same procedure described for the seeds. I am most confident mixing them together with the seeds, though there is a long history in Appalachia of using just the flowers as tea, once after sexual intercourse. Whether you make your own or buy it, THE TINCTURE YOU USE SHOULD SMELL STRONGLY OF CARROT. I currently make mine the simpler’s method with 100 proof vodka.
The definite CONTRAINDICATIONS for using this plant for this purpose is during or closely following a period of intense hormonal shifts, such as after: coming off the pill or other HRT, having an abortion, pregnancy, or miscarriage.
Regarding use during breast feeding, I’m simply not sure. If the cycle hasn’t returned regularly, don’t do it. If it has, I think I might, it depends on the woman and I’d say to proceed with caution. Finally, digestive flora needs to be healthy...be careful after using antibiotics, for example.
Again, what needs to be withdrawn is the herb! I do think that the seeds and flowers are safest, and most effective, used LESS FREQUENTLY (because I do think it is likely a hormonal action/reaction that makes them prevent implantation). If it is hormonal, causing a temporary shift in the progesterone/estrogen balance in the womb, then it’s possibly like temporarily upping the progesterone, and then taking it away, causing the uterine lining to be unsuitable for the implantation of a fertilized egg. What I do, and what I suggest now, is that the seeds and/or flowers be used 1-3x after intercourse. I usually do a dosage of tincture (1/2-1 dropperful each, seeds and flowers) 3x, once every 8-12 hours after intercourse, though using them 3x within 72 hours (ie once every 24 hours for 3 days) has been effective too. I feel most confident when I or the woman using them takes that first dosage within 12 hours. I haven’t ever seen any problems with fertility after stopping the use of wild carrot. Many women have had healthy babies following years of wild carrot seed use. Recently a former apprentice of mine, now an herbalist and homeopath herself, informed me that she has had about 50 women using wild carrot as their sole means of contraception for the past 3 years. She has them use the tinctures in the way described here and there have been no unwanted pregnancies as a result.
I have seen pregnancies result even when someone was using wild carrot, but then again, I’ve seen pregnancies result when a couple was relying on condoms, the pill, an IUD, fertility awareness, and most recently, in a couple where the woman had had her tubes tied!!! So, nothing’s a guarantee except (I think) total abstention.
I never try to convince anyone about wild carrot for implantation prevention, I see it as a gift, a treasure to share for anyone who wants to receive it. I want all babies to be loved and welcome and for women not to need to get abortions and for all of us to learn how to be in such deeply intimate relationship with our fertility (and each other) that every child is consciously called in, and otherwise, we are re-directing our fertility energy elsewhere...into our creative projects, into the universe as LOVE, into our relationship with our beloved, the possibilities are as endless as our imaginations.
Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)
The carrots that we buy each week
at the grocery store
Were often gathered from the wild
by those who came before
Her root was slightly different then,
white, and tough, and slender.
Botanists later got the plant
to grow orange and tender.
But wild or tame, her smell and taste
remained about the same.
She just got easier to chew
when proper she became.
The carrot’s a biennial;
she blooms the second year.
Her root gets much too tough to eat,
once the flower appears.
And when it does appear
we see a most familiar face.
Are you surprised to learn wild carrot’s
really Queen Anne’s Lace?
By Gretchen Gould
Sources of Daucus carota:
The following sources may be happy to start providing Daucus carota flowers, upon request:
Healing Spirits (607) 566-2701 (seeds)
Cedar Spring Herb Farm (508) 430-4372 (seeds)
Ryan Drum PO Box 25, Waldron, WA 98297 (seeds)
Sunstone Herb Farm (845) 657-6059 www.sunstoneherbs.com (seeds and tincture)
Bear Wallow Herbs (530) 462-4784 www.BearWallowHerbs.com
Avena Botanicals 1-866-282-8362 www.avenabotanicals.com
Penny's General Store (212) 614-0716 (By Appointment Only).
Flower Power: (212) 982-6664 (seeds).
Fertility Awareness Teachers and Classes:
Ilene Richman www.fertaware.com (212)475-4490
Katie Singer www.fertilityawareness.net (505) 820-0773
Source of Fertility Lens:
The Ovu-Tec Fertility Detector can be found at http://www.ovu-tec.com/
Herbalists who teach about Daucus carota:
Susun Weed www.susunweed.com (845)246-8081
Lise Wolff (612) 823-8246
Donna Eaton (508) 430-4372
Phyllis Light (256) 586-8654
Ryan Drum PO Box 25, Waldron, WA 98297
1. John Riddle, Eve's Herbs, Harvard University Press, 1997.
2. Norman Farnsworth, (with Bingel, Cordell, Crane, Fong) Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 1975.
3. Kaliwal BB, Ahamed RN, Indian Journal of Physical and Natural Sciences, 1987, and Kaliwal BB and Ahamed RN,
and Rao MA, Comparative Physiology and Ecology 9:70-74, 1984.
4. John Riddle, Contraception and Abortion, 1992.
Eve's Herbs: A history of Contraception and Abortion in the West, John Riddle, Harvard University Press, 1997.
Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance, John Riddle, Harvard University Press, 1992.
Peterson Field Guides to Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, Steven Foster/James Duke, Houghton Mifflin, 1990.
Herbal Abortion. Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, Uni Tiamat, Sage Femme, 1994.
American Medicinal Plants, Charles Millspaugh, Dover Publications, 1974.
The Energetics of Western Herbs, Volume II, Peter Holmes, Snow Lotus Press, 1989.
Natural Birth Control: A Guide to Contraception through Fertility Awareness, Katia and Jonathon Drake, Thorsons Publishers, 1984.
Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Susun Weed, Ash Tree Publishing, 1985
Henriette's Herbal Homepage www.ibiblio.org/herbmed
Farnsworth NA, Bingel S, Cordell GA, Crane FA, and Fong HHS (1975). Potential value of plants as a source of new anti-fertility agents. Part 1. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 64 (April}: 554.
Kaliwal BB and Ahamed RN (1987). Maintenance of implantation by progesterone in carrot seed (Daucus carota) extract treated albino rats. Indian Journal of Physical and Natural Sciences Section A7: 10-14.
Kaliwal BB and Ahamed RN, and Rao MA (1984). Abortifacient effect of carrot seed (Daucus carota) extract and its reversal by progesterone in albino rats. Comparative Physiology and Ecology 9:70-74.
Kant A and Lohiya NK (1986). The estrogenic efficacy of carrot (Daucus carota) seeds. Journal of Advanced Zoology 7:36-41
Kong YC, Xie JX, and But PPH (1986). Fertility regulating agents from traditional Chinese medicines.Journal of Ethnopharmacology 15: 18-19.
Lal R, Gandhi M, Anakaranarayanan A, Mathur VS, and Pharma PL (1986). Anti-fertility effect of Daucus carota seeds in female albino rats. Fitoterapia 57: 243-246.
Lal R, Sankaranarayanan A, and Mathur VS (1984). Anti-fertility and uterine activity of Daucus carota. A preliminary report. Bulletin of Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research Chandigarh 18: 28-31.
Sharma MM, Lei G, and Jacob D (1976). Estrogenic and pregnancy interceptory effects of carrot (Daucus carota) seeds. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 14: 506-508.
© Robin Rose Bennett, Wisewoman Healing Ways, 2007. First published in the NEHA journal in a slightly different version, Autumn 2002.