Abortion plants are dangerous and ineffective as a method of abortion

CLAIM

Plants such as pennyroyal, blue and black cohosh, or mugwort are an effective alternative method of abortion

DETAILS

Inadequate support: There is no scientific evidence to support claims that so-called abortifacient plants such as pennyroyal, mugwort, rue and black cohosh are safe and effective in inducing abortion. Abortion, if it occurs, is a side effect of the disease produced by the consumption of these poisonous plants. If severe enough, such a disease can even lead to death.

KEY TO GO

In light of the Roe v. Wade reversal, safe abortion procedures, such as medical abortion using mifepristone and misoprostol, are likely to become extremely difficult to access for many women in the United States. Thus, many social media outlets have turned to promoting the use of abortifacient plants, such as pennyroyal, blue and black cohosh, rue, mugwort and parsley. However, many of these plants are extremely poisonous and can even cause death. There is also a lack of scientific evidence demonstrating their effectiveness in inducing abortion.

COMPLETE CLAIM: Plants such as pennyroyal, blue and black cohosh or mugwort are an alternative method of abortion

EXAM

On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court of Justice overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, ending constitutional protection for the right to abortion and allowing each state to set its own laws governing abortions .

While more than 10 states have abortion “trigger” laws that immediately enacted near-complete or complete abortion bans after Roe’s overthrow, and more states will enact such laws in the future. , many users took to social media, discussing alternative , home abortion methods. A few examples are these Instagram posts that have gone viral listing various herbs and claiming they can cause abortions in the form of herbal teas or ointments.

These messages generally warned users that these herbs “should be avoided during pregnancy” as they may cause pregnancy loss. However, the timing of these posts – shortly after Roe’s overthrow – and some of the language could suggest that these posts covertly promote these plants as a possible alternative to abortion, likely because the herbs are less likely to be as regulated as abortion procedures and therefore easier to obtain. The hints are subtle. For example, the caption for one of the posts concluded “Keep learning about these herbs and other herbs you may have access to that cause these situations. I mean, how are we going to avoid accidental miscarriages? You’re smart enough to do that too.” Another said “do what you want with this information”.

Whatever the motivation for these posts, it is essential that users know that the information contained in these posts is likely to cause harm, as they are not safe and effective methods of abortion. Many of these plants are highly toxic; moreover, their effectiveness in inducing abortions is not supported by scientific evidence.

The posts listed several herbs believed to terminate pregnancy, such as pennyroyal, black and blue cohosh, mugwort, rue, Queen Anne’s lace and parsley. Medical experts, toxicologists and obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYN), have warned that infusions of these herbs are not a proven method of terminating a pregnancy.

First, there is little or no solid data showing that the consumption of these plants effectively induces abortion. Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN, pointed out that “there is no evidence [pennyroyal] is in fact an effective abortifacient”. Efficacy data is also lacking for other herbs such as mugwort, rue and black cohosh, she added.

Ryan Marino, a medical toxicologist at Case Western Reserve University, also told The Associated Press that “there is no herbal remedy, period, that is safe and effective in inducing abortion or preventing pregnancy. “.

If a woman miscarries after consuming some of these herbs, it is usually because the toxicity of the herbs causes serious illness. Gunter explained that “either the fetus or the placenta are affected and fetal death occurs, eventually either inducing labor or an infection which hopefully induces labor. Or the pregnant person becomes so ill, [for example with] liver failure, that abortion occurs, either due to the death of the fetus due to lack of oxygen, or perhaps because the blood loses its ability to clot and bleeding begins behind the placenta”.

In other words, these plants can terminate a pregnancy, but this is a side effect of toxicity, and obtaining such a result also requires a high risk of complications and death. Marin explained: “[C]ertainly if a pregnant person poisons herself to the point of serious organ failure, there is a good chance that she will lose her pregnancy”.

Indeed, social media posts claiming these plants can cause abortion have gone viral, setting off alarm bells among medical professionals, who are warning that most of them are likely to cause serious problems. health. One of the plants often mentioned in these articles is pennyroyal (Pulegium mint). Marino and Josh Trebach, another medical toxicologist, explained on Twitter that it contains a substance called pulegone that causes liver and kidney damage. “There is no safe amount of pennyroyal that humans can consume,” Marino added.

Artemisia (Artemisia vulgaris) is also commonly cited as an abortive plant. Although mugwort has been used in traditional medicine, it contains a neurotoxic substance called thujone, which is also found in wormwood.[1]. While thujone can be tolerated in low doses, home preparations like mugwort tea contain an uncontrolled amount of thujone, unlike pharmaceutical preparations where doses are carefully controlled. A high enough dose of thujone can cause hard-to-treat seizures, according to Marino.

Trebach also warned that blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) causes vomiting, convulsions, coma and even death.

The herb street (Ruta graveolens) causes equally severe symptoms, such as vomiting, hemorrhaging and multiple organ failure, according to Gunter.

Taken together, this demonstrates that so-called abortive teas are neither safe nor effective in inducing abortion. When a miscarriage occurs, it is mainly the consequence of a serious illness caused by the toxicity of plants. Those who resort to using these plants to induce an abortion can be very successful, while running the risk of complications and possibly even death in the process.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved mifepristone and misoprostol for the safe, nonsurgical termination of early pregnancy (70 days or less from the first day of the last menstrual period). However, Roe’s reversal risks making access to medical abortion extremely difficult for many women. Speaking to Bloomberg, Trebach said those who have difficulty getting medical care can seek help through their health care provider or approved organizations.

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