14 November 2010

Forbidden flower

My grandmother once commented that if she had known how to stop having babies she would have. She also said that if she would have had access to divorce she would have done that too. Perhaps she wouldn't have felt need of the latter if she had figured out the former. My grandmother bore twelve children in her life - no doubt there would have been more had she not waited until her late twenties to marry. The fact that my grandmother, an extremely conservative religious woman, would have uttered such things out loud speaks to the incredible hardship faced by women with no control over their fertility. God may provide, but he certainly doesn't do dishes or change diapers.

This summer, a herbalist gave me the knowledge that my grandmother could have used back in the forties and fifties, without latex or silicone or pills or thermometers or surgeries or prescriptions or even the knowledge of her husband. Women in ancient Greece and Rome had this knowledge. No doubt women in Europe also had this knowledge before the witch hunts.

Before I share this with you, dear reader, please let me stress that I am not a herbalist or medical professional and I have no personal experience with this method of birth control (I discovered it too late). If you are interested, please read Robin Rose Bennett's article all the way through (a couple of times) before deciding if you are comfortable with trying it. She is the herbalist who is the acknowledged expert on this method. Most articles online on the subject have just cut and paste from Robin Rose Bennett, but you really must read the original. A word of caution: herbalists sometimes do strange things like write in the voice of the plant they are discussing. Don't let that stop you from reading the whole thing.

And the secret is: Daucus carota, otherwise known as Queen Anne's Lace or Wild Carrot, the common white umbrella shaped flower seen in fields and vacant lots everywhere in late summer. The flowers and seeds are gathered and used fresh or dried to make teas or tinctures. These are consumed within 8 - 12 hours after sex and then twice more at 12 -24 hour intervals. I will leave the details of preparing and using the teas or tinctures to Robin Rose Bennett to explain, but it really is as simple as that. 

I don't know why a method of birth control which is reportedly safe, effective, convenient and inexpensive would not be as widely known as how to brush your teeth. I suppose it's a combination of the lack of profit potential for corporations, a patriarchal medical system, misogynist religion, and a general disconnection from the natural world but I would rather corporations, the medical system and religion just stayed out of my womb.


  1. This is lovely. I know that women can go through a lot of unpleasantness while on the contraceptive pill.

    A problem, it seems to me, is a lack of convenience. You have to drink the tea three times after sex. If you have sex once a day, you'd be constantly drinking the stuff! In fact, after Tuesday's shag, you may not even have finished the course of birth control for Monday's shag.

    Doesn't protect against STIs either, so you'd still have to use condoms.

    This is definitely worth knowing about though. Another example of the wonders of nature being freely available and far gentler than their chemical counterparts. Will pass it on.

  2. As far as convenience goes, a tincture, which can be prepared in advance or purchased (from a herbalist), and has a dose of only a few drops, really couldn't be more convenient in my mind.

    I agree about the safe sex, but that's a whole different issue.

    I believe that the mechanism by which this works is essentially hormonal, so perhaps not as different from the pill as it might seem. I haven't read of any side effects, though, so that's different.

    Glad to hear your main concern is how to manage daily shagging!

  3. It's not such a bad life!

    But seriously, I have mentioned this plant to people. It sounds like a great idea.



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