The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), in cooperation with the Expert Advisory Committee of the AHPA Botanical Safety Handbook, issued the following statement today:
Abortifacients are agents used to induce abortion and terminate pregnancy. Use of herbal abortifacients is not recommended as a method of intentional pregnancy termination.
There is a long history of use of select botanicals as abortifacients. Research, however, on the use of botanicals to induce abortion is extremely limited, and available information comes from historical or empirical reports. Little reliable data exist on the effectiveness, toxicity, or possible effects of these plants on the developing embryo or fetus and the pregnant woman.
When attempting to utilize botanicals for the purpose of abortion, the dose of most of the herbs used historically to induce an abortion generally exceeds doses that are considered safe for other purposes, and may pose toxicity risks to the pregnant woman, or may have negative effects on the developing embryo or fetus if unsuccessful. The amount of an abortifacient herb required to terminate a pregnancy is likely enough to pose significant risk to the pregnant woman’s health, including potential kidney and liver damage, and may not result in a successful abortion. Because of the potential risks to the pregnant woman and the developing embryo or fetus, this method is not recommended. Should an attempted herbal abortion be ineffective, follow-up medical care, including medical abortion, would need to be discussed with a qualified health care provider.
For more information about specific case reports and botanicals historically used as abortifacients, see the Botanical Safety Handbook cited section.