Frisky? Herbs for Fertitlity
an article by Susun S. Weed
thousands of years knowledge of the herbs and wild
plants that could increase fertility were the secrets
of the village wise women. But after the holocaust
against European Wise Women (the "burning times")
and the virtual extermination of Native American
medicine women, this knowledge virtually disappeared.
In fact, many people erroneously believe that "primitive
people" had no means of controlling the likelihood
of pregnancy. Nothing could be further from the
Many common plants can be used to influence fertility,
including red clover, partridge berry, liferoot,
wild carrot, and wild yam. Some of these grow wild,
others are easy to cultivate, and, with the exception
of wild carrot, all are also readily available at
health food stores.
One of the most cherished of the fertility-increasing
plants is red clover (Trifolium pratense). Common
in fields and along roadsides, it has bright pink
(not really red) blossoms from mid-summer into the
chilly days of fall. A favorite flower of the honeybees,
the tops (blossoms and appending leaves) are harvested
on bright sunny days and eaten as is, or dried for
medicinal use. The raw blossoms are delicious in
salads and nutritious when cooked with grains such
as rice or millet.
To make a fertility-enhancing infusion, I take one
ounce by weight of the dried blossoms (fresh won't
work for this application) and put them in a quart
size canning jar. I fill the jar with boiling water,
screw on a tight lid, and let it steep at room temperature
overnight (or for at least four hours). Dozens of
women have told me that they had successful pregnancies
after drinking a cup or more (up to four cups) a
day of red clover infusion.
It is especially helpful if there is scarring of
the fallopian tubes, irregular menses, abnormal
cells in the reproductive tract, or "unexplained"
infertility. It may take several months for the
full effect of this herb to come on and pregnancy
may not occur until you have used it for a year
or two. You can improve the taste by including some
dried peppermint (a spoonful or two) along with
the dried clover blossoms when making your infusion.
Treat the father of the child-to-be to some red
clover infusion too!
That little evergreen creeper that carpets some
parts of the woods around your house is partridge
berry (Mitchella repens), also known as squaw weed,
supposedly because of its ability to enhance fertility.
(My teacher Twylah Nitsch, grandmother of the Seneca
Wolf clan, says that "squaw" is a slang term meaning
"schmuck" or, in the proper term, "penis," and therefore
should not be used in denoting a plant meant to
be used by women.) Keep an eye out this spring and
see if you can catch Mitchella blooming. Then you'll
see why she's sometimes called "twin flower."
Interestingly, when the paired flowers fall off,
they leave behind but one berry to ripen. (The shiny
red berries you've noticed in the forest winter
or spring. Yes, they are safe to eat, but leave
some for the partridges.) The symbolism of two flowers
forming one berry is certainly a suitable icon for
fertility. I make a medicinal vinegar by filling
a small jar with the fresh leaves, adding apple
cider vinegar until the jar is full again. A piece
of waxed paper held in place with a rubber band
and a label (including date) completes the preparation,
which must sit at room temperature for six weeks
before use. I enjoy up to a tablespoonful of the
vinegar on my salads or in my beans.
By mid- to late-May, the yellow blossoms of liferoot
(Senecio aureus) enliven my swamp (in upstate New
York) and the neighboring roads where there is adequate
water and rich soil. A powerful medicine resides
in all parts of this lovely wildflower. As the root
has a dangerous reputation, I restrict myself to
using only the flowers and leaves, which I harvest
in bloom, and quickly tincture. (For instructions
for making your own tinctures, please see any of
my books.) Small doses of this tincture (3-8 drops
a day), taken at least 14 days out of the month,
will regulate hormone production, increase libido,
normalize the menses, relieve menstrual pain, and
improve fertility. The closely related Senecia jacobea
and Senecio vulgaris can also be used.
Wild carrot (Daucus carota), better known as Queen
Anne's lace, is such a common roadside plant that
most people are amazed to learn that it is a proven
anti-fertility herb. In addition to being the wild
cousin of carrot, it is related to parsley, dill,
caraway, anise, celery, cumin, and a (now extinct)
plant whose seeds were the birth-control of choice
for many a classical Greek or Roman woman.
The aromatic seeds of wild carrot are collected
in the fall and eaten (a heaping teaspoonful a day)
to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.
In one small study the effectiveness rate after
thirteen months of use was 99%. As modern scientific
medicine reports that one-third of all fertilized
eggs are passed out of the body without implanting
in the uterus, this method of birth control seems
in complete agreement with nature.
Of the hundreds of women currently using this anti-fertility
agent, I have heard virtually no reports of any
side-effects. Note that many books caution you to
beware the danger of confusing poison hemlock and
wild carrot. Poison hemlock is rather scarce in
our area, and, at any rate, does not smell or taste
of carrot (as does Queen Anne's lace), so I believe
this warning to be a red herring. In addition, wild
carrot leaves have small hairs on them, while the
leaves of poison hemlock are smooth.
Another anti-fertility herb that has been tested
by small groups of modern women is wild yam (Dioscorea
villosa). Since birth-control pills were originally
made from this plant, it is not at all surprising
that it has the effect of blocking conception when
taken daily in rather large doses: either a cup
of tea or two capsules taken three times a day.
Does it have detrimental effects? Current studies
are too small to show any, but there is a possibility
that there could be. Interestingly enough, if wild
yam is taken in small doses (a cup of tea or 10-20
drops of the tincture daily from onset of menses
until mid-period) it increases fertility! In either
case, the effect seems to be triggered by the large
amount of hormone-like substances found in this
root. When taken daily, these substances may be
converted into progesterone, thus decreasing the
possibility of conception. When taken for the two
weeks preceding ovulation, these substances may
be converted into LH and FSH, hormones that are
needed to make the egg ready to be fertilized.
Other common weeds and garden plants of our area
that have been used to increase or decrease fertility
include stinging nettle, oatstraw, pennyroyal, Jack-in-the-pulpit,
rue, and parsley.
The earth is full of wonders, and green magic abounds.
As more and more women remember that they are wise
women, more of the wonders and the magic will be
revealed. May your days be filled with many green
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Susun Weed at: www.susunweed.com and www.ashtreepublishing.com
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and involved, Susun Weed has garnered an international
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