Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Queen Anne's Lace: A Conscious Choice For Birth Control

I am presenting this article about Queen Anne’s Lace (QAL) because I feel strongly compelled to share this information… that and the fact that the Queen won’t let me rest until I do. Please understand that the information in this article is for educational purposes only and that I am not personally advocating the uses of Daucus carota described herein. I do however believe that we each have a right to make our own personal choices when it comes to our health and that with that right comes taking complete responsibility for our choices. That being said, I’d like to introduce you to one of the most personally empowering herbs known to women: Queen Anne’s Lace.

©Lisl Meredith 2007
Queen Anne’s Lace, otherwise known as Bird’s Nest Herb or Wild Carrot is a familiar sight on roadsides during the summer. With hairy stalks reaching up to four feet in height, Wild Carrot has feathery thrice composite leaves and a strong carroty fragrance when bruised. Its delicate white flower head can be up to 5-6 inches in diameter and often has a sterile scarlet flower in the center of these lacy blooms.

Science hasn’t been able to determine the purpose of this crimson flower, but Herbalists that are familiar with the Wise Woman Ways recognize this signature as a message from the plant spirit. Legend tells that Queen Anne, in a contest with her ladies to determine who made the most delicate and exquisite lace, accidentally pricked her finger and a drop of blood fell upon the lace. Herbalists also see the maroon embellishment as a spot of blood representing the herb’s ability to bring on a menstrual period.
©Lisl Meredith 2007
Caution must be used to distinguish Wild Carrot from her close cousins, the deadly Water Hemlock and of course, the herb that brought death upon Socrates, Poison Hemlock. Both Hemlocks bear a smooth stalk, usually spotted with purple blotches, and the odor of Poison Hemlock is musty and unpleasant while Water Hemlock can smell like parsnips. Both are lethal, so never gather unfamiliar herbs without the supervision of an experienced guide.

Daucus carota is a member of the carrot family and the ancestor of today’s kitchen staple. The Wild Carrot underwent a transformation when certain traits were selectively grown until the tender orange root vegetable we have come to know no longer bore much resemblance to the fibrous white root once used by our ancestors as a medicine and a food. Native to Europe, she immigrated to the US with early settlers, her seeds most likely stowing away within sacks of grain. Now widespread throughout North America, some states have declared Queen Anne’s Lace a noxious weed, a judgment that perhaps seems a bit harsh once we understand her gifts.

In Herbology, she is a good choice for colic, upset stomach, flatulence and gout. Her root’s diuretic effects on the kidneys help with the treatment and prevention of stones and gravel as well as many instances of edema. A number of studies are even suggesting that infusions of the flower head show some promise in the treatment of diabetes. Other studies are being conducted to ascertain Wild Carrot’s effects on Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as for the treatment of asthma, leukemia, migraines, HIV, and even the common cold.

For lowering cholesterol, some doctors recommend consuming 2 raw (modern) carrots daily because of the naturally high pectin content, and everyone knows that the Vitamin A in carrots is excellent for the eyes. A poultice of grated carrot (domestic or wild) can help itchy dermatitis, and carrot seed oil is excellent for the skin as well. Many luxurious facial serums and creams contain carrot seed oil for its ability to reduce blemishes and smooth wrinkles.

Some people have mild negative reactions to this oil due to the presence of furocoumarins which can cause photosensitivity, but these are mainly found in the leaves and rarely present a problem unless you are out walking in a field of Queen Anne’s Lace on a hot humid day and have been rubbing against them for a while. I find myself doing just that fairly frequently, but even my sensitive skin has never shown any ill effects. In fact, as part of my facial regimen, I use the steam distilled essence of carrot seed on a regular basis and have found the results to be most outstanding.

Daucus carota also contains falcarinol, a chemical that is showing promise as an anti-cancer agent. Falcarinol is also a natural pesticide and fungicide which helps to explain why the medicinal uses of Wild Carrot include the treatment of worms and parasites. The toxicity of all carrots, domestic and wild, is very low and the treatment of parasites requires a very strong decoction of the root and seeds to make an impact on the vermin. To get a lethal dose of carrot for a human, you would need to eat over 800 lbs. at once, and I don’t think anything could help your belly ache if you attempted to put away that much carrot.

However, there are plenty of other herbs that perform these functions as well as, if not better than Wild Carrot; there are copious carminatives and colic cures, an abundance of anti-cancer agents, a variety of vermifuges and diverse diuretics. What sets Daucus carota apart from other herbs is her successful use as a contraceptive.
©Lisl Meredith 2007
Nero was purportedly given the last root of Silphion, a Roman spice and contraceptive herb that was so popular and effective it was harvested to extinction sometime before the fourth century C.E. (Current Era). Wild Carrot is its closest living relative and bears the same contraceptive qualities as her ancestor. Hippocrates described the herb as being abortive and contraceptive over two thousand years ago. Since that time, the issue of contraception has become a delicate issue, with personal freedoms and valuable information being withheld from the common people by religious institutions and governments.

During World War I, American troops were widely exposed to venereal disease; because of certain Victorian attitudes by those in power, the soldiers were not permitted to obtain protection. Allied governments however supplied prophylactics to their military who subsequently shared them with the American troops. When the soldiers returned home, condoms became quietly popular for their secondary benefit: to prevent unwanted pregnancies. By 1918, condoms became legal, but specifically for preventing disease, not pregnancy. In 1936, the so-called Comstock Law banning the use of contraceptives was declared unconstitutional and finally repealed. By the 1960’s, the rise in pharmaceutical technology led to the creation of “The Pill” and knowledge of herbal contraceptives, secretly passed down through generations of herbalists and healers, was nearly lost to history.

Well known for her contemporary studies on the contraceptive use of Queen Anne’s Lace (QAL), Herbalist Robin Rose Bennett has been working directly with QAL since 1985 and completed her first “grass-roots” study in New York City in 1993. This first study showed potential and also served to refine the information she continued to gather about the proper method for using the herb. After her findings were published in the Northeast Herbal Association Journal, she began to receive anecdotal information from many people also wanting to share their experiences with QAL, the majority of their experiences being incredibly positive.

The conclusions of her findings indicate that using QAL as birth control can be amazingly reliable when taken in a specific way. A tea or tincture of the seeds is taken very soon after  intercourse, and the dosage is repeated twice more at approximately 8 hour intervals, then discontinued. Some herbalists prefer a more folksy description of the hormonal effects by saying that QAL makes the womb more slippery and prevents implantation, but language isn’t important. What is demonstrated time and again is that fertilization is hindered and implantation is impeded, hence, no pregnancy.

A delicate interplay of hormones takes place when a woman conceives; progesterone is produced to prepare the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg. Studies are showing that Queen Anne’s Lace blocks the production of progesterone and inhibits the development of the ovum. One Chinese study states, "Recent evidence suggests that terpenoids in the seed block crucial progesterone synthesis in pregnant animals." research done in other countries also show promise.

Historically the seeds were mainly used; in particular the method of chewing a teaspoonful of seeds after sex was popular, but rather unpleasant. In some traditions, particularly of note are from Appalachia, the flowers were used fresh or dried and drunk as tea. Bennett has found that a combination of seeds and flowers taken as a tincture or a tea is both pleasant and effective and mitigates the potential side effect of vaginal dryness when the seeds are chewed.

The key to this method appears to be the short duration and subsequent discontinuation of the herb that causes a dramatic shift in hormones. If a woman has just had significant hormonal shifts for other reasons, whether due to natural or artificial causes, the method can be unreliable and is not recommended. A recent pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage, or developing menopausal symptoms, as well as current or newly discontinued HRT treatment, birth control pills, or other hormonal prescription drugs are the most common factors that contribute to a lack of success with this method (it bears mentioning that cortisone is a hormonal drug). It seems that antibiotics can also have an undesirable effect on the results of this method, perhaps because they inhibit the balance of intestinal flora. Herbalist Susun Weed reminds us that hormonal precursors in plants require healthy digestion to be processed efficiently by the body.

Currently, Robin Rose Bennett is gathering participants for a national study. I recommend that anyone interested in learning more about it, check out her website, www.robinrosebennett.com and read her entire paper, Wild carrot (Daucus Carota): A Plant for Conscious, Natural Contraception. I too, plan to be a part of this historical exploration and have high hopes that a safe, natural alternative method of birth control can be shown to be effective for the women that prefer a choice.
EDIT: This post is from 2009, so although the study is long past, you can now read the impressive results, so do check her website.
©Lisl Meredith 2007
It is important that women tune into their own natural rhythms; a honed awareness of our internal cycles empowers us to maintain optimal health. The more conscious one becomes about the subtle signals that their bodies are sending, the more likely they are to have success when choosing to become a mother or to prevent a pregnancy. As Robin says so eloquently in her article, ‘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.’ Nothing but total abstinence or a chastity belt is reliable when it comes to a contraceptive guarantee, and even then…all things are possible.

Lisl Meredith Huebner, Dipl.CH (NCCAOM), RH (AHG) is a nationally board certified Chinese Herbalist, and a Registered Herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild. Lisl is also a certified Medicinal Aromatherapist, a level II Reiki practitioner, an Acupressurist, an Auriculotherapist, a photographer, a renowned diagnostician, a teacher and a published writer in private practice for over a decade. She is available by appointment. HerbaLisl.com
Please call 8 6 0 - 4 8 0 - 0 1 1 5 or email HerbaLisl@hotmail.com if you have any questions, would like to schedule an appointment, attend meditations, weed walks, or are interested in taking classes.


  1. Very interested to know the results from the new study. I'm pregnant right now after using QAL tincture for contraception.

  2. I would caution that wild carrot is not necessarily effective, so if you absolutely don't want to get pregnant, other means might be needed. I had a client, a Hassidic Jewish woman who kept strict records and control of her intercourse, who needed contraception because of hyperemesis throughout the pregnancy (a form the man must, by religious law. not be aware of.) She took HerbPharm's wild carrot tincture as Robin suggests, but got pregnant within a month. I wonder if chewing the seed as Jim McDonald suggests might be more effective.

    Karen Vaughan, RH, MSTOM

  3. Karen, that's very true... I myself am taking it, but being cautious about where I am in my cycle. I am also in a position to welcome a child if that's what Sophia wants for me... so I have a preference... but really nothing to lose. Robin contacted me recently to update the results of the study thus far, and there have been several pregnancies reported. Chewing the seeds may, in fact be more effective... perhaps the drying sensation is evidence of the stroger effect...
    I will post the results of the study when it's concluded, so if anyone reading this is NOT in a position to receive a child at this time, please use careful judgement.
    On the other hand, I know of several women who have used QAL successfully for years.

  4. Hi Herbalisl and Karen!! While I have experienced good luck with QAL tincture, I must admit I have a few other things I implement along with it (one of which is Tansy). I just blogged about it and hope Sean adds my link to his Blog Party hehe! Here is the short link for you!


    I love the pictures of Queen Anne's Lace, especially the seeds! :-) Thanks for this lovely post!

  5. Lisa, thanks for the link, I will post it to Facebook too.

  6. Nice post Lisl and yes - the images of this beautiful queen are lovely!

  7. If you took this everyday, are there any know long term side effects?

  8. anything taken daily is likely to create imbalance on some level... it is important to be very aware of your body, your state of balance and continue to monitor your health when doing any herbal protocol. Please also check my links for more in-depth study and analysis of QAL. Robin Rose Bennett is a leading expert on this herb. Aartiana (click her name in the comment thread) also has a very interesting blog post that incorporates other methods in an even more comprehensive herbal contraception protocol.
    Good Luck!

  9. Wonderful information and it is very useful. I like this blog very much. I working with tribal community and they enough knowledge about herbal medicine.

    One tribal youth said, there is one wild flower, if you take smell, then person will become unconscious for 4 to 5 hours

    they completely depend on local herbs for their life.

    even punica, carycca, seasam...are also using for contraceptives in India

    www.chemicalfreeagriculture@blogspot.com - is my blog

  10. I will visit your blog... it sounds great.

  11. correction: http://www.chemicalfreeagriculture.blogspot.com/
    good blog!

  12. Wonderful information and additionally it is very useful. I such as this blog truly. I dealing with tribal community and the couple sufficient knowledge about natural drugs.

  13. Very useful blog and a very informative post. I've been researching about good herbs for pregnancy to add to my list and i think I got some ideas here. Thanks for sharing!

    Jayshree xxxx

    1. Glad to be useful... PLEASE don't use Queen Anne's Lace during pregnancy though!!