The population in India is growing rapidly. Everyday about 41 children per thousand are born in our country. The statistics show that at this rate there will be about 17,000 babies per day! The above statistics are enough to prove that the present methods of contraception in use have failed in many aspects and there is the need for a new approach to the problem.
Except for pills, intra-uterine devices and surgery, the failure rate of various other contraceptive methods is high. To add to the problem, the methods with lowest rate of failure are the ones with the highest side effects. For example, intra-uterine contraceptive devices like the copper-T can cause vaso-vagal attacks and uterine cramps, spotting, excessive menstrual flow and painful menstruation. Other complications include inflammation of the pelvic parts, implantation outside the uterine cavity (ectopic pregnancy), menorrhagia and dysmenorrhoea.
Oral pills have side-effects that may range from headache, migraine, depression, irritability, increased weight and weakness to much more serious conditions including the formation of blood clots that can threaten circulation in the heart, brain and lungs which may lead to heart attack or stroke or pulmonary embolism. In some cases, intermenstrual bleeding, scanty menstruation, vaginal infections, suppressed milk production in lactating mothers, nausea, vomiting, and loss of libido is also seen. Liver and gall bladder dysfunction, impaired carbohydrate metabolism can also occur, hence they are contraindicated in diabetic women.
Surgical sterilisation in males can sometimes result in formation of haematoma, spontaneous recanalisation, spermatocele or auto immunity through formation of anti-spermal antibodies.
Keeping these disadvantages in view, there is great demand for low cost, user-friendly, reliable, and side-effect-free approach for family planning. Therefore, research on Ayurvedic herbs is on. Even the Government of India has recognised the role of indigenous systems of medicine in population control. The Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha, New Delhi and the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow are undertaking lot of research on indigenous contraceptive methods.
An incantation in the Rig Veda says: “A man with many children succumbs to miseries.” This is perhaps the oldest statement with a suggestion against a large family. Several natural oral pills, suppositories, and mechanical devices are described in Ayurvedic works. Some local and oral contraceptives described in the ancient classics and treatises like Yoga Ratnaakara, Brihat-yoga-tarangini, Tantra-saara-sangraha, Brihannighantu-ratnaakara, Rasa-ratna-samuchchaya, etc. are listed below. Some claims have been tested scientifically and some are yet to be tested.
Guidelines & Ayurvedic Remedies
|The seed of shireesha (Albizzia lebbeck) is a potent spermicide. It immobilises the human sperm in one minute. The anti-ovulatory and anti-fertility effect of this drug was published in the journal Ethnopharmacology in 1982. Females can use it as local application|
|In case of females, Neem oil (Azadirachta indica) when applied locally, acts as vaginal contraceptive. One ml of the oil when applied by a special applicator makes the sperms immobile within 30 seconds. The Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, New Delhi has conducted a study and re-established the anti-ovulatory and anti-implantation effects of neem oil.|
|Pippali (Piper longum), Vidanga (Embelia ribes) and Tankana (borax), made into a powder in equal quantities and taken with milk during the fertile phase, is an effective contraceptive. Shah and Rawal (Ahmedabad) have tried this formula as a contraceptive agent, reporting only two failures amongst 458 users. One capsule (500 mg) contains Pippali and Tankan in equal proportions. The dose is two capsules daily throughout the month irrespective of menstruation. It is claimed that there is no adverse effect on lactation or any other side effects. The reversibility of fertility is stated to be immediate after withdrawal of medication.|
|The root of Apaamaarga (Achyranthes aspera) made into powder and if taken daily for seven days from the fourth day of menses, and abstinence from sex till the next menses, results in permanent sterility. This was also confirmed in an experimental study.|
|The root of Chitrakam (Plumbago zeylanica) is to be boiled with rice gruel and after filtration, the decoction is to be taken consecutively for three days after the menstrual period. The Journal of Research in Plant Medicine (1981) confirms the effectiveness of this regimen.|
|Flowers of Japa (Hibiscus rosasinensis), if taken immediately after the delivery of a child, is said to prevent future conception and if at all there is conception, there will be an abortion. The anti-implantation activity of this was tested scientifically.|
|A commonly used recipe for contraception is the white variety of Gunja (Abrus precatorius). The entire seeds of the cotyledons after removing the epicarp are to be soaked in water for one night. Administration of the potion on the fourth, fifth and sixth day of menstruation is stated to prevent conception for three years. Interesting scientific studies were conducted on this regimen. The journal Ethnopharmacology talks about the absolute infertility effect of the drug and reversibility on withdrawal of the drug.|
|Administration of the pulp of one or two castor seeds during the menstrual period is stated to prevent fertilisation. According to the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, castor oil produces pelvic congestion as a result of intestinal irritation which can induce abortion.|
|The herb Arka (Calotropis gigantea) inhibits spermatogenesis and acts as oral contraceptives for males. Calotropin, a novel compound, is responsible for its fertility control. The April 1990 edition of ‘Ancient Science of Life’ published these striking results.|
There are also many herbs like Kadamba (Anthocephalus indicus), Sarshapa (Brassica compestris) Palaasa (Butea monosperma) Tanduleeyaka (Amaranthus spinosus), Patha (Cissampelos pareira), Shalmali (Salmalia malabarica), Maricha (Piper nigrum), Taala (Borassus flaberlifer), Agnimantha (Clerodendrum phlomidis), Taleesa (Abies webbiana), Champaka (Michelia champaca), Haridra (Curcuma longa), etc., which have been mentioned in the ancient texts and have to be scientifically tested to prove their efficacy.
As we all are genetically different with different constitutions and patterns, we respond to treatments in many different ways. Hence Standard Ayurvedic Treatments are always individually formulated. This article is intended only for information. It is not a substitute to the standard medical diagnosis, personalized Ayurvedic treatment or qualified Ayurvedic physician. For specific treatment, always consult with a qualified Ayurvedic physician.
~ Dr. Ch. Murali Manohar, M.D. (Ayurveda), Ameerpet, Hyderabad