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Contraceptive seeds used within Ayurveda, India, 1970-1981

The red and black seed ‘Abrus precatorius’ is commonly known by several names within the Ayurvedic medical tradition. These include ‘crab’s eye’ and ‘rosary peas’. The seed has several applications. It is an aphrodisiac, a contraceptive and stimulates an abortion. The plant grows wild in India. It is said to be highly potent. One dose reputedly gives contraceptive cover for over a year. The seeds can be boiled with water or milk. They are drunk to release their aphrodisiac qualities or eaten whole to provide contraceptive protection. Biomedical researchers have become interested in testing for the chemically active components of traditional remedies. These seeds were donated by the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham.

Object number:

1981-1583 Pt2



Glossary: contraception

The use of methods and techniques to prevent pregnancy from sex.

Glossary: Ayurveda

An Indian medical tradition. Literally translated it means ‘Life Science’ and promotes mental and physical health through balancing biological elements. Ayurveda focuses on exercise, massage, yoga and meditation.

Glossary: materia medica

A Latin medical term sometimes used to refer to medical substances.

Glossary: herbal medicine

the use of plant or plant extracts for medicinal purposes in order to improve the body's natural functions and restore balance. Herbal medicines are given in many forms (liquids, infusions, tablets, topical preparations, etc.) and form part of an increasing number of complementary medical therapies