Did you know there was an ancient herb that was so effective a contraceptive and morning after remedy that it became extinct?
Greek Silver Tetradrachm of Kyrene (Kyrenaika) c. 390-380
CC Flickr User Ancient Art
The article "Herbal Contraception in Ancient Times," by David W. Tschanz and recommended by "Academic Presentations on The Roman Empire," shows a coin with a picture of the contraceptive herb.
The herb is silphium. On the Libyan coast, the city of Cyrene grew popular growing this herb. The botanist Theophrastus wrote about the herb, while physicians, Soranus (a gynecologist) described the monthly birth control pill-like effect as well as its use the morning after, and Dioscorides recommended silphium, again, as both contraceptive and abortifacient. By the first century A.D., the elder Pliny tells us this plant that only grew in a small area was almost extinct. Its demise was complete by the next century.Sources:
- "Herbal Contraception in Ancient Times " [www.islam-online.net/English/Science/2003/08/article02.shtml no longer available online.] See instead:
- "The Silphium Motif Adorning Ancient Libyan Coinage: Marketing a Medicinal Plant"
Henry Koerper and A. L. Kolls
Vol. 53, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1999), pp. 133-143
- SILPHIUM: ANCIENT WONDER DRUG?, by John Tatman