Wild Carrot seed: an ancient anti-fertility agent


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Daucus carota  L, known commonly as wild carrot is a member of the Apiaceae and its seeds have a long history of being used as an anti-fertility agent. A literature review was conducted in attempt to evaluate the potential efficacy of wild carrot seeds as a contraceptive and to more clearly define the mechanisms for its reported action. PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Knowledge were amongst the databases searched.  Also examined were authoritative herbal and historical texts including Eclectic texts, Culpeper and Indian pharmacopoeias. Historical evidence attributed to Hippocrates describes wild carrot as an abortifacient, whilst Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder are amongst other historical figures that discuss the anti-fertility action of the seeds. Animal models have revealed anti-fertility activity of ethanolic and aqueous extract of wild carrot seed. The Extracts show anti-implantation and anti-steroidogenic activity which significantly affects the estrus cycle of mice and rats. Fatty acids present in carrot seeds have been shown to inhibit key enzymes involved in mouse ovary steroidogenesis in vivo. Contemporary anecdotal and ethnobotanical evidence indicates wild carrot seed is still used for contraception by some herbalists in the USA, and some tribal groups in India. This reflects the on-going traditional use of this plant as an anti-fertility agent and suggests possible effectiveness. The reviewed literature reveals anti-fertility activity by inhibition of steroid production. Further investigations are required to confirm the specific constituents responsible for the anti-fertility action, and to study the efficacy and safety of wild carrot seed usage.  

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