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Varsha Zade* and Dinesh Dabhadkar


Several potential approaches for induction of infertility have been investigated over a long period including hormonal, chemical and immunological approaches (Gupta and Sharma, 2006). Family planning has been promoted through several methods of contraceptions, but due to serious adverse effects produced by synthetic steroidal contraceptions (Farnsworth et al., 1975), attention has been focused on indigenous plants for possible contraceptive effect. Medical abortion has emerged as a valuable alternative to surgical abortion and will contribute to safe reproductive control worldwide (Reynolds, 1996; Gan et al., 2008). The quest for the oral contraceptive agents that can control human fertility is as old as recorded history. A wide variety of synthetic contraceptive agents are available (Bygdeman et al., 1997) but these cannot be used continuously due to their severe side effects. (Vervest and Haspels, 1985) Hence people are now looking back to age old traditions of using herbal contraceptive medicines which have minimum side effects. Moringa oleifera (Linn) is a medicinally important plant, belonging to family Moringaceae. The plant is also well recognized in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan as a folkloric medicine (Mughal et al., 1999). Moringa oleifera is a small or medium sized tree up to 10 m tall, with thick, soft, corky, deeply fissured bark, growing mainly in semiarid, tropical and subtropical areas (Mughal et al., 1999). Different parts of the tree have been used in the traditional system of medicine. Survey in the tribal belt of Melghat region (20° 51′ to 21° 46′ N and to 76° 38′ to 77° 33′ E) of Amravati district of Maharashtra state of India revealed that Moringa oleifera stem bark is being used traditionally as an abortifacint. The stem bark has been used in indigenous medicine for over many decades as traditional medicine. The seeds are also known to exert its protective effect by decreasing liver lipid peroxides and, as an antimicrobial agent (Lalas and Tsaknis, 2002). The stem bark of Moringa oleifera are used as purgative, applied as poultice to sores, rubbed on the temples for headaches, used for piles, fevers, sore throat, bronchitis, eye and ear infections, scurvy and cataract; leaf juice is also believed to control glucose levels and applied to reduce glandular swelling (Faizi et al., 1998; Morton, 1991; Dahot, 1988). The stem bark is used as an antioxidant (Makonnen et al., 1997; Ghasi et al., 2000). The root of Moringa oleifera were shown to possess antihelmithic, rubefacient, carminative, antifertility, anti-inflammatory, stimulant in paralytic afflictions; as a cardiac/circulatory tonic, used as a laxative, abortifacient, in treatment of rheumatism, inflammations, articular pains, lower back or kidney pain and constipation (Nath and Sethi, 1992; Padmarao et al., 1996). However, there is no information to substantiate or refute the abortifacient claims of Moringa oleifera stem bark in the scientific literature. Therefore, the present work has been undertaken to validate scientifically the abortifacient role of Moringa oleifera stem bark as acclaimed by the traditional tribal users of Melghat region.

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