Plants have been used worldwide for treatment of various human ailments since antiquity. Their use is still quite prevalent in developing countries in the form of traditional / folkloric system of medicine. Intensive chemical and pharmacological studies on traditional / folkloric medicinal plants during the last 5 decades have led to the validation of traditional claims in many cases and facilitated identification of their active principles. The active principles have provided leads in the development of several life saving drugs, which are in clinical use today. A large number of these plants are used for birth control in different countries. The present review has, therefore, been planned to provide an account of the investigations carried out on traditional / folkloric plants used for fertility regulation. The status of scientific validations of their antifertility potential and identification of active principles during the last 28 years are discussed. The literature survey shows that approximately 318 different plants are in traditional / folkloric use worldwide, of which 227 plants are of Indian origin. So far, 74 plants have been screened for their anti-fertility potential, 48 of them have been found to be effective. Active principles of about 15 plants have been identified during the period under review.
Keywords: traditional, toxicology, folklore, anti-fertility, anti-implation, abortifacient