Striving to do the best for the developing baby, many pregnant women choose a more natural approach during pregnancy, which might also include the use of herbal remedies for various ailments. The thinking is that, since herbs are natural, they are healthier. Normally they are, but some herbs are very potent and should be severely limited, or completely avoided, during pregnancy.
Throughout your pregnancy, you should be very aware of everything that you ingest, whether food or medicine. You know that you should practice healthy eating habits during pregnancy. This includes getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lots of fluids, and extra protein. You know that you should avoid villains like drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and artificial sweeteners; but to avoid herbs just doesn’t seem natural.
Remember, herbs are a drug and, as with any medicine, should be used with extreme caution during this time. While herbal remedies are considered natural alternatives to conventional drugs, they can also be harmful when taken during pregnancy. Many herbs contain natural steroids that can affect your baby’s development during pregnancy and even when nursing. Others are mildly toxic, and some can be strong uterine stimulants, promote menstruation, or cause premature contractions. Those containing high quantities of volatile oils, or alkaloids, can affect your, or your baby’s central nervous system. Harsh bitters, can strongly stimulate digestion and metabolism, and strong laxatives can trigger uterine contractions.
As with all medications, you should avoid taking any herb during the first trimester and use only minimal amounts for short periods of time thereafter, and then only when needed. Culinary herbs (basil, oregano, etc.) usually are safe in the small amounts used in cooking, but not in the larger doses used for teas. External use of herbs, such as aloe vera, usually presents no problem.
ALKALOID CONTAINING PLANTS
Alkaloids are the most potent of all plant constituents, They produce a wide range of pharmacological effects. It is best to avoid them all, especially the following: Autumn crocus, Barberry, Blood root, Borage, Coltsfoot, Comfrey, Ginseng, Golden Seal, Lobelia, Ma Huang, Mandrake.
These herbs may have an effect on smooth muscle of the uterus and/or act as emmenagogues. All strong bitters should be avoided during pregnancy, especially the following: Angelica, Barberry, Buckbean, Celandine, Feverfew, Gentian, Golden Seal, Mugwort, Rue, Southernwood, Tansy, Wormwood.
OIL CONTAINING PLANTS
Essential oils should never be taken internally, especially during pregnancy when they can have a devastating impact on the placenta and fetus. The whole plant that the oil was distilled from will occasionally be fine if used in moderation. However, many should be avoided, especially the following: Hyssop, Juniper, Myrrh, Nutmeg, Parsley, Pennyroyal, Sage, Thyme, Yarrow, Wild Celery.
The strong herbal laxatives are often caused by the presence of anthraquinones that stimulate the colon, and may have a similar impact upon the uterus. Avoid especially the following: Aloe, Alder Buckthorn, Cascara Sagrada, Purging Buckthorn, Senna.
There are other herbs which should be avoided during pregnancy, such as: Anise, Artichoke, Bearberry, Barley Grass, Basil, Bayberry, Bethroot, Black Cohosh, Blessed Thistle, Bloodroot, Blue Cohosh, Buchu, Bugleweed, Butternut, California Poppy, Caraway, Carrot seed, Catnip, Cayenne, Celery seed, Chapparal, Chervil, Chinese Angelica, Cotton root, Damiana, Devils Claw, Dogwood, Ephedra, Evening Primrose, False Unicorn root, Fennel, Fenugreek, Ginger, Hermandia, Hops, Horehound, Horseradish, Horsetail, Hyptis, Hyssop, Juniper, Kelp, Kola Nut, Lady’s Mantle, Lemon Balm, Lemon Grass, Licorice, Liferoot, Lovage, Lungwort, Mace, Male Fern, Marjoram, Mayapple, Melilot, Mistletoe, Motherwort, Mountain Mint, Neem, Oregon Grape Root, Osha, Pasqueflower, Peppermint, Peruvian Bark, Pleurisy root, Poke Root, Potato skins, Queen Annes Lace, Rhubarb, Rosemary, Saffron, Sassafras, Sarsaparilla, Savory, Saw Palmetto, Scotch Broom, Shepherds Purse, Soy, Spikenard, Sumac berries, Tarragon, Thuji, Trillium, Turmeric, Uva Ursi, Vervain, Watercress, Wild Cherry, Wild Yam, Wood Betony, Yarrow, Yellow Cedar, Yellow Dock, Yohimbe.
Important Note: This is only a partial list of the herbs which may be unhealthy during pregnancy. Consult your doctor before taking any herb for medicinal purposes. Consult an herbal practitioner or homeopathic doctor if you have questions about a specific herb.
Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment purposes only, and is not intended for use as diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional.