The feeling of having the responsibility of a growing miracle inside of you somewhat prompts you to look after yourself a little bit better. I know it did in my case. Perhaps a healthier diet, quitting bad habits or taking up some form of exercise to help you and growing baby.
With the shift towards more ‘natural’ pregnancy and childbirth, maybe you thought of using herbs to enhance your general health and well-being and wondered what herbs to avoid during pregnancy to help you achieve optimum health and safety for baby and you?
What Can Herbs Help With During Pregnancy?
Herbs have been used for centuries by women all over the world during pregnancy, childbirth and in post-natal stages.
From improving the health and functioning of your organs and systems to providing your body with extra nutrients, herbs have been used widely with positive results and virtually zero harmful side effects when used correctly.
They have been used in cases such as:
- High Blood Pressure
- Nausea/Morning Sickness
- Moods/Emotional Swings
- Skin Issues/Itchy Skin
- Stretch Marks
- Urinary Incontinence
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- Vaginal Infections
- Pro-longed Childbirth
- Post-natal Issues
Herbs To Avoid When Pregnant
Aloe (Aloe vera)
Very strong laxative compounds if taken internally and can be passed onto mother's milk, so nursing mothers should avoid internal use.
Black Cohosh (Cimicfuga racemosa)
Is a hormone and uterine stimulant which is mostly used in late pregnancies to help relax the cervix and uterine muscles. Could cause miscarriage in early pregnancy.
Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
Is a strong uterine stimulant that can cause miscarriage if used in early pregnancy. Could cause birth defects in baby.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Large doses and long term use can cause toxicity. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, skin irritations.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
Contains 'pyrrolizidine alkaloids' (PAs), a strong chemical that can cause liver problems in mother and baby. It's also considered a strong uterine stimulant and may be carcinogenic.
Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)
Most common side effect is diarrhoea. Others include nausea, stomach pains, vomiting, headaches, changes in menstrual periods.
Ephedra a.k.a ma huang (Ephedra vulgaris)
Dubbed the "herbal ecstasy" and banned in the USA since 2004, it's considered a 'teratogen' which is a substance that can cause birth defects. Contains the chemical 'ephedrine' which in high doses can cause headaches, nervousness and increased heart rate.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
Large doses can stimulate uterine contractions, miscarriages or premature labour. Has been used in the past to induce labour and can cause newborn to have a 'maple syrup' smell which could be confused for the genetic disorder 'Maple Syrup Urine Disease'.
Is considered a 'teratogen' which means it can cause birth defects and abnormalities in baby. High doses can cause insomnia, headaches, diarrhoea and can lead to uterine bleeding.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Contains the chemical 'berberine' which can cause or worsen jaundice in newborns and may lead to 'Kernicterus' (brain damage). Is also too powerful an antibiotic for the developing fetus.
Juniper Berry (Juniperis communis)
Is a strong uterine stimulant which could interfere with fertility or could cause miscarriage.
High doses can cause fluid retention, elevated blood pressure and potassium loss. Eating large amounts of black liquorice sweets when pregnant could affect child's IQ, memory and increased ADHD.
Mandrake (Podophyllum peltatum)
Considered highly toxic and poisonous, the roots contains 'hyoscine' a powerful alkaloid that can cause hallucinogenic and hypnotic effects. It is associated with superstitious practices and rituals as people in the past believed it to have magical powers.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Considered a 'teratogen' meaning it can cause birth defects. Contains a chemical 'thujone' which in large doses can be poisonous, trigger seizures and damage the nervous system. Is a uterine stimulant which could cause miscarriages.
St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Generally used to help with depression and the menopause, large doses can cause skin sensitivity, insomnia and bring on anxiety. It also interacts with many medications such as birth control pills, warfarin and chemotherapy drugs.
The use of herbs and spices as part of a healthy diet is commonplace for pregnant women all over the world, as these are generally taken in small amounts.
However, the use of herbs for medicinal purposes during pregnancy can be more potent and concentrated than in foods and excessive amounts could be harmful to you and growing baby.
Pregnancy is not really a good time to experiment with generally contra-indicated herbs!
Many botanical medicines contain potent pharmacological substances that can trigger a miscarriage, can stimulate the uterus or cause foetal abnormalities or birth defects.
Also, many physiological and metabolic changes experienced during pregnancy may influence the action of herbs within the body.
It is highly recommended to consult with a qualified herbalist if you decide to start using herbs during pregnancy.
Have you tried using herbs whilst pregnant? Which ones did you use and did it help? Were you aware of the side effects of certain herbs whilst pregnant? I’d love to hear your stories and experiences.
Thanks for popping by and peace be with you.