For centuries, herbs have been an integral part of human life. They are commonly used for culinary, cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Even though many herbs have been linked to a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth, there are some herbs which should be avoided during pregnancy, because these herbs can be detrimental to the mother as well as the growing fetus.
A common misconception is that herbs, being natural, do not cause any harm to pregnant women. However, even herbs used mainly for culinary purposes may cause unwanted side effects. Hence, it’s very necessary to have a basic knowledge of the safe and unsafe herbs during pregnancy. Herbs, which have been classified as safe, are further divided as per the stages of pregnancy. While, some are safe only during the first trimester, others are administered only after the first three months.
The following list of herbs have been categorized as unsafe and should not be taken during the entire nine months of pregnancy. Here is the list of unsafe herbs:
1. Aloe Vera
Oral intake of aloe vera juice should be avoided, as it may cause uterine contractions and diarrhea. Usually, aloe vera juice has many nutritional benefits, but during pregnancy, it is wise to avoid consumption of this plant. In fact, it may be best to avoid this herb while breastfeeding as well.
2. Black Cohosh
Black cohosh is another herb that should not be taken during early pregnancy. It’s a strong uterine stimulant that produce contractions, and has also been associated with prolonged bleeding and postpartum hemorrhage.
When used in excess, goldenseal may cause contractions, which could lead to early labor and possibly miscarriage. It can also be harmful for the fetus if used early in pregnancy. It should not be administered to pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Comfrey is another herb that may cause liver complications in pregnant women and their growing baby. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should avoid ingesting this herb, as it may be toxic for the baby. External use for sprains is believed to be safe, but should only be done after consulting your doctor.
5. Angelica atropurpurea
Angelica is an herb that can stimulate bleeding and menstruation, as a result this herb can cause strong contractions and lead to miscarriage if taken during the early stages of pregnancy. As a result, this herb will promote the growth of fibroids and increase the risk of post-partum hemorrhage.
6. Autumn Crocus
Another potentially dangerous herb for pregnant women, is autumn crocus. It’s widely believed that autumn crocus could lead to birth defects and Down’s Syndrome, however, research is limited and somewhat contradictory. It is recommended to avoid this herb if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
In this instance, we’re not talking about licorice candy, we’re actually referring to licorice root. Consuming licorice root may cause high blood pressure in pregnant women. Avoid taking a licorice root supplement, until you have dicussed it with your doctor, as it may be harmful to your growing baby.
Mugwort is another common herb that should be avoided during pregnancy. It’s commonly used for treating stomach ache, nausea, colic and as a uterine stimulant, but when taken during pregnancy, it can lead to birth defects.
Nutmeg when used in small quantities is considered safe for pregnant women, however, if taken in large doses, nutmeg may lead to miscarriage for pregnant women. If you stick to only using it for culinary purposes and avoid taking a nutmeg supplement, chances are you’ll be fine. However, it may be wise to discuss the potential dangers of nutmeg with your doctor.
10. Penny Royal Leaf
Penny royal leaf is another herb that should be avoided during pregnancy. Ingesting the essential oil of Penny royal leaf may cause uterine contractions, birth defects and possibly miscarriage. Both internal and external use of this herb should be avoided while pregnant, as well as while breastfeeding.
This is another herb you should avoid during pregnancy, because it is believed that it causes bleeding in pregnant women. While more research is needed, it’s best to avoid this herb as we don’t know how it will affect your growing baby.
12. Uva Ursi
Uva ursi is another herb that is commonly used to help treat urinary tract infections, kidney infections and constipation. You should avoid this herb because it may could spur early labor, as well as negatively affect the blood sugar levels of pregnant and breastfeeding women. It’s also believed that Uva ursi may hinder the blood flow to your uterus.
13. Saw Palmetto
You should avoid the use of saw palmetto when you’re pregnant, because it decreases the amount of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your body. If you’re having a little boy, DHT is very important for the development of his genitals. But, if you’re pregnant with a little girl, that doesn’t mean this herb is safe to take, because it has anti-estrogenic effects that will affect pregnant women.
14. Shepherd’s Purse
Shepherd’s purse is another herb you should avoid during pregnancy, as it may constrict blood vessels, resulting in elevated blood pressure. It’s also believed to act like an uterine stimulant, which may spur early labor.
15. Laxative herbs
For optimal health, you should generally avoid laxative herbs like senna, bentonite clay, rhubarb and psyllium husks. But if you’re pregnant, you should especially avoid these types of herbs as they may cause uterine contractions, as well as affect the absorption of much needed nutrients from your food.
Other Herbs to Avoid
Besides from the most dangerous herbs mentioned above, you should also avoid the consumption of borage oil, basil oil, cotton root, elder, false unicorn root, feverfew, henbane, motherwort, peruvian bark, rue, wormwood and yarrow.
Remember, just because some of these popular herbs are considered “all natural,” that doesn’t mean they are safe for you to take. Herbal supplements can be a great addition to your diet, but if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should talk to your doctor BEFORE taking any herbal supplements.
- The Health Benefits of Flax Seed Oil
- Tips for Senior Citizens to Follow a Healthy, Balanced Diet
- Aloe Vera Juice: The Health Benefits & Side Effects Explained
- List of Common Acid Reflux Symptoms