Over the years, herbs have become a popular alternative to traditional medicines. They have long been used to meet some of the nutritional needs during pregnancy as well as providing health benefits.
However, there are some herbs to avoid during pregnancy and caution has to be exercised in the use of some of these herbs after medical studies revealed that some of them may not be safe enough for both the mother and developing baby.
Some of the naturally-occurring substances found in them pose a huge risk to reproductive organs and may cause health complications. Optimal health is the key priority and understanding what herbs to use and what to avoid is very vital.
An overview of herbs to avoid during pregnancy
Here are some of the herbs to avoid unless otherwise directed by a qualified medical expert in the appropriate use of the herb.
Uterine stimulants: These herbs should be strictly avoided as they may cause miscarriage. Though they are used to stimulate uterus muscles to induce labor by causing contractions or increasing the intensity and frequency of the contractions, complications may arise and lead to early termination.
Some of these herbs to avoid during pregnancy include: Black Cohosh, Sage, Rue, Angelica, American Mandrake, Mayapple, Passion flower, Tansy, Mistletoe, Blue Cohosh, Calamus, Cayenne, Feverfew, Lady’s Mantle, Make Fern, Periwinkle, Rhubarb, Thyme, Wormwood and others.
Laxatives: These herbs that contain anthraquinones that stimulate peristalsis in the bowel are also known to cause uterine contraction which may lead to miscarriage. They include Aloe, Docks, Cascara Sagrada, Meadow Saffron, Senna, Buckthorn and Butternut.
Essential oils: Most of the essential oils found in plants when used internally during pregnancy may cause devastating impact on the fetus and placenta unless used in moderation.
Some of the essential oils or herbs to avoid during pregnancy include Yarrow, Thuja, Rosemary, Oregano, Lavender, Fennel, Calamus, Thyme and Sage.
Alkaloids and Bitters: Alkaloids are generally secondary plant constituents that have pharmacological effects on the body. The strong ones should be avoided like caffeine found in Tea and coffee, Barberry, Golden Seal, Blood root, Mandrake, Broom and Autumn crocus. Bitters are known to affect the basic functions like metabolism especially smooth muscle results. Avoid the use of Southernwood, Celandine, Feverfew, Mugwort and Tansy.
Emmenagogues: These are known to promote and regulate menstruation and also affect some of the essential functions of the body. Though some may be used, always consult a medical expert on the safe amount of use. Some of them include Licorice, Yarrow, Pennyroyal, Poke root, Senna, Thuja, Mayapple, Cotton root bark, Periwinkle, Rhubarb and Mistletoe.
There are other herbs to avoid during pregnancy. Most of these are found in plants and may contain harmful ingredients. Male Fern, which is a common anthelmintic remedy for treatment of worms, is one of the unsafe herbs for pregnant women. Others are Poke, Eucalyptus, Lovage, Ephedra, Wild Ginger, Cinchona and Peruvian Bark. Though some of the herbs may be used in specific amounts and only for short periods, a lot still has to be done on the medical front of herbal medicines and their use and benefits to pregnant women.