Consumption of herbs during pregnancy is a much-debated subject. While some are considered safe, others are not. Here is a list of some herbs that should be avoided during pregnancy.
Herbs have been an integral part of human life since time immemorial. They are used for culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal purposes. Various herbs have been linked to a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth, but there are some which should be avoided during pregnancy, because they 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 that are commonly used for culinary purposes may sometimes cause side-effects. Hence it is necessary to have a basic knowledge about herbs that are unsafe during pregnancy.
Herbs that are classified as safe, are further divided according to the stages of pregnancy. While some are safe only during the first trimester, others are recommended for use, only after the first three months. Herbs that are categorized as unsafe should not be taken during the entire pregnancy, and preferably during the period of lactation too. The following is a list of herbs to avoid during pregnancy.
- Angelica, which can stimulate bleeding and menstruation can cause strong contractions, and lead to miscarriage during the early stages of pregnancy.
- Oral intake of aloe vera should be avoided, as it can also cause uterine contractions. It is better to avoid this herb during breastfeeding too.
- Another herb called autumn crocus may cause birth defects, as it affects the process of cell division.
- Black cohosh is a uterine stimulant that should not be taken orally, during pregnancy. As compared to black cohosh, blue cohosh is a stronger uterine stimulant, which can also cause contractions.
- Comfrey is another herb which can cause liver problems in both the mother and the fetus. It should be avoided by breastfeeding women, as the herb can be toxic for the baby.
- Intake of goldenseal may result in uterine contractions and miscarriage. It can also be harmful for the fetus.
- Consumption of licorice can lead to high blood pressure in pregnant women. It has some hormonal properties which can be harmful to the fetus.
- Mugwort, a common herb used for treating stomach ache and colic, may also cause birth defects.
- Nutmeg and its essential oil, if taken in large doses, can cause miscarriage.
- Pennyroyal leaf and its essential oil can lead to uterine contractions and miscarriage. It can also cause birth defects. This herb should not be used by pregnant and breastfeeding women, either orally or for topical application.
- Barberry may cause bleeding in pregnant women, and may also affect the growth of the fetus.
- Uva ursi is a herb which can affect the blood sugar levels of pregnant and breastfeeding women. It can also hinder blood flow to the uterus.
- Saw palmetto can affect the hormonal activity in pregnant women and hence should be avoided.
- Shepherd’s purse can constrict blood vessels, which can result in high blood pressure. It can also act like a uterine stimulant.
Pregnant women should also avoid borage oil, basil oil, cotton root, buckthorn, elder, false unicorn root, feverfew, henbane, motherwort, peruvian bark, rue, wormwood, and yarrow. Even though herbs are very much popular for their therapeutic effects, there is no scientific backing for their efficacy. Hence, you should always consult a doctor before starting any herbal medicine or herbal supplements during pregnancy.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.