If you are pregnant, you already know there are many foods and beverages you should be avoiding to have the healthiest pregnancy. Your doctor may have already told you to not smoke or drink during your pregnancy, and has likely told you to not drink caffeinated beverages and avoid certain foods. However, in this day and age of adding more herbal supplements to our diets for optimum health, we should be aware of the herbs that may be unsafe during pregnancy as well. If your doctor hasn’t already inquired about your herbal and vitamin supplements and what is safe for you to be taking, follow this guideline for some of the herbs you should avoid while pregnant, and make sure your doctor is full aware of the vitamins and herbal supplements you are incorporating in your diet for the healthiest pregnancy.
Yarrow, which is a commonly growing plant in our yards and fields, is a common herb drunk in a tea to suppress internal bleeding and aide in muscle strain and headaches and is a natural body cleanser. However, it also works as a uterine stimulant which makes it unsafe during pregnancy and should not be used.
Goldenseal is another common herb that people take to ward off infection, and it has calming properties as well. Topically applied it is an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and internally it is a natural detoxifier. Goldenseal can harm the fetus with its strong antibiotic properties, and should not be used either while pregnant or even during nursing.
Licorice root causes water retention and can elevate blood pressure, placing strain on the mother and her growing baby and should be avoided.
Herbal teas may also be unsafe during pregnancy, unless they are labeled “pregnancy teas” or are raspberry leaf teas. Raspberry leaf is long used as the “woman’s herb” because of its uterus strengthening properties and ability to quell muscle spasms and ease cramping during pregnancy and delivery. Be careful when drinking herbal teas and check with your doctor to make sure the herbal teas you are consuming don’t contain dangerous herbs for your growing baby.
Aloe Vera when consumed can cause vomiting and stomach upset during pregnancy. It should be applied topically only as an antibacterial aide or avoided completely.
Avoid high dosages of garlic, cinnamon and chili, which are common spices in our cabinets and cupboards. Mild use is fine, but over-use (like a garlic pill or cinnamon tea) will flavor the breastmilk and cause heartburn and discomfort in mother and baby. High doses of nutmeg can cause hallucinatory effects in the fetus, and parsley in massive doses can cause stimulation in the uterus and irritate the growing fetus; be careful when using common cooking spices and use them for cooking only and in moderate doses.
The major concern of herbal use during pregnancy is that many herbs work as uterine stimulants, encouraging premature contractions and stress on the growing fetus and the mother. Your best bet on having a safe pregnancy is to alert your doctor to the herbs you are taking, and stay educated on what herbs are safe and beneficial for pregnancy, and what herbs are best to avoid. There are many herbs that are OK for pregnancy, and there are many more still that are best avoided completely. This is just a list of some of the most common herbs that should be avoided, and an alert to mothers-to-be that they need to be careful of the natural supplements they are putting in their bodies. Talk to your doctor, stay informed and have a healthy pregnancy.