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Herbal medicine during pregnancy

There is a lot of wisdom in traditional herbal medicine, but with health food store selling more products than most people know what to do with, it’s hard to know what to take. This is why, if you are using herbal products, it’s important to have a practitioner, like a Naturopathic Doctor, who is knowledgeable and who is familiar with what is safe during pregnancy. Here, we’ve provided you with some good information and a place to start, but it doesn’t replace individualized medical advise.

Herbs that you may want to keep on hand during your pregnancy

Red Raspberry leaf
Red Raspberry leafWhy? Nutritive- nutrient dense, high in vitamins and minerals, including iron, c
alcium and magnesium; uterine tonic- helps prepare the uterus for labour
How? Drink as a tea, 2-3 cups/day
When? Last trimester of pregnancy to help get your body ready for labour
Research: Shortens labour and lead to fewer interventions
Traditional wisdom: Speeds childbirth

Stinging Nettle Leaf
Stinging Nettle LeafWhy? Nutritive tonic, also high in vitamins and minerals, including chlorophyll, vitamin A, C, D and K, and iron; contains protein, helps to bring in mother’s milk, anti-inflammatory
How? Combine with red raspberry leaf to drink as a tea
When? Can be consumed safely throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding
Research: no clinical trials, but experiential and observational evidence show benefit in anemia, preventing postpartum hemorrhage and preeclampsia
Traditional wisdom: Pregnancy tonic, improves kidney function, prevents postpartum hemorrhage, reduces hemorrhoids, increases milk supply

Cranberry
CranberryWhy? Urinary antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, preventing and treating urinary tract infections by blocking the ability of E. coli to stick to the lining of the bladder
How? As an extract in capsules form or as juice (not cranberry cocktail), 1-2 cups/day for preventing UTI, consider capsules for an active UTI
When? Good to have on hand for the first signs of a UTI/bladder infection, combine with increased fluid intake to help flush the urinary tract.
**If symptoms don’t resolve in 1-2 days, or if you develop severe symptoms (fever, low back ache, visible blood in urine) contact your health care provider immediately.
Research: Preventing and treating UTI, safe for use in pregnancy
Traditional wisdom: Preventing and treating UTI

Ginger
GingerWhy?
Antiemetic, helps with morning sickness, anti-inflammatory, carminative- soothes pain from gas/bloating
How? Fresh or dried root steeped in hot water, drink as a tea 1-2 cups/day
When? If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting in pregnancy. Caution with doses higher than 2 g/day as this is traditionally considered an emmenagogue (brings on your period).
**If you are having very severe or frequent vomiting, contact your health care provider
Research: very strong evidence in favor of use in nausea and vomiting in pregnancy
Traditional wisdom: warming tonic, useful in nausea and vomiting in pregnancy

Chamomile
ChamomileWhy? Promotes relaxation, relaxes the nervous system, relaxes the smooth muscles of the digestive system, soothes pain from gas/bloating, anti-inflammator
How? Drink 1-2 cups as a tea, especially soothing in the evening
When? Can be consumed throughout pregnancy, at any time but especially if you are feeling nervous or anxious
**Caution with this herb if you have a ragweed allergy, they belong to the same family of plants
Research: sedating, sleep inducing, some evidence in treating mild anxiety, decreases gas and soothes digestive spasms
Traditional wisdom: nervousness, muscle spasms, gas and colic

 

Herbs to take and ones to avoid during pregnancy

Safe Herbs

  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Senna (Cassia senna)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
  • Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • Ginseng (Korean) (Panax ginseng)
  • Raspberry Leaf (Rubus ideaus)
  • Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
  • Bilberry Fruit (Vaccinium myrtillus)
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Despite these herbs being listed as safe, it is important that you advise your medical practitioners regarding any supplements that you are taking. These herbs can have other adverse effects such as raising blood pressure that may be important in your individual case. This list may change based on ongoing research and safety studies.

Unsafe Herbs

  • Dong quai (Angelica sinesis)
  • Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
  • Arnica (Arnica montana)
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
  • Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
  • Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
  • Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus)
  • Guggul (Commiphora mukul)
  • Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis)
  • Chaparral (Larrea tridentate)
  • Gypsywort (Lycopus europaeus)
  • Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus)
  • Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  • Boldo (Penmus boldus)
  • Poke root (phytolacca Americana or Phytolacca decandra)
  • Jamaica dogwood (Piscidia erythrina)
  • Pasque flower (Pulsatilla spp)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Pau d’arco (Tebebuia avellanedae)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Thuja (Thuja accidentalis)
  • Tylophora (Tylophora indica or Tylophora asthmatica)
  • Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa)

Please do not take any of these herbs unless prescribed by a licensed practitioner that will carefully monitor your health and the health of your baby. This list may change based on ongoing research and safety studies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This article is meant to provide information only, it does not substitute for personalized medical advice.

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