Herbal supplements are increasingly popular with many believing that they are natural alternatives to more conventional medicines commonly prescribed in Western medicine. Unlike prescription drugs, natural herbs and vitamin supplements do not have to go through the rigorous evaluation proving safety and efficacy by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Because of this, the quality and strength of herbal supplements very often vary between two batches of the same product and between products from different manufacturers. Therefore there is no way of knowing the safety of such unregulated products. Many patients ask us, “Is it safe to take herbal supplements during pregnancy?”
Even though herbs are natural, not all herbs are safe to take during pregnancy or while trying to become pregnant. Many herbs may have hormone regulatory effects and could cause difficulty conceiving or have harmful effects to pregnancy. Some herbs may even cause miscarriage, premature birth, uterine contractions and injury to the fetus. There are very few studies examining the effects herbs may have on pregnant women and their unborn child.
Many herbs such as rosemary and garlic are safe in amounts used customarily in food, medicinal amounts of these same herbs can have uterine stimulatory effects and should be avoided in pregnancy. Other herbs to avoid during pregnancy include: Saw Palmetto, Goldenseal, Dong Quai, Ephebra, Yohimbe, Pay D’ Arco, Passion Flower, Black Cohash, Blue Cohash, Roman Chamomile, Pennyroyal, Aloe, Ginseng. Evening Primrose, Fever Few, Kara Kara, Senna, Angelica, Borage Oil, Mugwort, Black Walnut. Cascara Segrada, Comfrey, Fenugreek, Sphpherd’s Purse, St John’s Wort, Tansy, Ura Ursi and Wormwood.
Herbs that are considered reasonably safe during pregnancy are most often food or tonic herbs including red raspberry leaf, peppermint leaf, small amounts of ginger root, Slippery Elm bark, Oats and Oat straw, Blond Psyllium and Black Psyllium.
The best way to achieve and maintain a healthy pregnancy is through a healthy life style by eating a healthy nutrient rich diet, minimizing stress and by getting enough exercise and sleep. If you have more questions, please contact us!
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