Herbs in Pregnancy – What’s Safe and What’s Not

Herbs during pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, your body goes through an immense amount of strain, mainly due to hormonal imbalances. This strain can lower your immunity levels. To combat this, women try different techniques and ‘one-stop solutions’, but one aspect is undeniable – your diet is crucial to improve your immunity level and deal with hormonal imbalance.

Can Pregnant Women Use Herbs?

There are limitations to how much of a herb you can use when pregnant but the fact is that a lot of doctors recommend herbs during pregnancy due to their abilities to boost immunity. Be sure to limit the quantity of herbs you consume per day to healthy amounts, but include some form of herbs in every meal for your immune system to really draw the benefits that they have to offer.

How Can Herbs Help Relieve Common Pregnancy Problems?

Numerous herbs help alleviate a ton of problems commonly associated with pregnancy. The following are a few:

  • Most herbs balance out iron deficiencies that are common in pregnant women.
  • Herbs like coriander and thyme alleviate nausea and aid in relieving digestive problems.
  • Some herbs like mint and rosemary ease your labour and delivery pain.
  • Herbs can also combat small bouts of post-partum depression.
  • Herbs like basil and coriander prevent yeast infections near the vagina.
  • Herbs have always been effective against the flu or the common cold.

Possible Complications of Consuming Herbs During Pregnancy

Here are some of the risks of herbs during pregnancy:

  • Premature birth
  • Miscarriage
  • Uterine contractions
  • Foetal complications

Safe Herbs That Pregnant Women Can Consume

Here is a list of safe and healthy herbs women should include in their diet during pregnancy.

1. Dandelion

Dandelion

Dandelion is famous for its ‘balancing’ properties. It avoids water retention, regulates blood flow and has anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent bloating and swelling. It is recommended that no more than a cup of dandelion tea or half a teaspoon of dandelion is consumed per day.

2. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is a great cure for the common cold. Using it in a steam bath ensures all your pores are open and clear of toxins. A drop of the same essential oil on your forehead can help alleviate migraines and headaches. A drop on sore muscles can ease low-level muscle pain as well. As with any herb, use eucalyptus in small and controlled quantities based on your doctor’s recommendations.

3. Cranberry

Cranberry

Cranberries are magnificent for urinary health, something that pregnant women may find slightly challenging to maintain. Eating a handful of cranberries hydrates the body, and fills it up with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are essential for bodily functions. Drinking a cup of cranberry juice is also a great way of clearing your body of UTIs or urinary tract infections.

4. Chamomile

Chamomile

Chamomile is possibly the most famous type of tea for the anxious and stressed! This is because chamomile is rich in antioxidants and has relaxing properties. It helps pregnant women manage their stress and anxiety. Chamomile also helps relax the joints, lower back, and muscles, all of which are under immense strain during pregnancy. An additional boost to chamomile consumption during your pregnancy is that it regulates blood pressure and blood flow. However, there aren’t many studies that have been conducted which make a strong case for the increased consumption of chamomile tea during pregnancy. Hence, ensure that you drink this tea in moderation when you’re pregnant, to avoid any potential risks.

5. Red Raspberry Leaf

Red Raspberry Leaf

The red raspberry leaf is full of iron, zinc and other essential minerals. This amazing herb alleviates labour pains by reducing inflammation, improving the overall red blood cell count of your body, improving blood circulation and managing blood pressure. It also has vitamins that help maintain your body’s chemical balance, reduce nausea and it is recommended for women suffering from anaemia during pregnancy.

6. Tulsi

Tulsi

Tulsi is a natural antiseptic that has anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, healthy minerals like iron, and is a natural digestive aid. This herb helps combat anaemia, the common cold, infections, swelling, bloating, and water retention, and helps with digestion, among its endless benefits. Eating a handful of tulsi leaves occasionally during pregnancy is considered extremely healthy, but you shouldn’t overdo it.

7. Mint

Mint

Mint helps combat anaemia, keeps your blood pressure in check, eases digestion, helps combat nausea and has anti-inflammatory properties. You can talk to your doctor about the quantity of mint permissible during pregnancy.

8. Lavender

Lavender

Among the major hurdles of pregnancy, anxiety, muscle tension, stress and headaches are some of the hardest issues to deal with. Lavender is a herb that helps combat all these ailments, and more. Drink a cup of lavender tea or sleep with lavender essential oil burning in a diffuser or take a sniff of lavender per day to help you relax and breathe better. Lavender is also recommended for people suffering from stress or anxiety-related issues.

9. Ginger

Ginger

Apart from having anti-inflammatory properties and minerals and vitamins that boost immunity, the ginger root is also great for beating a sore throat, the common cold, fever and bloating. It also helps with easing water retention and keeps infections at bay. Discuss with your doctor about the benefits of ginger during pregnancy to get a more in-depth idea of this herb.

10. Garlic

Garlic

Like ginger, garlic is known for its immense health benefits. It is rich in many minerals and vitamins that help keep infections at bay. Garlic also increases your immunity and helps reduce bloating. It also helps regulate blood flow throughout your body, aids digestion, keeps your blood sugar in check and improves your blood pressure. Therefore, eating moderate amounts of garlic per meal is beneficial for women who are pregnant.

11. Turmeric

Turmeric

Turmeric is known to help blood clot faster, increase healthy blood circulation and improve your body’s energy levels too. This root herb is such a strong antiseptic that in some Asian countries, it is used on open wounds to keep infections at bay.

List of Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy

Not all herbs are healthy for you when you’re pregnant. Here is a list of herbs you should avoid during pregnancy.

1. Rosemary

Rosemary

Even though rosemary is one of the healthiest herbs known to man, it is not recommended for pregnant women since this herb is known to increase blood pressure. It is also hard to break down in your body which makes it hard to digest. It can lead to fatigue and aggravate hypertension. Doctors recommend you not to consume rosemary in any way after the first trimester as it could affect the baby.

2. Peppermint

Peppermint

Be it in oil form or the candy, avoid peppermint at all costs during your pregnancy. Peppermint has proved to be one of the worst herbs for pregnant women, however much it may benefit others. This herb can induce premature labour and is incredibly dangerous to use during the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

3. Dong Quai

Dong Quai

This is yet another herb that should not be consumed by pregnant women because it is known to cause uterine contractions during pregnancy, which can lead to premature delivery or even miscarriages. Avoid this herb at all costs if you are pregnant.

4. Evening Primrose

Evening Primrose

Used as an essential oil, evening primrose presents many benefits for pregnant women in their first trimester. However, if you consume it during the second and third trimester, it can be hazardous for your pregnancy. While it may be worth the risk to use it in tiny amounts, do not use it unless your doctor clears you to. Never exceed the dosage prescribed as this herb can be disastrous if consumed in large quantities when pregnant.

5. Ginseng

Ginseng

If you ask your doctor about what herbal teas to avoid when pregnant, ginseng tea will be near the top of the list. While this Chinese herb is one of the best medicinal herbs in the world, it presents a lot of bad side effects during pregnancy, which makes it necessary to avoid it.

6. Cohosh

Cohosh

Be it black cohosh or blue cohosh, this herb is extremely dangerous to pregnant women and can cause miscarriages or premature deliveries due to its labour-inducing properties.

7. Hibiscus

Hibiscus

While it smells amazing and calming, hibiscus is a herb that is magnificent for anyone who isn’t pregnant. It is known to help balance oestrogen, but during pregnancy it can disrupt normal pregnancy-related hormone changes, fooling your body into thinking it isn’t pregnant and leading to premature labour or an underdeveloped foetus.

8. St.John’s Wort

John's Wort

A herb used to treat depression, it also could cause congenital disabilities in your baby or lead to uterus stimulation that can lead to premature labour. Even though this is not conclusive, it is a theory among most doctors. In the case of this herb, it is best to tread on the safer side and avoid it.

9. Yarrow

Yarrow

This herb is a well-known muscle relaxant which is, unfortunately, too powerful for pregnant women and can lead to premature labour.

10. Lemongrass

Lemongrass

Another herb that is dangerous for women who are pregnant, lemongrass can lead to contraction issues during delivery and lower the mother’s blood pressure during the pregnancy to dangerous levels. Avoid it as much as possible.

Pregnancy Problems That Can’t Be Treated With Herbs

Including herbs in your day-to-day life can be immensely useful but it won’t solve every problem. Here is a list of issues herbs cannot solve:

For more pros, cons and limitations of herbs during pregnancy, talk to your doctor.

Why Are Herbs Not Generally Recommended During Pregnancy?

Some herbs can cause dangerous complications during pregnancy, and it is best to avoid them. However, there is a general caution against taking herbs during pregnancy as there is not sufficient research to pinpoint the actual benefits and side effects of several herbs. To be on the safer side, the ‘everything in moderation’ approach is best when it comes to herbs that are considered safe at all, while completely avoiding those that aren’t.

Are Herbal Teas Safe to Drink During Pregnancy?

Herbal teas are both, a great way to consume healthy herbs, and a bad way to be overexposed to them. Another reason it’s preferred during pregnancy is because of its lack of caffeine, which seemingly makes it the better option when it comes to beverages that can be consumed during pregnancy. All the same, as mentioned above, there hasn’t been enough studies to conclude that certain herbal teas must be included in a pregnant woman’s diet. Therefore, ensure that all the herbal teas that you drink contain only those herbs and ingredients that are considered safe to consume during pregnancy, and that you drink the same in moderation.

Safety Tips for Using Herbs While Pregnant

Here is a list of safety tips to follow while consuming herbs during pregnancy.

  • Limit the dosage and consumption of herbs to moderate, healthy amounts.
  • Don’t combine too many herbs at once.
  • Use different herbs at different times during your pregnancy.
  • Always follow your doctor’s instructions regarding the consumption of herbs.

To learn more about the health benefits of herbs during pregnancy, please contact your healthcare advisor and discuss in detail about your fears. It is essential that you stop using any herb if you feel ill while consuming it. You know your body best; trust it to guide you through this wonderful phase!

Also Read: Consuming Herbal Teas during Pregnancy