Back to Nutrition
Back to Home Page

Back to Good things
To Pregnancy Childbirth & Beyond

Useful Herbs & Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy
These are recommendations and charts I have accumulated over the years

 

                                         Useful Herbs During Pregnancy

There are also several herbs, safely used by pregnant women for generations, which are an excellent source for the increased vitamins and minerals needed at this time. These herbs can easily be made into teas and incorporated into meals on a regular basis. Every person is different, and your body may react differently now to foods than it did previously. But used wisely and in moderation, these herbs make wonderful teas and foods.

Raspberry leaf is the best known herb to strengthen the uterine muscles so they work more efficiently during labor. Drink raspberry leaf tea throughout pregnancy with its easily assimilated content of calcium and magnesium to relieve leg cramps. Also high in iron, the leaves and berries help prevent anemia. Raspberry leaf soothes an upset stomach and will help alleviate mild morning sickness. Taken after birth, it slows bleeding, helps the uterus regain tone, and increases breast milk.

Nettle leaves are a storehouse of nutrition, with its high iron and calcium content, as well as an excellent source of folic acid, an essential nutrient during pregnancy. Nettle strengthens the kidneys and adrenals, while it relieves fluid retention. And because nettle also strengthens veins, it can prevent varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Postpartum, it increases breast milk. Nettle tea has a rich, green taste and can be mixed with other herbs. Cooked nettle is a mineral rich substitute for spinach and an excellent side dish with a dash of lemon juice and sesame seeds. Try substituting nettle in lasagna. Pick it fresh from spring until mid summer, but be sure to wear gloves to protect your skin. Its nickname is “stinging nettle”, but this sting disappears when cooked. I usually pick some extra to freeze and have on hand for the winter months.

Oats, another herb high in calcium and magnesium, builds healthy bones and nourishes the nervous system. This is the perfect herb to relieve nervous exhaustion and allow for relaxed rest when sleep is difficult. An easy way to incorporate the healing power of oats, and its high fiber content, is to eat oatmeal cereal in the morning, along with oatmeal bread. Oatstraw tea has a mild flavor that can be used alone or mixed with other herbs. And a warm oatmeal bath is not only relaxing, it softens skin and relieves the itch of a growing belly.

Dandelion root tea increases digestion and promotes bile to relieve constipation. It is one of the best herbs for cleansing and strengthening the liver, our main detoxifying organ. The liver breaks down hormones no longer needed by the body after birth, and any drugs that may have been given at birth. Containing calcium and iron, roasted dandelion root’s coffee like flavor, is an excellent morning beverage. Add a handful of the fresh leaves, high in vitamin A, to other greens in salads. Drink dandelion leaf tea if a diuretic is needed to relieve fluid retention. Because of its high potassium content, it does not deplete the body of this important mineral, as other diuretics are known to do

Alfalfa, with its deep root system, contains many essential nutrients including trace minerals, chlorophyll and vitamin K, a nutrient necessary for blood clotting. Many midwives advise drinking mild tasting alfalfa tea or taking alfalfa tablets during the last trimester of pregnancy to aid blood clotting and decrease postpartum bleeding or chance of hemorrhaging. Add alfalfa sprouts to salads. Alfalfa also increases breast milk- alfalfa hay is fed daily to milking goats and other dairy animals.

These common herbs are available in most natural health food stores and are well worth using for their packed nutritional support during these special months of nurturing mother and child.


                      Herbs to Avoid...

Herbal remedies are considered natural alternatives to certain drugs, but they can also be dangerous when taken during pregnancy. While a cup of chamomile tea is perfectly safe for a mom-to-be, many herbs contain chemicals that can cross the placenta to your baby, and some can cause premature contractions. As with all medications, you should avoid taking any herb during the first trimester and use only minimal amounts for short periods of time thereafter, and then only when needed. And always talk to your obstetrician or midwife before taking any herb or medicine during pregnancy.

The charts below are reprinted from Herbs for a Healthy Pregnancy: From Conception to Childbirth by Penelope Ody, which will be published by Keats Publishing in October 1999. Ody is the author of the best-selling The Complete Medicinal Herbal, and a member of England's National Institute of Medical Herbalists.

(Before taking any over-the-counter herbal remedy, remember to check its contents against the following list of plants to avoid in pregnancy, and carefully note all of the individual cautions given for the herbs in the following sections.)

Herbs to Completely Avoid During Pregnancy

Herb Reason to avoid
Aloe Vera The leaves are strongly purgative and should not be taken internally.
Arbor vitae (Thuja occidentalis) A uterine and menstrual stimulant that could damage the fetus.
Autumn crocus (Colichicum autumnale) Can affect cell division and lead to birth defects.
Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) Contains high levels of berberine, known to stimulate uterine contractions.
Basil oil A uterine stimulant; use only during labor.
Beth root (Trillium erectum) A uterine stimulant; use only during labor.
Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosus) May lead to premature contractions; avoid unless under professional guidance. Safe to use during childbirth.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) A uterine stimulant that in quite small doses also causes vomiting.
Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) A uterine stimulant to avoid unless under professional guidance. Safe to use during childbirth.
Broom (Cytisus scoparius) Causes uterine contractions so should be avoided during pregnancy; in parts of Europe it is given after the birth to prevent blood loss.
Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus) Interferes with hormone production in the pituitary gland, so best avoided.
Clove oil A uterine stimulant used only during labor.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) Contains toxic chemicals that will cross the placenta; do not take internally.
Cotton root (Gossypium herbaceum) Uterine stimulant traditionally given to encourage contractions during a difficult labor, but rarely used medicinally today.
Devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) Uterine stimulant, oxytocic.
Dong quai (Angelica polymorpha var. sinensis) Uterine and menstrual stimulant, best avoided during pregnancy; ideal after childbirth.
False unicorn root (Chamaelirium luteum) A hormonal stimulant to avoid unless under professional guidance.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) Uterine stimulant; may cause premature contractions.
Golden seal (Hydrastis canadensis) Uterine stimulant; may lead to premature contractions but safe during childbirth.
Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) Uterine stimulant; may cause premature contractions.
Juniper and juniper oil (Juniperus communis) A uterine stimulant; use only during labor.
Lady's mantle (Alchemilla xanthoclora) A uterine stimulant; use only in labor.
Liferoot (Senecio aureus) A uterine stimulant containing toxic chemicals that will cross the placenta.
Mistletoe (Viscum album) A uterine stimulant containing toxic chemicals that may cross the placenta.
Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) A uterine stimulant that may also cause birth defects; avoid unless under professional guidance. Also avoid when breastfeeding.
American pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides) Reputed uterine stimulant to be avoided during pregnancy.
European pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) A uterine stimulant that may also cause birth defects; avoid unless under professional guidance. Also avoid when breastfeeding.
Peruvian bark (Cinchona officinalis) Toxic; excess may cause blindness and coma. Used to treat malaria and given during pregnancy only to malaria sufferers under professional guidance.
Pokeroot (Phytolacca decandra) May cause birth defects.
Pseudoginseng (Panax notoginseng) May cause birth defects.
Pulsatilla (Anemone pulsatilla) Menstrual stimulant best avoided during pregnancy; limited use during lactation.
Rue (Ruta graveolens) Uterine and menstrual stimulant; may cause premature contractions.
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) A uterine stimulant that may also cause birth defects.
Shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) A uterine stimulant; use only during labor.
Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum) A uterine stimulant that may also cause birth defects; avoid unless under professional guidance. Also avoid when breastfeeding.
Squill (Urginea maritima) A uterine stimulant that may also cause birth defects.
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) A uterine stimulant that may also cause birth defects.
Wild yam (Diascorea villosa) A uterine stimulant to avoid unless under professional guidance; safe during labor.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum) A uterine stimulant that may also cause birth defects; avoid unless under professional guidance. Also avoid when breastfeeding.

Herbs to Use Only in Moderation During Pregnancy

Herb Reason for caution
Alder buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) Strongly purgative, so should not be taken in high doses or for long periods.
Angelica (Angelica archangelica) A uterine stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb.
Anise and aniseed oil (Pimpinella anisum) A uterine stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb; avoid using the oil entirely.
Bitter orange (Citrus aurantiam) A uterine stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb or in moderate use.
Caraway (Carum carvi) A uterine stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb.
Cascara sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana) Strongly purgative, so should not be taken in high doses or for long periods.
Celery seed and oil (Apium graveolens) A uterine stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb.
Chamomile oil The oil is a potent uterine stimulant to be avoided, but the dried or fresh herb is safe in moderation.
Chili (Capsicum spp) Avoid high doses as they may lead to heartburn; can flavor breast milk when breast-feeding. Moderate culinary use is fine.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) A uterine stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb; avoid the essential oil completely.
Cowslip (Primula veris) Strongly purgative and a uterine stimulant in high doses.
Elder bark Strongly purgative, so should not be taken in high doses or for long periods.
Fennel and fennel oil A uterine stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb; avoid using the oil entirely.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) A uterine stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb or during labor.
Garlic (Allium sativa) Avoid high doses as they may lead to heartburn; can flavor breast milk when breastfeeding. Moderate culinary use is fine.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) Possible uterine stimulant; use in moderation for occasional teas only.
Jasmine oil A uterine stimulant best reserved for childbirth to ease labor.
Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) Clinical reports suggest that high doses in pregnancy can lead to androgynous babies (caused by overstimulation of male sex hormones); use for short periods only.
Lavender (Lavendula argustifolia) A uterine stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb or for moderate use.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) High doses can exacerbate high blood pressure; safe in moderation.
Lovage (Levisticum officinale) A uterine stimulant traditionally used in slow and difficult labor; safe as a culinary herb.
Marjoram and marjoram oil (Origanum vulgare) A uterine stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb; avoid using the oil entirely.
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) A uterine stimulant in high doses; best limited to the final weeks and during labor.
Myrrh (Commiphora molmol) A uterine stimulant that may lead to premature contractions; avoid high doses.
Nutmeg and Nutmeg Oil Inhibits prostaglandin production and contains hallucinogens that may affect the fetus; once erroneously regarded as an abortifacient. Safe in normal culinary use.
Oregano (Origanum X marjoricum; O. onites) A uterine stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb; avoid using the oil entirely.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) Uterine stimulant that may also irritate the fetus in high doses; safe in normal culinary use.
Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) A uterine stimulant in high doses; safe for moderate use.
Peppermint oil A uterine stimulant; avoid the oil entirely, although low doses of the dried herb can be used.
Raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) A uterine stimulant in high doses; best limited to the final six to eight weeks and during labor.
Rhubarb root (Rheum palmatum) Strongly purgative, so should not be taken in high doses or for long periods.
Rosemary and rosemary oil A uterine stimulant in high doses; safe in moderation and normal culinary use. aAvoid using the oil entirely.
Saffron (Crocus sativa) A uterine stimulant in high doses; safe in normal culinary use.
Sage and sage oil A uterine and hormonal stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb; avoid using the oil entirely.
Senna (Senna alexandrina) Strongly purgative, so should not be taken in high doses or for long periods.
Tea, black (Camellia sinensis) Limit to two cups a day, as excess can lead to palpitations and increased heart rate.
Thyme oil (Thymus vulgaris) Some reports claim that it acts as a uterine stimulant, though the research is disputed; the herb is quite safe in cooking.
Vervain (Verbene officinalis) A uterine stimulant in high doses; best limited to the final weeks and during labor.
White horehound (Marrubium vulgare) Reputed uterine stimulant; safe in moderation in cough drops.
Wood betony (Stachys officinalis) A uterine stimulant in high doses; best limited to the final weeks and during labor.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) A uterine stimulant in high doses; best limited to the final weeks and during labor.

 

 

***purgative
a purging medicine; something that cleanses or purges the body (via the bowels) of an unwanted substance

 

 

Which herbs bring on contractions or bleeding?

Angelica
Birthwort (bethwort)
Black cohosh (may be used in the last 2 weeks of pregnancy)
Blue cohosh (may be used in the last 2 weeks of pregnancy)
Cotton root
Elecampane
Feverfew
Goldenseal
Horehound
Lovage
Mistletoe
Motherwort
Mugworts
Myrrh
Osha
Parsley
Pennyroyal
Rue
Sage
Tansy
Thuja
Thyme
Turmeric
Wormwood

Which laxative herbs are too strong to use at this time?

Aloe vera
Buckthorn
Butternut
Cascara sagrada
Senna

Which herbs that affect hormones are contraindicated during pregnancy?

Borage
Damiana
Dong quai
Licorice
Sarsparilla
Siberian ginseng
Vitex (can be used the first trimester)

Which cleansing herbs are too strong or irritating?

Arnica
Barberry
Bee Balm
Black walnut
Blessed thistle
Catnip
Chapparal
Chicory
Colsfoot
Comfrey (external use is fine)
Ephedra
Fenugreek
Gentian
Horehound
Horsetail
Ipecac
Juniper berries
Lobelia
Oregon grape root
Poke root
Rhubarb root
Rosemary
Uva ursi
Yarrow

Which herbs should be avoided while nursing?

Aloe vera
Basil
Black cohosh
Bladderwrack
Borage
Bugleweed
Cascara sagrada
Coltsfoot
Comfrey (avoid internal use only)
Elecampane
Ephedra
Licorice
Parsley (will dry up milk)
Sage (will dry up milk)
Senna
Wormwood

Back to Nutrition
Back to Home Page

A Christian Home... the way home.    The canvas where your memories are painted
 

Welcome Page

Welcome Home Messages

Christian Life Issues

Motherhood & Parenting

Kathryn’s Letters

Modest Clothing  & Links

the welcome home blog

Good Things and Recipes Notes

Titus2 Journey Study

Letters to Mothers

The Hope Chest

Clothing

The Great Page

pamela's writings

Woman To Woman

Sandy's Home Notes

Just for Young Ladies

Good Things

Bible Study Resources

Ministries to Women

Homemaking

Pregnancy List

Sewing & Crafts

 Glenys's writings

Devotionals

My Reply letters to Women

Home Management

Pregnancy - Childbirth

Gifts to Make

Holidays

Home Church

Notable Quotes

Top Ten To Do's

Child Training  

Courtship

Just For Young Men

Missions

Home Schooling

Kathryn's Kitchen

-Adoption-

Weddings

Just For MEN

Bible-Quiet time

 Teaching Children

Our RECIPES

Past sexualabuse

Grandmothers

Marriage

Hymns & Quotes

Far Above Rubies

Chocolate!

Post Abortion Hope

Large Family

Dates

Bookshelf

Medical Info Page   PCOS

Low Carb

Garden

Games & Rules

Guestbook

prayer requests

Neat Stories   

Nutrition - Health - Food Values

Funny Funny

Simple Living

message board

Christian Music

Various & Sundry links

Diet & Weight Loss

Our Favourite Websites

Greeting Cards

Tchotchke Graphics

AChristianHome.org   1999----2006       A Christian Home  ~  PO Box 2130 Snohomish, Washington 98291 USA