Before you become a mother you don’t need to worry about the herbs you take affecting anyone but yourself. As soon as you become pregnant then all of a sudden the herbs you take affect more than just you. An herb that for you alone my be good might be better avoided during pregnancy.
You might wonder why you’d want to avoid herbs with health benefits at the time you need all the help you can get.
Many herbs contain steroids that can affect the baby’s development during pregnancy and/or nursing. Others may be of a mildly toxic type and others may be strong uterine stimulants.
Please read this section carefully and take heed. If you notice an herb that you’re taking and you’re pregnant or nursing a baby, do more research to decide if you should stop taking it.
At least three types of herbs you want to stay away from are Emmenagogues, Oxytocic and Purgative or Laxative.
Herbs to avoid while pregnant
- Angelica – stimulates suppressed menstruation, oxytocic.
- Black Cohosh Root – uterine stimulant – mostly used during labor.
- Blue Cohosh Root – a stronger uterine stimulant.
- Borage oil – a uterine stimulant – use only during the last few days of pregnancy.
- Comfrey – can cause liver problems in mother and fetus – use only briefly, externally only, for treating sprains and strains.
- Dong Quai – may stimulate bleeding.
- Elderflower – do not use during pregnancy or lactation.
- Fenugreek – uterine relaxant, especially avoid fenugreek extract.
- Goldenseal – too powerful an antibiotic for the developing fetus, also should not be used if nursing.
- Henbane – highly toxic.
- Horsetail – too high in silica for the developing fetus.
- Licorice Root – can create water retention and/or elevated blood pressure and damage the fetus’ brain.
- Motherwort – stimulates suppressed menstruation.
- Mugwort – can be a uterine stimulant.
- Nutmeg – can cause miscarriage in large doses.
- Pennyroyal Leaf – stimulates uterine contractions (NOTE: Pennyroyal essential oil should not be used by pregnant women at any time!) – do not handle if pregnant or nursing.
- Rue – strong expellant.
- Saffron – can cause miscarriage and other problems.
- Shepherd’s Purse – used only for hemorrhaging during/after childbirth.
- Uva Ursi – removes too much blood sugar during pregnancy and nursing.
- Yarrow – uterine stimulant.
Please realize that this isn’t an exhaustive list of herbs you shouldn’t take while pregnant or lactating and should by no means be considered comprehensive. Additionally, if this is a topic of interest for you, do careful research also into which herbal essential oils you should avoid taking. Among these (more studies and clinical trials needed) are Savin, Tansy, Queen Anne’s Lace, Birthwort, Cotton Root Bark, Senna Leaf, Cascara Segrada, Papaya Seed and Feverfew.
I wish you or your loved one a happy, healthy pregnancy and remember even though we gave you these herbs to avoid, trust your body and if you have doubt just take the safe choice.
As always, consult with your licensed and qualified health professional closely before embarking on alternative health remedies or herbal supplements and essential oils for potential risks, side effects and contraindications.