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21 Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy (Updated List)

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.

Pregnancy herbsYou 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. These may present very real danger to your pregnancy and extreme caution is urged.

Herbs to avoid while pregnant

  1. Angelica stimulates suppressed menstruation, oxytocic.
  2. Black Cohosh Root – uterine stimulant – mostly used during labor.
  3. Blue Cohosh Root a stronger uterine stimulant.
  4. Borage oil a uterine stimulant – use only during the last few days of pregnancy.
  5. Comfrey can cause liver problems in mother and fetus – use only briefly, externally only, for treating sprains and strains.
  6. Dong Quai – may stimulate bleeding.
  7. Elderflower do not use during pregnancy or lactation.
  8. Fenugreek uterine relaxant, especially avoid fenugreek extract.
  9. Goldenseal too powerful an antibiotic for the developing fetus, also should not be used if nursing.
  10. Henbane highly toxic.
  11. Horsetail too high in silica for the developing fetus.
  12. Licorice Root can create water retention and/or elevated blood pressure and damage the fetus’ brain.
  13. Motherwort – stimulates suppressed menstruation.
  14. Mugwortcan be a uterine stimulant.
  15. Nutmeg can cause miscarriage in large doses.
  16. 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.
  17. Rue strong expellant.
  18. Saffron – can cause miscarriage and other problems.
  19. Shepherd’s Purse – used only for hemorrhaging during/after childbirth.
  20. Uva Ursi – removes too much blood sugar during pregnancy and nursing.
  21. 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. This is especially true for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding a baby.

Lastly, I want you to know that I personally get almost all of my herbs from Lost Empire Herbs. Their sourcing is the best in the business and many of their herbs are grown in the USA. Click here to learn about their patented Full-Spectrum Extraction process and get 15% off your first order! Tip: Be sure to sign up for their newsletter at the top.

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8 thoughts on “21 Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy (Updated List)”

  1. Motherwort is also a “woman’s herb”, and included in many “women’s formulas”, but it may be contraindicated in women with hypothyroid conditions..

  2. Motherwort is sometimes called common hedgenet.

    >Curious about how & whether other people use Wood Betony (stachys betonica). It’s probably my most reliable herb I use as a “base” when formulating blends for headaches, migraines, concussions, & >other tension related afflictions of the head & neck.

    My first exposure to Wood Betony herb was with a healer that used it as part of treatment for long term recovery of a spinal cord injury, in combination with St. Johnswort and oatstraw. If swelling/inflammation is present, boneset was added.

    I have since used this Wood Betony combination with stroke victems during rehab to help re-establish neural pathways (in combination with physical therapy of course). And in the long term care of a young man who has had suffered brain damage from a high fever.

    It is hard to say how much helps it gives. As with any nervous system repair, improvement is slow. However, in the half a dozen clients I have worked with, improvement was seen and in each instance exceeded physician expectations for recovery.

  3. Do you think wood betony (motherwort) would be a good herb to use for the CNS damage from

    Lyme Disease? This case is just coming off six weeks of antibiotics that

    weren’t started until 2 months after the tick bite. The nervous system

    symptoms have been quite strong. I’m planning to follow up with teasel,

    astragalus and a nervous system tonic. I was thinking of Avena sativa, but

    have never used wood betony and am wondering if anyone thinks it might be

    specific to this type of damage.


  4. The contraindications for Motherwort are pretty much theoretically based;

    its used to help relax an overactive thyroid, and so may furthur depress a

    sluggish thyroid. I’ve not heard or read anyone state that it is

    specifically contraindicated in such situations, and it may very well be one

    of those herbs that seems to adjust amphoterically to relax or stimulate

    activity as needed, but I’d rather not just presume it does so and

    potentially complicated an already complicated imbalance like

    hypothyroidism. Easier to just leave Motherwort out of the picture and

    avoid any potential dilemmas.

  5. Well, and rosemary and flavonoids, also. I have only read one article

    on this and would like to get some more references. Since I have a low

    thyroid, I have started taking Vit. C/biof in the evening (thyroid in

    the morning) and have eliminated melissa and rosemary from my herb diet.

    I was not aware of the leonurus problem before.

    Anybody seen more info on this? Thanks.

    Cherie (a new member, thanks, Henriette)

    Melissa falls in this category as well. Shame, really-it’s easy to avoid

    motherwort, nasty tasting stuff that it is (wonderful


    though), but the lovely, multitalented and yummy Melissa…..

    Julie James

  6. I have graves disease, a form of hyPERthyroidism, and from what I have read,

    motherwort is good for OVERactive thyroid, esp, with cardiac affectations.

    Also recommended for hyper are bugleweed, and lemon balm tea. So these herbs

    may be CONTRA-indicated for UNDER-active thyroid, as they would have the

    opposite effect you need.

  7. Penny Royal essential oil

    If using eight drops of the essential oil pennyroyal in 32 ounces of a blend of rosewater and other herbs, is the amount of Pennyroyal in that batch still a concern.

    Should pennyroyal be avoided at all because of its liver toxic activity?

    Thank you Marguerite

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