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Pregnant? Use Herbal Remedies With Care

Submitted by Kevin Ryan on December 29, 2011 – 12:32 pm

More and more, people are turning to natural remediesas a replacement for medications manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. After all, medicinal plants and herbs were the original pharmacy for tribes and cultures all over the world.Just as certain pharmaceutical drugs should be avoided during pregnancy to avoid injury to the mother or developing child — or to prevent miscarriage or premature labor — many herbs should be avoided or taken only under the guidance of a health care professional or qualified herbalist.

Below is a partial list of herbs that women are often warned not to use when pregnant or nursing.

Menstruation Stimulants – Angelica, Motherwort, Rue, Tansy.

Uterine Stimulants – Basil Oil, Beth Root, Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, Blood Root, Broom, Clove Oil, Dong Quai, Mugwort, Pennyroyal, Rue, Shepherd’s Purse, Wild Yam, Yarrow.

Contraction Stimulants – Broom, Goldenseal, Pennyroyal, Red Raspberry Leaf Tea during the first trimester.

Liver Damage – Coltsfoot, Comfrey.

Injury to the Developing Child – Peruvian Bark, PokeRoot, Pseudo Ginseng, Sassafras, Autumn Crocus, Southernwood, Squill, Wormwood, Mistletoe (toxins mayharm fetus), Valerian (sedative may be too concentrated for fetus), Goldenseal (antibiotic may be too powerful for fetus), Life Root (toxins may affect fetus), Henbane, Aloe Vera (should not be taken internally), Pennyroyal essential oil.

Hormone Production – Bugleweed, Ginseng.

Water Retention and Swelling – Licorice Root.

Nursing – Goldenseal, Elder bark, European Pennyroyal, Mugwort, Pulsatilla, Southernwood, Wormwood.

However, some herbs to be avoided during pregnancy can actually be used in the last few days of pregnancy (Borage Oil) or at the onset of labor (Vervain), during labor (Basil Oil, Beth Root, Black Cohosh, Clove Oil, Parsley in medicinal amounts, Yarrow) or immediately after to stimulate the uterus or to control bleeding or blood loss (Broom Root).

If you are pregnant, remember that herbs can have a powerful effect on you and your developing child; use them under the supervision of your physician or a trained herbalist.

When using herbs, be sure to get them from a reliable source to guard against adulteration by herbs or ingredients not listed or identified on the packaging. If you develop cramps, headache, nausea, stomach upset, diarrhea or any other symptom of illness an hour or two after taking an herb, stop taking it to see if your symptoms ease up.

For severe reactions, call your physician immediately.

— Kevin Ryan is an attorney with MichieHamlett in Charlottesville, Virginia.