Every woman wants only the best for her developing baby. With the recent growing popularity of natural herbs and remedies replacing pharmeceutical drugs and treatments, there are several things every expectant mother should know before making any herbal purchases. The most important thing to remember is that not every herbal supplement is safe simply because it is natural. Also not all supplements or substances will have printed disclaimers about conflicts with pregnancy; some herbs are safe to use only during specific time periods during the pregnancy. Following are a list of herbs which are unsafe for the entire duration of the pregnancy:
•Goldenseal – While this substance is used as an alternative antibiotic, it is dangerous to a developing fetus.
•Henbane – This substance is used for a euphoric or anti-depressant effect, but is very toxic to both the fetus and pregnant mother.
•Comfrey – Thought to be a useful substance aiding in cell proliferation, Comfrey has been proven to yield toxicity upon the liver of both mother and fetus. Another substance which promotes liver damage in the fetus is Coltsfoot.
•Peruvian Bark – Pregnant women should always avoid this substance which has been linked to causing coma or blindness.
•Uva Ursi – Commonly used as a gentle diuretic and also to treat urinary tract infection symptoms, this substance significantly lowers blood glucose levels in the mother. Also known as “Bearberry” or “Manzanita”, Uva Ursi may be especially dangerous to pregnant women experiencing gestational diabetes.
•Pennyroyal – Leaves of this plant belonging to the Mint family are used in cooking and teas, but should be avoided during pregnancy for the toxicity and pregnancy termination risks. Especially dangerous and potentially fatal, Pennyroyal extract oil should not be taken orally or topically during pregnancy.
•Nutmeg – This common spice is popular in several dishes and baked goods. Normally a small amount will not harm an expectant mother or the fetus, but pregnant women should exercise caution in eating foods containing Nutmeg, as it has been known to cause a miscarriage when used excessively.
•Rue – Some people use this herb as a sedative or expellant internally, but pregnant women should avoid it due to the risk of vomiting and potentially fatal convulsing.
•Licorice Root – Licorice Root is a common component of Chinese medicine. Additionally it is used in licorice candies, but should be avoided for its risk of promoting water retention and increased blood pressure.
•Horsetail – Used as an antioxidant, this substance should be avoided by pregnant women for its concentration of silica, which is harmful to a developing fetus.
•Angelica & Dong Quai – Both of these substances have been shown to cause menstrual bleeding.
•Pseudoginseng, Wild Yam, Sassafras, Pokeroot & Autumn Crocus – All of these substances have been linked to birth defects.
Several substances are used to stimulate uterine contractions during the last days of pregnancy by those desiring to initiate labor. As with any medicinal substance, pregnant women should check with their doctor before using any herbal uterine stimulant. Also women should always avoid taking these substances before their due date. Following is a list of common uterine stimulants used only when labor is sought:
•Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
New supplements and substances are put on the market frequently, some without proper research. Because new research about herbal effects on pregnancy are discovered frequently, women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should always seek the advice of a trusted OB physician or homeopathic doctor before taking any oral herbal supplement or topical substance.