Herbs to avoid while Pregnant & Breastfeeding

Herbs to avoid while Pregnant & BreastfeedingDear Aunty Tina, I’ve seen a lot of holistic labels read, “Consult your doctor before use if pregnant or breastfeeding”. To stay on the safe side, what kinds of herbs/teas/essential oils should a hapai or nursing mama stay clear from?

Strong herbs and any kind of substance that has a strong effect on the body should be used with great care. Avoid herbs that are emmenagogues (have the ability to provoke menstruation) while pregnant, such as, Pennyroyal (has a long history as an abortifaciant), Celery Seed, Asafetide, Black & Blue Cohash (which could be used if you are full term and want to induce labor). Parsley and Basil should also be taken only in small amounts. Oxytocic agents should also be avoided while pregnant as these can induce uterine contractions. Theses include Angelica and Marijuana as well as Blue Cohash again. Another uterine stimulant is Dong Quai, Juniper or anything with Thujone in it.

Goldenseal is a uterine stimulant and should be avoided as it can cross the placenta.

Licorices should also be avoided while pregnant as this plant can increase fluid retention, blood pressure, and blood potassium levels. Saw Palmetto and Chasteberry should be restrained because they can disrupt hormonal activity and lead to miscarriage.

Essential oils I would avoid when pregnant would be Marjoram (oregano), Rosemary and Basil as these can stimulate uterine contractions which is only good when you are full term and want to have your baby!

While breastfeeding and pregnant you should avoid Kava root, Skullcap, Valerian, and Woodruff. Lobelia contains nicotine so should be avoided and Mate (or yerba mate) can contain as much caffeine as coffee, which should also be avoided, especially as caffeine prevents iron absorption and depletes B vitamins, which your body needs for stability. Noni is a wonderful fruit but should be avoided at this time because of its cathartic properties (cleanses out your toxins which may pass to the placenta or go into the breast milk) and Kombucha should be limited for the same reasons.

On the other hand, there are some great herbs and teas to take while you are pregnant and breast feeding which include Shepherd’s Purse, Alfalfa, Oatstraw, Chamomile and Rosehip. These herbs and teas contain lots of vitamins with some being an excellent source for calcium and iron too. Raspberry Leaf can make for a great tea that helps tone the uterus as well.

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