By Vandna Jerath, MD, FACOG I am often asked about herbs considered safe during pregnancy. There are some herbs that can be safely used in pregnancy and may help alleviate symptoms or are helpful supplements during pregnancy. Approximately 10 percent of pregnant women take some type of herbal product. Many women think herbs are safe because they are natural. However, herbs have limited FDA regulation and can have inconsistencies with potency, quality, and effectiveness. Herbs that are in food, used for cooking, can be eaten in the natural plant or vegetable form, or consumed in a tea form would be preferred over concentrated pills, elixirs, or tonics. Some herbs should not be used in pregnancy and can be harmful causing miscarriage, premature birth or fetal birth defects. Typically, herbs should be avoided 3 months prior to conception and through the first trimester. The 8 herbs listed below in small amounts for a limited duration are likely considered safe in pregnancy, but please consult your doctor or healthcare provider prior to taking them.
- Peppermint leaf – May help relieve nausea (morning sickness) and flatulence.
- Ginger root – May help relieve nausea/vomiting, especially if taken with vitamin B6.
- Red raspberry leaf – May ease labor pains and increase milk production for breastfeeding. It is rich in iron and considered a safe herbal tea when used in the second and third trimester.
- Echinacea – May ease colds and boost the immune system.
- Cranberry – May relieve symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI).
- Chamomile – May promote relaxation, aid digestion, and improve insomnia.
- Slippery elm bark – May help relieve nausea, heartburn, and vaginal irritations and is likely safe when the inner bark is taken orally in amounts used in foods.
- Oats & oat straw – May help relieve anxiety, restlessness, muscular tension, and irritated skin as it is rich in calcium and magnesium.
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