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A List of Herbs Not Safe During Pregnancy

author image Bonnie Crowe
Bonnie Crowe is a mother of two teenagers; a teacher and author of children's books, curriculum and articles on English grammar, literature, technology, art, parenting and career guides for high schoolers. She's a former director of AOL Parenting, a member of SCBWI, and a graduate from the University of California,Berkeley.
A List of Herbs Not Safe During Pregnancy
Pregnant woman eating. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Pregnant women should think twice before downing that cup of herbal tea. While some herbs are harmless in small doses, there are several that could cause complications during pregnancy, including inciting preterm labor. Herbs that are used for tea, seasonings or as medicine can be harmful to your unborn baby, states the March of Dimes on its website. Know which herbs are not safe during pregnancy so you will avoid making a dangerous mistake.

Herbal Supplement Risks

A List of Herbs Not Safe During Pregnancy
Pregnancy and herbs may not mix. Photo Credit nattanan726/iStock/Getty Images

Herbs are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; therefore, the quantity, quality and composition of herbal supplements are questionable. The claims of a particular herb’s effectiveness on its packaging could be false or misleading. Some herbs can cause complications in pregnancy, including early uterine contractions that could lead to premature birth and even miscarriage, warns the American Pregnancy Association on its website. Always consult with your obstetrician, or midwife, and a professionally trained herbalist before ingesting herbal supplements while pregnant.

Avoid Herbal Stimulants

A List of Herbs Not Safe During Pregnancy
Avoid Dong Quai. Photo Credit cao chunhai/iStock/Getty Images

Some herbs can act as stimulants and should not be taken by pregnant women, according to the American Pregnancy website. Herbs to avoid include yohimbe, ephedra, kava kava, angelica, blue and black cohosh, borage oil, dong quai, mugwort and pennyroyal.

Herbs that Could Harm the Fetus

A List of Herbs Not Safe During Pregnancy
Ginger. Photo Credit NA/Photos.com/Getty Images

More herbs that are considered dangerous may cause miscarriage or other complications and should not be taken by pregnant women. These include black walnut, cascara sagrada, comfrey, echinacia, fenugreek, large amounts of ginger, goldenseal, henbane, horsetail, licorice root, large amounts of nutmeg, motherwort, pau d’arco, saw palmetto, senna, shepherd’s purse, St. John’s wort, tansy, uva ursi, wormwood and yohimbe.

Questionable Popular Herbs

A List of Herbs Not Safe During Pregnancy
Be cautious about chamomile tea. Photo Credit tycoon751/iStock/Getty Images

Some herbs and teas may be recommended by herbalists but have a rating of possibly unsafe or unknown on the Natural Medicines Database, according to the American Pregnancy website. You should check with your doctor before drinking too much chamomile, nettles or dandelion tea. Other herbs that are possibly unsafe to ingest or use are aloe, evening primrose and ginseng.

Tea Vs. Supplements

A List of Herbs Not Safe During Pregnancy
Herbal tea. Photo Credit Alberto Bogo/iStock/Getty Images

Certain herbal teas that you get in the grocery store may be safe to drink in limited amounts, while the same herbs in supplemental form are not safe, says Dr. Michael Lu, a University of California, Los Angeles, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and public health and author of "Get Ready to Get Pregnant: Your Complete Pre-Pregnancy Guide to Making a Smart and Healthy Baby." Lu also suggests steering clear of homemade herbal teas, which may be too concentrated for pregnant women.

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