There are certain herbs you should never take during pregnancy because you risk harming your baby or terminating your pregnancy. The popular Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha is among these, according to the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center. Ashwagandha is often prescribed in Ayurvedic medicine to promote longevity, slow cancerous tumor growth and to treat a host of health conditions including diabetes and epilepsy. Always consult a doctor before taking any herb when you are pregnant.
You need to avoid ashwagandha during pregnancy because it can induce abortion, warns the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center. At least one constituent in the herb, nicotine, is a uterine stimulant.
Some herbalists continue to recommend using ashwagandha during pregnancy, saying that the normal dosage is safe whereas only large doses have abortion-inducing effects. However, the herbalists do say you need to take the herb under the supervision of a qualified professional.
Even if you are not pregnant, you should seek the counsel of a health care professional if you want to take ashwaganda. The typical recommended dose for ashwagandha can vary widely. It can range from 1 to 6 g, according to “The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide” by George T. Grossberg and Barry Fox.
Herbalists that advocate using ashwagandha while pregnant say it helps alleviate lower backaches, counters fatigue and speeds delivery by strengthening your muscles, according to Letha Hadady, author of “Asian Health Secrets.” This herb is traditionally used in India during pregnancy, though western medical experts restrict its use during this time, notes the Dr. Eddy Clinic and Ayurveda School. Still, you need to consult a doctor before seeking such effects by taking the herb.
Medical advice is murkier once you’ve had your baby. There are no reports in existing scientific literature that specify whether ashwagandha is contradicted or safe during the time you are nursing, according to Edward Mills, lead author of “Herbal Medicines in Pregnancy and Lactation.”
- Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center: Ashwagandha
- Holistic Herbalist: Ashwagandha
- “Asian Health Secrets”; Letha Hadady; 1998
- "The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide”; George T. Grossberg and Barry Fox; 2007
- Dr. Eddy Clinic: Ashwagandha
- “Herb-Drug Interactions in Oncology”; Barrie R. Cassileth et al.; 2010