A List of Herbs Not Safe During Pregnancy

Attractive pregnant woman holding a bowl of salad while standing
Pregnant woman eating. (Image: 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

Pregnant
Pregnancy and herbs may not mix. (Image: 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

Angelica sinensis(Traditional Chinese Medicine)
Avoid Dong Quai. (Image: 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

Ginger root
Ginger. (Image: NA/Photos.com/Getty Images)

There are additional herbs that are considered dangerous and 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

tea in cup
Be cautious about chamomile tea. (Image: 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

Different sorts of green tea
Herbal tea. (Image: 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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