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Considering Herbs for Pregnancy

Whether you're planning a pregnancy or are already pregnant, herbal remedies are a time-honored and safe way to go. Several herbs are recommended widely by midwives and are considered safe to use during pregnancy. Others are controversial and still others are known to be unsafe to use during pregnancy. The following four herbs are your best bet during pregnancy. Base your dose on the recommended standard amount and vary it slightly, depending on your height and weight.

  • Ginger: Morning sickness is an unwelcome challenge for millions of pregnant women. Ginger tea is a natural alternative to settle the stomach and reduce nausea. Studies show that it's as effective as leading anti-nausea medicines and that ginger is completely harmless, with a 3,000-year track record of safety. Use only fresh ginger, organic if it's available, from any market or natural food store. Crystallized ginger is sweet and yummy, convenient, and can work as well as the tea.

    Dosage: You can make a strong ginger tea by simmering several slices of the fresh rhizome or one teaspoon of the cut and sifted dried herb for every cup of water. Drink 1 cup of decoction, 2 or 3 times a day as needed, preferably around mealtimes. You can also take 2 capsules of the powder or 2 to 4 droppersful of the tincture, 2 to 3 times daily.

  • Nettle leaf: The leaf of the nettle plant is nature's vitamin pill. Revered by herbalists for centuries, nettle tea is a nutritious and pleasant-tasting brew for women, whether they're pregnant or not. Simmer 1 cup of the nettle leaf for 20 to 30 minutes, and drink several cups daily. Add red raspberry leaf for regulating your bowels and tonifying the uterus, or chamomile flowers for their relaxing qualities.

    Dosage: Make a decoction with 1 tablespoon of herb or rhizome for every cup of water by simmering for 20 or 30 minutes. Drink 1 to 2 cups, 2 or 3 times daily. Follow the label instructions for other products.

  • Red raspberry leaf: This good-tasting herb is the safest and most widely recommended herb for toning and preparing the uterus for birth. Drink 1 or 2 cups daily throughout the pregnancy.

    Dosage: Make a light decoction by simmering a small handful of the dried or fresh herb in 2 cups of water for a few minutes and steeping the herb for 15 minutes or so. Drink 1 cup daily.

  • Yellow dock: Many women are iron- and blood-deficient during pregnancy. This can make you tired and deliver less oxygen to you and your baby's cells and tissues. Widely recommended by midwives, using the root of this common weed is the best way to enhance iron uptake and utilization during pregnancy. Yellow dock tea, tincture, or capsules act as a mild bowel regulator. Add nettle leaf tea or natural iron supplements in capsules or tablets to yellow dock.

    Dosage: To make a tea, simmer 1 teaspoon of the cut and sifted herb for every cup of water for 20 minutes. Drink 1 cup of the tea, or 3 to 5 droppersful of the tincture in a little water, 2 or 3 times daily.

Although certain herbs are beneficial during pregnancy and can prevent anemia or help with a smooth delivery, the following herbs should be avoided during this time:

  • Aloe vera

  • Angelica

  • Anise

  • Arnica

  • Asafetida

  • Ashwaganda

  • Barberry

  • Basil

  • Bee balm

  • Black cohosh

  • Bladderwrack

  • Blessed thistle

  • Bloodroot

  • Blue cohosh

  • Blue flag

  • Borage

  • Buchu

  • Bugleweed

  • California poppy

  • Camphor

  • Cascara sagrada

  • Cassia

  • Castor oil

  • Catnip

  • Celandine

  • Celery

  • Coltsfoot

  • Comfrey

  • Corydalis

  • Dong quai

  • Elecampane

  • Ephedra

  • Fenugreek

  • Feverfew

  • Goldenseal

  • Guggul

  • Horehound

  • Hyssop

  • Ipecac

  • Juniper

  • Kava

  • Lemongrass

  • Licorice

  • Lobelia

  • Mace

  • Motherwort

  • Mugwort

  • Myrrh

  • Nutmeg

  • Oregon grape root

  • Osha

  • Parsley

  • Pennyroyal

  • Pleurisy root

  • Prickly ash

  • Quassia

  • Red clover

  • Rosemary

  • Rue

  • Sage

  • Senna

  • Thuja

  • Turmeric

  • Uva Ursi

  • Vervain

  • Vitex

  • Wild indigo

  • Wormwood

  • Yarrow

Avoid the following herbs during nursing unless under the care of a qualified health care practitioner:

  • Aloe vera

  • Basil

  • Black cohosh

  • Bladderwrack

  • Borage

  • Bugleweed

  • Cascara sagrada

  • Coltsfoot

  • Comfrey

  • Elecampane

  • Ephedra

  • Kava

  • Licorice

  • Male fern

  • Senna

  • Queen's delight (stillingia)

  • Wormwood

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