Herbs and Pregnancy
Herbs can be used to meet some of the nutritional needs of a pregnant woman as well as help with some common ailments. The key to knowing what is safe and what is not safe is to know what the herb is actually used for. Of course, caution should always be exercised and when in doubt it’s better to be safe than sorry.
However, the following are some safe guidelines when considering what herbs to use during pregnancy.
The best herbs to use for a pregnant woman are mild tonic herbs. These are herbs that have traditionally been used as food. They can be used daily to nourish and supply the nutritional needs of a pregnant woman.
What are some good mild herbs? Raspberry leaf, alfalfa, nettle, oat straw, chamomile, dandelion and lemon balm. Raspberry leaf for instance is a great herb that tones and prepares the uterus for labor and delivery. It may actually cause an easier labor! These herbs are also heralded as having wonderful nutritional benefits such as iron, calcium and magnesium. Make a daily tea with these herbs to benefit from their wonderful qualities throughout the pregnancy.
Sometimes a woman suffering from morning sickness can benefit from the use of milk thistle. Milk thistle has been used by many to help clear excess hormones from the liver which at times can be the cause of morning sickness. Peppermint essential oil diffused throughout the room can calm a queasy stomach, also.
As well, a tablespoon or two of ginger root tea may help alleviate morning sickness.
Another common pregnancy ailment is hemorrhoids. Beneficial herbs are witch hazel. A small cotton pad can be soaked with witch hazel and applied to the affected area. Drinking oat straw or nettle tea will help with strengthening and promoting elasticity of the capillaries in the rectum area.
Herbal sitz baths can be used for hemorrhoids to reduce swelling and provide some relief. A small bag of anti inflammatory herbs such as calendula, yarrow, oats and chamomile can be used. These herbs can also be used in a salve and applied topically.
Of course, hemorrhoids could be a cause of constipation. Keep the stool moving by eating plenty of fiber and use psyllium husks if needed.
Unsweetened cranberry juice is one of the best remedies for bladder infections. Several cups of juice need be consumed on a daily basis in order to be effective. The hippuric acid produced in the urine from cranberry juice actually prevents bacterial growth and prevents the bacteria from sticking to the lining of the bladder.
Heartburn, another pregnancy ailment can be alleviated by sipping on chamomile tea during your meals. Sucking on some slippery elm lozenges can also help. Papaya, full of good digestive enzymes is so beneficial after a meal. Papaya will aid with proper digestion.
The herbs to avoid during pregnancy are the herbs that are used to promote menstruation or that are toxic. These herbs can actually cause contractions and are considered abortifacient. The herbs to avoid are black cohosh, blue cohosh, pennyroyal, yarrow, shepherd’s purse, angelica and motherwort to name a few.
Always err on the side of caution and if unsure about the use of an herb consult with a trained herb specialist or avoid its use.
This information is for educational purposes only. It has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified health practitioner.