There seems to be an increasing misconception that because a plant (herb) is "natural" it is harmless. This is simply not true. The same caution should be used with herbal therapies as is used with pharmacological drugs because no herb is one-hundred percent safe. Hemlock is deadly; aspirin in high doses will cause bleeding. Both are natural products with potent side effects. It is imperative to know with certainty which plant you are using, where the plant was gathered, how it was processed, any possible interactions with medications or foods, and what the potential side effects are.
If you plan to gather your own herbs, please remember that herbs are subject to pollutants and pesticides. Plants gather pesticides and pollutants from the soil, air and water on which they feed. The way an herb works will depend on how it is prepared, the potency of the herb itself, the interaction between the herb and the individual woman and any pre-existing health problems the woman has. Additional concern is warranted because when a woman is pregnant, she is treating two patients. Please know with certainty how many weeks pregnant you are, which other herbs or supplements you are taking, and which herb is the least potent, yet effective, choice to treat the problem.
Herbs can be used safely if you observe the following:
- know which herb you are using
- know where the herb was harvested and how it was processed
- know the potential side effects and interactions
- begin with a low dose and slowly increase to get desired effect
- observe the body carefully for signs of taxation caused by the herb
- use the least volatile herb that will treat the condition
- be sure to increase the strength of the body through nutrition before, during and after herbal treatment
That being said, there are several safe and effective herbal allies which will ease your pregnancy discomforts, remedy common pregnancy problems and prevent nutrition based issues with far fewer side effects than their pharmacological alternatives.. Please use the following links and articles to learn about which herbs to use and which to avoid during pregnancy.
Susan Weed is the undisputed authority for all things herbal. Her book Wise Woman Herbal For the Childbearing Year is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in the use of herbs during pregnancy. Susan also has a plethora of information on her website
Other online resources:
The following books have quality information about herbs in general and specific herb use during pregnancy.
- Weed, Susan S. Wise Woman Herbal For the Childbearing Year 1986 Ash Tree Publishing Woodstock, New York.
- Ritchason, Jack The Little Herb Encyclopedia, Third Edition 1995 Woodland Health Books Pleasant Grove, Utah.
- Fetrow and Avila The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines 2000 Simon & Schuster New York, NY
- Parker, Shonda The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy 1998 Loyal Publishing Sisters, Oregon.
- Ody, Penelope Herbs for a Helathy Pregnancy...from Conception to Childbirth 1999 Keats Publishing Lincolnwood, Illinois