Herbal Medicines in Pregnancy by Midwife Zoe

While there is a perception herbal products are natural and safe, there is little information about their safety and effectiveness in pregnancy. However, there’s a good cause for concern, tight numerous studies linking herbal medicines with adverse effects in pregnancy. One large study found using almond oil to prevent stretch marks was linked with an increased risk of premature birth, with camomile and liquorice possibly linked to threatened miscarriage and premature birth. Common Chinese herbal medicine, especially if taken in early pregnancy, are linked with human abnormalities.

The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne recommends avoiding or taking caution with the following herbal medicines:

photo-66Aloe Vera – while OK as a topical gel, aloe vera latex taken orally in powder or liquid form may cause low blood sugar levels, uterine contractions or miscarriage. There’s not enough information about safe doses in pregnancy, so it’s probably best to avoid aloe vera juice or supplements.

Black Cohosh – may cause early labour, so avoid in early pregnancy. Only for use after your due date.

Evening Primrose Oil – limited safety information about oral use in pregnancy.

Fenugreek – OK to use in cooking, but larger quantities found in supplements may cause miscarriage or early labour. For use to increase milk supply post birth if needed.

Garlic – is fine in cooking, but avoid large doses in supplements, as it may cause bleeding, miscarriage or early labour.

Ginger – OK in cooking and in supplements at doses of 1-2g per day. Large doses can cause thinning of the blood and possibly heartburn.

Ginseng – avoid during pregnancy, especially early pregnancy, as it can cause serious adverse effects.

Liquorice – liquorice extract or liquorice root in large quantities can cause miscarriage and early labour. Black liquorice that is sold as a confectionary may contain extract or be flavoured with aniseed.

Raspberry Leaf – avoid in early pregnancy. Only use after 34 weeks pregnant.

Spirulina – little is known about it’s safety in pregnancy, so seek your doctor’s advice.

St John’s Wort – may reduce the baby’s birth weight and interferes with medicines. Talk to your Doctor before taking it.

Valerian – lack of information about taking it in pregnancy.

Always consult health care professionals before taking anything other then your pregnancy multivitamin. Safety always comes first.


(This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional. All information is written from the experience and knowledge of the person writing the post).