Herbs to be avoided during pregnancy: The following information comes from the American College of Nurse Midwives monograph, “Herbology throughout the reproductive cycle”.
There are many wonderful healing plants, which should be avoided during pregnancy for a variety of reasons. Some irritate the placenta, some can cause mutation of the developing fetus and others stimulate muscular contractions of the uterus. It is best to consult a qualified herbalist before using any herbs other than for nutritional support during pregnancy.
There are approximately 560 plants which have the ability to cause miscarriage or defects during pregnancy. Only about 50 of these plants are commonly used in the U.S. today. These can be broken down into groups of plants by their actions:
Alkaloid Containing Plants: (May constrict blood vessels, cause increase in blood pressure.) Coffee, Tea, Barberry, Ephedra, Golden Seal, Mandrake, Tobacco Sanguinaria.
Bitters: (May cause fetal defects and/or miscarriage.) Barberry, Cascara Sagrada, Celandine, Feverfew, Gentian, Golden Seal, Mugwort, Rue, Tansy, Wormwood.
Diuretics: (Encourage water loss) Buchu, Horsetail, Juniper Berries, Uva-Urs,i (large doses)
Emmenagogues: (Induces loss of uterine lining — may cause miscarriage.) Angelica spp., Basil, oregano, marjoram (okay in “normal” amounts, used as spices) Black Cohosh (last six weeks okay) Blue Cohosh (last six weeks okay) Ginger (okay in “normal” amounts) Hyssop, Motherwort (OK in small doses) Mugwort, Myrrh, Nasturtium, Osha, Parsley, Squaw Vine (small amounts okay) Pennyroyal, Rue, Sage, Shepard’s Purse (okay during childbirth for excess bleeding), Tansy, Wormwood
Laxatives: Aloes, Castor Bean, Barberry, Buckthorn, Cascara Sagrada, Coffee, Senna.
Steroid Precursors: Dong Quai, Ginseng, Licorice, Sarsaparilla.
Oxytocic: Blue Cohosh, Golden Seal, Black Cohosh, Mistletoe, Blue Flag, Uva-Ursi, Cotton Root Bark.
Others: Male Fern, Poke root.
Some of these herbs may be safe when used by skilled practitioner in appropriate doses and some may be used in late pregnancy to help prepare for birth. Make sure you know what you’re doing before using any supplements during pregnancy! wild carrot seed, chaparral, goldenseal, dong quai, feverfew, angelica, motherswort, ginger, any laxative herb including cascara sagrada, buckthorn, senna, osha’, rhubarb, bloodroot, poke, cascara sagrada, cotton root bark, rue, thuja, calamus, wormwood, rhubarb, senna, and lobelia.
Herbs to be used with caution during pregnancy: comfrey root, petasites, life root, oregon grape root, juniper berry, pennyroyal, tansy, wild ginger, barberry, devil’s claw, quassia, mugwort, parsley (in large, medicinal dosages.)
The following herbs may be used under a trained midwife’s or physician’s recommendation only during the last 2-3 weeks of pregnancy: blue cohosh, black cohosh, blue vervain, spikenard.
Herbs not to be used while breastfeeding: comfrey root, chaparral, wild ginger, petasites, poke, life root, sage, parsley leaf (in large amounts), ephedra, guarana, kola nut.
Herbs not to be used with young children: comfrey root, chaparral, quassia, life root, poke, petasites, ephedra, guarana, kola nut.
Herbs not to be used with high blood pressure or heart disorders: coffee, black tea, ephedra, guarana, green tea, kola nut.
Herbs not to be used by people taking blood thinning agents:red clover, yellow clover, alfalfa, angelica and dong quai.
Note: caution should be taken when using ginko with blood thinners
Herbs not to be taken for long-term use: comfrey, chaparral, uva ursi, wormwood, black walnut, cascara sagrada, borage, licorice, cape aloes, poke, kola nut, juniper, wild cherry bark, hydrangea, gravel root, turkey rhubarb or senna.