Herbs in pregnancy: which ones yes, which ones not

Herbs in pregnancy: which ones yes, which ones not
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Herbal teas, but also food supplements and various remedies based on plants and herbs. For some pregnant women they represent a valid alternative to classic drugs for the treatment or prevention of minor ailments, in the belief that, being "natural" products, they are also harmless and free from side effects for them and for the children they bring. belly.

Yet it is not certain that "natural" products are also harmless and free of side effects for pregnant women.

Indeed: there are plants (ginseng, licorice, bearberry) definitely not recommended, while others are not yet clear about their effectiveness - that is, if they really work - or so little is known about the real effects they can have on the placenta - the organ par excellence of pregnancy - and on the developing fetus that caution is a must. Let's find out more about it.

In this article


Herbal teas, food supplements and various remedies based on plants and herbs during pregnancy

That said, however, there are also herbs and plants that are considered useful and safe, which can be taken safely independently - under certain conditions - or under the supervision of an expert doctor of phytotherapy. "The real problem in these cases is that of the dosage"underlines Alfredo Vannacci, pharmacologist at the University of the city, and expert in phytotherapy, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.

Let's take the case of the ginger: it is certainly effective against nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, but if it is a serious condition, a simple herbal tea is not necessarily enough, such as those you can buy at a herbalist's shop or at the supermarket or make yourself with a few slices of fresh root in boiling water. "These solutions are fine if there is just a little discomfort, but if nausea and vomiting are important you have to take thedry extract. That works, but it must be taken on herbal medicine prescription ".

Read also: Nausea in Pregnancy, the guidelines

Herbs in pregnancy: here are the ones you can take without problems

"Let's face it right away: when it comes to simple herbal teas there are generally no problems" says Vannacci. "The important thing is to make sure they do not contain essential oils, because they all pass the placenta and it is not clear what effects they can have on the fetus."

Therefore green light to the most common herbal teas: chamomile, lemon balm, valerian, linden, hawthorn, nettle, mint, passion flower and even fennel (often used in case of abdominal swelling and flatulence), which some also advise against because it contains a substance (estragon), considered carcinogenic. "In reality - specifies the expert - the most recent studies underline that this risk refers to the isolated substance and not to the whole seed used in the infusions, which contains a series of other altogether beneficial substances".

Obviously, the green light refers to a use "common sense" - a couple of cups a day, perhaps varying the compositions - and in situations of physiological pregnancies. If there are other problems at stake, however, it is advisable to consult the doctor, to be sure of being able to drink the desired herbal tea in complete tranquility.

Read also: Drugs allowed and prohibited in pregnancy

To each disturbance its plant

So let's see what are the herbs that, according to the phytotherapist Vannacci, could help in case of minor pregnancy problems. Remembering once again that immediate and safe solutions such as herbal teas are hardly decisive: they can lead to small improvements, but maybe something more is needed, to be taken only with the supervision of an expert doctor.

1. Fatigue, sleepiness and lack of energy

They are symptoms often present in the first weeks or months of pregnancy. "In these cases the the green"advises the expert." Of course without exaggerating, that is, no more than 2/3 cups a day, to avoid taking too much caffeine. And, in the first trimester, to be sure not to interfere with the metabolism offolic acid". [Read also: What to drink during pregnancy, all drinks allowed and prohibited]

2. Nausea and vomiting

In this case, the natural solution is ginger. As we have said, if it is a slight annoyance, the pre-packaged or homemade herbal tea may be enough, but if the nausea is important or there is vomiting it is advisable to contact a doctor, who will evaluate the prescription of dry extract.

3. Digestive disorders

Heartburn and indigestion unfortunately they are common companions of many pregnancies. Many women rely on herbal teas chamomile and marshmallow, which the scientific literature considers safe. As for effectiveness, however, it is another matter entirely. "They are nice and they don't hurt, but they do not solve the problem. Which must be tackled with strategies relating to food and lifestyle "underlines Vannacci. [Read also: Acidity and heartburn in pregnancy, 6 easy remedies]

Same goes for symptoms like bloating or constipation: also in this case it is necessary to act first of all on nutrition. And with respect to constipation, Vannacci strongly discourages plants that stimulate the intestine, such as senna, rhubarb, aloe. "They get the intestine used to being stimulated, so in the long run it no longer works".

4. Insomnia

Herbal teas based on valerian, lemon balm, passion flower, linden they can be a mild relaxant. They are ok, but don't expect miracles.

5. Coolings

The go-to herb for colds and minor respiratory infections isechinacea, used to slightly reduce the duration of symptoms. Since it is especially effective in high dosages, however, it would be best to take it after consulting a doctor.

6. Urinary tract infections

In these cases, the cranberry, typically taken in tablet form. "We know it is safe - says Vannacci - but recently some studies have questioned its real effectiveness". And anyway, you can try using it only at the very first symptoms of urinary burning: when there is a diagnosis of infection, an antbiotic is usually the solution.

Read also: Nutrition during pregnancy: the foods to avoid

Herbs not recommended in pregnancy

As we have said, in the months of waiting they are from avoid all essential oils. In addition, a recent document from the Center for Integrative Medicine of the Careggi hospital in the city also advises against:

  • gingko;
  • ginseng;
  • hypericum;
  • licorice (obviously the reference is to excessive use, not to a candy every now and then ...);
  • feverfew;
  • tea tree oil;
  • bearberry.

Also to be avoided medicinal plants from non-European countries such as China, India, Africa or South America, both because data on their safety are often lacking, and because information on the quality of the preparations may also be lacking.

Read also: Diet during pregnancy

Questions and answers

Herbs are natural products: are they harmless in pregnancy?

No. It is not said that "natural" products are also free of side effects for pregnant women. On the contrary: there are plants (ginseng, licorice, bearberry) definitely not recommended, while the effectiveness of others is not yet clear.

What herbs should i avoid in pregnancy? 

Gingko, ginseng, hypericum, licorice, feverfew, tea tree oil, bearberry are to be avoided.

What herbal teas can be drunk during pregnancy? 

Green light to the most common herbal teas: chamomile, lemon balm, valerian, linden, hawthorn, nettle, mint, passion flower.

  • pregnancy spices
  • spices,
  • herbal teas
  • supplements
  • pregnancy feeding
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