by Nathan Jaynes, MH

Herbs have been used throughout history and are trusted to be safe and effective.  Even during pregnancy when most pharmaceuticals are off limits, most herbs have a safe track record.

There is, however, a rule that should be followed when using herbs during pregnancy: “Take only what is necessary when it is needed.”   This means to avoid herbs that have a specific action unless otherwise directed.  Herbs that are nutritive or tonic are always indicated during pregnancy.

Herbs to avoid during pregnancy:

• Emmenagogue herbs (these herbs induce monthly menstruation – see pg. 657 of Dr. Christopher’s book School of Natural Healing)
• Heavy cathartic herbs (stimulate strong bowel action pg. 650 SNH)
• Stimulating herbs such as coffee
• Hallucinogenic herbs
• Anti-parasitic herbs
• Abortives such as rue, tansy, cotton root bark, or thuja
• Any Standardized extract (these are really drugs)

Herbs used only under special circumstances (in small amounts if at all)

• Pennyroyal (used in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy only)
• False Unicorn (used in case of miscarriage only)
• Blue Cohosh (used to increase uterine contraction just before birth)
• Dong Quai (considered too strong to use for pregnancy in most cases)
• Black Cohosh (used in the last part of pregnancy to help with cramps)
• Male Fern (anti-parasite herb not to be used in large amounts)
• Poke Root (used as a cleanser especially the lymph - too strong for causal use)
• Wormwood and any artemisia species (anti-worm use only when needed)
• Licorice (use in small amounts - no more than 2 capsules 3 times per day)
• Ephedra (use in small amounts only - never use standardized)
• Dr. Christopher’s Pre-natal combination (used in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy only)
• False Unicorn and Lobelia combination (used in case of miscarriage)   
• Vitex (considered very strong for pregnancy)

Most herbs are safe; here is a list of herbs that can be taken during pregnancy in tonic amounts:

• Red Raspberry (should be taken often)
• Alfalfa 
• Ginger
• Evening Primrose
• Chamomile
• Cayenne
• Echinacea
• All Dr. Christopher Combinations not mentioned above
• Cramp bark
• Dandelion
• Vitalerbs (use in copious amounts)
• Dr. Christopher’s Pregnancy tea
• Goldenseal
• Catnip