The following blog post has been written by our qualified herbalist, Elizabeth Breit. She has generously allowed for it to be posted on The Happy Teapot Blog page for the benefit of our customers.
I’m pregnant! What herbs should I avoid?
Herbal teas are great for pregnant women to drink as an alternative to caffeine drinks.
Just as smoking affects a developing baby so does caffeine, whether it is coffee, tea, cola or energy drinks.
A friend of mine who works at an ultra sound clinic finds it disturbing that some pregnant women will drink coffee prior to having an ultra sound so they can watch their developing baby move erratically. It might be fun to watch (not!) but the effect on the developing baby’s heart, liver and kidneys is quite detrimental.
I was told recently by a pregnant woman that her doctor said it was safe for a pregnant woman to drink up to 3 cups of coffee day. Whatever a pregnant woman ingests, so does her baby which begs the question – would you bottle feed 3 cups of coffee to a baby every day??
Herbal teas can be helpful during pregnancy for morning sickness, toning the ligaments of the uterus in preparation for childbirth and for blood pressure issues.
There are a number of herbs that are contraindicated throughout pregnancy and this is usually because of the actions they have. Some are oxytocins, which means they cause uterine contractions. Herbs are very powerful so it is always wise to use herbs with caution.
In my PREGNANCY tea I have blended Raspberry leaf (one of the safest herbs to drink during pregnancy) with Lemon Myrtle and Lemon Balm.
Raspberry leaf is rich in folic acid, iron and Vitamins A & C.
Raspberry leaf has a long tradition of use as it strengthens and tones the tissues of the uterus to make contractions easier. It also helps to check haemorrhaging during labour. It’s medicinal properties help to strengthen pelvic muscles and ligaments to help facilitate an easy, normal birth.
I often hear from pregnancy women they have been advised not to drink Raspberry leaf until the third trimester. This is usually from people who are erring on the side of caution because they are not well informed about herbs. In fact, taking Raspberry leaf as a supplement in tablet form, which is much stronger, is not recommended in early pregnancy.
Drinking Raspberry leaf in the early months of pregnancy can be very helpful for settling morning sickness and then after childbirth, it can help get the tummy back into shape.
According to well-known herbalist, Hilde Hemmes, if taken regularly by older women, it can help prevent and/or overcome a prolapsed uterus. Raspberry leaf is also a good gargle for sore throats, helps with mouth ulcers and bleeding gums.
If blood pressure is an issue during pregnancy – high or low pressure – my BLOOD PRESSURE herbal tea is ideal. I have had excellent feedback from pregnant women with low blood pressure about how this has stabilised their blood pressure and stopped the dizzy spells and fainting. It is delicious to drink and the herbs are safe for pregnant women. Ingredients are Hibiscus flowers, Hawthorn leaf, Rosehips and Lemongrass.
The following herbs should be avoided medicinally during pregnancy. However, some of these herbs, such as Rosemary and Cinnamon, are safe when used as food flavouring.
They are: Aloe (no issue if using as a gel on the skin but should be avoided orally in pregnancy and breastfeeding mothers.) Barberry, Celery Seed, Devil’s Claw, Hyssop, Parsley seed, (ok as food flavouring but not medicinally) Pokeweed, Rue, Wormwood, Angelica, Black Cohosh, Cinnamon (ok as food flavouring), Golden Seal, Juniper (can be an irritant, especially if there is any kind of kidney issue), Rosemary and Sage (both safe as food flavouring), Thuja, Pennyroyal & Tansy.
Wormwood is an anti-parasitic herb and is best known as the basis of the potent and illegal French drink, Absinthe, a brew with narcotic and hallucinogenic properties that can damage the central nervous system.