Taking Herbal Medicine while Pregnant

Many herbs are contraindicated in pregnancy, especially when taken internally as some may cause uterine contractions or cause a miscarriage due to their astringent effects. It is best to seek the advice of a Healthcare professional if you intend to use herbs internally. It is generally recommended not to use any herbs during pregnancy, especially in the first two trimesters. There are exceptions to this rule such as using the herbs slippery elm and ginger for symptoms of morning sickness such as nausea.


Alfalfa, Andrographis, Blue Cohosh, Pennyroyal, Ephedra, Juniper, Schizandra, Yohimbe, St Johns Wort, Black Cohosh, Dong Quai, Golden Seal, Coltsfood, Bugleweed, Bearberry and Barberry.

Some of these herbs are not safe for use in pregnancy due to their emenogogue effects but also due to the following reasons:

  • emenogogue (stimulate menstruation)
  • alkoloid content (may cause uterine contractions due to the astringent properties)interactions with various hormones (estrogen and progesterone)
  • interactions with various hormones (Estrogen and Progesterone)
  • interferance with thyroid hormones


In the third trimester of pregnancy other herbs which naturally prepare the woman for childbirth and breastfeeding may be introduced such as Raspberry leaf, Aniseed, Fennel, Blessed Thistle, Chasteberry, Dandelion, Milk Thistle, Jasmine, Lemongrass, Beth Root, Squaw Vine and Nettle.

Please seek the advise of a healthcare professional regarding these herbs and their usage in labour. You may notice that some of these herbs are also mentioned on the contraindicated list above, this is because they are commonly used to bring on labour due to their effect on preparing the uterus and stimulating contractions whereas throughout the pregnancy these are contraindicated for the same reason.

In pregnancy it is best to err on the side of caution due to limited amounts of research, safety data, information and clinical studies gathered on herbs for use in pregnancy. For this reason many herbs do not currently have established safety data concerning their use. Obviously pregnancy is a sensitive time and the body is best left alone to perform its miracle of conception and growth of an infant, especially in the early stages.