11 Dangerous Herbs You Should Avoid During Pregnancy

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Herbs are nature’s gifts that have been used for a long time to cure illnesses and stay healthy. However, you should be aware of some herbs to avoid during pregnancy as they may have adverse effects such as miscarriage, development delays, or premature labor. Although herbs have several health benefits, their use during pregnancy is uncertain. You cannot take herbal medicines without the advice of a healthcare provider because they have not undergone extensive testing and research like synthetic medicines. This post provides you with an extensive list of safe and unsafe herbs for pregnant women.

Risks Of Using Herbs During Pregnancy

Consuming herbs during pregnancy may cause premature labor.

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Yes, herbs are natural. But unlike modern medicines, herbs, and herbal preparations do not go through extensive tests. What this means is that there is no scientific research to prove the safety of these herbal medicines, making its use a risky proposition during pregnancy. There are categories of herbs to avoid while pregnant.

The FDA recommends that pregnant women avoid using herbal products without consulting their healthcare professionals. The ingredients that go into making herbal potions are not always well known. It is a distinct possibility that some of these ingredients may cause problems during your pregnancy.

Some of the risks associated with using herbs while pregnant include:

  • Miscarriage
  • Premature labor and birth
  • Injury to the fetus

Herbs may cause several other health hazards, which remain obscure due to the lack of scientific data.

Herbs To Avoid During Pregnancy

According to research by numerous herbal companies, the following herbs are unsafe for use during pregnancy:

1. Saw Palmetto:

Saw Palmetto may trigger hormonal activity.

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The oral intake of this medicinal herb can trigger hormonal activity.

2. Goldenseal:

If you are pregnant, you should avoid consuming goldenseal. It can cross the placenta and adversely affect the development of the brain in the fetus.

3. Dong Quai:

Pregnant women should stay away from Dong quai as it can cause uterine contractions and lead to a miscarriage.

4. Ephedra:

Ephedra can cause uterine contractions.

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The oral use of this herb can cause uterine contractions and premature labor. So, do avoid herbal products that contain ephedra when you are pregnant.

5. Yohimbe:

The herb can cause poisoning and endanger the life of your unborn baby. Please, stay off the herb when you are pregnant.

6. Pau D’arco:

Large doses of the herb can spell danger during your pregnancy.

7. Passionflower:

Passionflower offers a host of health benefits. But during pregnancy its use is avoidable.

8. Black Cohosh:

Another herb to avoid during pregnancy is black cohosh. It can trigger uterine contractions and cause premature labor.

9. Blue Cohosh:

Blue cohosh may have embryotoxic effects.

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Blue cohosh has abortifacient properties and may have teratogenic and embryotoxic effects. It is unsafe for use while expecting (1).

10. Roman Chamomile:

Consumption of Roman chamomile even in medicinal amounts can increase the risk of miscarriage.

11. Pennyroyal:

The use of pennyroyal during pregnancy is unsafe. It can cause miscarriage and fetal death due to brain and liver damage.

Other herbs that may pose a danger to your health and your baby’s growth during pregnancy include:

  • Aloe
  • Ginseng (American & Korean)
  • Evening Primrose
  • Feverfew
  • Kava Kava
  • Senna (2)

Herbs Safe For Use During Pregnancy

Don’t let this list make you believe that all herbs are unsafe during pregnancy. Here are some herbs that can prove beneficial during pregnancy:

1. Red Raspberry Leaf:

Here’s a herb that can make you enjoy a healthy pregnancy. Rich in iron, red raspberry leaf can decrease nausea and ease labor pains. So, you can enjoy a cup of red raspberry leaf tea without any worries.

2. Peppermint Leaf:

Peppermint helps relieve nausea and flatulence.

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Do you enjoy a cup of peppermint tea every day? Don’t worry, it won’t cause your pregnancy any harm. In fact, it can help relieve nausea and flatulence.

3. Slippery Elm Bark:

A moderate use of the slippery elm bark will not cause any harm to your unborn baby. It can help relieve nausea, heartburn, and vaginal irritation.

Some other safe herbs that you can use during pregnancy include:

  • Blond Psyllium
  • Black Psyllium
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne
  • Dandelion
  • Chamomile (German)

Like most expectant mothers, you may also want to consume everything natural and safe while pregnant. However, it is best to include organic and herbal foods and drinks in your pregnancy diet only after you take your doctor’s consent. Take note of herbs to avoid during pregnancy, such as Ephedra, Dong Quai, Cohosh, Pennyroyal, etc. These are unsafe and pose a risk of adverse effects for you and your fetus. However, you may enjoy sipping refreshing teas with safe herbs such as red raspberry and peppermint during pregnancy.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Jean-Jacques Dugoua et al.; (2008); Safety And Efficacy Of Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum Thalictroides) During Pregnancy And Lactation.
  2. Herbs and Pregnancy.
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Ria Saha

Ria is a techie-turned-writer and writes articles on health, with special emphasis on nutrition. She did her B.Tech from West Bengal University of Technology and was previously associated with IBM as SAP ABAP technical consultant. She moved into freelance content writing in 2013 and worked for various websites including MomJunction, Brainpulse Technologies, and Emarketz India.

Dr. Miguel Angel Razo Osorio

Dr. Miguel Razio Osorio began his career in 2004. After two years of internship and social service, he decided to specialize in G&O. Since 2013, Dr. Razo has dedicated his training and practice to improve his patients' obstetric and gynecological health, getting his degree as a certified specialist in 2017. He then began working at the different health systems in...
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