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 Herbal Medicine: Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy 
 
A literature search of the ethnopharmacology of plants used for their abortifacient or uterine stimulating actions provides a long list of plants to avoid. According to Marderosian and Liberti in their useful but rather biased book `Natural Product Medicine', 565 species from 125 families have such effects.

These otherwise extremely useful remedies often share chemistry that in some way irritates the placenta or causes muscular contractions in the uterus. Limiting ourselves to those plants most often encountered in western Phytotherapy, the following groupings can be identified :

Bitters
From the material concerning bitters already covered, it is clear that the general metabolic stimulation and especially that of smooth muscle and the emmenagogue results, are contra-indicated during pregnancy. All strong bitters should be excluded, with especial attention to :
Artemisia abrotanum Southernwood
Artemisia absinthium Wormwood
Artemisia vulgare Mugwort
Berberis vulgaris Barberry
Chelidonium majus Celandine
Hydrastis canadensis Golden Seal
Ruta graveolens Rue
Tanacetum parthenium Feverfew
Tanacetum vulgare Tansy

Alkaloid containing plants
Alkaloids are a diverse group of secondary plant constituents that have a wide range of pharmacological impact upon the body. The stronger representatives are to be avoided, including the caffeine containing social drugs Coffee and Tea. These include :
Berberis vulgaris Barberry
Colchicum autumnale Autumn crocus
Hydrastis canadensis Golden Seal
Podophyllum peltatum Mandrake
Sanguinaria canadensis Blood root
Sarothamnus scoparius Broom

Oil containing plants
Many of the essential oils can have a devastating impact on the placenta and foetus is taken internally during pregnancy. Avoid all Essential oils internally. However, the whole plant that the oil was distilled from will usually be fine if used in moderation. Important exceptions are:
Juniperus communis Juniper
Mentha pulegium Pennyroyal
Myristica officinalis Nutmeg (in large amounts)
Thuja occidentalis Arbor vitae

Anthraquinone Laxatives
The strong herbal laxatives often owe their effects to the presence of anthraquinones that stimulate peristalsis in the bowel. They may have a similar stimulating impact upon the uterus. If a laxative is needed during pregnancy it should be either a bulk or hepatic laxative. Please refer to appropriate section for more information.
Cassia senna Senna
Rhamnus catharticus Purging Buckthorn
Rhamnus frangula Alder Buckthorn
Rhamnus purshiana Cascara Sagrada

Others
There are other plants that should be avoided which do not fit into such convenient categories. Some are listed here. Male Fern is an example of an anthelmintic remedy for the treatment of worm infestations.
Cinchona spp. Peruvian Bark
Phytolacca spp. Poke
Dryopteris felix-mas Male Fern
Gossypium herbaceum Cotton-Root
Viscum album Mistletoe
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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
 
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