100 Herbs To Avoid During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

Herbs that you take during pregnancy can affect your baby. Many of them contain compounds that can lead to demonstrable effects on the body. Some also contain oils and alkaloids which impact the nervous system. Therefore, it is essential to know which herbs you can safely take as well as the ones to avoid during pregnancy and while breastfeeding later. Some of the herbs discussed below may be safely consumed in small quantities. In general, following herbs are best avoided in all trimesters and also later while nursing.

Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is generally safe but, during pregnancy it could lead to uterine contractions. So, avoid taking it internally in pregnancy. You can, however, safely apply Aloe Vera creams or gels topically without harming you and your baby.

Angelica Sinensis and Dong Quai
Angelica is contraindicated during pregnancy because it can cause miscarriage in the early weeks.Dong Quai or Chinese Angelica is particularly harmful as it can restart menstruation causing miscarriage. Dong quai could even lead to fibroid and increase risk of postpartum hemorrhage. Stay away from all varieties of Angelica during and after pregnancy while you are nursing your baby.

This herbal remedy can cause severe diarrhea in the pregnant mother leading to dehydration. It contains an alkaloid which is known to cause miscarriage in the early weeks.

Licorice root
Licorice root is best avoided during pregnancy since it mimics estrogen and leads to premature labor in pregnant women. Also, male fetus exposed to this herb could develop abnormalities in the sexual organs.

Rue, tansy, black cohosh and penny-royal
These are extremely strong herbs that can cause uterine contractions and even miscarriage in pregnancy.

Senna is a cathartic laxative herb that can cause many potential problems in the mother and her child. Senna could even pass down to the child through the breast-milk and can be toxic to the infant.

Some more herbs and spices to limit during pregnancy
Turmeric, sage, ginger, Arnica, barberry, borage, buckthorn, camphor, castor oil, colt’s foot, false Unicorn, fenugreek, Goldenrod are some spices and herbs that should not be taken in large quantities. Spices like ginger, fenugreek and turmeric may be used in cooking, but only in small quantities. Borage oil and fenugreek are stimulants that can impact the uterus and lead to premature contractions. Both may be safely taken during lactation since they improve mother’s milk supply. If you are wondering if sage is safe during pregnancy, the answer is that it is best to take it in limited quantities only. Blessed thistle, when taken in large amounts, can induce vomiting. Henbane, Elder, Mugwort and Nutmeg are some other herbs and spices that are best avoided entirely or consumed in small quantities as they could cause miscarriage.

Summary of herbs that can cause miscarriage or bleeding in pregnancy

Following are some more herbs that could cause menstruation to restart:
  • Saffron
  • Yarrow
  • Devil’s claw
  • Marigold
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Oleander
  • Ma Huang which is a Chinese herb that is best avoided during pregnancy as it could cause bleeding. It is called by different names like Ephedra, Ephedrine, Mormon Tea or Desert tea.
  • Uva Ursi
  • Cascara
  • Sagrada
  • Calamus root
  • Foxglove
  • Cotton root bark.
Summary-List of 104 herbs and spices to avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  1. Aloe Vera (avoid internal consumption but is safe for topical use)
  2. Agrimony
  3. Agave
  4. Arnica
  5. Angelica
  6. Autumn Crocus
  7. Balm of Gilead
  8. Barberry
  9. Beth Root
  10. Black, blue and red cohosh
  11. Blessed Thistle
  12. Blood root
  13. Butternut
  14. Broom
  15. Calendula
  16. Chaste tree
  17. Comfrey
  18. Cotton root
  19. Cowslip
  20. Damania
  21. Devil’s Claw
  22. Dong quai
  23. Ephedra or Ma Huang
  24. Elecampane
  25. Feverfew
  26. Garlic in high doses
  27. Ginseng
  28. Ginger (food use is okay)
  29. Gentian
  30. Gingko
  31. Goldenrod
  32. Goldenseal
  33. Gota Kola
  34. Gravel root
  35. Guarana
  36. Hawthorn
  37. Honeysuckle
  38. Hops
  39. Horse chestnut
  40. Horseradish
  41. Horsetail
  42. Hydrangea
  43. Hyssop
  44. Iris
  45. Ipecac
  46. Juniper berries
  47. Kava Kava
  48. Kola nut
  49. Lady’s Slipper
  50. Licorice root
  51. Lemon balm (may be consumed in small quantities)
  52. Liferoot
  53. Lily of the Valley
  54. Lobelia
  55. Lovage
  56. Lungwort
  57. Malefern
  58. Mistletoe
  59. Mandrake
  60. Ma Huang
  61. Mate (occasional use okay)
  62. Motherwort (small quantities okay)
  63. Mugwort
  64. Melissa
  65. Myrrh
  66. Nutmeg (may be consumed in small quantities)
  67. Osha
  68. Oregon Grape root
  69. Orris
  70. Parsley (small quantities okay)
  71. Passion Flower
  72. Pennyroyal
  73. Periwinkle
  74. Peruvian bark
  75. Poke root
  76. Pulsatilla
  77. Queen of the meadow
  78. Rhubarb
  79. Rue
  80. Red Clover
  81. Red cohosh
  82. Rosemary
  83. Roman Chamomile
  84. Sarsaparilla
  85. Saw Palmetto
  86. Sage
  87. Senechio Aureus
  88. Senna
  89. Shepherd’s purse
  90. Stillingia
  91. Tansy
  92. Tea tree
  93. Tien Chi
  94. Thuja
  95. Thyme
  96. Valerian
  97. Vitex Agnus Castus (avoid high quantities)
  98. White clover
  99. Witch Hazel (topical use okay)
  100. Wormwood
Many of these herbs actually impact the pregnancy hormones and upset their delicate balance. If you are unsure as to which foods, spices or herbs to stay away from during pregnancy and breastfeeding, consult a knowledgeable herbalist to guide you.