Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Herbal Use During Pregnancy Part I

Many women are interested in a more natural approach to pregnancy, labor, and birth. This can include the use of herbal remedies to treat common problems, enhancing one's health and well being, or a desire to avoid man-made medications if possible. There are many herbs available to women, with many being safe during pregnancy. The following is NOT an all-inclusive guide to herbal use. There are so many out there that enitire books are written about herbs! I will discuss some of the more common herbs used during pregnancy as well as what to avoid. As always, you should discuss herbal use with your provider before using. Speaking with an herbalist is also a great way to get safe advice.

Herbs are made from one or more plants. It's important to remember that just because it's 'natural', doesn't mean it's safe!

The most common methods for preparing herbs are capsules, teas or infusions, tinctures or extracts, and infused oils. The standard measure for tea is 1 ounce of dried herb or 2 ounces of fresh herb with 1 pint of water. Pour the boiling water over the herb, cover, and steep for 15 minutes, strain and drink! For roots, seeds, or the hard, woody parts measure out the same proportion as the infusions, but boil in the water for 20 minutes. Then strain and drink.

Herbal Remedies (listed by problem)

  • Cystitis - corn silk thread, horsetail, or marshmallow in tea form

  • Engorgement - the leaves of a green or white cabbage leaf as a lining in the bra - change when they are limp, or grate a potato and add it to the cabbage leaf along with a small amount of hot water. Mash together and apply as a paste to the breasts. Only for engorgement as cabbage leaves are commonly used to dry up milk as well.

  • Exhaustion in Labor - infusions of fresh ginger root, alone or added to raspberry leaf tea (don't use the ginger if birth is imminent or in the first postpartum hour. Other options include an infusion of rosemary tea, or a tincture of blue cohosh root.

  • Headaches - fill a clean white sock with white rice, and add lavendar, rosemary, cloves, or combination thereof. Sew up the open end of sock and warm in the microwave or chill in the freezer. Apply to the forehead (being careful not to burn yourself!).

  • Heartburn - Teas of ginger, Iceland moss, lemon balm, chamomile, marshmallow, meadowsweet, peppermint, or spearmint. Alfalfa tablets can also be helpful and are a good source of iron as well.

  • High Blood Pressure - hawthorn and cramp bark combined in tea form.

  • Insomnia - nervine tea at bedtime.

  • Lactation - teas of comfrey, dill, milk thistle, red clover alfalfa, nettles, fenugreek, hops, and vervain. Borage, blessed thistle, and wood betony as teas act as an antidepressant and increase milk supply. fennel seeds sipped in a tea throughout the day, then chewed and swallowed, improve milk flow and are thought to decrease infant colic.

  • Mood Changes - herb baths using the flowers of roses, lavendar, borage, daisies, or chamomile. Teas of raspberry leaf alone or in combo with equal amounts of either spearmint or peppermint teas. St John's wort in capsule or tincture form. Teas of vervainherb, lemon balm, lavendar flower, borage flower, lemon verbena leaf. Fish oil or other sources of omega 3's.

  • Morning Sickness - anise, black horehound, chamomile, cinnamon bark, cloves, fennel, gentian, ginger root, hops, Iceland moss, lavendar, meadowsweet, red raspberry leaf, rosemary, spearmint or peppermint teas. Chewing or sucking slippery elm tablets or candied ginger. red raspberry capsules or tonic.

  • Muscle Aches - fill a clean white tube sock with natural buckwheat; add clove, chamomile, and lavendar herbs. Sew up the sock and warm or chill the sock. Placed on affected area.

  • Pain in Labor - motherwort in tincture form (5-10 drops mixed in a small glass of water every hour), scullcap drunk as an infusion or sipped from a glass of water to which had been added one teaspoon of the tincture, or St John's wort in an infusion, or add 23-30 drops to a glass of water. Black cohosh root in tincture form in half-teaspoon doses.Pasque flower in tea, tincture, or capsule. Basil and gotu kola teas and sage compresses.

To be continued...


  1. Wow! This is so helpful! Thank you! Can't wait for the rest of it.

  2. Can I just say how thrilled I was to find your blog? Lynette delivered my daughter 7-years ago after a 40-hour labor and we still praise the whole Birthing Center Team. They embraced my use of herbal remedies which made my pregnancy all the more easy. You all rock!

  3. Tiffany, So glad to see that you have a good working knowledge of Herbs. I am sure we'll discuss their use more in the coming weeks

    Gina Y.

  4. Gina, thanks but I don't confess to know a lot of info about herbal use. I know some basic stuff but am getting some info from books to supplement my knowledge. Will list refs at the end of the second post (or third should it expand out that far!