Virtually no medicinal herb has been established as safe in pregnancy or breast-feeding, and even herbs that might seem safe because of their wide use in cooking could cause problems when they are taken in the form of highly concentrated extracts. For example, based on food use, it is unlikely that cookedgarlic presents much risk; however, garlic supplements contain certain rather potent and potentially toxic ingredients present only in raw garlic. Few people eat large quantities of raw garlic on a regular basis, and therefore there is no long history of use to reassure us.
Modern research has raised concerns about many other herbs, as well. For example, the herb chasteberry has shown a theoretical potential for inhibiting milk supply. In addition, herbs with estrogen-like properties make scientists worry about possible effects on the fetus; these include soy , isoflavones , red clover , flaxseed , lignans , and hops .
Nonetheless, many herbs and supplements have a high enough safety factor that researchers have felt comfortable giving them to pregnant women. For more information on a particular herb or supplement, see its entry in the Herbs & Supplements database .
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -