Herbs to Avoid While Trying to Conceive - Medical Monday
There are many, many things on the market that you can take to boost preconception health and help you become pregnant. You can buy them in the health food store, in the drug stores, in the supermarkets, online and more. If they are a supplement or an herb, there is no FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval needed. In other words, they are not tested for efficiacy or for genuineness, or even for possible deleterious effects.
In other words, you won't know whether these herbs/supplements are good for you, helpful for your quest in having a baby, or a waste of money at best and harmful at worst.
Herbs: Before and During Pregnancy
Advice for Males and Females ~ Beware – Not All Are Safe
Many herbs can negatively affect male and female fertility as well as health during
pregnancy. RMA of CT does NOT recommend using herbal products during fertility treatments.
Please notify your physician of all herbs and supplements you are currently taking or are
considering taking. Because product purity and dosage cannot be guaranteed in the United States for herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements, they are not completely without risk.
The guidelines that apply to safe herbs during pregnancy only hold true when intake
remains low- no more than 16 oz per day for each of the safe teas and according to manufacturer’s labels on others. Many teas have tannins which bind to iron and folate and will reduce your iron and folate storage. Please note: this is not a complete list.
** Herbs used in cooking are ok**
Herbs /Supplements that Should be Safe for Preconception & Pregnancy
Always discuss with your physician.
Jewel Weed (topical)
Cinnamon and Cinnamon bark
Menthol Psyllium plant fiber
Lemon balm (melissa)
Red Bush Tea (Rooibos Tea)
Culinary herbs and spices Omega-3 FISH fatty acids
Witch Hazel (topical)
Herbs that Warrant CAUTION during Preconception & Pregnancy
Always discuss with your physician.
Barley grass (barley green)
Bitter orange (synephrine)
Grape or grape seed extract
Tea (green, black, white, oolong)
Marshmallow (root and leaves)
Evening primrose oil
Herbs to Completely AVOID During Preconception & Pregnancy
Essential oils (pure oil form)
Red yeast rice
Buchu Ipecac Sassafras
Irvinga gabonesis (African mango)
Sagrada Life root
Lily of the Valley
Ephedra sinica or ma huang Osha
A Few Non-herbal supplements to AVOID unless prescribed by MD with specific manufacturer information
Omega 3 Fish Oils High Dose*
FLAX (seed & oil)
Glandulars Protein Powders
*Only when physician prescription prescribed and supervised.
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Resource: Ogle, Amy and Lisa Mazzullo. Before Your Pregnancy-A 90 Day Guide for Couples on How to Prepare for a Healthy Conception. New York: Random House, 2011.
A friend of mine sent me a link about sources for diminished infertility that I do not believe that I have posted about. Thank you David! Note to all of you, much appreciate if you see something that could be of value to the folks reading this blog or to me for my own education.
The link talks about “natural” supplements. Supplements that the FDA does not have to approve. Supplements that do not have warning labels affixed to the bottles. Please do not misunderstand this post. I am NOT suggesting that you stop talking supplements that you have discussed with your health care provider, or if you are in the midst of infertility treatment, your fertility doctor (Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist).
What I am suggesting here is assuming that natural herbs, flower tinctures, botanicals or other things that are certified organic are mild or harmless is a mistake. So, first, make sure that you do let your health care provider or doctor know everything that you are taking, even if not on a regular basis. If you are taking evening primrose oil to help with PMS, even just 5 days a month, let your health care provider know.
From the Women’s Education Center:
Hormone imbalance may be provoked by some plants, foods and herbs that mimic estrogen. This is also an alternative medicine point of view that herbs can be bad for you under the wrong circumstances just as eating the wrong mushrooms are bad for you. It is not that mushrooms are bad. It is that the mushrooms even though natural could be poisonous.
Pomegranate: The Greeks used this plant as a contraceptive. Modern research confirms strong estrogen activity. It is still used in India, East Africa, and the Pacific as a contraceptive. Female rats fed pomegranate seed and paired with male rats had a 72% reduction in fertility. Guinea Pigs fed pomegranate seeds had a 100% reduction in fertility. (This is from the Encyclopedia of Birth Control by Vern Bullough).
Just because you buy something at the health food store and it is natural does not mean it is good for you. Many plants exhibit hormone properties. Typically, plants are estrogen mimics, progesterone blockers, or estrogen blockers. Very few plants are progesterone stimulating. As a result, most hormone active plants will cause estrogen dominance.
Better safe than sorry?
Echinacea is used to enhance the immune system, ginkgo biloba to improve memory and St. John's wort to treat depression. In a recent study high doses of each of these herbs have been shown to damage reproductive cells and prevent fertilization of eggs in laboratory hamsters. There have been no studies to date that show their effect on human fertility but you may want to reconsider using them while you are trying to conceive.
Investigate the supplements that you are using, ask your doctors; make sure that you are not taking things that will inadvertently negate your chances of conceiving or keeping a pregnancy. The last thing you want to find out is that you have been getting in your own way.