In a matter of weeks, pregnancy can turn you from active and nimble to achy and grumpy. Our modern, Western medical system often treats everyday symptoms with painkillers or antacids. Many pregnant women choosing to live a more natural lifestyle turn to herbal supplements as alternative remedies — but are they really safe, especially during pregnancy? The answer depends on the herbs you choose. Following are 7 herbal remedies that are safe to take during pregnancy — and since every woman, pregnancy and baby to be is different, we recommend checking with your care provider, physician or midwife before taking any herbal remedy or supplement.
According to a 2002 report from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, up to 61% of pregnant women take herbs, vitamins, and minerals to ease symptoms, but only 8% got their advice from a doctor or pharmacist. “While some supplements and herbal ingredients have undergone extensive testing, the safety and effectiveness of many have not been shown,” says the March of Dimes website. The organization’s official stance on herbal products during pregnancy is one of zero tolerance. Alternatively, countless pregnancy magazines and eco-baby books widely recommend certain well-known herbs to treat generalized symptoms of discomfort during pregnancy.
Bottom line: many herbs are no more or less safe than over-the-counter options available in most pharmacies. That being said, every pregnancy is different, and you should never hesitate to discuss herbal supplements with your doctor. If they lack the knowledge you are looking for, ask them to suggest someone else to talk to or seek out a professionally-trained herbalist.
The following herbs have been recommended for pregnancy for centuries and are widely believed to be “safe.” Try them at your own discretion, and if you experience any awkward symptoms, cease use immediately and call your doctor.
It may be hard to imagine consuming anything when you are hugging the toilet bowl, but ginger may be all you need. A vital ingredient in Asian cooking, ginger’s nausea-quelling benefits are known far and wide. With numerous forms available, choosing one that doesn’t turn your stomach should be easy.
The most direct way for consuming ginger is to simply chew on an organic, freshly-peeled piece of ginger root. Ginger tea is available in both tea bags or can be made at home with hot water and fresh ginger root. Ginger candies are great for traveling or being anywhere outside of your bathroom. Last but not least, powdered ginger supplement pills offer similar benefits.
Bonus: Ginger is also used to treat colds, congestion, and sore throats.
A popular partner to ever-desirable chocolate, peppermint’s refreshing bite has numerous perks during pregnancy. Like ginger, peppermint offers a myriad of benefits that can make every day more comfortable. Sometimes used to treat nausea as a stomach soother, peppermint is best for relieving gas and abdominal pressure. Great at “cooling” and cleansing the entire body, peppermint can also reduce heartburn symptoms.
The easiest way to consume peppermint is via a store-bought tea. Chewing on fresh peppermint leaves has not shown to offer the same benefits, other than fresh breath.
Technically a mineral, magnesium is a vital part of any diet, especially during pregnancy. Working in-tandem with calcium, magnesium helps build teeth, bones, cartilage, and the ear canal. Low magnesium is tied to premature labor and neurological disorders.
Easy to obtain via a healthy diet (leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, milk), additional magnesium supplements can help relieve many symptoms: leg cramps, heartburn, elevated cholesterol, and insomnia. As with many vitamins and minerals, too much magnesium can be toxic – be sure to discuss your body’s magnesium needs with your doctor before starting any additional supplements.
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