Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy and Lactation


The lists below are not all-inclusive, but will provide a general guideline of some of the most commonly used western herbs that should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

When used in cooking, occasional use of the culinary herbs listed below is considered safe.

Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy

5-W
Alkanet
Aloe vera
American pennyroyal
Angelica Root
Artemesias of any sort
Ashwaganda
Barberry
Basil
Beebalm
Beth Root
Birthroot
Black Cohosh
Black Walnut
Bladderwrack
Blessed Thistle
Bloodroot
Blue Cohosh
Blue Flag
Blue Lobelia
Blue Vervain
Boneset
Borage
Buchu
Buckthorn
Bugleweed
Burdock Root
Butcher's Broom
Butternut
Calendula
California Poppy
California Spikenard
Camphor
Canadian snakeroot
Cascara Sagrada
Cassia
Castor
Catnip
Celandine
Celery
Chaparral
Chervil
Chinese goldenthread
Chinese motherwort
Chinese rhubarb
Cinnamon
Coltsfoot
Comfrey Leaf
Comfrey Root
Cornflower
Corydalis
Cotton Root Bark
Culver's root
Cyanthula
Damiana
Dong Quai
Dyer's broom
Elecampane
European Pennyroyal
European Vervain
Ephedra
False Unicorn
Fenugreek
Feverfew
Forsythia
Fritillary
Ginger (in large amounts)
Ginseng (Siberian Ginseng aka Eleuthero is fine, except for those with high blood pressure)
Goldenseal
Goldenthread
Gotu Kola
Hops
Horehound

Horse Chestnut
Horsetail
Hyssop
Inmortal
Ipecac
Jamaican Dogwood
Japansese arisaema
Jatamansi
Job's tears
 

Joe-Pye weed
Jujube seeds
Juniper Berry
Kava Kava Root

Kelp
Lemon Balm
Lemon Grass
Licorice Root
Lobelia
Lomatium
Lovage
Lycium
Ma-Huang
Mace
Magnolia
Maidenhair Fern
Male Fern
Marijuana
Mistletoe
Motherwort
Mugwort
Myrrh
Nutmeg
Ocotillo
Oregon Grape Rt.
Osha Root
PN6 Capsules/Tea
Parsley
Pau 'd Arco
Peach leaves, seeds
Pennyroyal, of any sort
Phellodendron bark
Pinellia
Pleurisy Root
Poke Root
Prickly Ash
Psoralea
Purging Buckthorn
Purslane
Quassia
Quinine
Red Clover
Red Root
Rosemary
Rue (Ruta graveolens)
Safflower
Saffron
Sage
Sarsaparilla
Sassafras
Saw Palmetto
Scouring Rush
Seneca Snakeroot
Senna
Shepherd’s Purse
Silk Tree
Skunk Cabbage
Small Spikenard
Southernwood
Spikenard
St. John’s Wort
Sumac
Sweet Annie
Tansy
Thuja
Thyme
Tree Peony bark
Trichosanthes
Turkey Rhubarb
Turmeric
Uva Ursi
Vetiver
Vitex  (please see THIS LINK for details)
Watercress
Wild Carrot
Wild Cherry Bark
Wild Indigo

Willow Bark (including White Willow)

Wormwood
Yarrow
Zedoary

Any herb used as a laxative

Herbs to Avoid During Lactation

Alkanet
Aloes
Aloe vera
Artemesias (all varieties)
Barberry Root
Basil 
Black Cohosh
Black Walnut
Bladderwrack
Bloodroot
Blue Cohosh
Blue Flag
Boldo
Borage
Buchu
Buckthorn fruit
Bugleweed
Cascara Sagrada
Castor been seed oil
Cat's Claw root
Celandine root and leaves
Chaparral
Chinese Rhubarb
Cinchona bark
Coltsfoot
Comfrey Leaf
Comfrey Root
Coptis rhizome
Devil's Claw
Dulse
Dyer's Broom
Elecampane
Ephedra
European Pennyroyal herb
Ginseng (Siberian Ginseng aka Eleuthero is fine, except for those with high blood pressure)
Goldenseal (internal use in jaundiced newborns)
Guarana
Gymnemna
Hellebore (all varieties)
Hemp agrimony herb

Horse Chestnut
Horsetail
Jamaican Dogwood
Joe-Pye weed 
Juniper Berry

Kava Kava Root
Kelp
Licorice Root
Life root herb
Lobelia
Ma-Huang
Madder root
Male fern rhizome
Meadow saffron corm and seed
Meadowsweet herb
Mistletoe (all varieties)
Mugwort
Myrrh
Oregon Grape Root (in jaundiced newborns)
Parsley (decreases breastmilk production)
Pennyroyal (all varieties)

Petasites rhizome
Pleurisy Root
Prickly Ash bark
Pulsatilla herb
Purging buckthorn
Queen's root
Rauwolflia root
Rockweed thallus
Rue
Sage (decreases breastmilk production)
Sarsaparilla
Saw Palmetto
Seaweed thallus
Senna leaves and pods
Southern Prickly Ash bark
Star Anise
Stillingia
Stoneseed herb
Sumac
Tansy
Thuja leaves
Turkey Rhubarb
Uva Ursi
Wild Cherry Bark
Willow bark (icluding White Willow)
Wintergreen leaves
Wormwood


Pam's Rule of Thumb:

~ Assume that whatever you take, eat or drink could pass through the breastmilk to your baby.  What it does for you, it can also do to your baby.  This is critically important for moms who want to take something for weight loss, or as a stimulant for energy (coffee, chocolate, etc).    

For further information on this subject, please see our Premium article "Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy and Lactation: The In-Depth Version" (coming soon!).  In this version, you will be given specific reasons why a particular herb may be contraindicated for a pregnant or breastfeeding mother.


written by Pam Caldwell
Certified Herbalist --- Fertility, Pregnancy, Birth, Postpartum & Lactation Specialist

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