As a Medical Herbalist and Doula, I am often asked about natural remedies for common complaints of pregnancy. As a doula, I am very clear – a doula offers emotional and practical support through pregnancy, birth and the early weeks of parenthood; we also sign-post to evidence-based information and other support groups; we do not offer medical advice or midwifery care.
However as a Medical Herbalist I am very aware of the importance of getting information from reliable sources so that you can trust me, to give you evidence-based information and advice. The use of herbs for the treatment of common pregnancy symptoms is very common (studies and surveys estimate that up to 45% of women use herbal remedies at some point during pregnancy).
The safest approach to the use of herbs during pregnancy is to avoid herbs during the first trimester, unless medically indicated, when there is not a more effective or safer medical option, and after this to use herbs that are known either scientifically or historically to be safe during pregnancy.
Beverage and nutritive teas that are known to be safe in moderate amounts (i.e., raspberry leaf, spearmint, chamomile, lemon balm, nettles, rose-hips) can be considered reasonable for regular use in pregnancy. Using normal amounts of cooking spices is considered safe as well.
There are a number of herbs whose constituents (chemical composition) are mostly gentle, nutritious substances such as carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals and which can be used safely in pregnancy as basic daily tonics, for example, nettles (Urtica dioica), milky oats (Avena sativa), and red raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus).
The most common complaint of pregnancy that I get asked about is morning sickness (also known as nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, as let’s be honest it’s not just limited to mornings!)
Morning sickness can range from unpleasant to really debilitating in the early weeks of pregnancy. Standard NHS advice includes avoiding getting overtired (as tiredness makes nausea worse), having dry biscuits or toast before you get up, frequent small meals, sipping water little and often and ginger supplements. Ginger fresh or dried, brewed as a tea, taken as a supplement or sucked in the form of crystallized ginger has been shown in trials to provide symptomatic relief. Anecdotally ginger biscuits can also help. For some women (myself included in my first pregnancy) ginger isn’t sufficient. In these cases it may be worth speaking to a Medical Herbalist as there are other herbs, and herb combinations that may be appropriate, once they have taken a full medical history and checked for any contraindications.
If you have any questions about any of the information in this blog, or just want further information, please do get in touch. I am a qualified Medical Herbalist, and member of The National Institute of Medical Herbalists. I have been in practice since 2008. My practice is based at the York Clinic, 296 Tadcaster Road York YO24 1ET Tel. 01904 709688 Mob. 07801 071641.
I have two websites www.bespokebotanicals.co.uk (which has information on my herbal work) &
www.yorkmothernurture.co.uk (which has info on my work in pregnancy, birth and early parenting)
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If you would like to book an appointment please contact the York Clinic, phone 01904 709688 between 9am and 6pm on weekdays, or between 9am and 2pm on Saturdays. Alternatively, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our contact form. We will respond to you as quickly as possible.
The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program
Vutyavanich T, et al. “Ginger for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial,” Obstet Gynecol 97, 4 (2001): 577-582.
Fischer-Ramussen, et al. “Ginger treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum, “ Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 38 (1):19-24 (1991)
E Ernst “Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials.” BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia, Volume 84, Issue 3, 1 March 2000, Pages 367–37