Scottish scientists warn that pregnant women should take a variety of herbal remedies with caution. They reviewed 74 previously published studies. Researchers have found that certain types of herbal supplements are associated with an increased risk of pregnancy complications, including preterm delivery and cesarean section. The scientific work was published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
According to surveys, in different countries from 10% to 75% of pregnant women take herbal preparations to alleviate the symptoms of the disease or as useful supplements. Researchers note that herbal remedies are not always safe. A pregnant woman should consult a doctor before a course of herbal medicine.
Scientists reviewed 74 studies in a research paper, studied 47 herbal preparations. One study found that women, who covered their skin with almond oil in the last trimester, had twice the chance of having a preterm birth. Scientists have found in other studies similar risks among women, who used black licorice candy (a remedy for heartburn and other gastrointestinal disorders) throughout pregnancy. Raspberry leaves were unsafe too. Thus, women, who used this means 3.5 times more often than other women, needed a cesarean section.
Similar results showed a study of Mwanaphepo, a traditional African herbal remedy used to stimulate childbirth. A study in Malawi showed that women, which used this herb, had an increased risk of cesarean section, birth complications, and even death of the newborn.
According to the lead author of the study, James McLay from the Royal Children’s Hospital of Aberdeen, it does not prove that herbal supplements caused such complications. He noted that not so much research has been conducted on the effects of herbal medicines during pregnancy.
It’s worth noting that the authors emphasize that herbal remedies are also drugs that help with various disorders. Like conventional medicines, herbal preparations can cause side effects. For example, raspberry leaves can cause nausea, headache, intestinal upset, and dizziness, and ginger can cause dry mouth, heartburn, and headache. The authors remind that herbs also contain chemicals, many of which affect the body. Therefore, you should consult with your doctor.