Pregnancy is a miraculous time and an unforgettable experience. That being said, it may also be accompanied by its own set of challenges. Two of the most common issues of pregnancy are nausea/indigestion and vomiting.
Most women today are looking for more natural ways to balance their bodies and manage their health. Tea is one of the oldest remedies in the world. It is both subtle and comforting. But its effects can also be profound, so it’s important to know what ingredients are safe and effective and which herbs you should avoid during pregnancy.
Lets talk herbs:
Ginger– Ginger is one of the best known ingredients to help with both nausea (morning sickness) and motion sickness. It calms the stomach. It is anti-inflammatory in nature. It can assist in reducing the severity of heartburn/acid reflux. New studies have found that ginger may help prevent the loosening of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and block acid from regurgitating back into the esophagus. It also kills off harmful bacteria, such as helicobacter pylori. This type of bacteria is linked to acid reflux. Some find that it helps decrease gas or flatulence, which also contributes to stomach upset.
According to WebMD, 1500 mg or less per day of ginger is considered safe for pregnant women.
Red Raspberry Leaf– Raspberry leaf is generally considered ‘tonic’ for anything uterine related. It is mild flavored and rich in iron. It’s often used as a base ingredient in many teas.
The American Pregnancy Association states “Medical studies have shown that red raspberry leaf can be consumed safely during pregnancy and can decrease the length of labor and the number of interventions used, such as artificial rupture of membranes (AROM), assisted delivery, and cesarean delivery. Red raspberry leaf also seems to help prevent pregnancies from pre- or post-term gestation (delivering too early or too late”. It is most commonly recommended for use in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
Mint– Mint is a common food ingredient and is considered safe by the FDA in low level doses, during pregnancy and otherwise. Peppermint can be very soothing to the stomach and help calm nausea. However, some individuals find that it can exacerbate heartburn. For pregnancy, I typically suggest spearmint as an alternative. It’s a gentler version of mint, slightly sweeter that peppermint and doesn’t affect acid reflux common to pregnancy. Mint is commonly recommended for use in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
Lemon Balm– Lemon Balm has a refreshing lemony scent without a particularly tangy flavor. Citrus smells are uplifting and benefit mood. Lemon Balm is helpful for digestion, is calming and can help promote better sleep. It is regarded as safe for both pregnancy and nursing.
Chamomile– Chamomile is a calming, sedative herb with a light floral-apple flavor. It’s very soothing, it is best known to help with sleep and can help calm joint inflammation. Chamomile is very rich in calcium and magnesium. It is a common tea but one which should be used in moderation during pregnancy and is not recommended during the first trimester. It is a food grade ingredient according to the FDA and should be used at your and your doctor’s discretion while you are expecting. It is best combined with other herbs/tea during pregnancy, not as a primary or singular ingredient.
Avoid Chamomile tea if you are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family (chrysanthemums, daisies, ragweed).
Tulsi (Holy Basil)- Tulsi is an Ayurvedic herb and has been used by women in that culture for hundreds of years. It is a plant from the basil family but has a mildly minty, fruity character as tea. It is considered to be an ‘adaptogen’ and can help with overall stress. It can be a very beneficial herb. According to livestrong.com, some symptoms experienced during pregnancy, such as vomiting, indigestion and back pain might find relief from drinking Tulsi tea. The website stresses “It’s important to note, however, that evidence to support use of tulsi tea for these ailments is based on animal and test tube studies. Clinical trials need to be conducted to confirm these benefits. For now, there is not enough information as to the safety or efficacy of drinking tulsi tea during pregnancy”. Drugs.com reports that there is conflicting information about how the tea may or may not affect a baby during pregnancy. Simply check with your doctor before using this tea as part of your pregnancy health regimen.
Rose petal/Rosehip– Rose and rosehips are ingredients that are longstanding and traditional. Tea made from these ingredients is fragrant and floral with fruity undertones. It is a good source of vitamin C. Rose and rosehips are considered to be mood boosters- it’s hard not to smile while sipping a bouquet! Many people find it supportive of digestion, which in turn could help reduce bouts of nausea or vomiting caused by indigestion. Pregnant women should not drink rose/rosehip as a primary ingredient but enjoy it as a supportive ingredient in a blend. And as it has not undergone extensive scientific study, it would be best limit it to no more than one cup per day.
Hibiscus– Hibiscus is an ingredient that is commonplace is all kinds of tea blends. In fact, it can be difficult to find teas without it. This is because hibiscus adds a bit of tanginess, color and structure..all of which helps combine the primary flavors and add complexity. A little goes a long way. Research is finding that it is beneficial for high blood pressure, UTI occurrence and stomach irritation. According to WebMD, “Hibiscus is LIKELY SAFE for most people in when consumed in food amounts. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Hibiscus is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth as a medicine. Side effects of hibiscus are uncommon.” So to err on the side of caution, some women may choose to wait and enjoy teas that include hibiscus until after the first trimester. But you can always double check with your physician.
Ingredients such as cinnamon and lavender are very comforting flavors, and as such, they may help reduce the urge to vomit; the sensation of nausea often eases or passes more quickly as the individual calms. These spice herbs are classified by the FDA as being food grade ingredients/food, and are generally considered safe for use. But bear in mind, this is in small quantities…the amount you might use to flavor a dish. More is not always better, especially during pregnancy. Anytime your have doubts or questions, refer them to your doctor without hesitation. We are all individuals and each person’s body is unique, with it’s own unique cravings and reactions. Listen to your body!
On that note, I will mention that as an artisanal tea blender, I have the ability to modify any of my teas to your taste. Or I can create a custom blend tailored specifically to you and your needs. I use wildcrafted and organic ingredients in the tea and herbal infusions I create.
Two blends you may find safe and useful during pregnancy are:
Lady’s Blend: Raspberry leaf, Rose, Cinnamon – a naturally floral, sweet herbal tea
Namaste Blend: Ginger, Tulsi, Peppermint – a pungent, satisfying herbal tea
As promised, I will finish with a list of herbs to avoid during pregnancy. They may have unwanted side effects during gestation (act as a muscle relaxant or trigger micro uterine contractions) when consumed in large amounts. Or these ingredients may have a higher incidence of allergic reaction, especially while pregnant.
Avoid during pregnancy: Marigold/Calendula, Red Clover blossom, Black Cohosh, Ephedra, Dong Quai, Ginseng, Rue, Ashwaganda, Yarrow, Licorice Root, Juniper Berry, St Johns Wort, Aloe Vera, Sage, Rosemary.
Trace amounts of the spice or food-grade herbs are nothing to panic over but please do not drink multiple cups of tea made from any single ingredient on this list. These precautions can also include using handfuls of an herb to infuse your bath. Some of these herbs can affect the body externally as well as internally.
Natural is better but can be more powerful than you might think, depending on the individual. As in life- all things in moderation! So sip and enjoy greater health with tea….
Melissa Ruiz, Tea Creator and Blender