Although it might seem that plants and herbs are more natural and have centuries of heritage behind them compared to modern drugs, both herbs and drugs can have powerful side effects. Indeed, if you believe in the power of herbal medicine in your normal life, you will understand that they absolutely should be treated with caution just as serious medication should be, when you are pregnant. You should regard them just as you do pain killers in pregnancy or general medicines in pregnancy.
Happily, there are natural ways to aid your minor discomforts when you are expecting, aromatherapy for sleep for example, but being health aware is important.
What is herbal medicine?
The practice of herbal medicine is age-old, but continues to research and develop just as mainstream medicine does. It uses plants and herbs to build powerful cocktails of natural ingredients to treat or counteract aches, pains and more serious conditions.
Ingredients from garlic and St John's wort to echinacea and saw palmetto are used to treat minor complaints like colds or more major things like depression and heart problems.
Understandably, it is important, even why buying some of the lesser medicines over the counter, to understand whether they are right for you or not – even when you are not pregnant. In the instance of buying them in stores, make sure you buy them at a good chemist where the pharmacist can briefly discuss them with you. And if using a trained herbalist, make sure it is someone registered with the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.
Herbal medicine also includes Chinese Herbal medicine - which is now a field that the UK Government believe they 'cannot guarantee as safe'. Plus aromatherapy and Hindu Ayurvedic medicine, both of which have some treatments which can be safe in pregnancy.
Is herbal medicine safe in pregnancy?
The widespread advice is that, because herbal medicine has not been trialed in detail to see what its affects on the mother or fetus may be, herbal medicine is not advised during pregnancy.
Some other alternative therapies, such as some aromatherapies, can be safe in pregnancy. However, it is important that you seek reliable advice when either buying essential oils or are receiving massage or other treatments, to tell the practitioner that you are pregnant or that you are trying for a baby.
This advice continues as long as you are breastfeeding.