Can I drink herbal tea when pregnant?

Ah, herbal tea. And after researching this I have a new saying, “If it don’t make dough, then you’ll never know.”

You cannot patent chamomile. Because of that, you can’t make a lot of money on it, and because you can’t make a lot of money on it, nobody will do any large studies on its effects on pregnant women.

As a general rule, teas made from fruit or herbs which are used in cooking are safe for you to drink while you’re pregnant. That said, it’s recommended that you not drink any single herb continually throughout your pregnancy (once again because they don’t *quite* know what it will do until you test it on a thousand rats).

But which herbal tea is safe?

Now, as for which ones are considered safe and which ones aren’t, good effing luck. There are blatant contradictions with herbal teas — one site will recommend a tea for all that ails you during your pregnancy and another will claim that your uterus will contract like nuts in ice water if you so much as sniff it.

Celestial Seasonings reports that they adhere to the guidelines that the FDA has published and not use any herbs that are considered dangerous even though they seem to have the odd no-no on their ingredient list.

I’ve cobbled together a list of the general consensus on what is okay and what is a no-no.

Probably Okay:

  • Chamomile
  • Citrus Peel
  • Ginger
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lime blossom
  • Linden Flower (unless you have a pre-existing cardiac condition).
  • Rose Hip
  • Dandelion
  • Mint
  • Raspberry Leaf*
  • Rooibos
  • Roasted Barley
  • Thyme

Not so much:

  • Alfalfa
  • Anise
  • Bearberry (Uva Ursi)
  • Black and Blue Cohosh
  • Calamus Root
  • Catnip
  • Chicory Root
  • Coltsfoot Comfrey
  • Devil’s Claw
  • Dong Quai
  • Elderflowers feverfew
  • Ephedra (ma huang)
  • Fennel
  • Fenugreek
  • Gentian
  • Ginseng
  • Goldenseal
  • Groundsel
  • Hawthorne Berries
  • Hibiscus
  • Horehound
  • Juniper Berries
  • Kombucha Tea
  • Licorice
  • Lobelia
  • Mistletoe
  • Mother Wort
  • Nettles (stinging nettles)
  • Parsley tea
  • Penny Royal
  • Pokeroot Sassafras
  • Raspberry Leaf*
  • Rag Wort
  • Rosemary tea
  • Sage tea
  • Senna
  • Shepherd’s Purse
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Yarrow
  • Yellow Dock

On a side note, one site recommended that you shouldn’t make tea out of plants unless you are certain what they are. Who the hell would do this? “Oh, there’s a neat plant. I think it’s called Thistle Dick. Let’s pour hot water over it and drink it!” If this is your logic, being damaged by tea will be the least of you kid’s worries. Don’t do that.

* Lastly, I’ve left Raspberry Leaf as its own little category here. There are sites that both strongly advise drinking it and strongly advise not drinking it during pregnancy and I’m not even going to pretend to know which side it correct. All I know is that I drank enough to float a fat man when I was told it would start labor when I was 41 weeks pregnant with my first son and it did bugger all.

Perhaps I should have curled up with a hot, freshly steeped cup of thistle dick instead. Mmmm.

search: herbal tea pregnant, herbal tea pregnancy, Celestial Seasonings pregnancy

Topics:Is It Safe
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  • Wow, I’m glad I read this! I picked up a box of "Pregnancy Tea" from Whole Foods yesterday. It contains raspberry leaf, nettles and "other herbs like alfalfa". I’m just at a loss. I’m an avid tea drinker, trying to find a replacement for my regular caffeinated teas. Being in the first trimester I’m not taking any risks, so it’s back to the drawing board.

  • 24 weeks along now and at the very first appointment my midwife said Kava root is a big big no-no. Which sucked cause I really like Yogi Kava Stress Relief tea. I haven't done much research on it, but she told me that it's been pretty consistant in causing miscarriages, especially in the 1st trimester ('course). Not like "There's a risk of miscarriage anyways" but more like "this can pretty drastically increase your chance of miscarriage."

    Thought that would be a nice one to consider adding to the probably not list.

    Baha. Thistle Dick.

  • Thanks for a great article! As a herbalist, I'm not aware of any problems with hibiscus in pregnancy (indeed, it's a mainstay of many commercial 'fruit' teas over here in the UK) and I've used catmint (catnep, catnip, depending on where you are in the world)in moderation for pregnant ladies suffering with sleeplessness very successfully, although I'd be more inclined to avoid it in the 1st trimester.

    However, I'd just like to completely agree about the avoidance of many of the others on this list. Often, it simply isn't worth it. However, some herbs can be very beneficial: If you get morning sickness, then any or a mix of the following: ginger, lemon balm, citrus zest, peppermint, chamomile and clove taken as a tea can be very useful.

    Another couple to add to the list of 'please avoid' are any of the artemesia family (wormwood), tansy, thuja, wormseed, nightshade and boldo leaf; although why the heck you'd want to make a tea out of most of those is anyone's guess.

    I also wrote a fairly comprehensive guide to aromatherapy and pregnancy if anyone would find that useful, it's here:

    You have some great articles with a much-needed sense of humour and good information. Who do I need to ask about linking to some on my site, please?

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