Update: It appears we are having a lot of visitors to this blog that are looking for our Organic Ginger Root tea. If you would like to purchase some please visit the link provided. If you are pregnant please read the below and consult a doctor before consuming any of the herbs and roots we have outlined below.
I will be honest... I have avoided writing this particular blog entry for a number of reasons - mainly because I am not a doctor and I don't want anything I write taken as medical advice... With the number of emails I have received over the past few months about tea and fertility and tea and pregnancy however, I thought I should probably 'bite the bullet' and write this. I think it's important to let people know what I know.
That being said... First and foremost, I am not a medical professional.
One more time - just for good measure before you continue: Everything written by me is strictly my personal opinion only.
We are all our own judges. We judge the standards of what we put into our mouths and onto our bodies everyday. This means food, beverages, medication, makeup, cream... you name it. I think in order to make sound judgments we need to educate ourselves about what we use and put into our bodies. That means doing our own research and learning from others. Of course we don't have time to research every little thing we put on our skin or into our mouths, and I'm not suggesting that you should... What I am trying to get across is that everything on this planet has a purpose. It was put here, and has certain properties that can help you and of course hinder you. What we put into our bodies is fuel and as such, it affects the way we function.
The main question I have been emailed about is the consumption of herbal tea during pregnancy, or when trying to conceive. Specifically I have been asked about lavender tea. There are definitely certain do's and dont's with consumption of herbs while pregnant, and I am hoping that I can help you sort this out and give you some advice.
Let's start with lavender. Lavender has been used for centuries as a sedative, antispasmodic, digestive aid and diuretic. (Water Pill) You will notice that it is added to many products today that involve sleep aid and relaxation. Lavender is generally a safe herb for consumption , however, like most other herbs it has medicinal properties, and therefore, technically, you can overdose on it and give yourself narcotic like reactions. Now, don't go panicking yet! This should not put you off of consuming it as a tea, or using products that contain lavender. Keep Reading before you scour your cupboards emptying them of lavender related items. Depending on the species, lavender flowers contain from 0.5 to 1.5 percent of a highly aromatic oil which is where most of the therapeutic qualities can be found. Realistically - to overdoes, you would need to consume A LOT of lavender. So, in my unprofessional opinion, if you are using 1-2 teaspoons of lavender per cup of tea, you are ine to consume 2 or 3 cups a day. Like everything else, the key is moderation.
So my answer to the question 'is lavender safe for me to consume while pregnant?' - Yes but in moderation. My suggestion? Try mixing it with Peppermint. We have a nice blend called Peppermint Dream. Peppermint tea and lavender tea has both relaxing and energizing qualities and it is a great mix when you have been walking around carrying an extra person with you on feet that you may or may not be able to see anymore. There are definitely worse things to be drinking while pregnant, and your choice of herbal tea is a good one. While pregnant, large amounts of caffeine should be avoided. Large amounts of highly caffeinated tea like Yerba Mate, coffee, soda and diet soda should be avoided.
There are certain herbs that should not be consumed while trying to conceive or while pregnant. Some of these items on the list below are sure to surprise you.
Most people think I'm crazy when I tell them this. After all - It is a garnish for Italian dishes, right? How bad can it be? Culinary amounts are fine... however, when pregnant or trying to conceive, large medicinal doses should be avoided as they can in fact be harmful. Parsley has been used as a cure all for a number of ailments: bad breath, digestive problems, kidney problems, bruises and insect bites, lice and parasites, promoting hair growth, and most importantly in this case to stimulate menstrual flow and increase breast milk production. Parsley contains myristicin and apide both of which stimulate the muscles in the uterus, and this can cause serious complications including miscarriage. In fact, at one time parsley was used alone and with other herbs to induce miscarriage.
Ginger can suppress menstruation and has been used for menstrual irregularities. While ginger is great for you normally, it should be avoided in large amounts when pregnant. Research has shown that ginger is a powerful thromboxane synthetase inhibitor. (English translation: It can potentially effect testosterone binding in the fetus). Once again, a culinary amount is fine, just don't go crazy and take it in medicinal amounts. Click here If you are looking to purchase dried organic Ginger Root tea
If you are using this herb in a culinary amount, you are okay - but there are a few little known, or perhaps long forgotten facts about sage that you might want to make yourself aware of. Sage oil has a high concentration of a chemical called thujone, which in certain doses, is toxic. Purified sage oil is highly toxic and should NEVER BE TAKEN INTERNALLY. It will cause convulsions in both animals and humans, and has resulted in comatose, mental deterioration and death. Our friend Vincent Van Gogh - Yes - The artist who went crazy and cut his own ear off - was good friends with an old time drink called absinthe. You have probably heard of absinthe, but did you know that the famous ingredient in absinthe is thujone? Well - There you have it. Many say that thujone is what made Van Gogh go mad. Even a prolonged use of sage tea has been deemed by some health officials to be hazardous to anyone, pregnant or not. Sage also has a mild estrogen like effect and can bring about a delayed menstruation period... as such, it should be avoided in large amounts during pregnancy.
While most places you look will tell you that this herb has never been shown to induce abortion, health authorities also advise pregnant women not to take it in large amounts.
5. Celery Seed
That's right - Another common kitchen herb that can make things go wrong during pregnancy. Who knew? Celery comes from the same family as parsley, so it is not surprising that it would have some of the same properties and effects. It too has been used to cure delayed menstruation and has been used in large doses to end pregnancy. Avoid it in large or medicinal amounts.
I know, I know, you probably think I've gone off the deep end. Am I going to list every item in your kitchen?!? No - I promise I'm not...but I wanted to include these common items because that is what you will be most likely to have and therefore consume. The leaves of the unripened fruit have been used as a diruetic for centuries and also have been used as a tonic to stimulate menstruation. The unripe fruit is actually considered posionous as it can induce vomiting. Large doses of the ripe fruit juice can actually cause uterine contractions. Unless you are ready to give birth, you don't want that. As with everything else - Pineapple, and Pineapple juice - consume in moderation.
7. Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
In large doses this can stimulate estrogen levels in the body and interfere with progesterone. (Progesterone is essential in pregnancy). Vitamin C has been used to prevent implantation of he oveum as well as weaken it's grip if already fertilized and implanted. So - cut out popping vitamin C pills and add vitamin C rich foods to your diet instead.
This is one of my favourite fruits. It is known as a fruit of the gods, and it has been depicted in paintings and carvings for centuries... but why? Did the ancients know something about it that we don't? Probably. Pomegranate has contraceptive effects. (This doesn't mean to stop your birth control and start eating pomegranates instead ladies!) It has been proven however, that pomegranate seeds can reduce fertility rates. Maybe those folks from before our time knew something after all, huh? I mean, why on earth would people keep pomegranate, celery seed, and parsley next to their bedsides? Hmmm... something tells me it may have been more than a breath freshener.
Now on to the less known herbs that you probably don't keep hanging around in your kitchen pantry.
Well - it is used to give worchestershire sauce it's tang, but there is more to the herb than that. It is a member of the giant fennel family and along with silphium (a plant that was harvested out of existence because of it's demand) it was used to prevent pregnancy and to end unwanted pregnancy. The resin of the plant was commonly used to induce abortion. No - this does not mean that you shouldn't consume worchestershire sauce. It means that you should not consume asafetida in large amounts.
10. Cohosh - Black and Blue
Both black and blue cohosh were used in minute amounts for menstruation problems and childbirth, and in large doses, to abort. Blue cohosh especially - was commonly used to induce labour. There is a definite health hazard in consuming blue cohosh, even in recommended amounts. This is because it not only stimulates the uterus but also the heart. It is very unpredictable and should be avoided through all three trimesters.
11. Black Haw
Most people have never heard of it - but I thought I should include it anyway. This plants has been used as a pain reliever and contains salicin. Salicin is a close relative of aspirin. Chemically speaking, let's just say that salicin and aspirin are cousins. There is also a substance called scopoletin in the root of black haw which has anti spasmodic properties. So, what does this mean if you are pregnant or trying to conceive? Simply put: Avoid it. Just as aspirin should not be taken during pregnancy due to the possibility of birth defects, black haw should also be avoided. In addition to this, it has the potential to relax the uterus.
12. Lady's Mantle
Lady's Mantel has long been used to cure menstrual irregularities. Because of this, it should be avoided, although to my knowledge it has not caused miscarriage.
Some of you might have this growing in your garden - bright yellow flowers, dark green feathery leaves - okay to look at, but not to consume. In my unprofessional opinion, tansy should NEVER be consumed by anyone at anytime. Although there has been some research indicating that it is beneficial for a certain number of things, the risks FAR outweigh the benefits. This plant (like sage) also contains thujone. Along with allergic reactions, most other reactions to the herb are toxic. It causes miscarriage and it was used to abort unwanted pregnancies. In most cases however, the pregnant mother became very ill and/or died. I have also heard of people dying from drinking tansy tea, although I couldn't tell you where I have heard it.
Like tansy, this plant also comes from the daisy family. It promotes menstrual flow and should be avoided during pregnancy and while trying to conceive.
Despite it's charming name, this herb is anything but. It induces miscarriage and was used for that purpose. It is also quite hazardous to your health, although it was formerly used in small amounts to a cure to a number of different ailments. In some animal studies it has been linked to causing cancer - What that means for humans I don't know - But knowing that much - I wouldn't ingest it, or advise anyone else to.
This is another herb used to induce menstruation. Anything like this should be avoided as it can cause miscarriage. Mugwort was used for a number of things, very few of which have proved to be useful, except for inducing menstruation. Definitely to be avoided while pregnant.
17. Juniper Berry
This can cause uterine contractions and miscarriage and should therefore be avoided when pregnant. For non pregnant people - many people have used Juniper as a diuretic, but what they are not aware of is how this particular herb works. It actually irritates your kidneys which is quite dangerous and as far as I'm concerned should not be used for this purpose.
18. Cramp Bark
There is very little research on this, however experts seem to say the same thing: This herb effects the uterus and the heart and should not be consumed by pregnant women.
Another herb containing thujone. This chemical causes miscarriage and should not be consumed, even in trace amounts during pregnancy.
This is another big no-no. This herb can cause miscarriage and it was used as an abortive aid. It should never, ever - in my unprofessional opinion - be used medicinally. It contains a highly toxic substance called pulegone and along with causing nausea, increased blood pressure and heart rate, sweating, clotting, liver damage and fever - it can kill you. Although pennyroyal tea probably contains very little pulegone (it was used before to ease indigestion and help eradicate colds and flus) I would absolutely avoid it, pregnant or not. Canadian health authorities by the way have banned the sale of pennyroyal in medicinal doses.