Herbal teas are made by infusing plant materials into hot water. Herbal teas can be made from:
Herbal teas typically don’t contain caffeine. They may be used to tame upset tummies, soothe frayed nerves, or induce sleep.
If you’re pregnant, you may wonder if herbal teas are safe to drink. Some herbal teas are generally considered safe for you and your baby-to-be. They may help relieve common pregnancy symptoms. Others are dangerous and shouldn’t be consumed. Here’s a look at some pregnancy-safe options.
Safe herbal teas during pregnancy
Herbs and herbal tea blends aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This means they don’t undergo the same level of review as over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Herbal preparations may include contaminants like heavy metals.
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), most commercial brands of herbal tea are safe to drink in moderation. The quality and potency of herbal teas may vary considerably between products. As a result, you should only purchase herbal teas from reputable manufacturers.
The following teas are generally considered safe to drink during pregnancy. Still, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before drinking them.
Red raspberry leaf tea
This tea is popular during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Red raspberry leaf is high in iron and may increase uterine tone. Some natural health proponents believe raspberry leaf tea helps shorten labor, although research doesn’t yet support this claim.
Peppermint leaf tea
Peppermint leaf is used to ease nausea, morning sickness, and gas. But it may worsen heartburn, which is a common pregnancy problem for some women.
Lemon balm tea
Lemon balm has an uplifting, citrus scent. It’s used to:
- treat insomnia
- reduce stress
- ease anxiety
- help digestion
Teas made from fruits and spices
Herbal teas made from dried fruits and spices (in amounts normally found in foods) are generally safe to consume. Try tea made from berries, apples, and citrus fruits.
Herbal teas that should be avoided or used with caution during pregnancy
This herb is often used to relieve stress and promote sleep. Sipping a cup of chamomile tea now and then is not likely to cause a problem during pregnancy, but drinking it regularly or in large quantities might. Most healthcare providers advise completely avoiding chamomile when pregnant.
According to some sources, the herb may trigger uterine contractions and lead to miscarriage or preterm labor. You should also avoid chamomile if you’re allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family, such as:
Nettle leaf tea
Thanks to its nutritional profile, nettle leaf is found in many so-called pregnancy teas. But that doesn’t necessarily make it safe. The use of nettle leaf during pregnancy is controversial.
Some doctors recommend dried nettle tea as a pregnancy tonic during the second and third trimesters. Others claim tea made from fresh nettles may cause uterine contractions or lead to miscarriage or early labor. Until research supports a definitive verdict, you may want to play it safe and avoid nettle leaf during pregnancy.
Dandelion leaf tea
This is another herb often found in pregnancy teas. Dandelion is high in vitamin A and calcium. It’s sometimes used to help with swelling during pregnancy. But dandelion leaf is also a diuretic (which means it increases your urine volume) and should be used with extreme caution.
Pennyroyal shouldn’t be used at any time during pregnancy. It may trigger uterine contractions and menstruation.
Licorice root tea
Pregnant women shouldn’t consume licorice root. It may increase the risk of preterm labor.
Laxative herbal teas
These teas are used to treat constipation, a common pregnancy complaint. They may also cause dehydration, disrupt your electrolyte balance, and cause uterine contractions.
According to the APA, laxative teas shouldn’t be used during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant and constipated, try increasing your fiber and fluid intakes, and moving more. Talk to your doctor about using a stool softener.
Slippery elm bark tea
Slippery elm bark may help relieve heartburn and nausea by coating the stomach. The inner bark of slippery elm may be safe during pregnancy when used in food amounts. But the outer bark may cause miscarriage.
It’s hard to confirm what type of slippery elm bark is in some herbal teas, so you may want to avoid it altogether while pregnant.
Teas made with chicory root
The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates chicory as possibly unsafe to consume in large quantities during pregnancy. The ingredient is suspected to cause menstruation and miscarriage. Many commercial herbal teas contain roasted chicory root.
There’s not a lot of research on the use of herbal teas during pregnancy. As a result, most health organizations and doctors advise pregnant women to play it safe and avoid all herbs in quantities greater than food amounts.
When it comes to herbal teas, the saying “buyer beware” applies. This is especially important to understand if you’re pregnant. While there are several herbal teas that may be safe to drink during pregnancy, you should not drink them in large quantities.
If possible, choose organic herbal teas made from a single herb proven to be safe and that you’re familiar with. When in doubt, don’t drink it and consult your doctor.