Some teas such as nettle tea or raspberry leaf tea have been gaining popularity for their “touted benefits” during pregnancy.
The use of herbal medicines for health or ailments is an increasing global trend, partly due to their perception of being “natural.” The assumption of natural often leads to the perception of safety. Despite this common perception of safety, herbal teas in particular may have unintended side effects and negative pregnancy outcomes.
Non-herbal tea, and what is considered true tea, spring from the plant species Camellia sinensis, and include black tea, green tea, white tea and oolong tea.
Herbal teas or tisanes, are entirely caffeine free and are not made using leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Instead, herbal blends are made using spices, flowers or leaves of a variety of other edible plants.
Tea have been used globally for thousands of years for their reported health benefits. Tea contains antioxidants, polyphenols and even some vitamins & minerals that may boost the immune system, lower risk of cancer and heart disease.
First off, I’m not here to tell you exactly which teas are safe & not safe. I’m here to share the research (or lack there of) and help educate you on the general topic! Speak with your doctor and/or certified herbalist if you have specific questions.
Through my research on efficacy and safety of various teas, there is a lack of overall science in this space. There are discrepancies in the existing science, and mixed opinions by health experts on the safety of herbal teas in pregnancy.
Furthermore, herbs and herbal tea blends are not strictly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This could lead to quality and potency concern in some products. It’s best to purchase herbal teas from reputable manufacturers.
Non-herbal, true tea (Green, black, white & Oolong). The majority of research suggests these teas in moderation are safe during pregnancy. It’s still important to consider caffeine recommendations while drinking tea, as true tea averages between 25-50 mg of caffeine per cup depending on tea type. Learn more about caffeine and pregnancy in a related post.
Herbal tea or tisanes (ginger, peppermint, chamomile, milk thistle, dandelion, raspberry, rooibos & more…)
Ginger (Possibly Safe). May help alleviate morning sickness. Link to one study
Peppermint (Likely Safe): May help alleviate morning sickness. Excess amounts are contraindicated in pregnancy due to its thought to increase menstrual flow Link to herbal review study
Red Raspberry Leaf (Use with Caution): There is controversy around this herb. Some studies report red raspberry leaf can promote uterine health and ease labor pains, while other studies report it to cause contractions and increase risk of preterm labor. Despite scientific debate, raspberry leaf tea is often recommended by midwifes and herbalist during the 3rd trimester. Read more here.
Fenugreek (Use with Caution): Fenugreek has been used to aid and induce labor and is considered to promote menstrual flow. For these reasons, fenugreek is not recommended during pregnancy. Read more.
Nettle (Likely Unsafe): Nettle leaves are commonly found in some pregnancy teas and often recommended by midwives and herbalists. The Natural Medicines Database gives nettles a rating of Likely Unsafe, due to the different effects of the nettle root vs. leaves (you want dried leaves, not root). Read more here.
Chamomile (Insufficient Reliable Information Available): – May help with sleeplessness and inflammation of joints. Some sources suggest safe if used as tea in moderate amounts during pregnancy. Large doses should be avoided as it may act as a uterine stimulant. See review study.
*The safety ratings listed are from The American Pregnancy Association, who compiled ratings from the Natural Medicines Database.
Diet, detoxification and laxative teas should be avoided. Experts also agree that teas with the herbs black cohosh, blue cohosh, dong quai and others should be avoided. Read labels carefully!
Moderate consumption of non-herbal tea is generally considered safe during pregnancy, given caffeine content is taken into consideration.
Many popular herbal teas are also likely safe during pregnancy, but should be approached with caution. Limited data exists to safely quantity herbal teas as safe or unsafe.
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