Author: Rositsa Tashkova, Master of Molecular Biology and Microbiology

herbs during pregnancy
I decided to collect in one place herbs that are contraindicated in pregnancy because they can cause contractions.
Some are well known, others are more exotic. If you like teas, herbal mixtures and decoctions, you can take a look. :)
I hope it's useful to you!

Herbs To Avoid If You Are Pregnant

Preclinical studies have been conducted describing potential embryotoxicity for certain herbs. An extensive review conducted in 2003 [ref.1] revealed several studies that scientifically evaluated the safety of herbs, including blue cohosh, ginger, ginkgo biloba, Siberian ginseng, scutellaria (Scutellaria lateriflora), St. John's wort and valerian (Valeriana officinalis). Among them, ginkgo biloba is the only herb for which teratogenic or embryotoxic effects are not reported, that is, others can cause abnormalities in fetal development.

Here are which herbs should be avoided during pregnancy, due to the danger of causing contractions:

  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Fennel (wild dill, fennel - Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Hops (Humulus lupulus)

  • St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • Black and green tea (Camellia sinensis) - do not exceed 1 cup per day;
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Salvia (sage - Salvia officinalis) and Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) - are not safe in the form of tea in large quantities or with long use;

  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Oregano (Origanum spp.) - are safe if used as a spice, but not as infusion or essential oil;
  • Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) and cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) - it is not a good idea to take them as tea, but it's safe to use a little as a spice;
  • Aloe vera - if taken internally it is not safe, but externally it's safe;
  • Red clover (Trifolium pratense)

  • Cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
  • Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
  • Ginseng (Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius)
  • Passiflora (Passiflora incarnata)

  • Juniper (Juniperus communis)
  • Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
  • Castor bean, castor oil plant (Ricinus communis)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

  • Rue, common rue or herb-of-grace (Ruta graveolens
  • Damiana (Turnera diffusa)
  • Black and blue cohosh (Actaea racemosa and Caulophyllum thalictroides)
  • Wormwood (Artemisia sp.)
  • Shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

  • Common barberry, European barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
  • Alchemilla xanthochlora
  • Garden angelica, wild celery and Norwegian angelica (Angelica archangelica)
  • Dong quai or female ginseng (Angelica sinensis)
  • Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

  • Buckthorn (Rhamnus)
  • Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)
  • Gotu Kola, kodavan, Indian pennywort or Asiatic pennywort (Centella asiatica)
  • Male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas)
  • Devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)
  • Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  • Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe)
  • Boldo (Peumus boldus)
  • Kava kava (Piper methysticum)

A large part of these herbs are not suitable for consumption also during breastfeeding.


Herbs And Plants Safe During Pregnancy As Spices And Food

As we mentioned, some herbs also play the role of spices, and in this form they are safe during pregnancy, since there is no danger of over-doseing.

These are:

  • Basil
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens)
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Fennel
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
  • Garlic (Allium sativum)


It is important that both patients and doctors are aware of the potential of herbs and the fact that not every natural remedy is harmless in any case. The perception that if they do not help, then herbs will certainly not do harm is wrong - it is their active substances that we rely on when we use them for treatment, and their action does not stop, even when it can harm the body, and it is important that these cases are prevented by us as intelligent human beings. :)



  1. Potential toxicities of herbal therapies in the developing fetus, 2003, Birth Defects Res.B. Dev. Reprod. Toxicol.
  2. Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy, Herbal Safety,
  3. Herbs and Supplements to Avoid During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding,
  4. Use of Herbal Medicine by Pregnant Women: What Physicians Need to Know, 2020, Frontiers in Pharmacology


The author:

👩 🔬 Rositsa Tashkova-Kacharova has a Bachelor degree in Molecular Biology and a Master's degree in Microbiology and Microbiological Control. She completed her Master's thesis at the University of Nantes, France. At that time she painted a Christmas tree of bacteria and inspired the announcement of the first competition for drawing with microorganisms Agar Art. For 3 years she was the editor of the journal Bulgarian Science and continues to write about science and medicine.