Herbs and Supplements for Pregnancy

Herbs and Supplements for Pregnancy

Requirements for many nutrients increase during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, be sure to follow your physician's recommendations for taking prenatal supplements. These ensure that your body is receiving the basic nutritional requirements of pregnancy and may ease some of the symptoms of pregnancy as well. In addition to prenatal supplements, you may want to consider taking the following nutrients and herbs. Studies have shown that adding certain nutrients to your diet when you are pregnant can reduce pregnancy symptoms like nausea and high blood pressure. There are also herbs that have shown promise in easing pregnancy-related varicose veins, digestive problems, and morning sickness.


  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) may reduce severe nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy. It's important to reduce higher doses of vitamin B6 before delivery, as it may suppress lactation. Dosage: 25 milligrams three times a day.
  • Calcium has been shown to reduce the incidence of high blood pressure in pregnant women with low calcium intake or in those at high risk of pregnancy-related high blood pressure. Calcium can also be effective for reducing leg cramps. In addition, calcium supplementation during pregnancy has been shown to lower blood pressure in offspring. Dosage: 1.0 to 1.5 grams per day.


  • Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) contains antioxidants that can improve circulation by rebuilding and strengthening capillaries. This may reduce the likelihood of varicose veins. Dosage: 160 to 480 milligrams per day (divided into 2 to 3 doses). Look for bilberry capsules or tablets that have been standardized to contain 25 percent anthocyanosides.
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) leaves contain compounds that are believed to have laxative and mild diuretic effects. Dandelion leaf may also help with digestive problems. Dosage: Take as a tea, using 4 to 10 grams of dried leaves added to 1 cup of boiling water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes. Drink 2 to 3 cups per day.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is becoming increasingly accepted for treating nausea during pregnancy. In one study, treatment with 250 mg four times a day of powdered ginger reduced the symptoms of severe morning sickness in pregnant women. Short-term use of ginger during pregnancy appears to be safe, although as a precautionary measure, dosages should not exceed 1 g per day. Dosage: 250 milligrams four times a day. Look for ginger capsules or tablets.

Be sure to talk with your physician or pharmacist to best determine which herbal or nutritional supplements are for you. Some supplements should not be taken if you have certain medical conditions or are taking particular prescription medications.

Note: The following herbs and dietary supplements should be avoided during pregnancy.

  • Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
  • Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
  • Jupiter (Juniperus communis)
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • Pokeweed root (Phytolaca americana)
  • Rue (Ruta graveolens)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
  • Cascara sangrada (Rhamnus purshiana)
  • Senna (Cassia senna)
  • Vitamin A doses that exceed 6,000 IU/day


Access: Professional Reference to Conditions, Herbs & Supplements. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

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Review Date: July 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

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