MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information
HERBS DURING PREGNANCY
Many homebirth midwives and alternative practitioners use herbs as a method of treatment for various disorders and nutritional purposes. Pregnancy is a special time for women that are considering using herbal supplements and remedies. Herbal remedies can be beneficial, but also some herbal preparations should be avoided since their use could endanger the pregnancy and the growing fetus.
It is very important that any woman considering the use of herbal formulas and supplements, contact and discuss her plans with her midwife or health care provider prior to taking them to make sure that the herbs are appropriate for her specific situation and health status. Self-treatment should be avoided without consulting with a qualified herbalist or other practitioner knowledgeable in the proper use and dosages required for treatment. Some herbs are to be avoided until the last 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy and then only be taken under your midwife's supervision to help the expectant mom to prepare for labor and birth.
Here are a few general herbal recommendations for pregnancy:
MOONDRAGON'S PREGNANCY TEA RECIPE
These four herbs are found in MoonDragon's Pregnancy Tea. The recipe is:
2 parts Red Raspberry Leaf (dried)
1 part Alfalfa Leaf (dried)
1 part Nettle Leaf (dried)
1 part Peppermint Leaf (dried)
Mix well and store in a glass jar in a cool dark place. Light will deplete the nutrients in the leaves. This tea can be consumed throughout pregnancy and is helpful towards the end of pregnancy to prepare for the birth. It is a good base tea to add tinctures or other remedies to during the labor and it can also be made into iced cubes and ice chips to be used by the mother during her labor. It makes a great sun tea and can be consumed cold or hot. I usually recommend about a quart a day of prepared tea. This gives the mom her fluids and helps with her nutrition. It can be used unsweetened or with a little honey added for sweetener, if desired.
RECOMMENDED HERBAL PRODUCTS
Alfalfa Leaf Herbal Products Nettle Leaf Herbal Products Peppermint Herbal Products Red Raspberry Herbal Products
HELPFUL HERBS DURING PREGNANCY
ALFALFA LEAF HERB
Alfalfa, also known as Medicago sativa, lucerne, holy-hay, and trefoil, is high in iron, protein, vitamin K and is a good blood cleanser. It helps clot blood due to hemorrhaging. It is good for woman who have problems with anemia (most women do because of their blood loss during menses).
The first recorded mention of Alfalfa is in a book by the Emperor of China written in 2939 BC. It has been used extensively over the years in India. The Arabs gave Alfalfa its name which means "Father of all Foods" and fed it to their horses to make them run faster. The Chinese have been using Alfalfa since the 6th century to treat kidney stones, and to relieve fluid retention and swelling. Alfalfa supports the skeletal, glandular, digestive, and urinary systems. It contains chlorophyll, which is well known for its cleansing qualities. The leaves of the Alfalfa plant are abundant in minerals and nutrients, including calcium, iron, copper, manganese, silicon, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, carotene and fiber. Alfalfa is also a source of beta-carotene, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, E, K, and C.
Alfalfa is one of the best natural sources of vitamin K. This nutrient helps blood to clot by moving calcium into proteins that form a microscopic net to capture red blood cells. Vitamin K likewise helps bones to knit by working with vitamin D and glutamic acid to activate osteocalcin. The combination of these three nutrients is essential to building good bone. Your body can not use calcium without it. Alfalfa not only helps keep calcium in bones, it helps keep calcium out of the linings of arteries. You have probably heard of "hardening of the arteries" known in medical terms as atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis. Hardened arteries are a result of calcium replacing cholesterol in the lining of the blood vessel. This calcification happens when a microscopically small amount of cholesterol becomes lodged in the arterial wall. White blood cells known as macrophages feed on cholesterol, and they make a surveillance run throughout the bloodstream to keep the arteries open. Sometimes, however, a macrophage gets imbedded in the arterial wall and cannot get out. It dies trying to feed on the excess cholesterol, and other macrophages are signaled to clean up the new and larger problem in the lining of the blood vessel. There can eventually be a visible mass (sometimes the size of the period at the end of this sentence, but sometimes a lot larger) consisting of a tiny bit of cholesterol and a whole lot of dead white blood cells. The dead white blood cells can be replaced by artery-hardening calcium. Vitamin K from alfalfa, however, keeps that from happening. Just as vitamin K makes sure calcium moves into bones, the best information from current science is that it keeps calcium out of arterial clogs. Preventing arteriosclerosis is not quite the same thing as lowering cholesterol. There is good preliminary evidence that alfalfa seeds can lower cholesterol levels in a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia. This form of high cholesterol does not usually respond to other medications. The levels of cholesterol after taking alfalfa for eight weeks are not good, but they are 18 to 20 percent lower than the baseline and better than for statin drugs. In people who do not have familial hypercholesterolemia, there is no clear benefit for lowering cholesterol. Alfalfa is used with homeopathic remedy Lactuca Virosa to stimulate milk production in breastfeeding mothers. It can also be used with Blessed Thistle, Fenugreek, and/or Marshmallow for this purpose.
Alfalfa can help lower cholesterol, balance hormones, and promote pituitary gland function. Alfalfa alkalizes and detoxifies the body, acts as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory and contains an anti-fungal agent. Alfalfa is also good for treating anemia, bone and joint disorders, colon and digestive disorders, skin disorders and ulcers. Alfalfa has shown to be beneficial in preventing endometrial and colon cancer. It has been said that it helps reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritic conditions. Taking Alfalfa tablets before meals will help prevent the absorption of cholesterol. There is some evidence to suggest that Alfalfa tea can be useful in treating diabetes, stimulating appetite and for use as a general tonic. This plant works well as a food for convalescents because it gives many nutrients their body needs to heal and become strong. Alfalfa has shown some estrogenic activity and could be useful in treating problems with menstruation and menopause. There are so many different things Alfalfa can help with here is a list of some:
- Blood Conditions - anemia, boils, helps clot the blood.
- Brain and Nervous System Conditions - helps the individual who is recovering from a narcotic or alcohol addiction to reanimate themselves.
- Cardiovascular Conditions - heart disease, helps stop the configuration of atherosclerotic plaques, stroke.
- Female Conditions - late or irregular menstruation, menopausal problems, arouses lactation (milk supply) in nursing moms.
- Gastrointestinal Conditions - increases appetite for those who lost theirs, bowel issues, digestive disorders, dyspepsia, peptic ulcers, poor absorption of nutrients, poor digestion, regulates the bowels, relieves gastric ulcers, helps the upset stomach.
- Genitourinary Conditions - eliminates stored water, fluid retention and swelling, kidney, kidney stones, bladder and prostrate disorders, relieves urinary issues, urinary tract infections.
- Liver Conditions - stops the absorption of cholesterol, detoxifies the liver, jaundice.
- Prostate Disorders - helps with.
- Asthma Conditions.
Constituents: As a food, alfalfa provides beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, and K.
Parts Used: Seeds, sprouts, and the aboveground parts of the plant as a bulk herb, for teas, and in capsules.
Alfalfa supplements come in various forms and is an ingredient in many products. Alfalfa sprouts are found in groceries and salad bars. Capsules or tablets containing alfalfa leaves or seeds as well as the bulk powdered herb are found in health food stores. Powdered Alfalfa contains vitamins A, B-1, B-6, B-12, C, E, & K-1, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid and many essential and nonessential amino acids. The powdered form also contains high amounts of calcium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, zinc, and copper. The recommended dose for tea is 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup, steeped in boiling water for 10 to 20 minutes. The recommended supplement dose is 500 to 1,000 mg of the dried leaf per day or 1-2 ml of tincture. For tablets or capsules it is best to read and follow product label directions. Here are a couple of examples of some dosages:
- The recommended dose is 500 to 1,000 mg of the dried leaf per day or 1 to 2 ml of tincture.
- For Tea, 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup, steeped in boiling water for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Fluid extract, 30 to 60 ml / week.
There are no known safety issues or interactions associated with Alfalfa; however, there have been isolated cases of people who are allergic to Alfalfa.
The biggest risk in using alfalfa is eating sprouts grown in contaminated water. This is also the simplest risk to avoid. Avoid limp or smelly sprouts, and rinse sprouts before use. Nutritional naysayers offer a long list of potential objections to using sprouts, most of them based on incomplete information. For most people, alfalfa sprouts are inherently safe, but they do interact with certain medications.
If you are taking anti-rejection drugs for kidney transplant, do not use any form of alfalfa. The herbs and the medications you need to benefit from the transplant simply may not mix. There is no need to panic if you are a transplant patient and you have been using alfalfa products because the risk of adverse reaction is low. The reason not to use alfalfa is that while the risk of damage to the kidneys is very remote, it is also very serious.
Similarly, you probably should treat alfalfa the same way you treat any other green, leafy vegetable if you take Coumadin. Alfalfa is rich in vitamin K that can interfere with the drug's anti-coagulant effects and make the drug less effective. If you are on Coumadin, you should have been advised on the safe consumption of not just alfalfa but also of all other green, leafy vegetables. Do not use Alfalfa without talking to your health care provider when taking Warfarin, (Coumadin).
For everyone else, the main concern about alfalfa is the immune system stimulating chemical compound called L-cavanine / L-canavanine. It is found in alfalfa herb, alfalfa sprouts, and alfalfa seeds, and any product made from them without heating. Alfalfa seeds may worsen this disease because they may trigger Lupus flares. L-cavanine, in extremely rare instances of excessive consumption, can cause abnormal red blood cell counts, enlargement of the spleen, or relapses of lupus. Recent epidemiological research has found that it does not cause lupus; in fact, in the most recent study, women with lupus were less likely to have eaten the herb than women who are free of the disease. Those afflicted with Systemic Lupus Erthematosus (an ulcerous disease of the skin) should not take Alfalfa without talking to their health care provider. Recent reports suggest that ingestion of this substance can cause recurrence of this disease in patients where the disease had become dormant. To avoid problems with L-cavanine, Alfalfa can still be used in teas or as a cooked vegetable, or in its raw form up to twelve 1-gram capsules or 3 tablespoons a day. Just do not overdo.
RECOMMENDED HERBAL PRODUCTS
Alfalfa Herbal Products Blessed Thistle Herbal Products Fenugreek Herbal Products Marshmallow Herbal Products
BUTCHERS BROOM (BUTCHER'S BROOM) HERB
Butcher's Broom (Ruscus aculeatus) is a traditional treatment for skin problems and hemorrhoids. It helps prevent and reduce varicose veins . Germany's Commission E (1991) approved the use of Butcher's Broom as supportive therapy for hemorrhoids (itching and burning) and for the discomforts of chronic venous insufficiency (pain and heaviness, as well as cramps in the legs, itching and swelling), a condition closely related to varicose veins, due to its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to constrict small veins. Butcher's Broom has also been used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, circulatory disorders, edema, swollen ankles, Meniere's disease (vertigo accompanied by ringing in the ears and deafness), obesity, Raynauds disease (skin discoloration because an abnormal spasm of the blood vessels causes a diminished blood supply), thrombophlebitis (inflammation of a vein cause by or associated with the formation of a blood clot), and vertigo. It is also good for treating bladder and kidney problems. Clinical trials have shown the effectiveness of Butcher's Broom in treating chronic phlebopathy of the lower limbs and those suffering from varicose veins. In these trials, an extract was used. An extract of Butcher's Broom combined with flavonoid derivatives have been shown to benefit patients with diabetes, by lowering cholesterol levels and improving glucose tolerance. Butcher's Broom comes in various forms and is an ingredient in many products. A standard oral dosage should supply 5 to 10 mg of ruscogenin daily. For treating hemorrhoids, Butcher's Broom can be applied in the form of an ointment or as a suppository. A decoction of the root is the usual form of administration, and it is still considered of use in jaundice and gravel. The decoction, sweetened with Honey, is said to clear the chest of phlegm and relieve difficult breathing. One pint of boiling water to 1 ounce of the twigs, or 1/2 ounce of the bruised fresh root has also been recommended as an infusion, which may be taken as tea. 1/2 teaspoon of powder is about equal to one capsule. Powder can be consumed by sprinkling it over your food or mixing it with a syrup such as maple or chocolate. You could also mix it with orange juice. The citric acid in the orange juice will help to mask any unpleasant powder tastes. This herb is more effective when taken in conjunction with Vitamin C. It is important to read product label directions before use.
RECOMMENDED HERBAL PRODUCTS
Butcher's Broom Herbal Products Honey Products Vitamin C Supplement Products
CAYENNE RED PEPPER (CAPSICUM) HERB
Cayenne Pepper (capsicum) is used topically and as a dietary supplement. Cayenne Pepper contains beta-carotene; beta-ionone, citric acid, hesperidin, imonen, lutein, and quercetin just to name a few. It also contains capsaicin, which reduces pain and inflammation. When combined with other herbs, Cayenne Pepper helps increase their effectiveness by helping them enter the blood stream faster. Capsaicin can also stimulate and then desensitize the warmth detectors in the hypothalamus gland so that a drop in body temperature is evident. This enables natives in hot southern climates like Central and South America and Africa, to tolerate the heat a lot better than we would.
Cayenne Pepper has been known for its ability to aid in digestion, improve circulation, and reduce or stop bleeding from stomach ulcers. Taken internally it stimulates circulation and induces sweating to breed a fever. Some native people of Thailand believe that eating Cayenne Pepper everyday helps reduce blood clots. Herbalists recommend it to treat colds and infectious diarrhea, arthritis and rheumatism. There is scientific evidence that suggests adding Cayenne Pepper to meals boosts vitamin C levels and revs up the metabolism. This pepper is also used with Lobelia to help soothe nerves. It is beneficial for the heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, spleen, and stomach. In naturopathic medicine, Cayenne Pepper is combined with lemon juice, and salt to relieve even the worst sore throat pain for up to 4 hours. It also fights viral infection. When applied topically in a lotion or salve Cayenne Pepper works to soothe muscle aches and pains associated with arthritis, rheumatism, backache, strains and sprains.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Capsaicin for pain caused by shingles, an adult disease that is caused by the virus that causes chicken pox in children. Such over-the-counter (OTC) creams as Zostrix or Heet contain capsaicin and are applied externally to treat rheumatic and arthritic pains, cluster headaches, diabetic foot pain, fibromyalgia, and post-herpetic nerve pain. These creams usually contain 0.025 to 0.075 percent capsaicin. In 2002 there was some research done that helped to determine Capsaicin's pain relieving effects. Creams that contain the compound lowered pain in arthritis sufferers' hands by 40 percent when used four times a day. A study done for pain from long-term shingles found that 77 percent of the people had reduced pain after using the cream for four months. The study also said that Capsaicin containing ream is less expensive and safer than other painkillers used for the same conditions.
Cayenne Pepper comes in various forms and is an ingredient in many products. For taking capsules, the recommended daily dose is 1 capsule 2 to 3 times a day. Adults and children two and above can safely use it topically 3 to 4 times a day. For treating a sore throat, combine the juice of one-half lemon or lime with one full tablespoon of salt. Stir both into one-half cup of lukewarm distilled water. Stir in one-quarter teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper. Gargle as needed, but do not swallow.
RECOMMENDED HERBAL PRODUCTS
Cayenne Pepper (Capsaicin) Herbal Products Lobelia Herbal Products
CHAMOMILE (GERMAN) HERB
Chamomile, also known as German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita; Matricaria chamomilla), is high in calcium and magnesium. Helps with sleeplessness and inflammation of joints. This herb has antiseptic, sedative, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and it also acts as an antihistamine. In 1921, a topical form of Chamomile was introduced to treat a wide variety of skin disorders such as eczema, bedsores, post radiation therapy skin inflammation, and contact dermatitis. Germany's Commission E recommends topical Chamomile preparations for diseases of the skin and mouth. The Commission also recommends oral Chamomile for the treatment of pain and inflammation in the intestines and stomach. Chamomile is a wonderful relaxant for the nervous system and digestion, and a perfect remedy for babies and children. Chamomile relaxes smooth muscle throughout the body. In the digestive tract Chamomile relieves tension and spasm, colic, abdominal pain, wind, distension, diarrhea and constipation. Chamomile tea reduces a fever and helps soothe colds, flu, sore throats, and coughs. The tea is also used for mild tension and stress. Chamomile works well as a general pain reliever and is often used for headache, migraines, neuralgia, toothache, earache, cramps, rheumatic and pains associated with gout. Its antiseptic oils soothe an inflamed bladder and cystitis. Inhaling Chamomile vapor works well for asthma, hay fever and other lung problems. If you have allergies to ragweed, use with caution.
Chamomile comes in various forms and is an ingredient in many products. As a topical treatment, apply Chamomile cream to the affected area 1 to 4 times daily. For use as a tea, pour boiling water over 2 to 3 heaping teaspoons of flowers and steep. These dosages are meant to be used as guidelines. Always read product label directions before use.
RECOMMENDED HERBAL PRODUCTS
Chamomile Herbal Products Chamomile Essential Oil Products
DANDELION & KELP HERBS
Kelp is high in natural vitamins and macro and trace minerals that help prevent birth defects and aid in proper development. Consult with your midwife if you have thyroid problems since the kelp has natural iodine in it.
Dandelion is good for keeping the liver functioning properly. Dandelion leaves can be put in a green salad or dried and used as a tea. Dandelion root can be ground like coffee and made into a tea. Dandelion is rich in vitamin A, calcium and iron. Dandelion root and leaf can help relieve mild edema and nourish the liver.
RECOMMENDED HERBAL PRODUCTS
Dandelion Herbal Products Kelp & Seaweed Herbal Products
FALSE UNICORN HERB
False Unicorn is known to prevent miscarriage. Many herbalists recommend False Unicorn for reducing menopausal symptoms, and treating ovarian cysts. It has also been used to normalize hormone levels following oral contraceptive use. This root balances sex hormones in males as well as females. It can also be used for endometriosis, ovarian cysts, menstrual irregularities and pain, premenstrual syndrome and prostate disorders. False Unicorn is used to treat venereal diseases, particularly gonorrhea. It is also used as a diuretic and to rid the intestinal tract of worms. This herb can also stimulate the appetite and relieve the nausea and vomiting that accompany pregnancy.
False Unicorn comes in various forms and is an ingredient in many products. For using a decoction, take 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls of the root in 1 cup of boiling water. Drink 3 times a day. For using a tincture, take 2 to 4 ml, 3 times a day. If using False Unicorn for the "normalizing" effect on the female reproductive system in regulating the menstrual cycle, or promoting an absent cycle, note that it can take several months before there is a significant effect on the cycle. For other formulations read product label directions.
RECOMMENDED HERBAL PRODUCTS
False Unicorn Herbal Products
Garlic when used orally in amounts commonly found in foods. Useful for fighting off colds, flu and other bacterial and viral infections. Use with midwife's supervision if therapeutic amounts. Eating two raw Garlic cloves a day are adequate for most purposes, but a standard dosage of Garlic is 900 mg daily of a Garlic powder extract standardized to contain 1.3% alliin. When Garlic is crushed or cut, allinase, an enzyme, is brought in contact with alliin, turning it into allicin, which then breaks down into several different compounds. When purchasing Garlic, look for a 4 to 5 mg of allicin potential for best results. Garlic suppositories can be used for treating yeast Infections. You can make the suppositories using a clove of peeled garlic. Wrap gauze around the Garlic and insert inside the vaginal cavity. Every three to five hours, replace with a fresh suppository, and repeat for three to five days until the infection is gone. Garlic capsules can be used instead of the suppositories to treat yeast infections as well.
RECOMMENDED HERBAL PRODUCTS
Garlic Herbal Products
GINGER ROOT HERB
Ginger (Zingiber officinale; Gan Jiang) has been used safely for thousands of years in a wide range of Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese herbal formulas that benefit the stomach and promote digestive function. Ginger is also used in these formulas as an agent to carry or reinforce the actions of other digestive herbs. It is considered to be a warming herb as it enhances circulation and absorption. Ginger is essential for the reduction and frequency of morning sickness, upset stomach, seasickness, and motion sickness. It is also used expel gas (relieving flatulent colic) from the intestines and to help reduce fevers and lessen symptoms of colds. It is soothing to the digestive tract. Ginger tea can be made by slicing the fresh root into small pieces and added to hot water or milk to steep. It has a slightly "spicy" flavor to it. Ginger can be obtained in candied pieces and popped in your mouth if you are having indigestion problems.
A standard dose for most purposes is 1 to 4 grams of powdered Ginger taken daily in 2 to 4 divided doses. Prepare a dose of Ginger infusion by taking 10 to 30 grains or 1 ounce of Ginger powder or bruised root and adding it to a pint of boiling water, take 1 or 2 fluid ounces at a time. In acute colds the entire train of symptoms may be aborted in a single night, by advising the patient to take a hot Mustard foot bath at bedtime, while the body, prepared for bed, is wrapped in warm blankets. During the foot bath the patient should drink a glass or two of hot water, each of which contains half of a dram of the tincture of Ginger. To prevent motion sickness, begin treatment 1 or 2 days before the trip, and continue taking it throughout the travel period. Make Ginger tea from the boiled Ginger root as a remedy for nausea associated with pregnancy. Chilled, carbonated, and sweetened Ginger tea is the original form of ginger ale, the famous anti-nausea beverage. Powdered Ginger can be used in the tea instead of the root. Ginger is contraindicated for people with gallstones and should only be used after consultation with a health care provider.
GINGER TEA RECIPE
4 cups of water
2-inch piece of fresh Ginger root
Peel the Ginger root and slice it into thin slices. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Once it is boiling, add the Ginger. Cover it and reduce to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the tea. Add Honey and Lemon to taste. Note: Keep in mind that if you are making this tea to strengthen the immune system and ward off colds and flu, sweeteners are not recommended.
Ginger milk can be done the same way, substituting milk for water. This is good for warming the system up after being in the cold and is soothing to the stomach too. I often made Ginger milk after shoveling snow off the sidewalk and needing to be warmed up. You could also add a dash of Cinnamon, if desired to the ginger milk.
RECOMMENDED HERBAL PRODUCTS
Cinnamon Herbal Products Ginger Root Herbal Products Honey Products Mustard Herbal Products
HORSETAIL GRASS (SHAVEGRASS) HERB
Horsetail Grass (Equisetum arvense) is a great form of natural calcium and silica that is easily assimilated. The recommended dosage of Horsetail Grass is 1 gram in capsule or tea form up to 3 times a day as needed. Do not confuse medicinal Horsetail with its toxic relative Marsh Horsetail (Equisetum palustre).
RECOMMENDED HERBAL PRODUCTS
Horsetail (Shavegrass) Herbal Products
NETTLE LEAF HERB
Nettle, also known as Urtica dioica, Stinging Nettle, Common Nettle, Gerrais, Isirgan, Kazink, Ortiga, Grand Ortie, Ortie, Urtiga, Chichicaste, and Brennessel, has an erect stalk that is two to three feet in height and bears dark green leaves with serrated margins and small, inconspicuous flowers. The common Nettle comes by its other name, stinging nettle, honestly. The innocuous plant, a perennial that grows in many parts of the world and that has been naturalized to Brazil, delivers a stinging burn when the hairs on the leaves and stems are touched. Nettle grows wild and even though certain species of Nettle can cause burning pain that lasts from hours to weeks, it can also serve as a medicine. Its healing properties are as well known among various cultures and are part of folklore and tradition. Those healing powers are even alluded to in at least one fairy tale, The Swan Princess, in which the heroine must weave shirts of Nettle leaf to cure her twelve brothers who have been turned into swans by an evil stepmother. In ancient Grecian times Nettle Juice was used treat bites and stings. Roman soldiers reportedly used the irritation produced by Nettle leaves to keep their legs warm in the inhospitable climes of Britain. Nettle tea was prescribed by European herbalists for lung disorders, and Native Americans used it as an aid in pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing. In folk medicine, it is used for treating asthma. Nettle has expectorant, antispasmodic, diuretic, astringent, and tonic properties. This plant is also rich in chlorophyll, carotene, iron, silica and potassium and vitamin C.
The Nettle leaf and root both have medicinal properties, but each is more effective against different complaints. Nettle leaf is used traditionally as a diuretic, and as a treatment for rheumatism and arthritis. In Germany, a standardized extract is sold for the treatment of inflammatory conditions and prostate diseases. Nettle leaf's effectiveness against rheumatism and other inflammatory diseases is well documented, and borne out by chemical analysis of the plant.
Nettle leaf is also high in vitamins A, C, calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin K. It is a good all around pregnancy tonic. It has a slight minty taste (it is a member of the mint family). It can be used to build the blood and supply necessary nutrition needed during the pregnancy. In the early spring when Nettle first comes up and begins growing leaves, the fresh young leaves can be plucked and eaten in salads. They have not developed their "sting" yet. Later the whole plant can be harvested (be sure to wear protective gloves and clothing when harvesting) and dried. Once dried, the leaves lose their sting and can be used in teas.
It is important to keep in mind that the medicinal effects of the leaf and root of the nettle are markedly different. Nettle root, for instance, shows exceptional efficacy in treating prostate complaints in men. Nettle leaf has some of the same effects, but not to the same extent. Nettle Root is widely used in Europe for the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), or prostate enlargement. Based on a preliminary study at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, the leaf shows some promise in boosting immune system function and is an effective treatment for many skin conditions. Externally, it can be used on cuts and wounds, hemorrhoids, nosebleeds, and for soothing and healing burns and scalds.
Nettle's purported anti-inflammatory effects have been repeatedly confirmed by modern research over the past ten years.
Nettle leaf has become a popular, particularly effective treatment of allergies (hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis), relieving nearly all the symptoms of itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and runny nose.
Nettle is also used to help with goiter, inflammatory conditions, rheumatism and arthritis. This herb helps cleanse the body of toxins and wastes.
Nettles can relieve fluid retention, bladder infections, stones and gravel. It also has performed better than the prescription drug furosemide in reducing blood pressure, increasing urine output as a diuretic and increasing salt excretion.
One final use should be noted and that is nettle leaf has been used as a hair and scalp treatment for centuries, and again, those uses are being supported by research as well. Nettle leaf extract seems to promote hair regrowth and thicken hair, as well as reducing dandruff and scalp conditions when used as a rinse. Nettle is used in some hair care products to help stimulate hair follicles and regulate scalp oil buildup.
In its cooked form, Nettle is highly nutritious and may be used as a general dietary supplement and is especially good for those who are convalescing, anemic, or elderly.
Constituents: Formic acid, histamine, serotonin, choline, minerals, chlorophyll, amino acids, lecithin, carotenoids, flavonoids, sterols, tannins and vitamins. Nettle's main plant chemicals include: acetophenone, acetylcholine, agglutinins, alkaloids, astragalin, butyric acid, caffeic acids, carbonic acid, chlorogenic acid, chlorophyll, choline, coumaric acid, folacin, formic acid, friedelins, histamine, kaempherols, koproporphyrin, lectins, lecithin, lignans, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, neoolivil, palmitic acid, pantothenic acid, quercetin, quinic acid, scopoletin, secoisolariciresinol, serotonin, sitosterols, stigmasterol, succinic acid, terpenes, violaxanthin, and xanthophylls.
Parts Used: Leaves. Steamed and eaten in salads, pastas, etc. As a tea, extract and capsule.
Nettle comes in various forms and is an ingredient in many products. The recommended dosage of Nettle root, according to Commission E, is 4 to 6 grams daily of the whole root, or an equal dose of concentrated extract. The effectiveness in using Nettle root to treat prostate problems is believed to be enhanced when taken with saw palmetto or pygeum. The proper dosage for allergies is 300 mg twice a day of freeze-dried Nettle leaf. For other formulations, it is best to read and follow product label directions.
Nettle leaf is believed to be safe since it has long since been used as food. Nettle root does not have as long a history, although no significant adverse effects have been noted in Germany where Nettle root is widely used. There is some concern from a theoretical perspective that Nettle may interact with diabetes, blood pressure, anti-inflammatory, and sedative medications, though there are no reports of any problems occurring in real life. Because of its diuretic and hypotensive actions, nettle leaf may lower blood pressure. If you are taking diuretics or other drugs meant to lower blood pressure, consult your health care provider before using nettle leaf. Its long term, extended use is not recommended. Always talk to your health care provider before taking supplements in addition to any medications you are taking.
RECOMMENDED HERBAL PRODUCTS
Nettle Herbal Products
OATSTRAW, OATGRASS & OATS HERBS
Oatstraw, Oatgrass and Oats are a great form of natural calcium and magnesium that can be easily assimilated. Helps to relieve anxiety, restlessness, and irritated skin. Oatstraw means the whole plant, including the leaves and stems. Oatstraw comes in many different forms and is high in skin-soothing silica. It contains the relaxing alkaloids gramine and avenine, saponine, iron, manganese, and zinc. The 1997 Commission E on Phytotherapy and Herbal Substances of the German Federal Institute for Drugs recommends Oatstraw for external application to treat inflammatory and seborrheic skin disease, especially those with itching. Unless otherwise prescribed: 100 grams of herb for one full bath. Oatstraw can be eaten as a morning breakfast cereal as a way to combat high cholesterol. A tea can be made from a heaping tablespoonful (30 grams) of Oats brewed with 1 cup of boiling water and the tea can be drunk several times a day to treat fluid retention, or shortly before going to bed to ease insomnia. As a tincture, Oats can be taken at 3 to 5 ml 3 times per day. Encapsulated or tablet products can be used in the amount of 1 to 4 grams per day. To soothe irritated skin, you can make an Oat bath by running bath water through a sock containing several tablespoons of Oats.
RECOMMENDED HERBAL PRODUCTS
Oats, Oatgrass Oatstraw & Oat Bran Herbal Products
PEPPERMINT LEAF HERB
Peppermint, also known as Mentha piperita, White Peppermint, American Peppermint, Northern Mint, and Black Peppermint, is the familiar "mint scent" - the aroma of peppermint. Peppermint contains an essential oil that is unique to other mints for its quality and flavor, and artificial mint compounds do not effectively duplicate its aroma or medicinal effects. Peppermint is one of the most popular herbs in teas, candies, and chewing gums. The U.S. is the world's leading producer of Peppermint oil, making an average of 4,117 tons annually. Although the traditional use is a tea to improve digestion, most clinical trials have studied the oil in enteric-coated capsules used internally to treat irritable bowel syndrome and externally to treat tension headache.
The French called Mint "the plant of happiness," and the Roman scholar Pliny said the mere smell of Mint could invigorate the soul. The ancient Greeks used this fragrant herb in their temple rite and as a symbol of hospitality. In the 1600s, Peppermint was deliberately bred in England, and became the tasty plant known so well today, but only became important medicinally around the 18th century. There are many species of Mint; however, the Peppermint and Japanese Mints are the most economically important. Both of them contain Menthol, which is the primary medicinal benefit of this plant. Menthol promotes digestion by stimulating the flow of bile to the stomach, and it also calms the muscles of the digestive system to help relieve stomach upsets. Spearmint does not contain Menthol and is used mainly for flavoring and may be used as a delicious tea in itself.
Peppermint is a good herb that soothes and helps the digestive system. It is helpful for nausea and gastric upset. Make sure your Peppermint is strongly aromatic (it should have a strong peppermint scent to it). Added to teas, it can add a nice minty flavor to otherwise "green-tasting" teas. According to the American Botanical Council, Peppermint is helpful in assisting people with general indigestion and non-ulcer dyspepsia and makes for a soothing and warming after dinner tea Peppermint Essential Oil can be applied to the skin or mouth to relieve pain. The essential oil in Peppermint teas relieves the pain associated with colitis and colic.
As a home remedy, Peppermint is used for indigestion, flatulence, and colic. Chewing fresh Peppermint leaves will get rid of stale breath. Peppermint tea works well in treating colds, sore throat, minor mouth or throat irritations, headaches and migraines, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, and stomachache. Peppermint oil has been recognized by Germany's Commission E as effective in treating colicky pain in the digestive tract, specifically irritable bowel syndrome, and in relieving mucus congestion of the lungs and sinuses caused by colds and flu. Some evidence suggests it might be helpful for gallstones and in treating candida infections, but results are not complete at this time. Menthol has antispasmodic qualities that may help relieve menstrual cramps. It is also found in products used for the relief of muscle aches, sprains, and similar conditions.
Constituents: The essential oil of Peppermint (up to 2.5 percent in the dried leaf) is mostly made up from menthol (ca. 50 percent), menthone (10 to 30 percent), menthyl esters (up to 10 percent) and several monoterpene derivatives (pulegone, piperitone, menthofurane). Traces of jasmone (0.1 percent) give the oil its characteristically "minty" scent. The aromatic chemicals in the mint are concentrated when the plant is grown in areas with long, warm, bright summer days.
Parts Used: Dried or fresh leaf, and essential oil. Peppermint, Mint and Menthol comes in various forms and is an ingredient in numerous products. Tea is the most common and best employed use of this ingredient. The oil is used as flavoring in toothpaste, dental creams, mouthwash, cough candies, chewing gum, and baked goods. When treating irritable bowel syndrome the recommended dosage of Peppermint oil is 0.2 to 0.4 ml 3 times a day of an enteric-coated capsule. Using capsules that are enteric-coated will prevent stomach distress. For other uses and formulations it is best to read product label directions.
There are no known safety issues or interactions associated with Peppermint, Mint or Menthol; however Menthol is considered an antidote for many homeopathic remedies and should be avoided by those taking the remedies. Taken in normal doses, enteric-coated Peppermint oil is believed to be fairly safe in healthy adults. Peppermint oil can be toxic if normal doses are exceeded. An excessive intake of Peppermint oil will produce nausea, loss of appetite, heart problems, loss of balance, and other nervous system problems. Safety in young children is unknown; however, it is known to cause jaundice in newborn babies, so it is not recommended for colic. Effects in pregnant and nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known.
For best results, avoid boiling a peppermint tea, and instead add simmering water to a cup of the material instead of boiling directly.
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Peppermint Herbal Products Peppermint Essential Oil Products Spearmint Herbal Products
PSYLLIUM HERBAL FIBER
Psyllium is a good fiber supplement to take safely to relieve and prevent constipation. Be sure to drink plenty of water or recommended herbal teas with psyllium to help remedy and prevent constipation problems.
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Psyllium Herbal Products Fiber Complex Herbal Products
RED RASPBERRY LEAF HERB
Red Raspberry, also known as Rubus idaeus, Red Raspberry, Raspberry, and Wild Raspberry, has long been established as a female herb. The leaf tea is used by pregnant women to help prevent complications and make delivery easier. It has also been known to reduce menstrual bleeding and relieve symptoms of diarrhea.
Red Raspberry Tea & Women is high in Iron and calcium and helps with nausea, and tones the uterine muscles to allow it to contract more effectively. It can be consumed throughout the pregnancy. It is a good all-around woman's herb with plenty of nutritious benefits.
Raspberry leaves are among the most pleasant-tasting of all the herbal remedies, with a taste much like black tea, without the caffeine. Teas of raspberry leaf tea were given to women of the Cherokee, Iroquois, and Mohawk nations in North America, and have earned approval of the authoritative British Herbal Compendium.
In addition to preventing complications in pregnancy, reducing menstrual bleeding, and diarrhea, Red Raspberry is used to relax uterine and intestinal spasms. It is known to strengthen uterine walls, and promote healthy nails, bones, teeth and skin. Red Raspberry can diminish the effects of morning sickness, false labor pains, hot flashes, and menstrual cramps. Using Red Raspberry after childbirth helps decrease uterine swelling and reduces postpartum bleeding. Small children can drink Red Raspberry tea for vomiting, dysentery, and diarrhea. The warm tea also soothes sore throats, mouth ulcers, bleeding gums, and canker sores.
Raspberry Leaf tea has been used for centuries as a folk medicine to treat canker sores, cold sores, and gingivitis in persons of all ages and anemia, leg cramps, diarrhea, and morning sickness in pregnant women, and as a uterine relaxant. Commentators frequently state that recent scientific research found no benefit in raspberry tea for expectant mothers, but this is not correct. The study published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health in 2001 found that women who drank raspberry leaf tea had shorter labor, and fewer of their babies were delivered by forceps. The other study, published in the Australian College of Midwives Journal, cited in The Natural Pharmacist as saying there was "no" benefit to the herb for pregnant women, actually stated: "The findings also suggest ingestion of the drug might decrease the likelihood of pre and post-term gestation. An unexpected finding in this study seems to indicate that women who ingest raspberry leaf might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require a caesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group." In other words, scientific studies show that drinking raspberry tea actually is beneficial during pregnancy.
Constituents: Flavonoids, tannins, and elagic acid.
Parts Used: Dried leaf, Raspberry leaves gathered in spring before the plant flowers have the highest antioxidant content.
To make Raspberry Leaf tea, pour one cup of boiling water over 1 or 2 teaspoons of dried Red Raspberry leaf, close the teapot and allow to steep for 10 minutes, and then sweeten to taste. During pregnancy, drink 2 to 3 cups. Drink warm.
Raspberry Leaf tea can be mixed with Slippery Elm powder to make a soothing poultice for minor burns and skin infection. Some herbalists make tinctures of Red Raspberry Leaf with Partridge Berry (Squaw Vine) for use by expectant mothers, Many herbal teas include Raspberry to "stabilize" the other ingredients, May also be taken as a capsule.
The successful use of Red Raspberry is based on tradition more than science and even though it is widely available, safety of use with young children under the age of 6 or those with severe liver or kidney disease is unknown and has not been established.
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SLIPPERY ELM BARK HERB
Slippery Elm Bark is used to help relieve nausea, heartburn and vaginal irritation. Use the inner bark orally in amounts used in foods. Use cough lozenges as needed. For digestive disorders, make a porridge of Slippery Elm with a bit of honey, and eat as desired. It not only has a most soothing and healing action on all parts it comes in contact with, but in addition possesses as much nutrition as is contained in oatmeal, and when made into gruel forms a wholesome and sustaining food for infants and invalids. It forms the basis of many patient foods.
Slippery Elm food is generally made by mixing a teaspoonful of the powder into a thin and perfectly smooth paste with cold water and then pouring on a pint of boiling water, steadily stirring meanwhile. It can, if desired, be flavored with Cinnamon, Nutmeg or Lemon rind. It makes an excellent drink in cases of irritation of the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines, and taken at night will induce sleep. Another mode of preparation is to beat up an egg with a teaspoonful of the powdered bark, pouring boiling milk over it and sweetening it. Taken unsweetened, 3 times daily, Slippery Elm food gives excellent results in gastritis, gastric catarrh, mucous colitis and enteritis, being tolerated by the stomach when all other foods fail, and is of great value in bronchitis, bleeding from the lungs and consumption (being most healing to the lungs), soothing a cough and building up and preventing wasting. For coughs, cut obliquely one or more ounces of bark into pieces about the thickness of a match, add a pinch of Cayenne flavor with a slice of lemon and sweeten, infusing the whole in a pint of boiling water and letting it stand for 25 minutes. Take this frequently in small doses. A pint daily is recommended. A standard dosage of capsulized powder is 500 to 1000 mg 3 times daily.
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WHITE OAK BARK HERB
White Oak bark (Quercus alba) works with pregnancy hemorrhoids. White Oak is a strong astringent with anti-infective and tonic properties and was used extensively by the American Indians and early American settlers because of it's astringent qualities, both internally and externally. Teas were taken internally for chronic diarrhea, dysentery, hemorroids, menstrual problems with excessive bleeding, hematuria, internal hemorrhaging, low grade fever, ulcerated bladder, goiter, neck problems, gallstones, and kidney stones. and used as body washes. It has been used to treat intestinal inflammation, and hemorrhaging in urine, stool, mouth, nose, organs, and heavy menses. White Oak can eliminate vaginal discharge and infection as well. It has also been used for night sweats, mouth sores, pyorrhea, sore throat, fevers, colds, diarrhea, and bronchitis. White Oak can strengthen teeth and gums and as a gargle or mouthwash for throat and mouth. Used externally, it can be applied as a cold compress for burns, wounds or sores, skin irritations, bee stings, poison ivy, and varicose veins (including hemorrhoids). As a poultice, it is used for bruises, injuries, swollen tissues, bleeding and to strengthen a loosened tooth. In some cases it has also been used internally or externally as an enema and douche to treat leucorrhea.
For diarrhea, do not use White Oak longer than 3 to 4 days without consulting a health care provider. The inner bark of the White Oak tree is carefully peeled in small sections from wild trees, so no serious damage to the tree occurs.
Take one to two capsules twice daily with water at mealtimes or prepared as a tea. For treating other conditions, do not exceed more than 2 to 3 weeks use. The Commission E suggests 3 grams per day for internal use. They recommend 20 grams per 1 liter of water to use as a rinse, compress, or gargle. To use in a bath, 5 grams per liter of water. For a liquid tincture-extract, use 6 to 12 drops in juice, water, under the tongue or as desired. May be taken 3 times daily.
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HERBS TO BE USED WITH CAUTION
HERBS ONLY USED UNDER YOUR MIDWIFE'S SUPERVISION OR AVOID DURING PREGNANCY: Aloe Vera, Ginseng (American & Korean), Evening Primrose, Feverfew, Kava Kava. Cascara Sagrada (use cautiously with supervision by your midwife), Senna (use cautiously with the supervision of your midwife).
HERBS TO BE AVOIDED
DO NOT TAKE THESE HERBS DURING PREGNANCY: Goldenseal, Juniper, Wormwood, Barberry, Oregon Grape, Other herbs to avoid are Saw Palmetto, Dong Quai, Ephedra, Yohimbe, Pau D'Arco, Passion Flower, Black Cohosh (Cautiously use only last few weeks of pregnancy with the supervision of your midwife), Blue Cohosh (Cautiously use only last few weeks of pregnancy with the supervision of your midwife), Roman Chamomile (in therapeutic doses), Pennyroyal (Cautiously use only last few weeks of pregnancy with the supervision of your midwife).
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For more information regarding helpful remedies during pregnancy, see the links below:
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Morning Sickness
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Morning Sickness Homeopathic Remedies
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Pregnancy Concerns
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Gestational Diabetes Index
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Heartburn
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Heartburn Tips
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Toxemia (Preelampsia/Eclampsia)
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Skin Tips
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Mood Tips
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Miscarriage
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Bowel Tips (Hemorrhoids & Constipation)
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Anemia During Pregnancy
MoonDragon's Nutrition Information & Pregnancy Guidelines
Midwife Archives: Herbs During Pregnancy
Childbirth.org: Natural Remedies During Pregnancy
Henrietta's Herbal Homepage
Birth Matters Midwifery: Herbs and Pregnancy
Trilightherbs.com: Herbal Safety Guide & Cautions for Usage
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HERBS DURING PREGNANCY SUPPLEMENT PRODUCTS
Alfalfa Herbal Products Blessed Thistle Herbal Products Butcher's Broom Herbal Products Cayenne Herbal Products Chamomile Herbal Products Chamomile Essential Oil Products Cinnamon Herbal Products Dandelion Herbal Products False Unicorn Herbal Products Fenugreek Herbal Products Fiber Herbal Products Garlic Herbal Products Ginger Root Herbal Products Honey Products Horsetail (Shavegrass) Herbal Products Kelp & Seaweed Herbal Products
Lemon Herbal Products Lobelia Herbal Products Marshmallow Herbal Products Mustard Herbal Products Nettle Herbal Products Nutmeg Herbal Products Oats & Oatstraw Herbal Products Partridge Berry Herbal Products Peppermint Herbal Products Peppermint Essential Oil Products Psyllium Herbal Products Red Raspberry Leaf Herbal Products Slippery Elm Bark Herbal Products Spearmint Herbal Products Vitamin C Supplement Products White Oak Herbal Products
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information Index
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information & Survival Tips
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Allspice Leaf Oil Angelica Oil Anise Oil Baobab Oil Basil Oil Bay Laurel Oil Bay Oil Benzoin Oil Bergamot Oil Black Pepper Oil Chamomile (German) Oil Cajuput Oil Calamus Oil Camphor (White) Oil Caraway Oil Cardamom Oil Carrot Seed Oil Catnip Oil Cedarwood Oil Chamomile Oil Cinnamon Oil Citronella Oil Clary-Sage Oil Clove Oil Coriander Oil Cypress Oil Dill Oil Eucalyptus Oil Fennel Oil Fir Needle Oil Frankincense Oil Geranium Oil German Chamomile Oil Ginger Oil Grapefruit Oil Helichrysum Oil Hyssop Oil Iris-Root Oil Jasmine Oil Juniper Oil Labdanum Oil Lavender Oil Lemon-Balm Oil Lemongrass Oil Lemon Oil Lime Oil Longleaf-Pine Oil Mandarin Oil Marjoram Oil Mimosa Oil Myrrh Oil Myrtle Oil Neroli Oil Niaouli Oil Nutmeg Oil Orange Oil Oregano Oil Palmarosa Oil Patchouli Oil Peppermint Oil Peru-Balsam Oil Petitgrain Oil Pine-Long Leaf Oil Pine-Needle Oil Pine-Swiss Oil Rosemary Oil Rose Oil Rosewood Oil Sage Oil Sandalwood Oil Savory Oil Spearmint Oil Spikenard Oil Swiss-Pine Oil Tangerine Oil Tea-Tree Oil Thyme Oil Vanilla Oil Verbena Oil Vetiver Oil Violet Oil White-Camphor Oil Yarrow Oil Ylang-Ylang Oil Aromatherapy
Healing Baths For Colds
Using Essential Oils
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Almond, Sweet Oil Apricot Kernel Oil Argan Oil Arnica Oil Avocado Oil Baobab Oil Black Cumin Oil Black Currant Oil Black Seed Oil Borage Seed Oil Calendula Oil Camelina Oil Castor Oil Coconut Oil Comfrey Oil Evening Primrose Oil Flaxseed Oil Grapeseed Oil Hazelnut Oil Hemp Seed Oil Jojoba Oil Kukui Nut Oil Macadamia Nut Oil Meadowfoam Seed Oil Mullein Oil Neem Oil Olive Oil Palm Oil Plantain Oil Plum Kernel Oil Poke Root Oil Pomegranate Seed Oil Pumpkin Seed Oil Rosehip Seed Oil Safflower Oil Sea Buckthorn Oil Sesame Seed Oil Shea Nut Oil Soybean Oil St. Johns Wort Oil Sunflower Oil Tamanu Oil Vitamin E Oil Wheat Germ Oil
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