Herbal remedies in pregnancy and post-partum period – Safe??

 

Introduction

Historically and cross-culturally, herbal medicine has played an important role in both preventive and curative medicine. Ayuverdic medicine has been practiced for more than 5000 years and Chinese medicine is likely equally ancient. Among the first documents to describe Chinese medicinal herbs dates back to 1AD, in which more than 250 herbal options were described and categorized based on temperature (‘hot’ versus’ cold’ herbs) and taste.

Of what concern is this to the practicing Obstetrician?

Of current concern is the proportion of pregnant women who either consume these various herbal preparations during pregnancy or during the postpartum period with the belief that these products are safe. We are often asked for a professional opinion regarding the benefits and possible harm of consuming these herbs. Furthermore, knowledge of common herbs may help a clinician identify the cause of an unexpected problem, or to anticipate potential side effects both in the pregnant mother and baby.

The purpose of this paper therefore will be to identify the extent of herbal remedy usage among the pregnant population, to explore the possible reasons for this expansion in usage, to identify the commonly used herbal remedies in the local population and to elicit the evidence if any that may exist to support its use.

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This paper was presented at the 2nd Congress of Nutrition in Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2009 in Kuala Lumpur

herbal remedies lecture