During your pregnancy, all kinds of major changes take place in your body to enable a good growth of your baby and eventually giving birth.
A lot is happening with your hormones, such as Estrogen, Progesterone, the pregnancy hormone HCG and the stress hormone Cortisol, which is about 2-4 times higher than normal.
Most women notice the impact on both mental and physical level such as mood swings, nausea, lack of energy, less focus and different sleeping or eating patterns.
If you are already familiar with adaptogens and have experienced what they can do for your emotions, energy levels and focus, you may be thinking about continuing to use them. But is it safe to use adaptogens during your pregnancy?
Adaptogens and Pregnancy
Adaptogens are a special category of herbs and medicinal mushrooms that have a direct impact on three major systems: the endocrine system, the nervous system and the immune system. Due to their balancing effect, they influence the way we experience stress and reduce the production of stress hormones.
They can help you feel more energetic, sleep better, be more focused and have a good mood.
Herbs have been used for thousands of years during pregnancy. However it is important to have a good understanding of which ones you can and which ones you shouldn't use, because not all herbs are safe. What do we know about adaptogens?
Adaptogens have been traditionally used during pregnancy in several non-Western cultures. Maca for example is widely used by pregnant women in Peru to support both the mother and the baby. Ayurveda in India also has its own herbal uses specifically for during pregnancy.
In the west the various opinions are both in favor and against the use of adaptogens during pregnancy, mainly because there is insufficient scientific evidence for their safety.
The Botanical Safety Handbook sees “no identified problems for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding” for several adaptogens including Reishi and Maca.
Others believe that no evidence for risk is not necessarily evidence for safety.
It should also be noted that the same applies to the use of many pharmaceutical prescription drugs during pregnancy.
Dr. Aviva Romm is a well-known medical doctor specialized in women's health and a very knowledgable and experienced herbalist. She says that many herbs are safe during pregnancy, although even those should not be used during the first trimester. On her website she explains which herbs to use and which to avoid.
I was curious about her take on the safety of adaptogens during pregnancy and when breastfeeding, so I reached out to her and she answered:
“I'm totally fine with them (while breastfeeding) except tend to stay away from stimulating ones like ginseng. Not for use during pregnancy though”
According to Aviva there are plenty of other herbs that you can safely use from the second trimester on under the guidance of your medical doctor and you can start taking calming adaptogens again after giving birth.
In any case, always discuss all your medical questions regarding adaptogens, whether it is about their use during pregnancy, when breastfeeding, with prescription drugs etc. with your GP and/or specialist. I recommend that you do this before you start taking adaptogens or any other supplement.
If you are pregnant, I wish you a pleasant, prosperous pregnancy and a smooth, speedy delivery!