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See also:

Subsections on this page:

Three-Minute Activism to
Protect Your Right to Access Nutritional Supplements

Sign the Citizens Petition to Maintain Your Health Freedom.
Watch the video about the Codex Alimentarium restrictions.

Do you have questions about what you read here?  Would you like personalized recommendations regarding herbs?

Pam Caldwell, HerbLore, 877-808-5815.  Pam offers phone consultations, and her herbal products are made from the highest quality herbal sources and available online.

Her Articles section covers Pre-Conception, Pregnancy & Birth, Postpartum & Lactation, Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy and Lactation, Newborns, Babies & Children, Women's Health, Digestive System, Pain Relief, Flower Essences

An Idea

When taking herbs, why not use a particular affirmation with each, describing your purpose in taking the herb.  It would be wonderful if herbalists would normally include some of these on every tincture bottle.  Some affirmation ideas.


Do you have questions about what you read here?  Would you like personalized recommendations regarding herbs?

Pam Caldwell, HerbLore, 877-808-5815.  Pam offers phone consultations, and her herbal products are made from the highest quality herbal sources and available online.

Her Articles section covers Pre-Conception, Pregnancy & Birth, Postpartum & Lactation, Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy and Lactation, Newborns, Babies & Children, Women's Health, Digestive System, Pain Relief, Flower Essences

Herbs for the Cold & Flu Season - Ear Infections, Fevers, Coughs, Colds and even Yeast Infections! By Pam Caldwell, Herbalist

The Herbal Education of Midwives
by Susun Weed September 1, 2017
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Midwifery Today, Issue 123, Autumn 2017.

5 Safe Herbs for a More Comfortable Pregnancy and Better Birth
from Aviva Romm

Botanical Dietary Supplements from the NIH

Top 10 Herbal/ Home Remedy Mistakes from trilighthealth.com - This has some good tips for new users of herbs.

You can do a PubMed search about herbs and pregnancy

The best information I've found about appropriate herbs for pregnancy and childbirth comes from Shonda Parker's Guide to Using the Tri-Light Mom and Baby Safe Formulas.

General Herbal Reference Sites

HerbMed® - an interactive, electronic herbal database - provides hyperlinked access to the scientific data underlying the use of herbs for health. It is an impartial, evidence-based information resource provided by the nonprofit Alternative Medicine Foundation, Inc.

Herbs Listed by Common Name from the book: Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner, N.D.

HealthWorld Online has a number of articles by © David L. Hoffmann B.Sc. (Hons), M.N.I.M.H.
They also host his Herbal Materia Medica.

The American Botanical Council (ABC) is the leading independent, nonprofit, international member-based organization providing education using science-based and traditional information to promote the responsible use of herbal medicine.

On-line plant databases from National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

Herbage Fourth Edition CD-ROM - this seems like a great tool for the serious herbalist.

Mother Earth Herbs

Herbal search engine - This will search a number of herbal reference sites

Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings About Herbs from Personal Health Zone

Ask the Herbalist - Pregnancy, Fertility & Nursing from HerbNet

Medical Herbalism Journal - great "Materia Medica"

Blue Cohosh Survey by Aviva Romm and Tieraona Low Dog - We hope you will take approximately 15 minutes to complete this survey, which is part of a preliminary data collection process we are undertaking to evaluate the safety of blue cohosh use in pregnancy.

Blue Cohosh and Birth Defects - This article points out that the alleged association between blue cohosh and birth defects comes from a single case in which the mom didn't even take any blue cohosh until the last month of pregnancy, which is past the point of causing birth defects.

Blue Cohosh Controversy

Wishgarden Herbal Labor Formulas Explained by Tara M. Bloom - a brief but very helpful discussion of the uses of their B&B Labor Formula, Labor Enhancer Formula, Smooth Transitions Labor Aid Formula, Centered Mama Nervine Formula

The Reproductive System - this article has links to others about the female reproductive system, including Uterine Tonics

Herbal Medicines Study - valerian is especially found to be helpful for reducing stress and improving sleep.

Susun Weed seems to be the premiere herbalist when it comes to women's health issues, and she is the author of Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year.

Herbal Allies For Pregnancy Problems by Susun Weed - a nice article.

She's made some really nice videos for YouTube.

Herbal Allies for Pregnancy by Linda Woolven - a fabulous article from Mothering Magazine

Herbs of Special Interest to Women from Medscape (registration is free)

Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors (APND)

CLINICAL HERB MANUALS by MICHAEL MOORE - All things herbal - a great resource!

One Contributor's Herbal Archives - Some Redundancy

General Herbal Information

Prenatal Herbal/Homeopathic Preparation

"We in the profession cannot say that herbs and plants are not any good. All we can tell our patients is there's never been any financial incentive to study these things, and therefore we cannot advise them one way or the other," says Caddick, a co-author of Healthy Beginnings: Guidelines for Care During Pregnancy and Childbirth, a document put out by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada in 1998." from WebMD.

Sexual Hormones and Reproductive Imbalances - Materia Medica by Christopher Hobbs L.Ac., A.H.G.

King's American Dispensatory

 Advising Patients About Herbal Therapies (JAMA Letters - November 11, 1998 )

Useful Herbs in PregnancyUseful Herbs When Nursing, and Useful Herbs for Weaning from Snowbound Herbals


The January, 1998, issue of Mothering magazine (No 86) has a good article "Wise Use of Herbs and Vitamins During Pregnancy.  Linda White (author) discusses 4 herbs: Red Raspberry, Nettles, Alfalfa and Dandelion.  She also mentions a wide selection of other herbs that are broken up into categories: Herbs that stimulate uterine contractions, etc.

Herbal Materia Medica

Medicinal Herb Garden - great collection of images of medicinal herbs.

Herbal research compiled by the students at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Pharmacy (Beard Hall)

Cherokee Messenger - Native American Herbal Remedies

Henriette's Herbal Homepage - One of the oldest and largest herbal information sites on the net, and they have a great Henriette's  Medicinal herbFAQ

Fuchs Botanical - 1545 - The digital version of Fuch's Botany of 1545.

"Viable Herbal Solutions is a developer, manufacturer, and primary supplier of the most remarkable alternative and complementary medicine
 herbal health products available today."  I found this site to be informative.  They also offer a Custom Blending service.

Free MedLine search page. Put in some latin names for the herbs you're researching (cabbage is Brassica ) and see what research has been done by the medical community.

Available by ftp: sunsite.unc.edu or sunsite.sut.ac.jp

Birth-Related Herbs

Herbal Hormones

I found some interesting information in this page about transgenders - Feminization through Herbal Treatment

Pregnancy Herbs - Red Raspberry, False Unicorn Root, Helonias

Phytoestrogens in Foods and Herbs

Herbal medicine, mostly
* Michael Moore's homepage (with lots of goodies): http://chili.rt66.com/hrbmoore/HOMEPAGE
* Howie Brounstein's homepage (still more goodies): http://www.teleport.com/~howieb/howie.html
* Michael Tierra's site (yet more goodies): http://www.planetherbs.com/
* Jonathan Treasure's Herbal Bookworm site: http://www.teleport.com/~jonno/ - good in-depth reviews of recent books on
herbal medicine, a list of good books, a list of stinkers; as a whole it's a nice setup, with Reality Check and all
* Herbal Hall, the one and only: lots of goodies: http://www.herb.com/herbal.htm
* Paul Bergner's Medical Herbalism (see medicinal herbfaq part 7): http://www.medherb.com
* Robyn Klein (Robyn's Recommended Reading) has her own website now, at http://www.wtp.net/~rrr - go check it out, it's good stuff
* Check out Nigel Wynn's Mediterranean Medicinal Plants -site, it's good stuff: http://www.datops.com/friends/aldeia/medherbs- address 02Sep98
* Try Susan Kramer's site: http://www.earthways.com/
* You could also go see what the American Herbalists Guild is doing, at http://www.healthy.com/herbalists/
* Or check what's on this month at the Herb Society (U.K.) (Good Stuff): http://sunsite.unc.edu/herbmed/HerbSociety
* The Healthy.net site is good, too, with its nifty search engine yielding
articles by David Hoffmann and Christopher Hobbs, among others: http://www.healthy.net/Architext/AT-Completequery.html , or try their
Herbal Information Center page: http://www.healthy.net/clinic/therapy/herbal/herbic/index.html
* Try the Terra di Toscana herb pages: http://www.terraditoscana.com/uk0907f.htm
* Go for the AANP site, with their extensive library of articles: http://www.naturopathic.org/articles.lay/article.index.html
* Check the herbal files at Delicious! online: http://www.delicious-online.com/story_index/herb_stories.html
* Try the new website for the Herb Research Foundation: http://www.herbs.org
* Check the Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute -pages (focused on chinese herbs): http://www.rmhiherbal.org
* This site: http://www.HealthWWWeb.com has lots of alternative healthcare resource links
* Frontier Herb has Good Stuff on herbal medicine, like the Herbfest 96 notes: http://www.frontierherb.com/fch/seminar_notes/index.html , or their plea for goldenseal: http://www.frontierherb.com/goldenseal/
* The Herbnet, a nice setup: http://www.herbnet.com/
* Nutrition Science News is online - and searchable (try 'herb'): http://www.nutritionsciencenews.com/
* See what this site has to offer: http://www.angelfire.com/co/psych0o/herbs.html
* The MediHerb homepage: http://www.mediherb.com/ MediHerb is -the- quality text provider in Australia (see medicinal herbfaq part 7), and, I hear, also -the- quality herb provider in Australia - but only to practitioners.)
* Then there's the Culpeper page, for the historically inclined: http://info.med.yale.edu/library/historical/culpeper/welcome.html
* The Acupuncture homepage - Good Stuff: http://www.Acupuncture.com/ also featuring a Real Gem:  http://www.Acupuncture.com/Herbology/Fairy.htm - go have a look
* The Merck Manual, 16th edition, is online at: http://www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual/html/sectoc.htm

An interesting list of proherbal and anti-herbal web sites

Herb Vendors

I really like TriLight Health because their herbs are in a glycerin base, which is much more palatable than alcohol. Pregnancy Formulas by Shonda Parker - "The herbal combinations that I’ve formulated for use during pregnancy are based on those herbs that are not considered contraindicated for pregnancy by herbal authorities around the world."  These are also great for alcoholics in recovery, who would prefer to avoid alcohol-based tinctures.  Phone: 530-292-1236  [NOTE - If the glycerin seems too sickly sweet, you can use these herbs as a sweetener in tea or lemon water or anything, really.  It won't affect the potency of the herbal remedy, but it may slow absorption.  This is fine for the tonic herbs such as red raspberry leaf and Labor Prep.  If you need a faster response, as during labor, it's more effective to take them under your tongue.]  I really like Shonda Parker's Respiratory Symptoms Flow Chart for Tri-Light Products

Pam Caldwell, HerbLore, 877-808-5815.  Pam offers phone consultations, and her herbal products are made from the highest quality herbal sources and available online.

Her Articles section covers Pre-Conception, Pregnancy & Birth, Postpartum & Lactation, Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy and Lactation, Newborns, Babies & Children, Women's Health, Digestive System, Pain Relief, Flower Essences

Mountain Rose Herbs carries bulk organic herbs of high quality.

Eclectic Institute - Herbs are fresh, freeze-dried or tinctured.  They grow many of their herbs on their own organic farm in pristine country.

Cascade is a favorite midwifery supplier.  They offer bulk herbs, tinctures, capsules, and supplies for herbalists.

Native Remedies - specially formulated to offer a complete solution for holistic health and wellness.

Pediatric Formulas - Gentle Warriors are produced with children in mind. With lower alcohol and the addition of glycerin, these formulas, because they taste good, are easy to administer.

I've always been impressed with the quality of the herbs from Crystal Star.  You can learn how to use these excellent products from Linda Page's book, Healthy Healing.

Mountain Meadow Herbs -  a family-based herb company committed to bringing you the finest, highest quality herbs and herbal preparations. Only organically grown or wild crafted herbs are used in our extracts and formulas, with the rare exception of a particular herb being unavailable as such.  They have a very nice selection of herbal formulas for pregnancy and birth.

Texas Medicinals is an earth-centered herbal products manufacturing business, founded by herbalist Ginger Webb as a natural outgrowth of her herbal consultation practice. A traditional herbalist, Ginger knows intimately the wild plants growing around us, and gathers them to make medicine for her clients and for our Texas Medicinals product line.

MoonLily: Herbs for Pregnancy, Birth, Breastfeeding and Infant Care

Granny Janny Herbs from Creative Birthing Arts

Ancient Ways has an extensive catalog of herbs available in the store - 4075 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, California 94609, 510-653-3244

One of my clients raves about sunrider.com.  Their web pages describe a very high quality product. She was especially enthusiastic about their Evergreen chlorophyll.

I really like this new source of organic pregnancy herbs, including collections of HERBAL PREPARATIONS for Women and FORMULAS FOR PREGNANT AND BIRTHING WOMEN, MIDWIVES, BIRTH COACHES, AND PRACTITIONERS

Gan-Ya Botanicals, a small family run herbal research center in the mountains of Southern Oregon. "We offer a variety of botanical services . . ., as well as a complete line of Handmade kosher herbal tinctures, Biblical flower essences, Color chakra essences, salves, teas, and oils primarily made from herbs we cultivated and processed on our organic farm in the Judean Hills."

Most midwives recommend Floradix Iron & Herbs or the yeast-free version.  They are easily tolerated by the sensitive pregnant digestive system and don't seem to cause constipation.

Blessed Herbs
109 Barre Plains Rd
Oakham,Massachusetts 01068
1-800-489-HERB (4372)

These guys are cool- I've been using them for nearly a decade now with no complaints- high quality stuff , reasonable prices, great service.... You can also get a wonderful pregnancy tonic and a morning sickness blend (I buy these in BULK!) as a matter of fact their whole mother/baby section is really nice.

Another company that I like is Gaia Herbs-1-800831-7780-They use to give a professional discount and they do custom formulations.

Herbalism Schools

Integrative Medicine for Women & Children by Aviva Romm - distance learning herbal course

Tieraona Low Dog, MD, AHG has an incredible correspondence course in phytomedicine with high scientific standards It takes a year to complete and is very thorough. She was a midwife for many years. She, along with Amanda McQuade Crawford, did the ACNM day-long CEU thing on herbs for ACNM.

I recommend anyone serious about using herbs to investigate it. The phone # is 800-553-4165 and the course is Foundations in Herbal Medicine.

I just started the course and am delighted with the quality of the information and the presentation.

Heart of Herbs offers a long-distance learning program.

Philosophy of Herbs

I have used herbs for 21 years and studied extensively about them and continue to do so. I have a friend (actually more than one) who is a master herbalist and prescribes and uses them also. They have always been my first choice and IF they don't work then I will go with allopathic treatment. I don't have to rely on allopathic very often. I respect it and know when to use it. I haven't been to a doc for 15 years and neither have any of my children. The clients that come to me mostly are looking for a natural way of healing and living. I offer them that way and I don't feel like I am presumptuous enough to think that I know it all. When there is a question I would be the first to admit I don't know. I have midwife friends that have used herbs for years also and they taught me in the beginning of my career in midwifery 21 years ago. I am very aware of natural vs. synthetic and I have very strong opinions for natural. There is research involving the natural vs. synthetic progesterone cream (wild yam). There are many books and the one I will refer to at this time is, "Hormone Replacement Therapy, Yes or NO?" You might like to read this. This one doesn't necessarily reply to the miscarriage problem but I have other articles that do.

For many thousands of years midwives of old and chinese herbalists have used herbs with very good results. Most of our allopathic medicines have come from herbs and then been chemicalized to line the drug companies pockets. When this started many years ago they had to get the control because how could you control some person going out into the woods and picking a plant for illness. There was no money in this and "they" didn't have the control either. You can't patent a plant or herb. when this tide began to turn then the people stopped relying on their instincts and had to go somewhere else to get well. Not me no thank you. Prescribe- that word needs a definition. It comes from the allopathic mind set and based on that I don't prescribe either. I do recommend only things that I know are safe for my clients and my family in amounts and at times that don't harm.

I do not have any faith in the FDA to say what is safe and what is not. I have faith in my own intuition and knowledge and feelings. These may not be what any one can base a study on but I believe that we need to rely on ourselves more and on "them" less when it comes to our own health and trusting the birth process is part of this.

It is obvious that you disagree with me about herbs, progesterone things and that is ok because I disagree with you but out of respect for what you do and your right to disagree with me I think we can agree to disagree and remain friends in midwifery. I willingly give you the space for your beliefs.

Yes, herbs can seem a bit magical at times and they are hard to understand if we try to look at them in strictly allopathic terms. Unlike most meds, herbs can have a balancing effect on the body. Take Hawthorn Berry as an example. This wonderful herb can be used for both high blood pressure and low blood pressure. It is a heart tonic and has a normalizing effect on the circulation. Cayenne also has a broad range of what it's effects on the body can be. On the one hand, it is a hemostatic and can stop bleeding. On the other hand, it is a stimulant and can increase circulation in people whose circulation is poor. Like Hawthorn Berry, it has a normalizing effect on the circulation. I suspect that this is how it helps with migraines. I don't find that it acts specifically on the uterus like the cohoshes do. But, as a stimulant, it would increase the energy of a tired, laboring woman. By bringing her into balance and stimulating energy in her body, I think it could help the whole woman, not just her uterus.

My kids stand next to me each time I take any herbs or supplements. They make me go through each one, almost in a ritualistic way, saying, "This is nettle; it keeps my blood strong. This is hawthorn; it keeps my heart strong. This is acidophilus; it keeps my intestines healthy..."

This is a great idea for any kind of supplement or supportive act . . . remembering why you're doing it, and focusing your intention that way.

A lot of people scoff at placebos, but placebos work, too, so why not add the placebo effect to anything real that might be happening?

One of my labor coach clients wrote this in her feedback form: "Taking the herbs made me feel like I was proactively participating in getting my body ready for the birth, but I didn't have a sense of exactly how much they did for me physically.  Psychologically, they were very helpful."

Is it midwifery model of care? I use Susun Weeds six steps of healing for making decisions in birth - that is to me the HALLMARK of midwifery care- using the lowest tech choice available that still works. So yes, using herbs is midwifery model to me if used wisely according to the six steps. If it will get her a homebirth and the risks do not outweigh the benefits, perhaps there is a place for blue cohosh.  The question at hand is it is wise to use this at all if it's indefensible? And, we will never get research that will really tell us if it is safe, since it's a pregnancy thing, so do we want to just forget about? And if so many feel like it's ineffective anyway, then not using it is no loss to many here. In Susan weeds six steps, Herbs like Blue Cohosh fall in step 4, stimulate and sedate, and there are always distinct risks that must be weighed against the benefits. Here are the six steps in case anyone doesn't know them....

Six Steps of Healing - By Susun Weed

Examples are in parenthesis: (with a few of the modalities available at each step)

Step 0: Do Nothing
(sleep, meditate, unplug the clock or the telephone)

Step 1: Collect Information
(low-tech diagnosis, books, support groups, divination)

Step 2: Engage the Energy
(prayer, homeopathy, ceremony, affirmations, laughter)

Step 3: Nourish and Tonify
(herbal infusions and vinegars, hugs, exercise, food choices, gentle massage, yoga stretches)

Note: Healing with Steps 4, 5, and 6 always causes some harm.

Step 4: Stimulate/Sedate
(hot or cold water, many herbal tinctures, acupuncture)

For every stimulation/sedation, there is an opposite sedation/stimulation, sooner or later. Addiction is possible if this step is overused.

Step 5a: Use Supplements
(synthesized or concentrated vitamins, minerals, and food substances such as nutritional yeast, blue-green algae, bran)

These substances may do as much harm as good.

Step 5b: Use Drugs
(chemotherapy, tamoxifen, hormones, high dilution homeopathics, and potentially toxic herbs)

Step 6: Break and Enter
(threatening language, surgery, colonics, radiation therapies, psychoactive drugs, invasive diagnostic tests such as mammograms and C-T scans)

Side effects, including death, are inevitable.

Experienced Mom Comments on Efficacy of Herbs

I started (at 38 weeks) to use some of the herbs recommended -- especially evening primrose.  I delivered a beautiful baby
boy on Sunday -- 1 day before my due date.  It was my easiest delivery and my fastest recovery.  No IV's were needed.  No pain medications of any kind.

This was my sixth delivery! And I have had all kinds. So I know what I am talking about.

I used (5W) for the first two and decided not to bother with my third but ended up wishing I had!!!

Alcohol in Tinctures

I avoid alcohol-based herbs whenever possible because 1) they taste less pleasant, and 2) many of my clients have religious objections to alcohol.

Some herbs can ONLY be extracted into alcohol, for chemical reasons which are beyond my knowledge level.  Cottonroot bark is one of those herbs.

If you're concerned about the effects of alcohol on the baby, the amount you would be taking is negligible, and it is not possible to cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the last month of pregnancy.

If you're concerned about religious injunctions, most are focused on avoiding alcohol as a stimulant.  Again, the amount you would be taking is nowhere near the stimulant level.  It might even be less than the amount your body naturally produces as part of fermentation in the gut.

Almost all religions have an exemption for taking alcohol for medicinal purposes, assuming this isn't abused.  If your reasons are religious, you might talk with a spiritual teacher about this issue.

For Hindus: "Ayurveda, the medical branch of Hindu dharma, contains clearly defined views on the use alcohol. Ayurveda uses alcohol as a solvent for extracting the active ingredients of certain herbs. Tinctures are used in western herbalism in the same way. "

For Christians: Many Christians feel comfortable with the moderate consumption of alcohol because of the Miracle of Christ's changing water into wine at the Marriage at Cana.  Others avoid it altogether because of the stimulant effects.  Most Christians are comfortable with the use of small amounts of alcohol for medicinal effect, which is more than you'll find in a dropperful of an herbal tincture.  My favorite Christian herbalist, Shonda Parker, recommends occasional use of alcohol in tinctures when appropriate.

For Mormons: This tone is a little more aggressive than I like, but the overall web page is useful: "Now, if you're reluctant to ingest a little alcohol with your plant medicine, it's time to man up, my brother. A ripe banana has more alcohol than a couple of droppers full of herbal tincture"

For Muslims: "The bottom line is however, if there is no adequate alternative then it is permissible to use the medicine. If there is an alternative, but it is not as effective as this one, then too it will be permissible to use."

Herbal Tinctures and Alcoholics In Recovery

It is becoming easier and easier to find non-alcoholic herbs, i.e. herbs preserved in glycerine instead of alcohol.  There's a very nice selection, including alcohol-free red raspberry leaf, at TriLight Health or presentmoment.com.

Alcoholics in recovery may feel that it is unwise to take absolutely anything containing alcohol, including herbal tinctures and even homeopathics (because the sugar pills are impregnated with alcohol, although it's so dilute it's hard to imagine this would be a serious problem).

Some are able to use tinctures made with grain alcohol (Everclear) without problems but will crave alcohol if they use tinctures with a vodka base.  Some cannot tolerate any alcohol at all, period.

Herbs to Avoid in Pregnancy

NOTE - Many of the herbs listed below are included here because they cause uterine contractions, which is not desirable during most of pregnancy.  However, some of these herbs are specifically recommended or included in herbal preparations recommended around your due date.  If your due date is more than three weeks away, and anything you're taking seems to be causing uterine contractions, you may want to stop taking it until you've talked with your care provider.

Herbs to avoid during pregnancy from babycentre.co.uk

Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy by © David L. Hoffmann B.Sc. (Hons), M.N.I.M.H.

Herbs and Pregnancy,  from Birth Matters! Midwifery, including herbs to avoid and beneficial herbs

Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy and Lactation from HerbLore - Please note that this web page doesn't distinguish between the higher medicinal dosages and some of the lower culinary dosages, which might not be problematic.

Angelica in Floradix?

One of my clients pointed out that Floradix contains angelica. This would seem like a dangerous herb to use in pregnancy because of angelica's reputation for encouraging separation of the placenta.

Does it really do anything more than cause uterine contractions?

Michael Tierra, "The Way of Herbs"  lists Angelica as an emmenagogue, but not a dosage that would cause ab.  Could be that the dosage is very small in the Floradix as I have heard of and known of many women taking it during preg without ab.  Possibly not recomm. for someone with hx of miscarriage or threatened ab.

I have floravital by the makers of floradix which is used for the same purpose and there is no mention of angelica.  It needs to be taken in larger quantities than I can imagine is in Floradix if it is contained at all.  Angelica is usually tinctured (and used with blue cohosh) for helping the placenta separate postpartum, and floradix uses it in aquaeous solution.

I know the seeds can be used as well as the root, perhaps the seeds are used in floradix.

There was an inquiry a while back about Angelica in Floridix.  I found  the web address of the company and asked them about it.  Their botanist was away for awhile but they have now sent me a response:

In conversation with Suzanne Diamond, she told me that the amount of this herb in the Floradix formula was so minimal that there was no real concern. I do not have an exact figure for the content, however.   According to Suzanne, [many midwives] recommend it to their clients. Suzanne said that the misunderstanding about Angelica stems from people not comprehending the activities of the phyto-estrogens, and their benefits to the human body. However!! (Isn't there always one of these?)  since some women can be very sensitive to herbs, we suggest that instead of the Floradix, they take the FloraVit, which has no angelica in it.
    - Leda H Fair, Spokesperson for Flor*Essence

This topic was discussed on another list and is available if you search through this page from the archive.

There are some common food substances that are NOT SAFE in early pregnancy IN LARGE QUANTITIES. Ginger and basil are two of them. Basil promotes miscarriage, so does ginger. The respected and experienced herbalists I have studied with recommend sparing use of both and avoidance of concentrated food stuffs. i.e.no pesto sauce in first trimester, can't have sushi anyways because of toxo. Don't forget it is possible to kill yourself (very slowly) with carrots from Vitamin A poisoning, so just because it's in a naturally occurring substance doesn't mean it's safe.

On the other hand, Susan Weed says you can take up to 25 capsules per day of ginger root (a very concentrated form) to combat "morning sickness" and makes no mention of dangers. So, I'm a little confused. any body got a definitive answer?

The following herbs are not safe and should be avoided during pregnancy: aloe vera, angelica, barberry, buchu, buckthorn, cascara sagrada, coffee, comfrey, ephedra, goldenseal, horseradish, juniper, lovage, male fern, mistletoe, mugwort and wormwood, pennyroyal, rhubarb root, rue, shepherds purse, tansy, yarrow, senna, mandrake, wild ginger.

Ma Huang Not Recommended During Pregnancy

The two Ephedras are actually different in some ways- Mormon tea- (Ephedra nevadensis ) is rich in Calcium (58,100ppm) and does not contain the Ellagic-acid that Ma Huang- ( Ephedra Sincia) has. This particular constituent is an abortifacient. Ephedrine itself is somewhat oxytocic as well as being a uterine vasoconstrictor. It is considered an overt drug plant and should be off limits IMO. I personally had a client that was doing well in her first trimester when she took Ma Huang for sinus congestion without consulting me and then miscarried a week later at 12weeks. I hate the stuff - makes me feel like I'm PMS-ing!

I have always told clients not to use Ma Huang in pregnancy. It isn't good for the adrenals.

A widely reported study that concluded that echinacea, St. John's wort, ginkgo and saw palmetto could inhibit conception has been called into question. The research, conducted at Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California, exposed hamster eggs (in test tubes) to high doses of each herb, then inseminated them. After incubation, various negative effects were found. In real life, however, the active constituents of herbs must be absorbed into the bloodstream, and it is unlikely they would reach concentrations equal to the high levels in the study. -Prevention, July 1999

On page 119 of "The Complete Woman's Herbal" by Anne McIntyre it says:    "There are certain herbs that should not be taken in pregnancy. Their emmenagogue or oxytocic properties may, in large amounts, cause contractions of the uterus and thereby risk miscarriage.  They are as follows:"

rue                     Ruta graveolens
golden seal             Hydrastis canadensis
juniper         Juniperus communis
autumn crocus   Colchicum autumnale
mistletoe               Viscum album
bearberry               Berberis vulgaris
pennyroyal              Mentha pulegium
poke root               Phytolacca decandra
sothernwood     Artemisia abrotanum
wormwood                Artemis absinthium
mugwort         Artemisia vulgaris
tansy                   Tanacetum vulgare
nutmeg          Myristica fragrans
cotton root             Gossypium herbaccum
male fern               Dryopteris felix-mas
thuja                   Thuja occidentalis
calendula               Calendula officinalis
beth root               Trillium erectum
feverfew                Chrysanthemum parthenium
sage                   Salvia officinalis

General Herbal Information

From Daphne Singingtree's Midwifery Workbook

To Prepare for a Healthy Birthing - Herbs which are helpful and safe in pregnancy are: strawberry leaves, borage, watercress, spearmint, peppermint, hibiscus, lemon grass, peach leaves, ginger root, red clover, rosehips, yerba buena, and slippery elm (slippery elm is listed in some herbals to avoid because years ago it was used to induce abortions by inserting it into the cervix; drinking the tea is considered safe).

Red raspberry and nettle throughout pregnancy. Chlorophyll for low blood pressure. I-X for anemia, a combination from Nature Sunshine. And 5W for the last 5 weeks. Evening primrose for the last 2 weeks. And Black and Blue cohosh and B&B tincture if they go overdue.

This is from the book Home Herbal, by Penelope Ody, a chemist and member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists in the UK.

For morning sickness - tinctures of ginger, chamomile, peppermint or fennel seed, among others (The book gives instructions for making tinctures. They are not the same as teas.)

For fluid retention: Rest; eating grapes, asparagus and apples; limiting salt intake; drinking cornsilk and dandelion tea (Again, the book gives directions for making the tea.)

Preparing for childbirth: Raspberry LEAF tea (not raspberry!) up until labor begins; once labor begins, drink wood betony and rose petal tea.

The book also includes tips for increasing milk flow, sore nipples, engorgement and mastitis using herbs.

Herbs to avoid during pregnancy: arbor vitae, barberry, basil OIL (not leaf), black cohosh, blue cohosh, chamomile OIL (not tea), feverfew, goldenseal, juniper, mistletoe, motherwort, mugwort, myrrh, pennyroyal, rue, shepherd's purse, southernweed, tansy and wormwood.

In addition, do not take LARGE or THERAPEUTIC doses of: angelica, bitter orange, cayenne, celery seed, cinnamon, cowslip, elder bar, fennel, fenugreek, ginseng, lavender, marjoram, nutmeg, parsley, rhubarb root, senna, sage, thyme, vervain, wild yam, wood betony and yarrow.

And - as with anything else - if you have questions or concerns, talk to your doctor or midwife.

According to Jim Duke's "Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS [Generally Recognized as Safe] Herbs and Other Economic Plants":


_Urtica dioica_ L.-Calcium 5,940-33,000 ppm [=.594-3.3 mg/100g] LF [leaf] AAS [Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Suppl.22:89-113, 1980.]

Red Raspberry:

_Rubus idaeus_ L.-Calcium 12,100 ppm [=1.2 mg/100g] LF [leaf] PED [Pedersen, M., Nutritional Herbology. Pedersen Publishing, Bountiful, Utah, 1987, 377 pp. some quantitative data, e.g., selenium, seems inaccurate)].

I don't use Witch Hazel during labor. I only use it if I see a hemorrhage starting. They get a couple of droppers full. I feel like the bleeding doesn't go on as long as in years past. I also use Witch Hazel in pregnancy for varicose veins no matter the site and for hemorrhoids. The longest I have had anyone tell me that it took to work was a week and a half for hemorrhoids. It works on the vascular. This is tinctured witch hazel not the kind you can use for your face or on Tucks.

What's In the Bottle? Herbal Labor Formulas Explained by Tara M. Bloom

For thousands of years, midwives have counted on herbs to help with labor and birth. Whether you want to calm an anxious mama, give her a boost of energy, or provide a helping hand when she’s overwhelmed, Cascade HealthCare Products has a natural, herbal aid to assist you. I talked with Catherine Hunziker, owner of Wishgarden Herbs, to clarify the difference between several Wishgarden labor tinctures that Cascade carries. The following information should help you choose these products with confidence.

B&B Labor Formula contains oxytocic emmenagogues (see DEFINITIONS, below) Blue and Black Cohosh and strong nervines Lobelia, Scullcap and Blue Vervain. Wishgarden dubs this formula the “traditional midwives assistant for reluctant contractions.” It’s an ideal choice when mothers are not going into labor or not progressing because they too anxious. B&B Labor Formula is contraindicated for transition and second stage as well as when there are indications that that baby has a depressed heart rate. Most useful around 3-4 cm dilation.

Labor Enhancer Formula is designed for the woman who is not progressing or not going into labor because she lacks sufficient energy. Where the cervix has been slow to dilate and efface as a result of lethargy or fatigue, this tincture can be an effective aid. Contains a stimulating blend of oxytocic emmenagogues Bethroot, Blue Cohosh, and Ginger to bring on contractions and boost energy. Labor Enhancer Formula also contains Gelsemium, a sphincter relaxant, to encourage cervical effacement and dilation. Because of Gelsemium’s potential toxicity, this blend must be used with caution, and is recommended for practitioners only. As with the B&B formula, it should not be used in transition or for second stage labor, and is most effective around 3-4 cm dilation.

Smooth Transitions Labor Aid Formula contains gentle, effective nervines that are designed to help mothers get through the overwhelming intensity of transition. The Oatseed, Scullcap, and Motherwort triad helps people come into their center, particularly when under extreme duress (so it’s a great stress reliever outside of labor, too). Smooth Transitions is a non-toxic, non-sedating blend that can be used at any point during labor and delivery.

Centered Mama Nervine Formula combines strong sedating herbs Lobelia, Wild Lettuce, and Valerian to help mothers relax and concentrate on their birthing visualizations. It is most useful when a mother is stuck between early labor and hard labor (about 3-4 cm). Because of the sedating effect, it is not to be used during transition or second stage.

As with all herbs, follow the recommended dosage instructions printed on the bottles. If you are unsure of the herbs' applications or contraindications, consult an experienced herbalist or naturopath for advice.


Oxytocic emmenagogues are substances that enhance a mother’s natural oxytocin responses and stimulate the uterus to contract and expel. Common oxytocic emmenagogues are Blue and Black Cohosh. Because these substances enhance a natural response, oxytocin must already be present in the mother’s body in order for these formulas to be effective.

Nervines are relaxing substances that feed the nerves and support the central nervous system. They raise natural endorphin levels to ease sensations of pain and often have a sedating effect. Commonly used nerviness are Lobelia, Blue Vervain and Scullcap.

Question. Is there a safe amount of Goldenseal a pregnant woman can take whilst in the second a third trimesters? I understand it should be avoided in the first trimester. I have a combination of herbs and vitamins which I feel might be helpful for my antibody M and recurrent cystitis, plus the cold and flu season (I work part-time in a health food store). Anne Frye suggest in her book, "Understanding Diagnostic Test in the Childbearing Year", pg.95 C complex (1000mg daily) and elderflower infusion. Here's the ingredients to the combo.....
6 capsules provide: 
Vit. C 600mg
Propolis2x 450mg
equivalent to: (900mg)
Goldenseal 300mg
Echinacea Angustifolia 300mg
Echinacea Purpurea 300mg
odor controlled garlic 300mg
alicin yield (3000mcg)
elderberry 60mg
ginger root 30mg
peppermint leaves 30mg
cayenne 30mg

I take the rainbow light prenatals, extra acidophilus, and herb teas (red raspberry, nettles, occasionally uva ursi). I Drink Knudsen Just Cranberry juice with water-2canning quart jars a day. Since I'm 23 weeks and not thrilled about antibiotics (I never grow anything for a UTI-but the doc will prescribe it anyhow) and have 4 more months to go. I would really like to keep the cystitis curbed or under control and feel the goldenseal may knock out whatever is irritating my bladder and protect the baby as best as possible with the antibody M. Yes I'm Rh-, by the way the doc wants me to have the RhoGAM shot at 28 weeks because I'm sensitized(?)

Differing Opinions about Red Raspberry Leaf

There are two basic stances on the subject, but everyone pretty much agrees that in the 3rd tri frequent (2- 3 cups per day of tea or 1 - 2 cups per day of infusion) is beneficial to the uterine and pelvic muscles. Red Raspberry Leaf contains many minerals and vitamins, including vitamin C and calcium. It also contains an alkaloid called fragrine, which lends tone to the uterus.

The more radical stance (that my midwife espouses) is that drinking one cup of tea per day in the 1st tri and 2 in the 2nd and switching to the infusion in the 3rd tri ensures a strong uterus, is good for you nutritionally and prevents miscarriage. She is supported in this view by Susun S. Weed, author of Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year and many local experienced herbalists (in the U.S., especially Illinois).

The more conservative stance is that red raspberry leaf can cause minor spotting in the beginning of a pregnancy, and some U.K. midwives claim an increase in miscarriage rates. I believe that some spotting is confused with increased miscarriage. Or the spotting took on a life of its own and mushroomed into a vague warning after several years of not being in use. I say this because red raspberry leaf is not an emmenagogue or contraction promoter. It does not make your uterus contract, but it does make it stronger, so if a woman were going to miscarry, I suppose red raspberry leaf could make it easier to expel a blighted ovum (which is what most miscarriages are anyway - nonviable)

So if you're thinking about using it to be safe just wait until you're 36 weeks along.

Red Raspberry leaf does not in any way, shape or form start labor or promote contractions (unless there is a drastically different type over in Europe compared with what we have here in N. America). It is NOT an emmenagogue or oxytocic herb. What RRL does is help strengthen the pelvic and uterine muscles so that once labor does start the muscles will be more efficient. It also contains tons of absorbable calcium and other minerals that help nourish the pregnant mom.

I know that in the U.K and Ireland midwives often suggest not doing RRL until the last few weeks or not until labor starts, but here in the U.S. we do it from the beginning of pregnancy on. Since this very discussion has come up numerous times on misc.kids.pregnancy about a year ago I looked in about several good herbals, talked with four professional herbalists in my area and several DEM's who work with herbs. Not one source listed RRL as a labor promoter, but instead suggested it to prevent miscarriages early on. And it is usually recommend either from the very beginning for from the second tri. on.

Also, the effects of the active alkaloid (fragrine) which does it's number on the muscles is cumulative. So drinking a cup a day for 3 or 4 or 6 or 8 months is much more effective than trying to drink even a really strong infusion for a couple days. (Actually fragrine relaxes the opposing muscles that you need relaxed, so that the working muscles can more efficiently do their job in order to ensure an effective labor.)

The following herbs are beneficial safe, and recommended for all women before, during, and after pregnancy:

Red Raspberry Leaves

Red Raspberry or Rubus idacus is the best known and quintessential herb for pregnancy. Brewed as a tea or as an infusion, it contains fragrine, an alkaloid, which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvis and uterus, The benefits of this toning action include: prevention of miscarriage and false labor, reduction of pain during and after birth, production of more effective contractions during labor and therefore a faster birth, and prevention of postpartum hemorrhage or bleeding. Red Raspberry is also an rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and E, as well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients make it an excellent prevention and treatment for anemia and leg cramps, as well as a beneficial remedy for the reduction of morning sickness. The high mineral content also assists in the production of breast milk.

Pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 teaspoons of herb and steep for ten minutes. Strain. During the first two trimesters, drink 1 cup per day. During tile final trimester, drink 2-3 cups per day.


Nettles or Urtica dioica strengthens and nourishes the body. The list of easily absorbable nutrients include: Vitamins A, C, D, and K, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, protein, silica, and sulfur. Taken as a tea, these nutrients nourish the mother and fetus, prevent leg cramps and muscle spasms, decreases pain during labor, prevent hemorrhage, reduce hemorrhoids, rejuvenate the mother after birth, and increase the flow of mother's milk. Nettles also can be used for reduction of urinary tract infections and fluid retention, inflammation of the colon and diarrhea, and inflammation of the joints and skin. In addition, the tea may be cooled and applied as a soothing compress to the inflamed tissues of the perineum and rectum after childbirth.

Pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 teaspoons herb and steep or fifteen minutes. Strain. Drink 1 cup three times per day. Some pregnant women alternate weeks of Nettles and Raspberry brews. Others drink Raspberry until the last month and then switch to Nettles to insure large quantities of vitamin K in the blood for the birth.


Motherwort is also highly effective as a uterine stimulant to encourage labor.

So I would think that Motherwort is not to be used unless you are trying to go into labor and that's why it was saying 'avoid during pregnancy'

Susun Weed actually recommends it during pregnancy for stress, during early labor for pain, and after labor for afterpain relief.
I've known a few women who's midwives have recommended it as an alternative to anxiety drugs they were on before pregnancy.

One caution though.  Susun Weed does say that one should be careful with it.  If one finds oneself taking it regularly and for several weeks one might find that one can't get along without it.

Let me tell you though, it's heavenly!

You're right.  It is amazing.  Yesterday I went and bought all the herbs I thought I might possibly need during and after labor and broke out the Motherwort as soon as I got home.  5 drops of the stuff in a small amount of water changed me from the irritable, no-fun kind of Mommy I've been for the last couple of weeks into a calm, go-ahead-dear-make-a-mess kind of Mommy.  I love it!

I find motherwort very helpful for generalized anxiety as  well as attacks, in addition to afterpains.

I have made tinctures many ways and definitely think that everclear(190 proof) is the way to go with cotton root bark it needs a heavy solvent it is sturdy stuff, also there just isn't the abundance of materials around to be putting it up every 2 weeks and adding more, I find that if I let mine sit for the whole 6 weeks it does the trick. Sometimes I just let it sit and don't strain it out for a very long time. Although using everclear was how I was taught and how I make it I just checked Michael Moore and he recommends a 1:5 fresh root bark tincture with 50 % alcohol (100 proof) I will try 1 batch this winter made this way as well as making it the old way. Now for other tinctures especially something that seems to be soluble in water as well as alcohol then I prefer to use rum. When in doubt I hit the books or the web to see.

Ladies Mantel (alchemilla vulgaris) I would use as a tea and although it can be used to in cases of heavy menses it is mild enough to be used  prenatally as a toner if a woman was inclined and if was fitting to her disposition.

A stronger astringent that isn't so safe prenatally but can help arrest bleeding  is Yarrow ( Achillea millefolium) and yarrow is fine as a rum tincture, I have also use a glycerin of it, but I think that a glycerin just doesn't keep as long .

How Reliable Is Midwifery Herbal Lore?

I'm trying to get a better sense of the reliability of information about using herbs that is common in the midwifery community. Most people I know rely on Susun Weed's Herbal for the Childbearing Year.

Has anyone ever asked a knowledgeable herbalist to review this information for them?

These are good questions...I know I have used Susun's book as an authority, and with some success, but we do need to question. I did an herbal workshop many years ago, and he said it is very difficult to combine more than two herbs and get a successful tincture, because there are three kinds of herbs, and they don't always combine. I know she has tincture recipes in the back with five or more herbs, I have never tried them, has anyone? I pretty much use one herb at a time, that has worked over the years, or one homeopathic remedy at a time.

I have used Susan Weeds book and many others that say similar things and have had good luck in using the recommended treatments with herbs. I have never found it a problem. You will have to just find your own way. To self help yourself is an adventure and nothing in that book would hurt you used as written.

I for one have not been able to successfully get a mom with a missed abortion to do much of anything following the herbal regime outlined in this book. I like the book's simplicity, however I have consulted with an herbalist who said she had never heard of a woman successfully inducing abortion with these herbs when she's over the age of 25. Similar to Weed's information is found in many herbals so she's not the only one saying these certain herbs will cause abortion/miscarriage.

Who would qualify as a "knowledgeable herbalist" if not Susun Weed herself? I don't exactly understand who you would ask to corroborate her work. If you don't trust her work as definitive, then whose do you trust? Isn't it all relative and a matter of experience?

Perhaps I should have said "another knowledgeable herbalist".

I have never done any independent study of herbs, in terms of growing or harvesting them and making the preparations myself. Pretty much everything I know about herbs comes from Susun Weed, and I suspect most of the other information I read about herbs in the midwifery community is derived from her work.

I personally feel comfortable basing self-treatment on her work, because I have a sense that it is trustworthy.

I have used her information as the basis for providing information to clients as well, but I would like to get some corroboration so that I can be "more certain" I'm not causing them any harm, and that the herbs might actually do some good.

I don't know if there are any RCT's about most of the herbs, but I would at least like to hear that another knowledgeable herbalist has reviewed her work and agrees with her teaching.

Or, in the absence of a positive confirmation, I wanted to ask if anyone had any negative experiences with her book. So far, nobody has spoken up about it. This adds a measure of confidence, but by default.

As a nurse-midwife and nurse practitioner, I am frequently asked questions about herbal remedies by my patients and by my CNM and MD colleagues. There are no standardized dosages and this makes prescribing herbals tricky so I usually advise the patient to start with the lowest recommended dosage and then slowly increase to achieve the desired effect . Herbals are not for everyone but many of our patients use them so I believe as practitioners, we need to have some working knowledge of them if the patient wants to "give herbs a try". St. John's Wort (hypericum perforatum )is noted to have a tranquilizing effect on the nervous system as well as a mild vasodilatory and diuretic action. I was unable to locate a single source which advises against use in pregnancy and at least one that recommends it. This herb does however cause sensitivity to sunlight so users should be cautioned to wear sun protection.


  1. Weed, Susan. Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. 1986 Ash Tree Publishing, Woodstock, NY. PP39-40.
  2. McIntyre, Anne. The Complete Woman's Herbal. 1994 Henry Holt Co. NYC. pp155-159.
  3. Lust, John. The Herb Book.1987. Bantam NYC. pp334, 455, 470.

Herbs for Anxiety

Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam.
Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi HR, Vazirian M, Shayeganpour A, Rashidi H, Khani M.
J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001 Oct;26(5):363-7.

Passionflower is considered safe during pregnancy.

Passionflower: An Herbal Alternative For Anxiety?
October 18, 2001

(Integrative Medicine) - Although medications are commonly used to treat people with anxiety, a new study has found that passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) may calm the nerves as effectively as some drugs. Roughly 4 million Americans currently have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), an illness characterized by 6 months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension. In the current study, researchers randomly assigned 32 people with GAD to receive either passionflower or oxazepam (an anti-anxiety drug) for 4 weeks. Both groups demonstrated significant improvement in anxiety symptoms after 4 weeks of treatment and those who took the herbal remedy had less impairment on job performance. "The results suggest that [passionflower] is an effective drug for the management of generalized anxiety disorder," the researchers conclude.

St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort, I believe is contraindicated in pregnancy and lactation, and acts as a MAO inhibitor. It can also cause hypertension, and certain common foods and beverages can interact with negative effects. I know it is an excellent anti-depressant, but not for the childbearing cycle.

I have seen St. John's Wort used quite a bit in pregnancy, especially for false labor.... never have seen any problems and my last grand multip thought it was fabulous for after birth pains. Of course, I believe the dosage to deal with these issues is considerably lower than what I have heard is an appropriate dosage for depression.

St. John's Wort is an MAO inhibitor.

My pharmacist who attempts to keep up with herbal medicine for us, confirmed this and said St. John's Wort can be very dangerous. It is also part of what they call herbal Phen/Fen. It is far more dangerous than real Phen/Fen; which IMHO isn't dangerous at all. It is also a SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and thus elevates circulating serotonin levels. I wonder if it causes plaques on mitral valve surfaces.??

Vitex, aka Chaste Berry

Information from the Materia Medica at Medherb.com

I just recently tried vitex with a woman with suspected low progesterone levels. She was bleeding in early pregnancy (7 weeks) and was suffering migraine headaches. I did some lab work to determine if her progesterone levels were in fact low, and they were quite low. She took the vitex for a couple of weeks, along with wild yam and 2% cream, and the headaches and bleeding stopped within a day. We just got heart tones last week, at 9 weeks.

A local herbalist explained it as a pituitary stimulant.

I recommended Vitex to a client who had a 9-week SA, and was doing some bleeding which was not only heavy but lasted for way longer than we were happy with.  It did wonders for the bleeding, but she said the infusion tasted like dirt.

Vitex also works well for women with luteal phase defects and infertility.

Milewisz A., Et al Vitex Agnus castus extract in the treatment of luteal phase defects due to latent hyperprolactinemia. Results of a
double-blind study. Arzneimittelforschung, 43(7):752-6 1993 Jul

Clinical study of 52 women with luteal phase defects due to latent prolactinemia. Statistically significant changes were seen in the group taking the vitex extract. The prolactin release was reduced after 3 months, shortened luteal phases were normalized and deficits in the luteal progesterone synthesis were eliminated. There were also 3 pregnancys.

Vitex extract also comes in tablet or capsule form. That takes care of the dirt taste.

Herbal Antibiotics


From: C-upi@clari.net (UPI)

Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 1:00:38 PDT
The Science of Garlic: Scientists are beginning to understand what vampires have been fussing about for years -- that garlic fights off evil invaders. A biotechnology process can now produce large quantities of garlic's main active component, a substance called allicin. The abundant supplies are letting researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, figure out how allicin works. In a study in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, David Mirelman and colleagues show that allicin shuts down the microbes that cause dysentery because garlic stops two major groups of their enzymes. These enzymes -- the cysteine proteinases and the alcohol dehydrogenases -- play key roles in other infectious organisms, from bacteria to viruses. Mirelman says, "It has long been argued that garlic can fight a wide range of infections, and now we have provided biochemical evidence for this claim."


I firmly believe from my studies of herbalism over the last 15 years or so, and my personal experience, that echinacea is very safe to take while pregnant and while nursing. In fact, if my babies seemed to be coming down with anything, I would take it about 10-15 minutes before nursing so that they would get the benefit. I have seen antibiotics prescribed for pregnant women and infants and I know that echinacea is much safer, effective and I have never experienced or seen any negative side effects. I prefer the tincture form. If one is worried about the alcohol base you can buy glycerin based tinctures or just put the tincture dose in a bit of hot water and allow the alcohol to dissipate for about 10 minutes. The dosage I follow for infants and children is to give up to half their body weight in drops. So a for a 16 lb kiddo you can give up to 8 drops, 2x a day.... a 20 lb kid - 10 drops, etc. This is what I do, and we haven't needed any antibiotics in many years!!!

Echinacea Use in Early Pregnancy Appears Safe [Medscape registration is free.]

Study Shows Echinacea Safe During Pregnancy [November 29, 2000]

Pregnancy outcome following gestational exposure to echinacea: a prospective controlled study.
Gallo M, Sarkar M, Au W, Pietrzak K, Comas B, Smith M, Jaeger TV, Einarson A, Koren G.
Arch Intern Med. 2000 Nov 13;160(20):3141-3.

CONCLUSIONS: This first prospective study suggests that gestational use of echinacea during organogenesis is not associated with an increased risk for major malformations.

I also use and recommend herbs first and highly regard them as the effective medicinals of choice.

I use equal parts lobelia and false unicorn for threatened miscarriage. Works great! Also, Wish Garden Herbs sells some really fresh tinctures. I use Smooth Transitions for moms who get "up tight". It calms without that "druggy" feeling. After ease has been a God send for mom suffering from afterbirth pains and, later, menstrual cramps.

Me too. and I'll try herbs and home treatment before I go to a doc, unless it's is clearly a medical situation. For example: I'll try tinctures for my sons asthma and sometimes can see results, but if he doesn't start breathing easy really quick he is going to use Preventil! I do what works...

Most of the usual run of the mill sore throats, colds, fevers, sprained ankles etc. or childhood are easily treated with common sense, herbs, home remedies, and time.

I would like to see the research about wild yam. Most of the books on herbs I have seen fall under the definition of testimonials and cookbooks. For instance, Susan Weeds books are quite fun; make many statements about effectiveness of herbs and dosages to use; but give no solid information about effectiveness! It is not research. Informative, and interesting, yes. Full of research? No.

I'm looking for an herb book with facts, not just opinions. Opinions may be absolutely correct, but I need some sort of proof before I feel I can tell someone that a particular herb should be used as medicine.

Until I see any data, I feel I can only "pass on the information" about herbs as folk lore, and as folk medicine etc.

I would never "prescribe" or "recommend" either herbs, vitamins or medicine -- but I do pass on to my clients the information available to me. We discuss good diets and whether they might consider supplementing with vitamins or herbs... I remind them there is little research ever done on herbs, but that many people use them and seem to feel that they help.

Michael Murray's books and Donald Brown's book are full of research references. Good books, though heavy on standardized dosages.

I apologize if this is redundant but I must mention Smooth Transitions and Afterease tinctures, both from Wish Garden Herbs in Bolder, Colorado. I give Smooth Transitions for moms who are "up tight" or transitiony. They respond immediately and calm right down. Afterease is phenomenal in reducing the pain associated with afterbirth pains.

Smooth Transitions can also be used for children who are a bit "wired", like after a birthday party where a lot of sugar has been consumed.

Afterease is especially good to take for menstrual cramps. I have also taken it and had incredible benefits with allergies, i.e., sneezing/running nose/watery eyes.

Re herb syllabus from ACNM--anybody can order it. The address for the ACNM Publications is:
ACNM Publications
818 Connecticut Ave, NW
Suite 900
Washington DC 20006

Does Use of Herbs Show Lack of Trust in Birth?

I have mixed feelings about routine prenatal herbal and homeopathic recommendation, but most women I know approach birth with such fear that they can use all the help they can get, both physically and psychologically.

It's probably better not to recommend these if you believe it would weaken the woman's trust in her own body. (It seems that using these usually helps women to feel better that they're "doing the right things", which tend to strengthen her trust that everything will go all right, but use your better judgment.)

It truly amazes me that anyone wanting a natural, informed pregnancy and birth, that wants to keep some control over their body and trusts in the process, would put faith into a company that sells secret "formulas" to pregnant women.  What is the difference between that and trusting a doctor to give you secret medicine in an IV in the hospital?

I guess it depends whether it really does weaken the trust?  Maybe for some people  but for me it gave me more confidence knowing that I had myself fully prepared and had tried everything I could and was doing the right things.

I guess my question is - if we are going to expect women to totally trust in their bodies does that mean we tell them to stop ante-natal exercises & stretches (trust your body to be ready) or forget the birth pool (trust your body to handle the pain) ??

I agree its totally a YMMV issue - but while I don't think women should be convinced they MUST take these things neither do I think they should be discouraged if they feel maybe it might help them.

It's laughable that a midwife should think all her clients need this stuff...it's absolutely no different than doctors thinking all healthy women need ultrasounds, inductions and fetal monitoring "just in case."

My midwife, who is very hands off and *very* non-interventionist and has an excellent reputation as a homebirthing direct entry midwife is recommending I take these herbs and do the oil capsule during the last 5 weeks of pregnancy.  She does not expect these things to 'make' me go into labor or as a natural way of induction (I am adamantly opposed to any method of induction as long as my baby and I are fine, not even castor oil); rather as a supplement to assist my body in its natural preparation for birth.  In many cultures women follow a special diet in the time during pregnancy and approaching birth.  I suppose that the prenatal vitamins and herbal supplements could be viewed that way in our culture.  I personally don't see how taking an herbal supplement (specifically designed to supporting a healthy pregnancy, like prenatal vitamins) can be compared to routine ultrasound and chemical inductions.

Red Raspberry Leaf

Raspberry leaf and its effect on labour: safety and efficacy.
Parsons M, Simpson M, Ponton T.
Aust Coll Midwives Inc J. 1999 Sep;12(3):20-5.

The findings suggest that the raspberry leaf herb can be consumed by women during their pregnancy for the purpose for which it is taken, that is, to shorten labour with no identified side effects for the women or their babies. 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.

Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) for Ripening the Cervix

Oral evening primrose oil: its effect on length of pregnancy and selected intrapartum outcomes in low-risk nulliparous women.
Dove D, Johnson P.
J Nurse Midwifery. 1999 May-Jun;44(3):320-4.

Findings suggest that the oral administration of evening primrose oil from the 37th gestational week until birth does not shorten gestation or decrease the overall length of labor. Further, the use of orally administered evening primrose oil may be associated with an increase in the incidence of prolonged rupture of membranes, oxytocin augmentation, arrest of descent, and vacuum extraction.

The ripening of the cervix is an inflammatory process.  Evening primrose oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which support inflammation.  Years ago, our diets were much lower in omega-6 oils.  Now they're quite high, and it's unlikely that adding some from evening primrose oil is going to make a difference.  It makes more sense to wean yourself off your omega-3 supplements and foods, which are anti-inflammatory.

Evening primrose oil: Don’t use it if you are pregnant? from vbacfacts.com

The effect of oral evening primrose oil on bishop score and cervical length among term gravidas
Karen Alessandra Ty-Torredes
AJOG Volume 195, Issue 6, Supplement , Page S30, December 2006

Conclusion - Evening Primrose Oil given 1 capsule thrice daily for 1 week has a significant effect in Bishop score and cervical length by transvaginal ultrasound compared to placebo and there was no effect on fetal safety profile monitored by modified biophysical profile and non-stress test. Its use as a cervical priming agent to enhance success rate for vaginal delivery may be considered for healthy term gravidas awaiting onset of labor.

Midwife's Study to Examine the Effectiveness of 'Folk' Labor Induction Remedy

Do you use EPO internally or do you use it topically or both?  Do you recommend a complete type EFA pill or do you use just EPO?

I read an article in CAM (ca assn of midwives) news a buncha years ago. The action of EFAs is from PO (eating it).  The action of using it on the cervix is fine, but cervical massage is VERY effective without EFAs.  I prefer flax seed and borage capsules- they are mixed and come in one capsule, usually in the refrigerator section at health food stores.  EPO is a fine second choice.  if you recommend it, 1 po 3 times a day starting in some cases at 32 wks, like that gal with the extremely closed ischial spines.  Then, for anyone, 2 po 3 times a day starting at 36 wks.  Remember, only use if there is an indication for it, not for everyone...if it ain't broke don't fix it. I almost always check a woman at 36 wks.  .I check her cervix for ripeness, effacement, dilation, station; baby's presenting part, make sure it's a head,  head position, sutures, fit etc.  Then I figure if EFAs should be a part of the picture at this point.

No scientific evidence re EFAs- Some years ago, Michel Odent was talking in Reno, and he was talking about the need for EFAs in women's diets in pg to help with brain development in the baby and for building blocks for making hormones.  Also, about 10 years ago (I'm not good with time) a gal wrote an article in the CAM (Ca assn of midwives) journal about EFAs and their role in hormone production.  There is scientific evidence, although I haven't seen any relating directly to birth.  I just apply what I learn to birth.  The evidence is there in anecdote and experience.  But again, I don't think it needs to be or should be applied to every woman...only  if circumstances dictate, which is pretty seldom.  Again, a vag exam at 36 weeks will tell you.

I am looking for guidance in use of evening primrose oil. My friend is 39 wks with hx of large babies- (one at 42 wks was 10#8oz not GDM) She is planning a RHB (repeat home birth) and would like to avoid such a big baby again. EFW now is >9#. Any suggestions for use of EPO or other ideas would be appreciated.

Tell your friend I wish her good luck. I always have big, past EDD babies, and with the last 2 I tried the EPO, orally and vaginally. Didn't help a bit, sorry to say. In fact I did everything mentioned in any book. The only thing that did work was acupuncture, and that labor was just like an induced labor, hard and fast right away. Spent 1 hour in the dr.'s office but the contractions started almost immediately after the needles were in.

EPO is great to soften a cervix either applied locally to the cervix and/or taken orally - about 500 to 1500 mg per day. Get her walking!

The local prevailing dosage here is 500 mg orally three times daily and 500-1000 mg vaginally at night from 36wks on.

I have my first and second time moms start taking EPO 6wks before their due date. 500mg three times a day orally. Then 10 days before their due date I have them insert 3-4 caps into the vagina at night. The caps melt and the EPO gets to the cervix and gets it nice and ripe. The cervix melts over the baby's head.

How many of your moms go past their due dates? Some, most, all? I've not been impressed with evening primrose, but maybe I'm expecting too much of it. I got the impression that women would never go much past their due dates if they used the stuff; I still see a LOT of EPO users get to 41 weeks and more.

We have an extremely low postdates numbers. Most of our women deliver within five days of their due date. Once in awhile someone goes 41.5 weeks, but rarely. I must say the ones that do are the ones who don't use the EPO.

This sounds pretty good! What sort of number is "extremely low"? got a rough guess-percentage?

Do you do anything else as they near and pass their due date? (strip membranes, massage cervix, use herbs etc.?

We did 74 births last year. 35 were first time moms. 20 delivered more than five but less than 10 days late. All of the them used EPO.
I read this as Twenty out of thirty-five first time moms delivered near or past 41 weeks -- between 5 days and 10 days "late"... (it would be nice to know how many were under and how many were over 41 weeks. It's almost crucial to break it down further by weeks to get any sense of these numbers. Is it possible to go back and do them by weeks instead of half weeks? "between 5 days and 10 days" is very broad and difficult to work with).

I'll do my best with what's here though.

20 out of 35 means that 4/7 or 57% of your first time moms went over 40 weeks -- though we don't know how many of these went beyond 41 weeks (just that they were "between 40.5 and 41.3). But this sounds about average to me for women who do NOT use evening primrose oil.

1. Does this mean that of your initial 35 NO moms went beyond 41.3 weeks (10 days over)?
2. Were any moms induced for any reason?

20 were second time moms. 2 delivered 10 days late They had cooked their first babies 11 & 13 days. 17 used EPO.
2 out of 20 second time moms delivered at 41.3.. This is 10%. Again, it sounds about average for moms who do NOT use evening primrose oil.

Question: I can't tell if your two who went 41.3 were among the ones who used EPO or not?)

Our 19 remaining moms were third or more time moms. No one delivered late and no one took EPO either.
By "late", do you mean after the 40 week due date or do you mean after 41.3 (ten days over), or do you mean after 42 weeks?

If no one delivered after the due date I would consider this highly unusual and would wonder what you are doing? It sounds wonderful! I can't imagine 19 multips all delivering by their due dates! If this IS indeed what you mean then you are onto something, I think. None of these moms used EPO but did use herbal teas, you say?

But I'm not clear that we are using the same terms here about "late". Can you clarify?

So those are the numbers. I'm not good at stats or figuring out percentages, so maybe you can help me??
Stats sound much more scary than they really are [GRIN]! The hardest part is figuring out which information to use.

In this case, I would suggest breaking the numbers down this way.
Total number of births.
Total number of spontaneous labors (important to correct for inductions etc.
Take any of these out of the pool of numbers).

total number of primips who used EPO
Number delivering before 37 weeks.
Number delivering by 40 weeks.
Number delivering by 41 weeks.
Number delivering by 42 weeks.
Number delivering beyond 42 weeks.

Number of primips who did not use EPO.
(gather the same stats for any of these).

Repeat the list for para twos, and for para threes...

Most of our moms drink pregnancy tea prepared for them by a local herbalogist. They also get a visit from our massage therapist who spends a great length of time massaging their feet starting with day 3 past dates. It just seems to work.

Foot massage sounds like fun!

But the use of herbs and massage does complicate the issue of whether or not EPO works to avoid post 42 week babies. Maybe the "tea" or the massage are responsible, "IF" there is an effect different from the expected rate of postdates. From the numbers you sent, I don't see anything leaping out here which is glaringly different from the expected rate.

Is it possible to look over the charts and send the information by weeks (as proposed)? 35 primips is not a large number, but it's a good start.

And if you really mean that ALL of your parathrees delivered by their due dates ("none of them went late" ), then this could be significant!

Remember that we don't think someone is going postdates until day 14. Figuring it that way we have a low post dates issue.
I don't consider under day 14 to be "too" much of an issue either. Of course, if it isn't too much of an issue then do we really need to do anything about it? [GRIN]

I read somewhere once that prenatal EPO would make a woman's tissues (did it say her perineum?) much more likely to tear? You find that this is not so? Do you see a difference in the tear rate with these women?

When I have moms that need to be delivered and their cervix is unripe, I have them take evening primrose oil three times a day. Now these are woman who are either late, or at term so eventually their cervix would have ripened anyway, but it does seem to move things along.

I just finished a workshop with Susun Weed. Her feeling is that any oil based herb begins to decompose as soon as it is exposed to air, becomes rancid and should not be used internally. She also felt that the tablet form of evening primrose did not contain active ingredients and only provided the placebo effect.

Does anyone have an alternative view on using evening primrose oil to ripen the cervix? What has your experiences been with using this method?

I think I owe Evening Primrose Oil as well as other essential fatty acids to the fact I was able to get pregnant. My midwife is also a clinical nutritionist and put me on these to regulate my hormones (I think). I don't have much info to pass along about what, why. But I do know she told me to keep them in the refrigerator after opening the bottle, as all oils should be stored.

The pharmacological effects of EPO (and some other substances like BlackCurrant oil) are probably due to the essential fatty acids Gamma linolenic and Gamma linoleic acid. These EFAs are just a short step from the chemical structure of prostaglandins. Providing the EFAs should help the body to manufacture the substances as needed.

Most birth workers know that prostaglandins play an important role in ripening of the cervix at term, and also in controlling bleeding after the placenta is born.

What many do not realize is that prostaglandins are part of the inflammatory response of the human body, and that the prime way many painkillers work is by combatting the secretion of prostaglandin. For example, Aspirin and other salicylates, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), Naprosyn (Aleve), ketoprofen (Orudis), indomethacin (Indocin) are all potent anti-prostaglandins. Some have even been used to stop labor through their antiprostaglandin action, and the "one baby aspirin a day" therapy for some pregnancy complications fits right in with this theoretical basis.

Evening primrose does not contain salicylates. Its active ingredient is gammalinoleic acid (GLA) which is a powerful anti-blood clotter.

Borage Oil

[from ob-gyn-l]

I'm sure you knew that Borage seed oil was an excellent source of the essential fatty acid...Gamma linoleic acid? You know... the Omega-6 fatty acid that is a precursor to prostaglandin. And I'll bet your gonna try and pull my leg and make me think that you didn't know anything about the fact that a lot of women are taking this instead of evening primrose oil because it's twice as high in GLA.

Well it's supposed to be a balancing act between Omega-3 and Omega-6 and usually we get plenty of omega-6, but some people feel that it's really helping them with PMS and premenopausal symptoms and really just a lot of other stuff...women's stuff. Oh. and arthritis...Men know about that but anyway Borage is good because its a vegetable oil, unsaturated, and rich in GLA. Comes cold pressed in capsules you know. No aftertaste...

Wild Yam

Effects of Wild Yam Extract on Menopausal Symptoms, Lipids and Sex Hormones in Healthy Menopausal Women [Medscape registration is free]

"There were no significant differences between baseline and either of the test medications for total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, or fasting glucose. There was no evidence of a change in FSH, LH, estradiol, or progesterone levels with either treatment. Diurnal flushing declined significantly in comparison with baseline after both treatments; nocturnal sweating scores declined after treatment with placebo. There was a modest decline in symptoms relating to lack of energy in both groups and in depressed mood after treatment with yam cream; however, there were no significant differences between the scores obtained for either of the treatment groups in any of the cases."

Need for Herbal Support after Progesterone

Progesterone is given during pregnancy to women at risk for preterm labor because progesterone  makes the uterus less sensitive to oxytocin.

From Endocrinology of Parturition by Gerson Weiss

The "final common pathway" to delivery is likely to be multiple, parallel, interactive paths that tip the balance in favor of coordinated uterine contractility and cervical dilation. These mechanisms involve a shift from progesterone to estrogen dominance, increased sensitivity to oxytocin, gap junction formation, and increased prostaglandin activity. Decreased nitric oxide (NO) activity and increased influx of calcium into myocytes are both required for uterine contractibility (2, 3). Complementary changes in the cervix involving a decrease in progesterone dominance and the actions of prostaglandins and relaxin, via connective tissue alterations, collagenolysis, and a decrease in collagen stabilization through metalloproteinase inhibitors, leading to cervical softening and dilation (4).

Progesterone down-regulates prostaglandin production, as well as the development of calcium channels and oxytocin receptors both involved in myometrial contraction (2).

For women who've received progesterone shots during pregnancy, I encourage them to start taking a lot of cottonroot bark at 36 weeks; I suggest a dropperful of the cottonroot bark up to 6 times/day if they can take the taste!  (It can be taken in water or juice or tea if needed to mask the taste.  You can also take it with Trilight Herb's Labor Prep glycerine tincture, which tastes slightly sweet.)

Cottonroot Bark

Texas Medicinals carries cottonroot bark tincture.

Since using cottonroot bark prenatally, my transport rate is close to zero.  It really helps those first babies to come before the head hardens and before meconium becomes a problem!  Here's what I tell my clients:

Cottonroot bark tincture is the best nutritional supplement for toning the uterus in late pregnancy.  Starting at 37 weeks - 3 weeks before your due date - add cottonroot tincture to your daily routine.  For a first baby, take 1 dropperful cottonroot tincture twice daily, at least several hours apart.  If this is not your first baby, take a half dropperful twice daily.  (A dropperful is the amount that comes into the glass dropper with a single squeeze of the rubber top.  A half dropperful is half that amount.)  After your due date, increase cottonroot tincture to 1 dropperful every 20minutes for 2 hours in the morning and 1 dropperful every 20 minutes for two hours in the evening.

Here are some references for cotton root:



For information about cottonroot bark tincture made from plants that haven't been chemically treated, contact karen.  The best time to order is in mid-January, when they're freshly prepared for the season.

Prenatal Herbal Supplements - Dr. Christopher's Birth Prep Formula (was Prenatal Tea or Pregnancy 6 or PN-6), Labor Prep, and 5-W

Rationale for Prenatal Herbal Tonics

Prenatal herbal formulations are designed to help ripen the cervix and tone the uterine muscle.  Typically, they do this by causing an increase in toning contractions in late pregnancy.  If humans lived now as we evolved, even very pregnant women would still be doing a lot of walking around, foraging for food or moving about by foot instead of by car. Those normal levels of adrenaline from daily activity caused toning contractions (archaically called Braxton-Hicks contractions), which helped move the baby into the optimal position for birth and toned the uterus for an easier labor and birth.  Moving the baby's head down onto the cervix helped ripen the cervix so it would open more easily when the contractions of labor started.  Having a ripened cervix helped the baby to come in a timely fashion, preparing the uterus to be ready to go into labor as soon as baby threw the switch.  This meant that baby was more likely to have a nice, flexible head for easier molding and less likely to release meconium before birth.

Instead, we now see lots of women with long prodromal or early labors, which tell us that the uterus and cervix weren't ready to go into labor when baby was ready to come.  Women can help prepare the uterus to be in synch with baby's timing either by doing lots and lots of walking (several hours per day would be optimal), or by taking herbs which also cause toning contractions.

The herbs in these prenatal formulations are tonic herbs, meaning they are mild, and you need to take them over an extended period of time in order for the benefits to accumulate.  The capsule formulations are not a concentrated tincture or extract; they simply take the plants, chopped and dried, and put them into gelatin capsules.  This is why you end up having to take so many capsules around your due date; they're not concentrated the way herbal tinctures are.  You could view it as a way of getting more greens every day.

People rave about the Polly-Jean Formula.

Ingredients in Polly-Jean Five-Week Antenatal Formula

As of some time in 2001, Nature's Way discontinued the production of Pregnancy 6, but other companies picked up production as PN6, and then Prenatal Tea Formula, and, as of Feb., 2012, it's Dr. Christopher's Birth Prep Formula, available at  herbsfirst.com.

Ingredients in Dr. Christopher's Birth Prep Formula

I found it (April, 2006) at Southern Herb - sold as item no. 802 - Pre-Natal Formula for $20.49

You can purchase it in wholesale bulk from Marshall Distributing Co. of Utah. -  (801) 973-8855

I found it for $12.99/bottle at http://www.vitaglo.com/co0043.html

I really like LaborPrep from Tri-Light Herbs.  It's a tincture in glycerin, so it's non-alcoholic and tastes fairly palatable. Ingredients in LaborPrep.

5-W Ingredients

In our practice, we ask that our ladies use either PN-6 or 5W. I'm on my last week of the 5W and I can tell you personally that it's doing its job...I'm living in contraction city! My sr. midwife says that she sees lots fewer women going post-dates and considerably less PPH since she started asking that they do the PN-6 routine.

week 1 = 1 cap (with breakfast)
week 2 = 2 caps (with breakfast and lunch)
week 3 = 3 caps (breakfast, lunch and 4:30...taken any later, and the lady
might be up all night with ctx)
week 4 (2 w/ breakfast, 1 lunch and 1 4:30)
Week 5 (2 breakfast, 2 lunch and 1 4:30)
Week 6 (2,2,2...and voila! BABY!!)

I know some people don't like the PN-6; they say the pennyroyal makes you cramp.  Nature's Sunshine has 5W which is the same thing without the pennyroyal; you can only get it through a distributor.

A friend took 5W and had a 45-minute labor compared with a 14-hour labor for her first.

I use a similar combo and what it does for me is "regulate" the braxton hicks contractions I have.  Whereas without the herbs, I get random contractions of various intensity.  Once I begin them, they seem to come together in waves of consistency.  Who knows... could be a bottle of sugar and voo-doo ;)  However, they feel productive to me and after using them with two of three babies, I am happy with the results (which have been shorter labors and faster uterus involution postpartum).

I don't use PN-6 or 5W. I use a herbal tincture called PREPCOM. It is made by a company called Energique Herbal.

It contains: false unicorn, wild yam, bayberry, motherwort, wild ginger, lobelia, blessed thistle, squawvine, blue cohosh and red raspberry. My ladies take 10 drops in juice or water three times a day starting at 37 weeks.

I don't get contractions from it as much as a mellow mom who can sleep at night and a nice ripe cervix before 40 weeks. Once in a while I add black cohosh tincture one dropperful 4 times a day between 40 and 41 weeks if they go that long. I really like it and I don't seem to get so many freaked out moms in false labor.

BTW, when I use this for my multips, I am having fast labors........about 5 hours from first ctx to birth. Quite a few go from 5cm to complete in 30 min to 1 hour.

You have to order this stuff from Energique if you want it.......they have a whole list of herbs and homeopathics, some specifically for pregnant women. Their phone number is 1-800-869-8078.

What's your protocol for the PN6 or EPO?  PN6 is available at the local healthfood store. Start at 36 weeks, take 1 cap per day 1st wk, 2 per day 2nd wk, up to 6 per day in last week.  I have them start EPO at 38 weeks. 2 caps QID orally, 2 caps vaginally, as high as you can get it, hs.  This is what I recommend, and I've had few women go post dates and have prolonged labors since I started this protocol, 8 years ago.

For PN6 we use 1/day for week 34, bid for week 35, tid for week 36, etc till she's taking 6/day at term (usually three doses of 2 capsules).  For EPO, we usually don't start until after 37 weeks at the earliest (usually later) and use tid of the 500 mg capsules (or 1/day of the 1300's).  May also throw a couple in the vagina at night for good measure <VBG> if the cervix doesn't seem to be ripening.  I'd love to hear what others use if it's different and how it seems to work. Many of our clients can't afford either, but those who take them don't seem to go much past their due dates.

My "protocol" is similar - I'm pretty loose about the whole thing and only some clients use any of this stuff.   They usually drink a "prep" tea after 36 weeks and start EPO orally at 37 weeks, adding intravaginal at HS when 38 weeks.  How aggressive we get with this depends on past history, mom's motivation, etc.

Herbal Information and Cautions

Cautions about PN-6

Susun Weed does warn of early contractions when taken 4-6 weeks before EDD.  She mentions squaw vine tincture for uterine "weakness" rather than for normal, healthy pregnancies.  Cohosh and Pennyroyal, also in PN6, lead to precipitous labour especially when taken together (pg. 23)

Herbs for Prodromal Labor, False Labor or Stalled Labor

Many of us have seen women who seem to be fighting their labors - either before it starts, when we see the long prodromal labors or during active labor, when we may see them stalling out around 6 cm when there's so much increased pelvic pressure.  I started noticing that the Wishgarden Herbs "Centered Mama" tincture helped a lot to shift prelabor/early labor into active labor.  I investigated each of the ingredients and was impressed with the properties ascribed to lobelia.  In researching lobelia, I also came across references to gelsemium for similar purposes - lobelia is more appropriate when the the cervix is thick and gelsemium more appropriate when the cervix is thin and sharp like a knife edge.  [Centered Mama ingredients are wild lettuce, lobelia, and valerian]


Important Note - Lobelia is a powerful herb which should be used very carefully.  If you're using a commercial tincture, start with just a drop or two and work your way up slowly; in large amounts, it is a powerful emetic, meaning it causes vomiting.

From King's American Dispensatory:

"The powerfully relaxant properties of lobelia render it a very efficient agent in several conditions, whose chief feature is the spasmodic element. . . .  Lobelia is of value in obstetrical practice. It powerfully subdues muscular rigidity. It is the remedy to overcome a rigid os uteri during parturition, and at the same time it relaxes the perineal tissues. This it does when there is fullness of tissue—a thick, doughy, yet unyielding, os uteri; when, however, the edge of the os is thin and closely drawn, sharp like a knife edge, full doses of gelsemium are indicated.  . . . Lobelia is a stimulant to the sympathetic system. It improves the innervation of the parts supplied by both the pneumogastric and sympathetic nerves."
From Cook's The Physiomedical Dispensatory:
Upon the muscular and fibrous tissues it expends its influence with a very direct and peculiar force. The nausea induced by it at the stomach, is the first manifestation of this, and the enlarging caliber of the pulse is from a similar influence upon the fibers of the blood-vessels. It is by this combined action upon both the nerves and muscles of the stomach, that small doses of weak lobelia infusion allay irritation of the stomach, and arrest spasmodic and even sympathetic vomiting; and so long as these doses can be regulated so as to make a nearly continuous impression, without any distinct intermission in which a contracting oscillation may occur, all efforts at emesis will prove ineffectual. (§210, 212.) By a persistent repetition of moderate quantities till the contractile efforts of the stomach are allayed, and then by the use of larger quantities either by drink or as injection, or both, (or more considerable quantities may be used at the outset, if the stomach is not peculiarly susceptible,) there is probably no fibrous structure of the frame but may be reached by this agent. . . . In rigidity of the os tincae during labor, small doses at short intervals will secure the relaxation of those ibers in the most prompt and thorough manner; and this peculiar action of the agent, under the directing influence of the vital force, (§138, 139,) enables it to overcome a grave obstruction which has always caused the profession much anxiety, and makes this remedy one of rare value, even if it did not possess another useful property. The same remarks will apply to hour-glass contractions of the uterus; and to those ineffectual forms of labor in which a portion of the uterine fibers are rigid; under all which circumstances small portions of lobelia infusion, at intervals of ten or fifteen minutes, will presently relax the rigid fibers without at all interfering with the action of those which are contracting properly–results which the accoucheur many times desires with the greatest anxiety, and for the lack of which he too often resorts to his destructive instruments, but which are effected by lobelia in the most complete manner. At the same time it secures a free lubrication of the passages, and a more equable action of the nervous system. Yet lobelia is not a distinct parturient; and though its efficacy in expediting labor under the above peculiar circumstances is unsurpassed, it at no time gives vigor to uterine contractions, nor improves the force of weak and ineffectual pains. On the contrary, its persistent use will gradually relax the entire uterus, and finally all contractile efforts will cease till the action of the lobelia has passed by; and this may readily ensue in cases where the uterine and vaginal structures are already flaccid, or may be effected where the parts are somewhat unyielding and the pains so active as to be exhaustive."
This study gives some hints as to how it helps with labor - it may actually block the production of adrenaline, which is generally known to be an impediment to the smooth progress of labor.

Influence of lobeline on catecholamine release from the isolated perfused rat adrenal gland.
Lim DY, Kim YS, Miwa S.
Auton Neurosci. 2004 Jan 30;110(1):27-35.

What about the concerns raised about lobelia by Consumer Reports in their May, 2004, article, "Twelve supplements you should avoid"?

Unfortunately, they don't cite their references.  However, a search of Medscape turns up an article about the toxicity of Lobelia berlandieri, which is a different plant from lobelia inflata, which is used medicinally.  Perhaps this was the source of the confusion?


From King's American Dispensatory:
"Severe dysmenorrhoea with colicky pains, and uterine colic are promptly relieved by large doses of it. Rigid os uteri, with thin, unyielding edges, and a dryness of the parts, is relaxed by gelsemium. In fact, it relaxes all sphincters. By rectifying such complications it facilitates labor. Free doses should be administered. Gelsemium, alone or combined with pulsatilla, is invaluable to overcome the marked restlessness evinced by some parturients, and gelsemium will often retard a labor that has begun before the parts are ready for the ordeal, particularly when the woman is excessively excitable and nervous, and the pains are spurious, or at least jerky and ineffectual. The nervous tension following accouchement is quickly relieved by this drug. After-pains are controlled by it, and it is serviceable in some forms of leucorrhoea."

I also really like motherwort to help a mom relax and let the cervix open.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for prodromal labor is to get things moving forward!  I like Trilight Health's Startup Formula. [Ingredients in Startup]

Herbs for Third and Fourth Stage

Regarding the use of Cohosh, does anyone else use the homeopathic remedy named caulophyllum?

Anyway, back to the subject, with any cohosh the side effect can be an increase in B/P, so I check this frequently (even when we are out on our walk). I have had only one client whose B/P went up, and it was only 10 systolic with no other s/sx.

So, to repeat my original question, does anyone else use caulophyllum? And to add to my original question, if so, what do you think of it, and what dosage, time frame do you use?

I wrote a little about this in an earlier post about the cohoshes. I mentioned that I use the homeopathic forms of the cohoshes. I use them in labor situations in a 200c potency. I use 200c or 1M potencies in labor because that is what it usually takes in a labor. I use 30cs in pregnancy. (except for Pulsatilla to turn breeches) There is a new book out for midwives about homeopathy - it is written by the homeopath I have been studying under for the last 6 years. The book is called "Homeopathy for the Modern Pregnant Woman and Her Infant" - A Therapeutic Practice Guidebook for Midwives, Physicians and Practitioners. If you are interested in the book, you can e-mail me privately and I'll give you more details, but I don't want to "advertise" on the list. (although I have no connection with the book other than I reviewed her working copy)

Also, as someone reported from several sources - Blue Cohosh is known to actually lower B/P and raise FHTs (at least in my experience). I have even used it to help control a labor B/P that was getting up there. I know people who are not pregnant (even men) who use Blue Cohosh to control high B/P.

I have all of my clients use PN-6 (Rasp combo, mother's cordial, any of the like) and EPO from 34 weeks. There is also something called Matrim that is the homeopathic version of PN-6. This seems to really help ripen the cervix. I've felt primip cervices feel like that of a multip after taking this. We actually looked back at the stats when we first started using it when I was an apprentice and the women that had taken it had faster labors and less incidence of going past 41 weeks.

I have recently started having them take alfalfa or chlorophyll from 34 weeks to boost the Vit. K level for the baby and to the mom for less bleeding.

I use caulophyllum (blue), or cimicifuga (black) 200c to kick start a pokey labor. Not usually to start labor. Another homeopathic I use is Pulsatilla to turn a breech or a lesser strength for a malpositioned head.

I do almost the exact same thing - I encourage 5-W (Nature Sunshine product for last 5 weeks) which in my experience helps prevent women from going too far overdue and helps shorten labors - (this statement always gets me compliance!) I encourage the use of Alfalfa (about 35 grains/day) for the final 6 weeks (unless bad varicose veins). I use the homeopathics as stated above. I feel prevention is the key in my practice.

5W (5 herbs for women for the last five weeks of pregnancy) is made by a US company called Natures Sunshine and it is a combination mix of Prenatal Herbs for Women.  It is very popular here in NZ with many midwives and many supply it to their patrients having seen the benefits.  They describe it as a "uterine toner" You should be able to buy at it Health Stores but I see it is also available online at several places. Here's the blurb from one of them ... 5-W (5 herbs for women) System: Glandular/Female 5-W supplies nutrients supportive to the female glandular and reproductive systems. The formula contains iron for the blood and for vitality, manganese to support body tissues, and selenium to assist in healthy tissue growth. This combination includes: Black cohosh root, Squaw vine herb, Dong quai root, Butcher's broom root, Red raspberry leaves.  During the last five weeks of pregnancy, take two capsules three times daily. For me it was the easy way to get the Red Raspberry leaf without having to drink the tea plus get all those other useful herbs!!  The only situation where its use is not recommended is if you have high blood pressure or a history of pre-term labour.

Prenatal Herbal Supplements - Dr. Christopher's Prenatal Tea Formula (was Pregnancy 6 or PN-6) and 5-W

As of some time in 2001, Nature's Way discontinued the production of Pregnancy 6; however, the same formula is purported to be available as Dr. Christopher's Prenatal Tea Formula, available at http://herbsfirst.com.

You can purchase it in wholesale bulk from Marshall Distributing Co. of Utah.

I found it for $9.72/bottle at http://store.yahoo.com/vitaglo/f0012690.html

Ingredients in Dr. Christopher's Pre-Natal Tea (formerly PN-6 Ingredients)

5-W Ingredients

This is a Nature's Sunshine Product, and you can order it online from onedietstore.com

In our practice, we ask that our ladies use either PN-6 or 5W. I'm on my last week of the 5W and I can tell you personally that it's doing its job...I'm living in contraction city! My sr. midwife says that she sees lots fewer women going post-dates and considerably less PPH since she started asking that they do the PN-6 routine.

week 1 = 1 cap (with breakfast)
week 2 = 2 caps (with breakfast and lunch)
week 3 = 3 caps (breakfast, lunch and 4:30...taken any later, and the lady
might be up all night with ctx)
week 4 (2 w/ breakfast, 1 lunch and 1 4:30)
Week 5 (2 breakfast, 2 lunch and 1 4:30)
Week 6 (2,2,2...and voila! BABY!!)

I know some people don't like the PN-6; they say the pennyroyal makes you cramp.  Nature's Sunshine has 5W which is the same thing without the pennyroyal; you can only get it through a distributor.

A friend took 5W and had a 45-minute labor compared with a 14-hour labor for her first.

I use a similar combo and what it does for me is "regulate" the braxton hicks contractions I have.  Whereas without the herbs, I get random contractions of various intensity.  Once I begin them, they seem to come together in waves of consistency.  Who knows... could be a bottle of sugar and voo-doo ;)  However, they feel productive to me and after using them with two of three babies, I am happy with the results (which have been shorter labors and faster uterus involution postpartum).

I don't use PN-6 or 5W. I use a herbal tincture called PREPCOM. It is made by a company called Energique Herbal.

It contains: false unicorn, wild yam, bayberry, motherwort, wild ginger, lobelia, blessed thistle, squawvine, blue cohosh and red raspberry. My ladies take 10 drops in juice or water three times a day starting at 37 weeks.

I don't get contractions from it as much as a mellow mom who can sleep at night and a nice ripe cervix before 40 weeks. Once in a while I add black cohosh tincture one dropperful 4 times a day between 40 and 41 weeks if they go that long. I really like it and I don't seem to get so many freaked out moms in false labor.

BTW, when I use this for my multips, I am having fast labors........about 5 hours from first ctx to birth. Quite a few go from 5cm to complete in 30 min to 1 hour.

You have to order this stuff from Energique if you want it.......they have a whole list of herbs and homeopathics, some specifically for pregnant women. Their phone number is 1-800-869-8078.

What's your protocol for the PN6 or EPO?  PN6 is available at the local healthfood store. Start at 36 weeks, take 1 cap per day 1st wk, 2 per day 2nd wk, up to 6 per day in last week.  I have them start EPO at 38 weeks. 2 caps QID orally, 2 caps vaginally, as high as you can get it, hs.  This is what I recommend, and I've had few women go post dates and have prolonged labors since I started this protocol, 8 years ago.

For PN6 we use 1/day for week 34, bid for week 35, tid for week 36, etc till she's taking 6/day at term (usually three doses of 2 capsules).  For EPO, we usually don't start until after 37 weeks at the earliest (usually later) and use tid of the 500 mg capsules (or 1/day of the 1300's).  May also throw a couple in the vagina at night for good measure <VBG> if the cervix doesn't seem to be ripening.  I'd love to hear what others use if it's different and how it seems to work. Many of our clients can't afford either, but those who take them don't seem to go much past their due dates.

My "protocol" is similar - I'm pretty loose about the whole thing and only some clients use any of this stuff.   They usually drink a "prep" tea after 36 weeks and start EPO orally at 37 weeks, adding intravaginal at HS when 38 weeks.  How aggressive we get with this depends on past history, mom's motivation, etc.

Herbal Information and Cautions

Cautions about PN-6

Susun Weed does warn of early contractions when taken 4-6 weeks before EDD.  She mentions squaw vine tincture for uterine "weakness" rather than for normal, healthy pregnancies.  Cohosh and Pennyroyal, also in PN6, lead to precipitous labour especially when taken together (pg. 23)

Essential Oils

This section has been moved to Essential Oils

Herbal Anecdotes

I am sold on herbs as a dietary supplement at all times, but I got started on them last year in my first pregnancy. All I can say is that I had a super easy preg., a wonderful delivery, and my son amazes everyone with his health, alertness and excellent coordination. I'm sure it's not all due to herbs, but I know they must have helped!

I took red raspberry for uterine tone; blessed thistle for milk production and healthy blood circulation; yellow dock for extra iron (this WORKED, boosting my hematocrit ten points); ginger root to allay any morning sickness and to help with circulation; cranberry for the bladder and urinary tract. I also took Blue Cohosh the last week of my pregnancy. This helps the cervix open up--don't take it earlier than four weeks before your due date! I continue to take all these herbs now with the exception of ginger root and Blue Cohosh.

My blood pressure shot up during labor, and my midwife put [homeopathic] belladonna under my tongue. Worked like turning a switch. The bp fell dramatically, allowing me to deliver normally and without a hospital transfer.  [Ed. - Belladonna is extremely poisonous!  The original phrase read "belladonna (an herb)".  Yes, belladonna is an herb in the sense that it is a plant, but it is a poisonous plant and not in the standard set of herbs used for health and healing.  Belladonna is DEADLY; after all, its common name is "deadly nightshade", which should tell you something!]

I'm really sold on the importance of excellent nutrition at all times, but especially during pregnancy. (This is not to say I followed the "ideal" diet as presented in What to Eat When You're Expecting! I found most of their recipes unpalatable.) Keep eating raw veggies and fruits, plenty of grains (I love bagels--six grain servings in one bagel!), tuna, chicken, etc., and drink lots of water and juices. It makes things so much easier!


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