What to avoid?
Is infertility growing?
What can I do to improve my chances?
I have had a number of patients come in recently who wished to know more about herbal therapies for improving their fertilty. There is a great deal of information out there on the internet regarding this issue. As is the usual story with the internet, some of it is accurate and much of it is inaccurate. Below, I have a general list of herbs that are relatively safe and not safe for fertility patients.
If you are not a current patient of Red Rock Fertility Center, please consult with your physician before making any changes with your fertility treatment, as doctors use medications in different ways that may interact with herbal supplements. Just because something is labeled as “all natural” or “herbal remedy,” that does not mean it is safe. There were many deaths a few years ago from an herbal remedy called “ephedra,” which was billed as an “all natural” weight loss supplement and energy booster.
In addition to this section on herbs and fertility, you may wish to read more on environmental fertility toxins and how they are affecting fertility rates. We also have tips on how to avoid fertility toxic substances, as most people are exposed to many of these substances during the course of their daily lives.
Herbs to Avoid During Fertility Therapy and Pregnancy
A. Contains Flavonoids or other substances that can stimulate uterine contractions and some of these stimulate menstruation
1. Lavender (Lavendula)
3. Black Cohosh(Cimicifuga racemosus)
4. Blue Cohosh(Caulophyllum thalictroides)
6. Cotton root bark (Gossypium Herbaceum)
7. Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis)
8. Gotu Kola(Centalla asiatica)
9. Ma Huang (Ephedra sinica)
10. Ergot (Caulophyllum)
11. Peruvian Bark (Cinchona officinalis)
12. Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)
13. Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
14. Yarrow Flower (Achilea millefolium)
15. Wormwood (Aremesia absinthum)
16. Rue (Ruta graveolens)
17. Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
18. Motherwort (Leonurus cardicaca)
19. Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)
20. Lovage (Levisticum officinalis)
21. Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
22. Mistle toe (Viscum Album)
23. Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
24. Oregon Grape Root (Berberis aquifolium)
B. Herbs that are Toxic to Fertility, can Cause Sterilization
1. Stoneseed root (Lithospermum ruderale)
2. Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
3. Thistles (Cardus benedictus)
C. Implantation Preventers
1. Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota)
2. Rue (Ruta graveolens)
3. Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)
4. Elder (several varietals of the elder tree)
5. Smartweed leaves (Polygonum hydropiper)
D. Essential Oils (which can stimulate or irritate the uterus)
1. Eucalyptus oil
5. Clove oil
6. Lemon balm
8. Oregano oil
9. Peppermint oil
11. Rosemary oil
12. True sage oil
13. Thyme oil
Note: These herbs are safe for culinary use, but should be avoided as therapeutic oils or essential oils (such as are commonly used in massages.)
E. Strong Herbal Laxatives
1. Aloe vera
2. Cascara sagrada
3. Purging buckthorn (Rhammnus catharticus)
4. Rhubarb (Rheum palmatum)
5. Senna (Senna Alexandria)
6. Yellow dock (Rumex crispus)
7. Castor oil
F. Strong Diuretics
1. Juniper berries (Juniperus communis)
2. Uva ursi (bearberry) (Arctostaphylos)
Other Supplements to Avoid:
Fish oil supplements – an example of these are “cod liver oil pills.” These contain large amounts of vitamin A, which is toxic to embryos and fetuses. Most people get an adequate amount of vitamin A in their diet, which is an important vitamin. Fertility patients want to have a normal amount of vitamin A in their system, not an excessive amount. One of the main reasons that pre-natal vitamins are different than regular vitamins is due to their lower vitamin A content.
Omega fatty acids have become the “supplement of the day” and are touted as important ingredients in baby formula. The baby formula makers want you to believe that because they contain large amounts of DHA and EPA, your baby will go to Harvard. Consequently, there are some patients that believe taking fish oil pills while pregnant will give their baby extra DHA and EPA (as fish oil pills contain large amounts of those two Omega fatty acids.) Again, the problem is that along with the DHA and EPA, you get large amounts of vitamin A, which can lead to birth defects. At the same time, having a normal amount of vitamin A is crucial to normal embryo and baby development. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor or a nutritionist about proper vitamin A intake.