Ashwagandha, Turmeric, Cordyceps, Reishi, or Maca… Chances are you’ve heard of at least one or all of these herbs. You might have even had them with breakfast this morning.
These are some of the most popular adaptogens available today. And as more and more research about their benefits is becoming available, you’ll be sure to find more exotic herbs become available at a grocery store near you.
According to the dictionary, “Adaptogens are non-toxic substances (most often plant extracts) that are held to increase the body’s ability to resist the damaging effects of stress and promote or restore normal physiological functioning.”
In other words, these herbs have been found to help our bodies manage stress and maintain a balance in our hormones.
Adaptogens are thought to work with the HPA or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This is central to the balancing of hormones and hormone receptors within the body. It is believed that adaptogens work with the HPA to either increase or restrict hormone production. It helps increase if the amount of hormones needed is too low, and it restricts if the levels are too high. And that is called homeostasis.
Right now in the market, adaptogens can be consumed as capsules, teas or tinctures.
If you check online, you will find a breadth of blogs, enthusiasts and supporters that champion adaptogens for all their great benefits. That’s the marvel and beauty of alternative medicine. There are more options and better accessibility for people who want to be healthier the natural way.
Now here lies the problem: many pregnant women take adaptogens believing that it will help their health.
Are Adaptogens Safe In Pregnancy?
According to Dr. Aviva Romm, it’s a no.
Adaptogens Are Good… But…
Dr. Romm does not discourage adaptogens as a supplement. If you are not pregnant, you are welcome to take them daily, depending on your health and needs.
But if you are pregnant, adaptogens are strongly not recommended.
In very simple terms, here’s why: Adaptogens work to balance your hormones. In pregnancy, however, hormones are unpredictable. It can go high or low, or whichever way, and guess what? Our bodies are designed to do so during pregnancy.
So taking something (sometimes even, in excess) with the aim to normalize the hormones, may result in negative effects on your baby.
Adaptogens Are Risky In Pregnancy
Adaptogens help our body to adapt to stressful situations. They do this by moderating hormones including those in our immune system.
In pregnancy, our bodies change to protect the baby. That includes changing our immune responses so that the body does not consider the growing baby as an “invader.”
Another example is the phenomenon of cortisol during pregnancy. Cortisol is otherwise known as the stress hormone. While we want to avoid high levels of stress, especially during the first trimester, cortisol levels naturally go up during the third trimester of pregnancy. And as labor nears, cortisol needs to surge.
These high levels of cortisol play an important role in the baby’s brain and lung development. Taking an adaptogen, which moderates cortisol, could leave a negative effect on what should be a healthy pregnancy.
Both estrogen and progesterone, sex hormones, rise in pregnancy. Adaptogens may also impact what is a natural and beneficial process.
What Options Do Pregnant Mothers Have?
We understand that you have probably avoided conventional medications with the hopes that herbal medicine could help your pregnancy. But don’t worry, there are other safe and effective ways to keep you healthy throughout your pregnancy.
Here are some recommendations shared by Dr. Romm:
- Avoid sugary foods and empty carbs. These will only spike your blood sugar and then make you tired after.
- Instead, focus on a diet rich in protein, fat, enough calories and healthy snacks to keep you energized throughout the day.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
- Focus on getting quality sleep. Including regular naps!
- Walk daily.
Are Adaptogens Safe while Breastfeeding? Yes.
We want to stress to you that while adaptogens are not safe during pregnancy, they are truly remarkable chemicals. So don’t go throwing your powders and packs!
To answer the question if they are safe for breastfeeding, we simply need to understand how our body works. After birth, our hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels. Adaptogens then are safe and beneficial for breastfeeding. They can help new moms cope with the stress of sleepless nights!
As Dr. Romm shares, they work for you whether you in the post-partum period whether you are experiencing adrenal over-stimulation or adrenal fatigue.
You can learn more about adaptogens and the types that are best for women, here: https://avivaromm.com/adaptogens-beating-stress/
You’re not meant to go through all this alone. Your midwives at Casa Natal are ready to be part of your journey. We can help and guide you to make the best decisions.
Do you have other questions and concerns about your pregnancy? Connect with us today!
Casa Natal Birth and Wellness Center has birth centers dedicated to your needs at Morgan Hill and Los Gatos. We also serve Palo Alto, Milpitas, Santa Clara, Cupertino, Saratoga and more.