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Is It Safe to Take Ginseng during Pregnancy?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2016
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Most doctors advise patients not to take ginseng during pregnancy, as some studies suggest that it may lead to fetal abnormalities. Additional studies will be needed to determine if this is a risk for mothers and their babies, and to figure out what types of defects may result from taking this supplement. It is especially important that women avoid ginseng during the first few months of pregnancy, since this is when the most crucial parts of fetal development take place.

Ginseng is an herbal supplement that is often touted as being good for memory, energy, and mental focus. While there may be studies backing up these claims, very few herbal remedies have been tested for safety and effectiveness. This holds doubly true for pregnant women. It could be some time before the effects of taking ginseng during pregnancy are fully discovered, because pregnant women are not typically involved with safety trials due to the potential risks to their babies. In general, doctors will advise a woman against taking anything which has not been determined safe during pregnancy, unless that substance is needed for health reasons.

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When determining what drugs or supplements are warranted for a pregnant woman, the risks and benefits of both scenarios are usually weighed. For instance, if a pregnant woman is diagnosed as having an infection, it is riskier for the infection to be allowed to continue than it is to use antibiotic medications. When it comes to herbal supplements, the use of herbs like ginseng during pregnancy is usually not considered vital to the mother's health. That makes avoiding it during this time much more feasible for most women.

It is important for women to remember that all natural supplements and remedies are not necessarily any safer than actual medications. Additionally, most supplements are not governed by the same strict guidelines and requirements as medicines are for safety and effectiveness. While many herbs have been studied independently of these government requirements, until they have been shown that a particular drug is totally safe during pregnancy, it is usually best to avoid them.

Those who are considering taking ginseng during pregnancy should speak with a doctor, pharmacist, or natural healthcare practitioner. While there is no definitive proof as of the time of this writing that taking ginseng during pregnancy is dangerous, it is also unnecessary. Anyone who is having particular symptoms for which ginseng could be beneficial should speak with a health care professional to ask about safe treatment options.

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