Healthy Families

By Mischa Schuler, Community Herbalist, Wild Carrot Herbs

We all enjoy herbs and spices to improve the taste of our food and to support our digestion. Herbs and spices are consumed daily by pregnant women around the globe as part of the natural diet. In addition to good food, hydration, light, fresh air and movement, the remedies below may be a good place to start if you find you are needing additional support on your journey during pregnancy.
Nausea
Herbs to relieve nausea include ginger root, red raspberry leaf, peppermint leaf and spearmint leaf. In addition, having some crackers or apple sauce next to the bedside or a small glass of almond milk or other milk available to drink immediately upon waking, and while still lying in bed, can support early morning blood sugar levels from dipping too low and causing illness. These remedies can be quite effective for many types of nausea.

  • Ginger root – enjoy as candy ginger chews, crystalized ginger, as tea in the form of dry root in store-bought tea bags up to 4 mugs per day, or a tea from a pinky finger amount of fresh chopped ginger steeped in freshly boiled water for ten minutes.
  • Red Raspberry Leaf – now is a wonderful time to harvest Raspberry leaves! Harvest the newest green leaves at the top foot of the raspberry cane. Dry them by laying them one layer thick onto an elevated screen for airflow or in a basket. (An old window screen propped on the edge of two chairs is one example of a simple method of drying.) If you don’t have a screen, lay them onto a plate and let them air dry in an area without direct sun exposure – you may need to turn them after a day or two for them to fully dry. Your herbs are dry when they break crisply. To make a tea, crumble five dried leaves into a mug and pour boiled water atop, steep for fifteen minutes before drinking. You could also use fresh leaves – in this case the dose would be ten fresh leaves for a mug.
  • Peppermint or Spearmint tea – this is a lovely digestive aid at any stage of life, and a great one to remember for kids. For nausea, you can harvest five fresh springs (the top 4 or so inches of a plant stalk) and pour boiled water over them. Steep, covering your mug with a saucer, for five to eight minutes. With dry mint, you need less sprigs to gain the same effect – two dry sprigs would be sufficient.
    Heartburn
    Marshmallow root is a favorite soother of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract when there’s inflammation. To make a tea, steep a tablespoon of the root in a mug with boiling water for about twenty minutes. The root becomes mucilaginous and slippery, providing a soft coating along the throat. This is a very nutritive tea and can be enjoyed as often as needed. Honey or maple syrup can be added as a sweetener. Chamomile flower tea can also be supportive as an alternative – steep as mentioned above with Peppermint.

    Cold/Flu
    The body temperature during pregnancy is naturally elevated from increased progesterone levels, which supports the body in warding off pathogens. If we do catch a bug, or feel like we might be catching a bug, the remedies below can ease the severity and decrease the duration. Be certain to remain hydrated throughout any illness.

    • Garlic clove and Lemon tea – into a quart mason jar add 8 freshly crushed garlic cloves and the juice of one fresh squeezed lemon, add hot water and honey to taste. Drink as desired.
    • Echinacea tincture – 1 drop of tincture per pound of person, taken 4 times per day.
    Anemia
    Low iron levels can be common as a pregnant woman’s blood volume increases significantly near 28 weeks of pregnancy. One of the benefits of the iron tonic syrup below is that it eases constipation, a common complaint of those who are taking iron supplements. Yellow Dock root can NOT be substituted out of this formula as it is the primary herb in the mix that supports improved iron uptake. Dandelion root is a gentle liver tonic. Nettle leaf and Red Raspberry leaf provide minerals and molasses is iron rich.

    Iron Tonic Syrup

    1. Gather one ounce each of the following herbs: Yellow Dock root, Dandelion root, Nettle leaf, Red Raspberry leaf.
    2. Place the herbs into 2 ounces of water and cover with a lid.
    3. Bring to a boil, then simmer 20 – 40 minutes.
    4. Strain out the herbs and retain the liquid.
    5. Reduce the remaining liquid to approximately 2 cups – my method for doing this is to take the cover off and to set a timer for fifteen minutes to inspect how much liquid is left. It will often take about 45 minutes to an hour to reduce to 2 cups.
    6. When slightly cooled, pour the two cups of strong tea liquid into a quart mason jar, add equal parts (2 cups) molasses and shake mightily to be sure that everything is well mixed (this can require vigorous shaking for about 20 seconds, then giving oneself a rest for a minute or two and repeating the vigorous shake a dozen or so times to get a good consistency).

    Dose: 1 Tablespoon in the morning and evening. Enjoy with something which contains Vitamin C (citrus, for example), as this will also support improved iron uptake.


    Anxiety
    There can be many reasons for feeling unsettled or worried or so excited that it can be difficult to calm ourselves. Below are my favorite remedies for adults and children which are safe during pregnancy. They calm the nerves, ease the belly, and rest the mind.

    • Chamomile flower– particularly supportive in times of upset that include a component of butterflies in the stomach.
    • Lemon Balm leaf – for a general sense of anxiety or low mood that feels a little bit like a foggy morning, with clouds just covering the sun.
    • Passionflower leaf and flower – particularly excellent for circular thought patterns of worry.
    • Linden leaf and flower – to calm the spirit particularly if there’s heart ache or a sense of agitation that needs smoothing out.
    • Skullcap leaf – particularly good for anxiety brought on by external events.

    Chamomile, Lemon Balm and Linden each make a delicious tea individually or in combination. (Follow brewing instructions under Peppermint found above.) Passionflower and Skullcap have less delicious reputations and I recommend them in tincture form – usually in 20 drop doses, taken as needed.

    Recommended Reading: The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Romm