While this medicinal herb is known for its incredible relaxation inducing properties, recently, there has been a buzz about whether chamomile tea is safe during pregnancy or not.
Short answer: Nope, it isn’t. In fact, there are some teas that are not safe at all for the mommy-to-be during pregnancy.
Now let’s move on to a more in-depth answer (which you better read because I have done some intense research on this topic for y’all!)
First, let’s start off by exploring what exactly is Chamomile and what are some of its main benefits.
What is Chamomile Tea?
The famous Chamomile flower grows in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia. It flourishes best in a hot climate, typically the regions that get a lot of sunlight during the summer season. Most of the widely used commercial Chamomile is currently obtained from Egypt.
Chamomile is a beautiful, scented flower. The aromatic compound in this plant is called Chamazulene, which is a natural analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic agent. Hence, you experience instant relief, tranquility, and a surge of calmness whenever you take a sip of this golden tea.
Chamomile leaves may be used topically when infused in creams or ointments or in the form of tea, as in powdered individually or mixed with other herbs. It is even incorporated in aromatherapy, a kind of alternative medicine technique that helps in healing through the use of fragrances.
In any case, it is one of the most widely known herbal teas used for its numerous medicinal qualities in improving physical and mental health.
You’ll be amazed to know that annually, the US gets 750,000 to one million pounds of Chamomile, out of which 90% is used in herbal teas!
So it is pretty evident that people are crazy fans of this herb. But why is Chamomile such a beloved plant? Let’s learn about that next.
What are the benefits of Chamomile?
Chamomile contains some important minerals and nutrients that help relieve you from stress and anxiety. The relaxing agents in this tea make it an excellent bedtime beverage to induce sleepiness.
In fact, you’ll come across many people who have made it a ritual to drink chamomile tea before bed. It has shown to reduce insomnia or the lack of sleep.
Additionally, Chamomile tea is also beneficial for relaxing your muscles. After a long tiring day at work, there’s nothing better to soothe your paining muscles with a cup of Chamomile tea. Or if you lead an athletic lifestyle, again, Chamomile tea effectively decreases muscle aches.
In various countries, midwives and doulas recommend women to drink chamomile tea once they reach childbearing age. The reasons for which they adopt this habit vary from culture to culture but in essence, they are pretty much the same.
For example, in the Middle East, women drink Chamomile tea during pregnancy thinking it might result in increased intelligence in their child. In some cases, they prefer this herbal tea to reduce abdominal pain or the effects of fever and flu.
Chamomile leaves have also shown immense benefits for regulating blood sugar level and optimizing cardiovascular health. Besides, Chamomile compounds further eliminate the risk of thyroid, uterus, prostate, and breast cancer.
Let’s find out what scientific evidence currently exists with regards to Chamomile benefits during pregnancy.
What does science say about the positive effects of Chamomile tea?
In the US, there’s a high prevalence of drinking herbal teas before or during pregnancy.
According to a research published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, around 6.9% women drink herbal teas, most commonly Chamomile, during the first trimester, 5.1% during the second trimester, and 5.2% during the third trimester.
Interestingly, in the same study, it was also revealed that the herbal tea intake increased after the women discovered they were pregnant. Therefore, in the US, even in this modern era, a wide majority of women have faith in the medicinal powers of herbs and the positive effect it has on the pregnant moms and babies.
Most of the pregnant women drink Chamomile tea during the first and third trimesters to reduce flatulence or for promoting contractions. It is known to have remarkable digestive relaxation properties that help deal with nausea, diarrhea, cramps, and indigestion.
Chamomile leaves have abundant calcium and magnesium, two of the most essential minerals for improving the health of the uterus and the fetus. While acting as an anti-inflammatory agent, the soon-to-be moms also experience alleviated joint pain.
But scientists advise caution at various instances to women who drink Chamomile tea during pregnancy, claiming that it might not be safe!
Should pregnant women not drink Chamomile tea at all?
I’m not going to come outright and say pregnant ladies shouldn’t drink Chamomile tea at all.
Let’s face it – this herb has numerous benefits for easing your nerves, relaxing you, and reducing pain during the most stressful and painful days of your pregnancy.
However, I will say this: it is necessary to take controlled doses of Chamomile tea during pregnancy to prevent the negative impact of the compounds on your baby.
But what is the negative agent in Chamomile?
As you know, Chamomile tea is a relaxing drink. This means that the leaves are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, causing you to experience a feeling of tranquility.
A lot of times, anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly called NSAIDs, are prescribed to pregnant ladies for eliminating pain and fever.
However, if pregnant women take NSAIDs as self-medication, it has shown adverse effects on the fetus. During the early days of pregnancy, they may cause miscarriages or malformations. Uncontrolled use of these drugs can also result in negative impact on the brain, lungs, heart, skeleton and other vital body parts of the baby.
Do you see where I am going with this?
The unchecked use of Chamomile tea may result in the same effects as caused by the unprescribed use of NSAIDs.
If taken in large amounts continuously over a long period of time, the anti-inflammatory Chamomile tea may result in the fatality of the fetus. If taken during the early days of the pregnancy, Chamomile may induce labor through the onset of contractions.
Hence, it is vital that women take care when consuming Chamomile tea during pregnancy. Best is to drink it during the final days of pregnancy to calm the nerves and to put yourself to sleep. Do consult with your OBGYN before consuming any kind of herbal tea, though! Because not every tea is safe to drink for pregnant women.
What does science say about the negative effects of Chamomile tea?
According to a 2016 study, an experiment was conducted on 80 women who were 40 weeks pregnant and were each given 42 Chamomile capsules to be taken orally. By the end of the study, it was revealed that merely after the first week of Chamomile capsules intake, 92% women demonstrated an early onset of delivery symptoms.
Hence, it is safe to say that continuous, uncontrolled use of Chamomile may trigger early labor.
This next study shows an even uglier side of unregulated Chamomile intake.
Three researchers published their findings in Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2009, revealing two cases of fetal problems caused as a result of Chamomile tea drinking. They observed premature constriction of fetal ductus arteriosus in mothers who drank Chamomile tea. Neither of these women had ever been on NSAIDs.
Further tests showed increased blood velocity in the heart of the first fetus while in the second case, the doctors observed that the right ventricle of the heart was contracting poorly in the fetus.
Following’s an explanation by an expert for what I just stated.
Dr. Greger, a well-known nutritionist with extensive nutrition knowledge, explains why the prolonged use of Chamomile tea during pregnancy may pose negative effects on the health of the fetus.
All in all, experts advise caution while drinking Chamomile tea during pregnancy to avoid any disastrous effects on the metabolic systems of the mother or fetus.
What are some alternatives to Chamomile tea during pregnancy?
If you are thinking twice about drinking Chamomile tea during pregnancy, well, then you definitely need an alternative.
Per Kimberly Dishman who is an MSN and RNC-OB by profession, Ginger tea is an excellent alternative for Chamomile tea. It works wonders in reducing nausea or vomiting feel during pregnancy. You may sprinkle powdered ginger root to any safe-to-use herbal tea, consume it as supplements, or just add it to warm water with honey to get the most out of it!
Conclusively, this famous herbal tea is safe for pregnancy if taken in a controlled dosage. Continuous use of Chamomile tea during pregnancy may cause harmful effects on you or your baby. My recommendation is to consult with your doctor before consuming any herbal tea to avoid allergic reactions.