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Phytother Res. 2018 May;32(5):796-810. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6020. Epub 2018 Feb 8.

Pregnancy and herbal medicines: An unnecessary risk for women's health-A narrative review.

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Department of Gynecology, Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, 04021-001, Brazil.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, 05508-010, Brazil.
Department of Morphology and Genetics, Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, 04021-001, Brazil.
Department of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, University of Florida (UFL), Gainesville, 32611, FL, USA.
Department of Biobehavioral Nursing Science, College of Nursing, University of Florida (UFL), Gainesville, 32611, FL, USA.


The indiscriminate use of herbal medicines to prevent or to heal diseases or even the use for questionable purposes such as weight loss has received both interest and scrutiny from the scientific community and general public alike. An increasing number of women put their own and the unborn child's health at risk due to a lack of knowledge about the phytochemical properties and adequate use of herbal medicine (phytomedicines or herbal supplements) and lack of communication with their healthcare provider. The purpose of this narrative review was to summarize the use of herbal medicines during pregnancy and their potential toxic effects to highlight the importance of caution when prescribing herbal medicines or supplements for women, because, in addition to suffering interactions and a great amount of information obtained in preclinical predictive studies, assessment of nephrotoxicity, neurotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, genotoxicity, and teratogenicity of traditional medicinal herbs still remains scarce in the clinical setting.


herbal medicine; pregnancy risks; teratogenicity; toxicity

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