Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy? (Short Communication).

Several common complaints experienced by pregnant or lactating

women are amenable to treatment with herbal medicinal products (HMPs):

nausea (ginger), back pain (devil’s claw), anxiety (kava), varicose

veins (horse chestnut seed), depression (St John’s wort), etc

(Ernst et al., 2001). Many pregnant women are thus tempted to try HMPs

in the hope of avoiding the risks of conventional drugs. Surveys from

Finland suggested that, between 1985 and 1988, the use of

‘alternative drugs’ (mostly HMPs) by pregnant women had risen

from 4 to 15% (Hemminki et al., 1991). An Australian survey of 300

pregnant women showed that 12% had taken HMPs during their pregnancy

(Pinn, 2001). A survey conducted with 1200 pregnant Nigerian women

demonstrated that 12% used native herbs (Gharoro and Igbafe, 2000). A

study conducted in South Africa showed that, of 229 pregnant women, 55%

had used HMPs during pregnancy (Mabina et al., 1997). Another South

African survey of pregnant women demonstrated that 7% preferred

traditional herbal med icine to conventional medicine (Varga and Veale,

1997). A survey of 200 pregnant US women showed that 15% used ‘home

remedies’ (most commonly ginger, vitamin [B.sub.6], chamomile chamomile