Researchers from Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Toronto, had presented a list of 60 herbs and their benefits and efficiency levels for pregnant and lactating women at the 20th Annual Meeting and Convention of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
The researchers had conducted their analysis in two phases. They had searched seven databases for reports relating to 60 herbs, ten supplements and eight vitamins. The databases included AMED, CINAHL, Cochrane CENTRAL, Cochrane Library, MedLine, Natural Database, and Natural Standard. Each database was examined in duplicate for data from its inception through June 2004. Unpublished research and bibliographies were also included.
Then they had done the assessment of the levels of evidence for select herbs, vitamins and supplements. Based on the data, a level of evidence was assigned to each herb, vitamin or supplement.
The researchers also found that fish oils and probiotics were safe for use during pregnancy, and that the use of Vitamin A should not exceed 6,000 IU per day as it may be teratogenic at higher doses.
This is the first time that herbs used during pregnancy have been independently ranked according to the available evidence surrounding the safety and efficacy of these products. The researchers hope additional research will be conducted to enhance the clinician's and patient's understanding of the effects of consumption on pregnant women and their fetus.
The authors also urge that women not assume that herbs are safe because they are labeled "natural." They recommend all pregnant and lactating women consult a licensed, health care professional before consuming any herb.