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If pregnant, use herbal teas with caution

If you're pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant, or are a nursing mom, grab yourself a cuppa -- water -- and listen up!

 During pregnancy you may be looking for a caffeine-free beverage and, while herbal teas may fit this bill, thay may contain more potent ingredients you'll definitely want to take note of.

 Many herbs are safe and possibly helpful, but this is an area where being an informed consumer is important.

 Just as you wouldn't use drugs during pregnancy or breastfeeding, be careful about using herbs. Because of lack of safety testing and uncertain ingredients, pregnant and breastfeeding women should be cautious of herbal tea mixtures and herbal products.

 Some herbs contain strong, active ingredients. A few can be toxic or life-threatening. Since most herbal supplements are sold as food supplements, they are not as strictly regulated as drugs are. This means that herbs and herbal supplements may not be tested for safety or purity.

 Herbal products may contain a variety of allergens such as pollen or mold. If you are allergic to plants such as ragweed, be extra careful if you want to use herbal products. For example, chamomile may cause an allergic reaction in individuals allergic to ragweed. If you have allergies, select only herbs which are not related to the plants to which you have known allergies.

 It is recommended that women use herbal products cautiously and critically examine any information about their proposed benefits.

 The following teas are generally considered safe if taken in moderation (2 to 3 cups per day): Citrus peel, ginger, lemon balm, orange peel and rose hip. Herbal teas should be taken only in weak infusion and consumed in moderation during pregnancy.

 If you drink herbal teas that are considered safe, use a variety of them rather than a single type on a daily basis.

 If you are not familiar with the herbs in a product, look for reliable information before using it. If you can't find information on the herb, avoid using the product as it may be harmful to you or your baby, and the risk isn't worth it.

 If you are looking for other caffeine-free beverages, consider water, hot lemon, hot milk, hot apple juice or Ovaltine.

 And, an important P.S. Don't forget the health benefits of black and green tea. The tea plant contains natural chemicals that act as antioxidants.

 These chemicals, called polyphenols, are present in green black and oolong tea but not in herbal teas. Researchers are exploring the role tea may play in lowering the risk of disease.




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