Some expectant mothers who give up coffee during their pregnancies instead turn to herbal teas. At first glance, ginseng tea may seem like a good choice. American and Asian ginseng are both known to have many health benefits. Unfortunately, the risks of ginseng tea far outweigh the benefits for pregnant women.
Both American and Asian ginseng contains substances called ginsenosides that are beneficial in many ways. In Asia, ginseng has been traditionally used to make a person stronger and wiser. The herb is also popular in the United States and is known to boost the immune system, increase mental concentration and even reduce the risk of cancer. American ginseng also lowers blood sugar levels in people who have type 2 diabetes; it is thought to reduce the duration of and even prevent colds. Asian ginseng reduces cholesterol levels and reduces the symptoms of heart disease. It has also been shown to reduce fatigue and increase mental and physical endurance. American ginseng may also help people with ADHD, although more study is needed. The herb is sold in powder or pill form, and also as a tea. When it is marketed as a tea, it is often called Korean or red ginseng tea.
Ginseng should not be consumed by pregnant or breastfeeding women, whether as an herbal supplement or in tea. A 2003 study, led by Dr. Louis Y. Chan and other researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, showed that early exposure to ginseng caused birth defects in rat embryos. For this reason, doctors recommend that expectant mothers do not consume ginseng, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Not only is ginseng dangerous to the formation of the early embryo, but many ginseng teas contain caffeine. Pregnant women should limit caffeine consumption to 200 mg or less per day.
Other Herbal Teas
The FDA does not regulate the use of herbs as nutritional supplements. There have not been many studies about the long-term effects of consuming herbs during pregnancy. For this reason, the FDA recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women use caution when consuming some herbal supplements and drinking some herbal teas. Non-herbal teas that do not contain caffeine, however, are considered safe to drink during pregnancy.
Ginger has traditionally been known to reduce nausea in pregnant women. Drink ginger tea, eat ginger snaps or drink ginger ale if you suffer from morning sickness.