Dr. Donata Girolamo, ND
Herbs are a wonderful and nourishing addition throughout a woman’s pregnancy. On top of a clean and nutritious diet, herbs can be used to provide a therapeutic effect; they provide more absorbable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than taking supplemental isolated vitamins and minerals.1 Pregnant women not only need more vitamins and minerals during pregnancy due to the nature of it, but also lose more. For example, “kidney function changes to handle the clearance of both fetal and maternal metabolic waste, which is associated with increased urinary excretion of water-soluble vitamins (eg, folate)”.2 There are many safe and suitable options that pregnant women should consider to achieve a healthy and peaceful pregnancy.
Here are 5 awesome herbs that should be added to your daily regime, while pregnant:
Nettles is a herb that is very nourishing. It is known as a ‘kidney tonic’ and a ‘blood builder’ according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. This is because it is full of absorbable minerals, such as iron and selenium, and vitamins such as beta-carotene, and vitamin C.3Pregnancy can cause a woman to require more trace minerals, while she nourishes a growing baby. Some women require more minerals than others depending on age, stress levels, region, and health history. Try drinking 2 cups per day for extra energy. It is also helpful for relieving phlegm in the lung and sinuses, for those who often get allergies or sinus infections.
Like nettles, alfalfa is very nourishing as well. The root of the alfalfa plant “can reach 100 feet into the earth, where it has access to minerals and trace elements untouched by other plants”.4 Some benefits include supporting the urinary system which can often become weakened during pregnancy, and takes acids out of the blood. It is rich in carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, bioflavonoids, and chlorophyll4. If you’re feeling run down, try having 2 cups of alfalfa tea per day.
Raspberry leaf tea is a very popular traditional tea to take after a woman’s first trimester of pregnancy. For good reason! It strengthens the uterus, helps to make contractions efficient when the time comes, and supports optimal hormonal patterns during pregnancy. 1 cup per day in the second trimester, and increase to 2 cups per day in the third.
Ginger root tea may be helpful for the nausea of morning sickness. Simmer six ¼ inch slices of ginger root in 4 cups of water for 30 minutes, sweetened with honey if you’d like. It is very warming, so if you are experiencing flushes of heat, this may not be the tea for you. Added to meals, ginger helps to break down high protein food like meat and beans, and lessens the effect of uric acids in the body .5 Chop it up and add it to stir-fry’s and marinades.
Oatgrass is another herb that is “rich in minerals and trace nutrients such as silica, magnesium, phosphorus, chromium, iron, calcium, alkaloids, protein, vitamin B complex, and vitamins A and C”.6 Oatgrass has a special affinity for the nervous system, and can help with feelings of depression, over work, fatigue, irritability, and anxiety. Take 2 cups per day to experience its calming and rejuvenating effects.
These herbs can be bought in the loose tea form, and mixed together to make an individualized cup of tea just for what you are experiencing. They are a safe and effective way to not only add important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and specific compounds that support a healthy pregnancy, but also have an affinity to specific systems in the body; nettles builds the blood, alfalfa and oatgrass tonify an overworked nervous system, ginger helps digestion, and raspberry leaf supports the uterus. Enjoy your tea warm, or cold and refreshing in the summer.
After graduating from the University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree, Dr. Donata Girolamo then pursued her passion for holistic medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, becoming a licensed and registered Naturopathic Doctor.
Dr. Donata Girolamo maintains a private family practice with special interests in fertility and mental wellness. Her mission is to optimize your health care by combining evidence-based medicine with the art and wisdom of traditional medicine. To address your health concerns she uses acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy, nutrition and lifestyle counselling.
She maintains inspired through continuing education, and has extensive training in homeopathy, biotherapeutic drainage, auricular medicine, and medical intuition. She has additional certification in Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome, First Line Therapy; a lifestyle program for weight loss and chronic disease prevention and treatment, and Psychosomatic Energetics. Due to her interest in the link between mind, body and spirit, Dr. Girolamo has taken intensive courses in Vipassana and Mindfulness meditation, and mind-body medicine through The Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body medicine.
She is certified by the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy Naturopathy and an active member of The Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors, the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, and the Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors. She is a regular contributor to Health Wellness and Safety magazine, and has written for Canadian Health and Lifestyle. She is a guest speaker at Niagara College, teaching stress management with meditation, and is active in the community, giving health talks to groups like Run Girl Run, Happy Hearts, Niagara Pain Program, and Form Fitness. She is appearing in a fertility segment on CHCH news, and has been interviewed on 610 CKTB newstalk radio regarding menopause. Understanding and sharing the body’s wisdom is not only a passion, but her calling.
- Pitchford P. chapter 14. In: Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books; 2002:215.
- 2.L O. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Nutrition in pregnancy: mineral and vitamin supplements 2000. Available at: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/72/1/280s.full. Accessed August 20, 2015.
- R L, X Y, R E, B M. Mineral Properties and Dietary Value of Raw and Processed Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica L.). Mineral Properties and Dietary Value of Raw and Processed Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica L.) 2013. Available at: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijfs/2013/857120/. Accessed August 20, 2015.
- Pitchford P. chapter 40. In: Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books; 2002:569.
- Pitchford P. chapter 13. In: Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books; 2002:210.
- Oats Benefits: Getting To Know Avena Sativa. Herbal Academy of New England 2014. Available at: http://herbalacademyofne.com/2014/05/oats-benefits-getting-to-know-avena-sativa/. Accessed August 20, 2015.