Pregnant? Talk to Your Doc Before Taking Herbal Remedies
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The problem is compounded by the fact that herbal medications are not regulated, says Stanley Zinberg, MD, vice president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "We have no idea how much of substance is in a given bottle because the manufacturers are not regulated. There is no good control over these products."
Michael T. Mennuti, MD, professor of ob-gyn at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, tells WebMD that in some cases herbal remedies may not "even contain the substance that it claims is in the bottle. It may contain the concentration stated on the label or it may have a higher concentration or none of the substance."
Mennuti says that obstetricians and other doctors know that so-called natural remedies are becoming more popular but he says that too often obstetricians are ignorant about their own patients' use. "We need to ask the questions and I guess we need to ask very specific questions," he says.
Zinberg agrees with Gibson that some women don't think of herbal medicines as medicine so they are unlikely to volunteer information about use. "They think what could be wrong with something natural but they don't realize that just putting a natural label on something doesn't guarantee safety," he says.
The take home message for pregnant women is pretty clear, says Gibson: even if your doctor doesn't ask, tell him or her about any herbal preparations that you are taking.