The March of Dimes advises pregnant and nursing women to speak to their doctors before
taking herbal supplements (http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/alcohol_drugsherbs.html). Because of the following reasons, the March of Dimes states that
it cannot be assumed that herbal supplements are safe:
- Some herbal supplements are suspected of causing harmful effects.
- Unlike drugs, supplements are not required by the Food and Drug administration
to undergo rigorous testing to demonstrate their effectiveness and safety.
- Quality control standards to ensure a consistent amount of active ingredient
and lack of contamination are not required for supplements.
- Some supplements can interact with medications and reduce their effectiveness.
The March of Dimes lists supplements that should be avoided by pregnant
or nursing women (March
of Dimes 2002).
The Food and Drug Administration publishes a newsletter about supplements (FDA 2002) and issues consumer
advisories about supplements suspected of causing adverse health effects (FDA 2002).
The American Academy of Family Physicians (American Family Physicians, 1999)
lists some herbal supplements and the medications they can interact with (American Family Physician, 1999).
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences describes herbal supplements
that are selected to undergo toxicity testing by the National Toxicology Program (NIEHS News 1999).
More information on the testing status of these herbs can be obtained by searching
the National Toxicology Program website (NTP).
Information on herbal supplements and other
complementary or alternative treatments is provided in a website by The National Center
for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM 2002). Included
on that site are descriptions of clinical trials to examine possible benefits of herbal
and other alternative treatments (NCCAM
Clinical Trials 2002).