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Supplementing Safely (featuring Amos Grunebaum, MD)
"FertilAid is designed to enhance fertility and support overall reproductive health." - Amos Grunebaum, MD, Leading Fertility Expert
Healthy women often think dietary supplements can fill in the gaps when diets run amuck. But pregnancy changes the picture, making some natural remedies look as risky as an episode of Extreme Makeover. Even dieticians, physicians, and naturopaths can't seem to agree on what's safe and what isn't. And when prominent herbalists disagree over the effects an herb has - which even happens with common ones like garlic - you know that supplementing safely is a hard concept to pin down.
While women throughout the world have taken herbal remedies for thousands of of years, it's a relatively new idea in the West. If you're tempted to try a more natural approach to your supplement regime, do your homework first. Natural doesn't always mean safe, and some herbs like sassafras, goldenseal, and pennyroyal can seriously harm a developing baby.
Herbal teas appeal to moms-to-be because they're often caffeine-free. But the temperature of the water, the amount of leaves and the length of time the brew steeps can make each cup vary dramatically in potency. Also, there is not enough researched information to consider them all safe, says Dr. Amos Grunebaum, MD, FACOG of the departments of obstetrics, gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Medical Director of Web MD. "Citrus peel, ginger, lemon balm, orange peel and rose hips are known to be safe, though," he says. "Red raspberry and ginger teas are also excellent and accepted cures for morning sickness."
One thing all sides do agree on is that the current American regulatory situation fails consumers completely. "Herbal products are considered dietary supplements and are not regulated by the FDA", says Dr. Grunebaum. "Manufacturers of are not required to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of their products before they reach the market and, as a result, the composition may vary greatly from one batch to another." Raw herbs - plants, leaves roots, stems and grasses - are also completely unregulated on the market. Levels of active ingredients in an herb, quality variance in a batch of herbs and where strains are grown in different regions and under what conditions are anyone's guess.
In addition to problems with regulation, scientists don't fully understand all herbal actions, and problems can arise if herbs are taken in combination with prescription drugs. Their combined effects can increase chances for harmful reactions by 30% or adversely alter the absorption of prescription medications. Basically, herbal regulation comes down to consumers relying on herb manufactures for answers. And if you think growing your own herbs will solve the problem, you're in for another shock.
"Herbs grown in urban gardens could contain potentially hazardous amounts of lead from deteriorated paint, past use of lead-containing gasoline and industrial pollution", Dr. Grunebaum says. Ultimately, it's up to you to educate yourself. Herbal supplements can counter, eliminate or destroy the desired effects of prescription drug and herbal interactions, and according to surveys, seven out of ten doctors don't tell patients about the risks of the drugs they've prescribed. Pharmacists offer a wealth of information and are eager to help clear up confusion about herbal and traditional drug interactions. If you're not sure, ask! Call (877) 2MYMED to learn more.
Pregnancy Plus: Designed to accommodate unique nutritional needs before, during and after pregnancy, Pregnancy Plus meets recommended daily allowances in one small tablet. It's free of artificial colors and flavors and is easy to swallow.
ePregnancy Article By Julia Rosiien