Pregnancy is a wonderful season of life.  One main complaint during pregnancy, however, is fatigue, especially when there are toddlers to care for as well.   There are herbal remedies that are safe in pregnancy that can help boost your energy.

It is important to first rule out any medical conditions that is causing fatigue.  See your doctor to make sure you are not anemic or have a thyroid condition or anything else.  Also, make sure you practice sound sleep hygiene habits and try to eat nutritionally dense foods low in sugar, talk to us about these if you are not sure.

If all else is normal, boosting your energy with herbal remedies can help to stay functioning.  The following herbs are considered to be adrenal adaptogens, also known as tonics in other cultures.   In Korea and China, ginseng is a well known tonic, in Europe its blackcurrant.  Adaptogens increase the resistance in the body to stressors and act to normalize physiological function, and bring the body towards homeostasis (balance).  Adaptogens and tonics are generally non-toxic.  Adaptogens taken regularly have been shown to improve fatigue and improve carbohydrate metabolism.

The following list is taken from a class given by Dr. Mary Bove and Dr. Cathy Carlson Rink who both are naturopathic doctors, herbalists and midwives.  Pregnancy safe adrenal energy tonics include:

Rhodiola rosea
• Widely studied in Russia for increasing resilience to stress
• 300-500mg per day of dried root or 100mg of a standardized extract extract standardized to 3 percent rosavins and 0.8-1 percent salidroside, as the naturally occurring ratio of these compounds is approximately 3:1.

Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha)
• Also has beneficial effects on the thyroid
• 3-6 grams daily of the dried root
• 300-500 mg of an extract standardized to contain 1.5 percent withanolides
• Generally safe. Large doses have been shown to cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, and vomiting

Asparagus Racemosa (Shatavari)
• Also a reproductive tonic
• This also moistens dry membranes, making it useful for constipation and dry coughs

Astragalus membranaceus
• Known as a Qi tonic in Traditional Chinese medicine
• Immunotonic and promotes tissue healing
• Also reduces edema or swelling in pregnancy

Eleuthrococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)
• Also beneficial if there is edema or swelling in pregnancy
• also helps insomnia or dream disturbed sleep
• 1-4 g/day dry root

Panax ginseng
• This herb can be too stimulating, start low and increase the dose as needed
• This is a premiere herb for energy, and also helps with insomnia and dream disturbed sleep

Shisandra chinensis
• 2-6 grams/day of dried fruit
• very astringent, mild effects on energy

Ocimum sanctum (Holy basil, tulsi)
• This herb also helps with blood sugar control, which is helpful in pregnancy
• Also is a sleep restorative

Licorice is known as an adrenal adaptogen but should not be used in pregnancy unless under the care of a well known physician and should be limited to 2-4 weeks.

Alcoholic based tinctures taken long term are best avoided in pregnancy.  Dried encapsulated might be the best form.  Ask your naturopathic physician if you need more energy while pregnant and want to use these herbs or if you are taking herbs and want to get pregnant.

1. Mills S, Bone K, The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. 2005, St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier (Churchill Livingstone).
2. Mills E., Duguoa, JJ, Perri, D and Koren, G, Herbal Safety in Pregancy and Lactation: An Evidence Based Approach. 2006,  Boca Raton, FL: Taylor and Francis Medical.