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Medication is a tricky subject when you’re pregnant. A lot of common medications, including some over-the-counter meds, are a no-go when you’re expecting. You might have heard that homeopathic remedies are a kind of natural, gentle, Earth-mama alternative to standard meds. But is it true? Are homeopathic remedies safe during pregnancy?
What Is Homeopathy?
First, let’s make sure we know what we’re talking about. “Homeopathic” and “herbal” remedies are sometimes discussed together, but they’re not two different words for the same thing.
Homeopathic medicine is an alternative to Western medicine. Practitioners believe that “like cures like,” and that taking minute amounts of plants and herbs that cause certain symptoms can help cure illnesses with similar symptoms.
Homeopathic remedies also follow a guiding principle that the lower the dose, the more effective it will be. This means that some of the tablets and tinctures are diluted to the point that they don’t contain traceable amounts of the active ingredient.
Common Homeopathic Remedies
A few popular homeopathic treatments you may encounter include these:
- Onion: Used to treat allergy symptoms like itchy, watery eyes or a runny nose
- Arnica: For pain, taken either as a pill, tea, or ointment
- Chamomile: Taken as a tea for more restful sleep. Homeopathic practitioners may recommend chamomile for babies who are fussy due to teething.
- Zinc: For restless leg syndrome
- Arsenic: For depression or anxiety. Homeopathy advocates say that little to no actual arsenic remains in the final solution, and that it is safe. Your doctor may disagree!
Can I Take a Homeopathic Remedy Safely?
There’s very little scientific evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment.
Homeopathic or herbal pills, serums, and supplements may not be as closely regulated by the FDA as Western medicines. That means there isn’t a governing body ensuring that the remedy does what it says it will.
Basically, whether a remedy is safe depends a lot on what it is. If you’re hoping to try something like ginger tea for nausea, that’s probably fine (although it may not even be homeopathic). Chamomile tea for you is unlikely to raise a doctor’s eyebrows, but a pediatrician may want to discuss how you plan to offer chamomile to a young baby who’s fussy. If you want to take arnica tea for pain, you should know that it can interact negatively with other medications and may not be advised for people who are pregnant.
If you’re hoping to use homeopathic treatments, you may feel hesitant about bringing them up with your doctor. After all, you are likely interested in these treatments because you have some concerns about Western medicine.
Do it anyway. First, because any health treatments you take could interact in ways you don’t expect, and your doctor needs to know in order to provide you with the best care possible. Just as importantly, you should visit a doctor you can trust. If you’re tempted to hide information from your doctor, that’s a major warning sign. Some doctors are able to accommodate a blend of alternative medicine with Western treatment. At minimum, be willing to have a discussion about the benefits and risks of any remedies you’re considering with a health care professional.
The Bottom Line About Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathic medicine is a wide field. Remedies may range from harmless to extremely concerning in your doctor’s opinion. Because there’s so little regulation on the ingredients and concentration in many homeopathic remedies, it’s difficult to say that any of them are absolutely safe during pregnancy. Your best bet is to discuss each treatment you’re interested in on an individual basis, and seek out a doctor who you can trust to build a care plan that works for you.