Renowned plant medicine expert and founder of Artemis Sandra Clair gives advice on which plant medicines you can take during pregnancy to maintain
a sense of calm.
From the moment you see a positive pregnancy test there are so many emotional moments. Some you can control and others you can’t. Immense joy, as well as tears, anxiety and fear, are all normal feelings during pregnancy.
Throughout every trimester there are things that might worry you – miscarriage, test results, googled symptoms, childbirth. Add tiredness and fatigue and it’s easy to see how these worries cause stress and are harder to manage than ever before. Some women are able to cope with these feelings better than others.
Worry and stress can affect the body in ways that may surprise you. The mind and body are intertwined and affect one another significantly. Acute and chronic stress affects your sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for creating the “fight or flight” response. This response is innate, as a way of your body protecting itself from danger, and this causes changes to occur in various body systems – from the release of stress hormones to an increased heart rate, muscles tensing up, faster breathing and digestive changes. Stress really does take its toll on the whole body.
By using plant medicine preventatively, and choosing plants with relaxing properties, you can remain calm. You may still worry, but not to the extent that your heart races, your palms sweat and you dwell on worries all night.
Wonderful plants like Passionflower, Lemon Balm and St John’s Wort can greatly improve your ability to cope with stress and keep your emotions manageable.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
is one of the best known plants to support a frazzled nervous system. It’s known to provide relief from problems like nervousness and trouble sleeping. It works by lowering your brain activity as it boosts the brain’s levels of a chemical call GABA. As a result, it helps you mellow out and relax. If you’re prone to anxiety, your nervous system is likely in constant overdrive, so Passionflower could be a great medicinal plant to try. Many people use it to help them sleep, especially those who wake during the night with a busy mind and can’t get back to sleep.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
is an excellent plant to help soothe your nervous system. It has a relaxing and anti-spasmodic effect on muscles, which is great to relieve tension in your neck and shoulders. It’s an effective plant to use when stress makes your heart and pulse race. With these benefits, you can see how it is a great remedy to support a good night’s sleep.
St John’s wort
is a key traditional remedy used in pregnancy, and a personal favourite of mine. We have referenced use of St John’s Wort in pregnancy and childbirth going back to the 16th century. It’s an amazing plant that has helped many women to better deal with the changes that pregnancy brings, and it’s a key herb used in Swiss midwifery. St John’s Wort is an energising tonic, scientifically proven to alleviate fatigue, anxiety, mild to moderate depression and tiredness. It works by strengthening your nervous system so you are more resilient when you feel stressed and anxious.
After the baby arrives, I highly recommend you continue with St John’s Wort, as it is so effective for mood, energy recovery and is entirely safe within recommended dosages.
The active constituents in these plants are water soluble, so the best way to take them is through a tea. Extracting herbs in hot water is one of the oldest ways of taking medicine. Remember, regular herbal teas are simply a hot beverage and medicinal tea s, which have a certain therapeutic effect, are very different. Be sure to take medicinal teas under the guidance of a trusted expert