Objective: The use of herbal remedies has been documented both among various patient groups and in the general population to promote health. The aim of this systematic review is to analyze the benefits of herb use during pregnancy.
Methods: A systematic literature search covering the period from January 1990 to September 2010 was performed using various electronic databases. Randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs) were included. Paper quality was evaluated using the Jadad scale.
Results: Of the 511 articles identified, 14 RCTs were eligible. Ginger was the most investigated remedy and was consistently reported to ameliorate nausea and vomiting during pregnancy better than placebo; its efficacy in doing so was noted to be equal to that of vitamin B6 and dimenhydrinate. A single trial also supported the use of Hypericum perforatum for wound healing. Cranberry, however, was not efficacious in the treatment of urinary tract infections; finally, raspberry leaf did not shorten the first stage of labor, and garlic did not prevent pre-eclampsia.
Conclusions: Despite the widespread, popular use of herbal remedies during pregnancy, too few studies have been devoted to specific clinical investigations. With the exception of ginger, there is no data to support the use of any other herbal supplement during pregnancy.