Even though milk thistle is a "natural" substance, it does not mean that it is safe for use during pregnancy. In fact, because milk thistle may have estrogenic effects, it should probably be avoided during pregnancy. If you are using milk thistle and pregnancy occurs, you should talk to your healthcare provider about the possible risks and benefits of using this supplement.
An Overview of Milk Thistle and Pregnancy
Many Web sites and other sources state that milk thistle is safe for use during pregnancy. However, there is no real scientific evidence demonstrating that it is safe for pregnant women to take milk thistle.
Is Milk Thistle Safe During Pregnancy?
At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that milk thistle is safe (or unsafe) for use during pregnancy. Milk thistle may have some estrogenic (estrogen-like) hormone effects. In general, substances (including herbal supplements) that affect hormones should be avoided during pregnancy, except in special circumstances. For this reason, it is probably a good idea to avoid taking milk thistle during pregnancy, until more information is available.
Just because milk thistle is a natural product, it does not mean that it is safe for use during pregnancy. Many toxins, poisons, and drugs are also natural substances. It should not be assumed that a natural product is always safe, or is safer than a conventional medication.
Final Thoughts on Milk Thistle and Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, it is always a good idea to have a discussion with your healthcare provider before taking any medication or supplement, including milk thistle.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed August 11, 2008.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Milk thistle: effects on liver disease and cirrhosis and clinical adverse effects. Summary, evidence report/technology assessment: Number 21 (September 2000). AHRQ Web site. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcsums/milktsum.htm. Accessed August 11, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: milk thistle (March 2008). NCCAM Web site. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/milkthistle/. Accessed August 11, 2008.
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