Nettle leaf tea, or stinging nettle tea, is one of those ‘gray areas’ during pregnancy.
There isn’t much reliable information available to determine whether it is safe to drink nettle leaf tea or not during pregnancy. If you do choose to drink it, it should be in moderation, and choose nettle leaf tea instead of tea made from nettle roots or extracts.
What’s confusing is that there’s conflicting information all over the internet.
On the one hand, nettle leaf is a common ingredient in many pregnancy teas as nettles have many health benefits.
On the other hand, nettle is listed on the Natural Medicines Database as being likely to be unsafe even though most midwives and herbalists recommend it. Other sources say it’s fine after the first trimester.
We’ve weighed up all the evidence to give you a full guide to nettle during pregnancy, below.
Is Nettle Tea Safe During Pregnancy?
There are three main types of nettles: the common or stinging nettle (urtica dioica), dwarf (urtica urens) and Roman (urtica pilulifera).
Nettle tea can be made using the leaves, root or stem of the plant, and is typically made using both leaves and roots.
Nettles are also made into tinctures, creams, powders and more. Nettles have been around for centuries as herbal medicine, and recent studies have shown that there are a number of potential health benefits of nettles and nettle tea.
For the purposes of pregnancy safety, when we say “nettle” – it refers to all varieties.
If you want to be super safe, then avoid nettle tea completely during pregnancy. If you do choose to drink nettle tea for its benefits, do so in moderation, and only in the second and third trimesters.
Why is this? We break down the conflicting opinions below.
Evidence For and Against Nettle’s Safety During Pregnancy
First, the American Pregnancy Association includes nettles in their list of herbs that have “insufficient reliable information” available to determine whether they are safe in pregnancy or not.
They also say that many homeopathic physicians, midwives and herbalists treat pregnant women using nettles.
Their recommendation is to discuss with your treating health care provider if nettles are safe for you to consume (Source: APA).
MD Aviva Romm states that herbal teas like nettle should be avoided in the first trimester, but are probably OK in moderation later in pregnancy if they’re medically or historically known to be safe (source: AvivaRomm).
She does point out, however, that there are varying schools of though on the use of such herbs during pregnancy.
A qualified Herbalist, Amelia Hirota, mentioned in an interview that she also considers nettle to be beneficial for pregnant women, but only if the tea is made with nettle leaves, not roots, and to exercise extra caution in the first trimester (source: Parents).
Despite the above, there are some equally qualified recommendations to avoid nettle altogether during pregnancy.
The Open Journal of Diabetes Research commented that nettles should be avoided completely during pregnancy, as they’re a uterine stimulant that can potentially cause miscarriage (source: OJDB).
This is also echoed by WebMD, who states that nettle is ‘likely unsafe’ during pregnancy and should be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women (source: WebMD).
Despite many claims on various blogs, there is in fact not enough scientific evidence to determine whether nettle tea is 100% safe during pregnancy.
So what should you do?
The best course of action is to follow the American Pregnancy Association’s suggestion of speaking with your own health care provider.
If you really want to drink nettle tea, then choose a leaf-only version (rather than roots or extracts, which will be stronger), and drink it in moderation in later pregnancy – after the first trimester.
If you choose to drink nettle tea, some popular quality brands are:
- Traditional Medicinals Organic Nettle Leaf tea
- Buddha Teas Organic Nettle Leaf Tea
- Celebration Herbals Organic Nettle Leaf Tea
- Good Nature Organic Nettle Tea
- The Republic of Tea Organic Nettle Superherb Herbal Tea
Nettle Tea Blends and Pregnancy Safety
Herbal teas often contain a mixture of different herbs, and nettle tea is no exception.
Here are some common types of herbal teas containing nettles, and whether or not the other ingredients are safe.
Nettle and red raspberry leaf tea. Red raspberry leaf tea is known to help ease the labor process as it is a uterine stimulant.
Therefore this type of tea is best taken in the final month of pregnancy only – however, it is best to consult your health care practitioner before drinking this tea. You can read more about the safety considerations of red raspberry leaf tea here.
If you’re using tea to ease these symptoms, it’s probably much safer to stick to a 100% peppermint tea on its own, rather than one blended with nettle.
Nettle and dandelion tea. Although dandelion is rich in vitamin A, calcium and iron, there is insufficient information available to know for sure if dandelion is 100% safe to consume during pregnancy.
Check with your health care provider before consuming dandelion tea (Source: APA).
If you do choose to drink herbal tea, the NHS recommends no more than 4 cups of herbal tea a day, no matter what kind you choose (Source: NHS).
The Benefits of Nettle Tea During Pregnancy
There are no scientific studies that list the specific benefits of nettle tea during pregnancy.
However, nettles are well known to have many nutrients.
Nettles are also effective for treating anemia, and they can be used as a vegetable in many dishes – they have a spinach-like texture when cooked. If you’re going to eat nettles – exercise the same caution and stick to small amounts, and avoid them in early pregnancy.
The leaves of nettles are also known to contain large amounts of zinc, selenium and magnesium.
Stinging nettles are also richer in polyphenols than other wild plants, including dandelion leaves. They also have an antimicrobial effect and are used as a home remedy against bladder infections (Source: MDPI).
Is Nettle Extract Safe for Pregnant Women?
Although there are doubts about the safety of nettle tea when pregnant, there are no doubts around nettle extract. Nettle extract is not safe to take while pregnant.
Nettle extract has been known to provoke abortive effects and to act as a uterine stimulant when doses are taken daily (Source: HHS).
In conclusion, before drinking nettle tea, it is best to consult with your health care practitioner.
There is simply not enough scientific evidence to provide accurate information on the safety of drinking nettle tea while pregnant, despite the numerous health benefits of nettles.