Is Thyme Safe During Pregnancy? Tea and More

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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While some herbs are considered safe to eat during pregnancy, others should be avoided. Thyme is a herb that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. Is it safe to eat thyme while pregnant?

Eating thyme in small quantities is safe when pregnant. However, if you eat large quantities/medicinal quantities of thyme, it may be harmful. When taken in significantly large amounts, it can cause premature labor, uterine contractions, and bleeding. Therefore it’s best to avoid large quantities of thyme during pregnancy.

How about Thyme Oil? Is it safe? When taken in culinary amounts, what are thyme’s benefits during pregnancy? Let’s find out…

Is Thyme a Safe Herb to Eat When Pregnant?

Thyme is used as a flavoring agent in many cuisines, and appears both fresh and dried in many recipes.

There are also varieties like lemon thyme, a kind of thyme used as an ingredient to give a tart flavor to various dishes. For the purposes of safety in pregnancy, you can treat all thyme the same way.

Usually, thyme is only used in small quantities in food. Two teaspoons of fresh thyme or one teaspoon of dried thyme are normally recommended culinary servings (source: WebMD).

thyme planted in a pot

It is safe to eat thyme when pregnant as long as you stick to small amounts. A little seasoning shouldn’t hurt, but larger quantities may have adverse effects.

If a recipe calls for thyme, it’s usually a few sprigs or a couple of teaspoons, and this is fine.

Thyme is usually considered safe in the United States when used in proportions commonly found in food. As a result, pregnant women should avoid using thyme in large doses, and stick to food amounts (source: Herbal Medicine Journal).

A significant dosage of thyme may result in the following symptoms:

  • Emmenagogue effect (uterine contractions)
  • Allergic reactions

The Emmenagogue effect is an effect that can stimulate blood flow in the pelvic region and uterus. This, in turn, can be harmful during pregnancy (source:  Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health). As a result, it’s better to avoid large quantities of thyme (like extracts or tinctures) particularly during early pregnancy, due to the risk of miscarriage.

Thyme is also thought to cause allergic reactions such as swelling, rashes, and shortness of breath, as well as abdominal discomforts such as heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness (source: Molecules Journal). Pregnant women should get advice from a health care specialist or doctor before using thyme in any medical quantity.

Are There Any Benefits of Eating Thyme During Pregnancy?

A small amount of thyme is not likely to cause any problems for most pregnant women. In fact, there are some benefits to eating thyme during pregnancy. 

Let’s talk about the benefits of thyme during pregnancy. These are:

  • Salt substitute: When cooking, fresh or dried thyme can be used as a salt alternative to assist reduce salt intake. Too much salt during pregnancy can lead to high blood pressure, which can be dangerous for both mother and baby (source: Hypertens Res. Journal).
  • Anti-inflammatory and pain reliever: Thyme’s anti-inflammatory properties and a natural pain reliever (source: Natural Product communications Journal)  This can help with the aches and pains that are common during pregnancy.
  • Nutritious: Thyme contains nutrients such as potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. (source: USDA). Potassium is vital for pregnant women as it helps with muscle contractions (source: Oxford Medicine Online). A pregnant woman needs 2500-2900 mg of potassium a day (source: Harvard), and every tablespoon of thyme has 35mg of potassium(source: USDA).

Vitamin A  is necessary for the development of the baby’s organs, bones, skin, and eyesight. A pregnant woman needs 2,500 IU of vitamin A per day (source: Oregon State University). One tablespoon of thyme has 163 IU of Vitamin A (source: USDA).

Vitamin C helps boost the immune system and protect against cell damage. It’s also necessary for collagen production, which is vital for developing bones, teeth, and blood vessels (source: NCBI).

A pregnant woman needs at least 60 milligrams of vitamin C per day. (source: FDA). Every tablespoon of thyme has 2.15mg of vitamin C (source: USDA).  

thyme tea in a tea cup

Can I Drink Thyme Tea When Pregnant?

Thyme tea is a herbal tea made from the leaves of the thyme plant. It has a subtle flavor and can be enjoyed hot or cold. There are no definitive studies on the safety of thyme tea during pregnancy, but it is generally considered to be safe in moderation (source: Medeniyet Medical journal).

As with any herbal tea, it is vital to speak to a healthcare professional before consuming thyme tea during pregnancy, as some herbs can be harmful in large doses. The odd cup is probably fine, but if you’re drinking it regularly, you might want to check with your doctor first.

Is Thyme Oil Safe During Pregnancy?

Thyme oil is extracted from the leaves and flowers of the thyme plant. It has a strong, pungent aroma and is used for its medicinal properties. Thyme oil should not be used during pregnancy as it can be harmful in large doses (source: WebMD). Thyme oil can also sometimes cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and nausea

Overall, thyme is safe in small amounts during pregnancy – such as those normally found in food, but it should be avoided in large doses. If you are pregnant and considering using thyme in concentrated doses, please speak to your healthcare professional first.