While a herbal detox (also called tea-tox) has become the latest fad to flush out chemicals and toxins from your body, the truth is that certain herbs—just like some foods disrupt the functioning of some drugs—can hamper the effectiveness of your medicines.
Birth Control Pills & Herbs
A birth control pill contains a combination of female hormones that prevent pregnancy by curbing ovulation and the release of egg from the ovaries. They also bring about changes in the uterus and cervical mucus, making it difficult for the sperm to penetrate and fertilize the egg. (Also Read: Your Oral Contraceptive Pill Could Give You A Fatal Blood Clot)
“Certain herbs, known as emmenagogues, can curtail the efficacy of birth control pills by stimulating blood flow and menstruation. Many people are unaware of these interactions because herbal supplements are not regulated through the FDA. Herbal teas may (or may not) contain a large enough dose to interact with birth control, which is difficult to gauge and depends on the strength of the tea and time for which it has been brewed,” says health and wellness expert Dr Mona Vand, a registered pharmacist from Los Angeles.
Herbs To Avoid
However, Dawn Combs, a homestead herbalist and the author of Conceiving Healthy Babies, says that while some plants may interfere with birth control, it needs to be taken on a case by case basis.
“Most birth control pills in the market limit the way in which the pituitary gland communicates with the endocrine system and the reproductive organs. If you are using a birth control pill, it is counterproductive to introduce a herb such as vitex (Chasteberry), which is a tonic for the pituitary.”
Though vitex is a strict no no, specific herbal teas and concoctions promote reproductive health and help maintain the hormonal balance. “Raspberry leaf (Rubus ideaus), for instance, is a known tonic for the reproductive system and uterus. It tones the uterine muscle and provides deep nutrition crucial for a healthy reproductive system. There would be no reason to avoid it while using a birth control pill,” says Combs.
Here are a few herbs you must avoid and why:
- Parsley: is an emmenagogue which promotes menstrual flow.
- Black cohosh: modulates hormone production which can initiate menstruation.
- Chamomile: competes for estrogen receptors, thus interfering with the efficacy of birth control pills
- St John’s wort: initiates ovulation
- Red clover: contains phytoestrogens which aid in menstruation