Toxicological risk during pregnancy

Toxicological risk during lactation

We use our foundation's unique toxico-lactological classification

Herbs and breastfeeding


Exposure to OTC supplements and herbal products during lactation is a growing phenomenon today.

Probably this is a paradoxical response to the reduced use of drugs during pregnancy due to fear of developing teratogenicity. On the other hand, for many breastfeeding women, natural products seem to be a safe and reliable alternative due to their mass advertising on mass media and social networks. A 2002 study by Matas et al found that about 60% of breastfeeding women use herbal treatments or supplements at least once during lactation. Various tonics and adaptogens such as Rhodiola and Ginseng are most commonly used for faster recovery from pregnancy.

Despite the existence of the above phenomenon, there is incredibly scarce evidence in the medical literature on the safety of various herbal preparations, herbal products and nutritional supplements. One of the goals of our activity is to gather in the evidence available so far the safety or not of the various herbs and food supplements and to provide you with this information in free access for all interested.

The toxicological information offered to you cannot be memorized / memorized, but only understood if you know the nature of herbal products and their content, which is studied by pharmacognosy. We will try to explain in a memorable way the relationship between structure-function of the active ingredients of herbs, and the ingredients will be described according to their pharmacological function where applicable. For this purpose, however, we need to briefly introduce you to some basic concepts in pharmacognosy:

ALKALOIDS are chemical compounds that are formed from amino acids. Alkaloids have a circular structure that contains nitrogen, while protoalkaloids do not contain nitrogen in their amino acid ring. Pseudo-alkaloids are close to true alkaloid compounds that have a heterocyclic structure containing nitrogen, but this structure is not formed from amino acids. Alkaloids are highly reactive substances and exert a pharmacological / biological effect when administered even in low doses. In plants, most alkaloids are contained in the form of salts with various acids. Alkaloids can be: mono-cyclic, bi-cyclic and poly-cyclic. Medicinal products derived from plants and containing alkaloids are: atropine, ipecac, caffeine, theophylline, colchicine, yohimbine, morphine and many others. Alkaloids are water-soluble, mainly bitter compounds, which do not necessarily have similar pharmacological actions.

ANTHROCYANIDES are plant pigments that absorb ultraviolet light and their role in the leaves is to attract insects with their bright color, which depending on the level of their oxidation can be red, blue, purple, violet or other bright color. Just over 300 anthrocyanides are currently known. In fact, they are flavonoids that are very popular today due to their strong antioxidant properties.

Anthraquinolines contain three rings in their structure and have mainly a laxative effect. In plants they are contained mainly in glycosidic form, ie bound to a sugar molecule. They also have virostatic, antibacterial and cytolytic effects.

CUMARINES are found mainly in various herbs, obtained from cinnamic acid in plants. Coumarins are also responsible for the smell of loose grass. Coumarins have strong anticoagulant properties, but taken orally in natural form and not processed for the purposes of the pharmaceutical industry, are degraded in the digestive tract and do not exert anticoagulant effect in practice. Some coumarins also have a vascular tonic effect, as well as antifungal action.

FLAVONOIDS are mainly pigments in the color of herbs, where they are either in the free state or in the form of various glycosides. They have pronounced antioxidant and tonic properties. Depending on their structure, they are divided into different subclasses: flavonones, anthrocyanines, flavones and others.

ISOFLAVONOIDS are similar in structure to flavonoids, but are colorless and not found in all herbs / plants. In practice, soy isoflavonoids are often used to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides, as well as to favorably affect the symptoms of menopause.

GLUCOSINOLATES are a group of plant toxins such as cyanogenic and isocyanogenic glucosides. They have a pronounced antitumor effect. Contained in maximum amounts in apricot kernels (Amigdalin).

GLYCOSIDES are compounds that contain both a carbohydrate and a non-carbohydrate moiety linked to an acetate group. Despite their complex structure, they are distinguished by their trivial names, most often ending in "-in", such as Salicin, which has pronounced anti-inflammatory properties.

LIGNANES are compounds consisting of two para-polyphenol molecules attached to a carbon atom. Lignans and non-lignans play an important role in protecting plants against viruses, bacteria and fungi, and also act as plant repellents. The most widely used lignan in the pharmacological industry is Podophyllin, which is used to treat warts and warts, and also has antimitotic properties.

SAPONINES are compounds that often form colloidal foaming solutions in water. Some saponins, called "saponin toxins", are poisons released by certain species of fish. What effect saponins will have depends on the type of their aglycone component: they can be precursors of estrogen / progesterone, have lipid-lowering properties, as well as cardiotonic properties, and exert many other and varied biological effects. Some saponins are potent adaptogens and have a vegetative stabilizing effect.

TANNINS give the specific color and / or taste of some fruits / plants. They are subdivided into: 1 / hydroxylabile tannins, which are less common in nature and 2 / non-hydroxylabile tannins. They have a pronounced astringent effect.

TERPENS and TERPENOIDS are also known as "isoprenoids" and are subdivided into many subclasses. They have pronounced analgesic and anesthetic effects, and are also powerful antioxidants.

We hope that the information gathered and provided in this way will be a reliable source of knowledge for all doctors who serve the health needs of women during lactation.