Ethnopharmacological relevance The use of herbal medicines during pregnancy is common worldwide due to physiological changes that lead to pregnancy related problems.
Objectives The aims of this study were to measure the prevalence and predictors of herb use among a group of Palestinian pregnant women and the possible influence of herbal consumption on pregnancy outcomes.
Methods This study was a questionnaire-based cross sectional descriptive study. It was conducted in the maternity ward of a governmental hospital between March and May 2012, a random sample of women who gave birth during the study period were met and asked to answer a face to face questionnaire.
Results Out of 300 women, 120 women (40.0%) used herbs during pregnancy; most women preferred to use herbs because they thought herbs are safer than medications (82.5%), women based in their choices mainly on advice from family or doctors (36.7%, 33.0%, respectively), 65.8% of them told their doctors that they used herbs, 91.7% considered these therapies beneficial, and 99.2% reported no side effects. The most commonly used herbs were anise (Pimpinella anisum) (61.7%), chamomile (Matricaria recutita) (53.3%), sage (Salvia officinalis) (55%), mixture of herbs (33.3%), and thyme (Thymus vulgaris) (29.2%). Most women were using herbs on as needed bases. There were no statistically significant differences between users and non-users of herbs in all socio-demographic variables and pregnancy outcomes.
Conclusions This study found that the use of herbs during pregnancy is very common among Palestinian women. Infrequent use of herbs during pregnancy seems to be safe and beneficial. To provide the best care to pregnant women who use herbal products, clinicians and pharmacist are recommended to stay up to date with herb use and their safety in pregnancy. Not all women tell their doctors about herbal products use, so the physicians are recommended to ask pregnant women about this to avoid any possible negative outcomes on the mother or the fetus.