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Are Garlic Supplements Safe in Pregnancy?

By Adam Cloe Ph.D./M.D.

When you are pregnant, you have to be careful about the substances you ingest, including herbal supplements such as garlic. Even natural supplements can cause problems for you or your baby. It is not known if garlic supplements are safe during pregnancy, so talk to your doctor before taking garlic.

Why Take Garlic?

Garlic contains a number of substances that may affect the human body. One such substance is alliin, which is an odorless compound that contains sulfur, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Alliin can be converted into allicin, which gives garlic its odor. Garlic supplements are sometimes used to slow or prevent cardiovascular problems and to stimulate the immune system. Some people take garlic supplements to ward off infections such as the common cold, though garlic supplements have not been shown conclusively to prevent infections.

Garlic Risks

When you consume garlic supplements, the chemicals from garlic get into your blood and can also cross the placenta to get into your baby's bloodstream. Although garlic has been used in folk medicine to terminate pregnancies, there is no evidence that it can lead to a miscarriage or negatively affect the health of your baby, according to the Longwood Herbal Task Force and Boston Children's Hospital.

Uses for Pre-eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia may occur when pregnant women develop high blood pressure. This condition can interfere with blood flow to the infant, potentially resulting in a miscarriage. Some early studies suggested that garlic supplements could prevent pre-eclampsia. However, a 2010 article in the "Cochrane Collaboration" reviewed multiple studies examining the effects of garlic supplements on pre-eclampsia and found that there does not appear to be any benefit to taking garlic supplements. On the other hand, these studies did not identify any potentially harmful side effects.

Other Safety Concerns

Garlic supplements can make it harder for your blood to clot, resulting in abnormally thin blood. This can be dangerous during pregnancy because you could develop severe hemorrhaging, particularly if you take any other medications that thin the blood. Although there are no distinct health problems associated with taking garlic supplements during pregnancy, Drugs.com recommends that pregnant women not take garlic supplements. Talk to your doctor if you are considering taking garlic during pregnancy.

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