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Is Chicory safe for pregnancy and nursing?Updated 8 months ago

After doing some digging⛏, we have found that there are a couple different reasons this belief around chicory is making the rounds on baby👶forums. The main source appears to be a Livestrong article several people reference:

The author says: “Chicory has been shown to have harmful effects on a pregnancy. The plant is both an emmenagogue and an abortifacient. An emmenagogue is a substance that promotes menstrual bleeding, which might lead to a miscarriage. An abortifacient is a substance that has been shown to cause a miscarriage. If you come into contact with chicory, you also might develop contact dermatitis, a rash that develops in response to certain substances.”
After reading this, we wondered, what are the sources for these claims? There are only two references for the article, and one is a Matthew Wood book, The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants (2008). He is an herbalist and it is from this that the author obtained her historical information. We took a look at the book, and Woodward says nothing about pregnancy and considers chicory a safe herb overall.
The second references for the article is

This source article states: Pregnancy / Lactation Documented emmenagogue and abortifacient effects. Avoid use. Ernst 2002 Low levels of phytoestrogens have been identified in the milk of cows fed C. intybus. Andersen 2009 Contraceptive activity was observed in female rats in an older study. Keshri 1998

Continuing our commitment to double check sources🔎, we investigated the three references for the article and we do not consider them to provide legitimate conclusions regarding the safety of chicory. The cow study actually says chicory is not the issue, it’s when cows eat a lot of red clover… And the rat study was with chicory seeds, not the root (Rasa uses the root, and those parts are very different). The Ernst study is a long list of herbs that might possibly theoretically pose an issue. While chicory, ashwagandha, and burdock are all on this list, we also doubt the legitimacy because it appears to be a blanket list that captures every herb that’s ever been mentioned in the literature, case study or theoretical… not direct substantiated evidence to base a decision on, in our opinion.

This issue around Chicory has received so much attention that General Mills actually issued a statement concerning Fiber One bars and their chicory inulin content: "Thank you for contacting General Mills with your inquiry. In answer to your question, the Fiber One Bars can safely be eaten during pregnancy and lactation. Health professionals often recommend gradually increasing fiber intake to help reduce gastrointestinal discomfort (chicory inulin can make you nice and farty). You may want to begin with just half a bar and gradually work up to a full bar as your body becomes used to the fiber (chicory root). But, as always, we recommend you consult with your health care provider when making a diet change during pregnancy or lactation." And the Fiber One contains chicory root extract, which is much stronger than the whole-herb form that is in Rasa.

Finally, chicory is not on the Botanical Safety Handbook’s ( very long “not to be used in pregnancy” list.

Chicory is also considered GRAS by the FDA, which means Generally Recognized As Safe.

We also have had the formula reviewed by over a dozen herbalists, Chinese medicine docs, and Ayurvedic practitioners, and they’ve all seen no major contraindications, including pregnancy and breastfeeding.

However, inulin does not agree with everyone, so we do recommend starting slow!

And, all that said, while we want you to know we’ve done our research here and will constantly continue to do so, we also do not want to be in the business of saying things are safe or not safe…If you are nursing, pregnant, or considering pregnancy, you should consult your health care practitioner prior to using this product.
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