Posted by Claudia Grazioso on November 3, 2011
I admit it. I am a sucker for herbal or “natural” remedies. I love the idea that plants, flowers and vitamins can safely prevent or cure most ills. And while that may be true in some cases, if you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant, it is important to remember that just because something is natural or holistic or homeopathic or herbal or has any other kind of label that conjures images of 100 percent natural health, that doesn’t mean that it’s safe.
Along with the increased popularity in antidepressants came a jump in natural antidepressant and anti-anxiety remedies. These were a good alternative for people who wanted help battling their depression or anxiety, but were a little put off by the (sometimes very long) list of possible side effects associated with the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) or the benzodiazepines frequently prescribed to treat these conditions. One such natural medication for treating anxiety is Clarocet. And on the surface it seems like a great alternative. It’s used to treat nervousness, anxiety, depression caused by everyday stress, sleep problems, anxiety, low energy levels and daytime fatigue. And what pregnant woman doesn’t have that? Depending on the formulation (Clarocet ERT or NRI, for instance), Clarocet can include natural ingredients like minerals and vitamins, Passion Flower, St. John’s Wort, Valerian Root, White Cherry and Rhodiola Rosea. Passion Flower? White Cherry? It almost sounds… yummy. Still, many people recommend that pregnant women avoid taking Clarocet, even while nursing. They believe that not enough trials have been done on this anti-anxiety remedy and that pregnant women should practice caution. It turns out there are some concerning things about Clarocet that all people, especially pregnant women, should be aware of.
Some of the all-natural and herbal ingredients in Clarocet are troubling. For example, 5-hydroxytryptophan has been associated with a very serious flu-like condition known as eosinophilia myalgia syndrome. EMS is an incurable and sometimes fatal neurological condition believed to be caused by improperly-produced tryptophan products. While others contend that EMS is caused by contaminants in the tryptophan products and not the products themselves, since supplements aren’t well regulated, it would be hard to know the quality of the 5-hydroxytryptophan you were taking. From my standpoint, “incurable” and “fatal” neurological condition is enough to make me look elsewhere. Especially if I were pregnant.
Additionally, Clarocet contains St. John’s Wort, which has been linked to lower birth weights and possibly developmental problems in mice exposed to it. Though it has not been extensively studied in pregnant humans, it’s frequently recommended that pregnant women avoid it.
Natural remedies can be a great alternative for many maladies, but if you are pregnant, always talk with your doctor before taking anything. And in the case of Clarocet, I would pass.