Hibiscus Tea Pregnancy Risks – and Other Teas to Avoid

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Many pregnant women avoid drinking coffee and alcohol and use herbal teas instead. While most teas are safe, drinking Hibiscus tea may potentially increase pregnancy risks.

Hibiscus contains several compounds that can interfere with hormonal balance and increase the risk of uterine contraction, early labor, and even miscarriage.

Let’s look at why it's best to avoid drinking hibiscus tea during pregnancy and which other teas are linked to pregnancy risks and complications.

Hibiscus plant tea

What is hibiscus?

Hibiscus, also known as hibiscus sabdariffa, is a flowering plant native to tropical and subtropical climates. 

Hibiscus is known for its impressive trumpet-shaped flowers that can be yellow, pink, white, and red. While it’s often grown as an ornamental plant, hibiscus also has various culinary and medicinal uses. 

Teas, jams, and hibiscus juice are typically made from the flowers and leaves, and hibiscus seeds and stems have been traditionally used to treat a range of ailments and are typically prepared in the form of extracts, tinctures, or powders.

Benefits of hibiscus

Hibiscus is a nutritious plant rich in vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, zinc, and various phytochemicals with potent antioxidant properties. 

Antioxidants protect cells from free radicals, harmful metabolic by-products that can damage cellular structures and impair normal cellular function.   

Hibiscus's impressive health benefits are believed to be primarily due to its high concentration of antioxidants. 

A study published in Pharmaceuticals summarizes, “In general, the therapeutic effects of hibiscus have been associated with the presence of bioactive and functional components such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and organic acids.”

Some of the potential health benefits of hibiscus include:

  • Weight loss

  • Improved liver health 

  • Strong immune system function 

There is also evidence that certain compounds in hibiscus may lower blood pressure, reduce cancer risk, and have potent antimicrobial properties that can lower the risk of infections. 

Watch the video below to learn why hibiscus tea isn’t safe to drink during pregnancy and what other herbal teas you should avoid.

Is hibiscus tea dangerous during pregnancy?

Hibiscus is very aromatic and often consumed in the form of hot or cold tea. However, it’s not recommended for pregnant women. 

Research published in Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin found that hibiscus has estrogenic properties, meaning that it can alter or amplify the hormonal signaling of estrogen. 

Estrogen is a crucial sex hormone that regulates almost every aspect of pregnancy, such as facilitating the implantation of the fertilized egg, stimulating fetal development, and maintaining a uterine environment that allows the fetus to grow. 

Hibiscus's potential to influence and regulate hormones may explain why several studies found a higher risk of complications and adverse pregnancy outcomes. 

Due to ethical reasons and safety concerns, most available research regarding hibiscus during pregnancy comes from animals. 

“While we have limited evidence of how hibiscus affects humans, the outcomes of the animal studies provide plenty of reason to be cautious,” explains Dr. Berg. “It’s best to avoid all hibiscus products during pregnancy to mitigate any potential risk for both you and your unborn child.” 

Hibiscus tea on a plate

Potential complications of hibiscus tea in pregnancy

Due to its estrogenic properties, hibiscus can encourage blood flow to the uterus and stimulate menstruation, which may block the implantation of the fertilized egg or trigger a miscarriage, particularly during the early stages of the first trimester. 

Hibiscus can also cause mild uterine contractions during the later stages of pregnancy, and consuming large amounts of hibiscus tea can increase the risk of preterm labor during the third trimester.

Another reason for concern is that hibiscus has blood pressure-lowering effects, which can be problematic for pregnant women who already experience low blood pressure, a common occurrence during pregnancy. 

Pregnant woman drinking tea

Can hibiscus tea help induce labor?

Evidence shows that hibiscus can stimulate uterine contractions, which can induce labor. 

While you may be tempted to encourage the labor process once you reach full term, hibiscus isn’t safe and should be avoided during the entire pregnancy. 

It’s best to let nature take its course and let your body decide when it’s time for labor. Judith Lothian, Ph.D. and childbirth expert, explains in one of her studies, “Induction of labor alters the process of labor and birth in significant ways.”

I accidentally had a cup of hibiscus tea—should I be concerned?

There is no need to panic if you accidentally had a cup of hibiscus tea. The concentrations of phytochemicals with estrogenic properties in one cup of tea are typically so low that there is no risk of adverse health effects. 

However, if you are experiencing any unusual symptoms after consuming hibiscus tea, such as bleeding, cramping, or decreased fetal movement, it's crucial to consult a healthcare provider immediately.

Variety of herbal blends

Other teas to avoid during pregnancy

Consuming herbal teas is a popular alternative to caffeinated beverages during pregnancy. While these teas may not contain any caffeine, they can be sources of other plant chemicals or compounds that may be linked to pregnancy risks and side effects.

Here are other teas you should avoid during pregnancy:

It’s also best to limit the intake of caffeinated teas, including matcha, chai, black, white, and green tea, during pregnancy. 

Depending on the exact type of tea and its preparation, one cup of caffeinated tea can contain 80 mg of caffeine, almost as much as one cup of coffee.  

Caffeine can cross the placenta and interfere with the development of the fetus, and too much caffeine during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage.  

Two pregnant women drinking tea

Six low-risk teas to have during pregnancy

Fortunately, there are several teas that are generally considered safe during pregnancy if consumed in moderate amounts.

These six herbal teas are believed to be safe to drink during pregnancy.

  1. Rose tea - Rich source of vitamin C and health-promoting antioxidants.   

  2. Ginger tea - Has been found to reduce morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy.  

  3. Red raspberry leaf tea - May prepare the uterus for labor and should only be consumed during the last trimester.  

  4. Lemon balm tea - A calming tea that relaxes the central nervous system and is beneficial for anxious women pre-labor. 

  5. Peppermint tea - Moderate amounts can ease digestive discomfort during pregnancy, such as reflux and bloating.  

  6. Rooibos tea - Caffeine-free tea rich in antioxidants and other beneficial phytochemicals. 

Pregnant women drinking tea

Key takeaways

Because of the potential pregnancy risks of hibiscus, it’s best to avoid drinking hibiscus tea during pregnancy. 

It’s also important to carefully check the labels of herbal tea blends, pregnancy teas, and any other herbal tea treatment, as they may contain hibiscus or other types of tea linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes. 

It’s recommended to limit caffeinated teas and opt instead for teas that are safe to drink during pregnancy, including ginger, lemon balm, peppermint, rooibos, rose, and raspberry leaf tea. 


1. Is hibiscus safe during pregnancy?

Some compounds in hibiscus have estrogenic properties, meaning they can interfere with normal estrogen balance. Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone that regulates many aspects of fertility and pregnancy, and it’s not recommended to consume any hibiscus products during pregnancy.  

2. Is hibiscus tea safe while breastfeeding?

There are limited studies on the safety of hibiscus regarding breastfeeding. Due to hibiscus’s impact on hormone balance, it’s best to avoid drinking hibiscus tea while breastfeeding. 

3. What teas should I avoid while pregnant?

Some herbal teas contain compounds that may have side effects, especially in pregnant women, and it’s best to avoid teas including hibiscus, licorice, blue cohosh, fenugreek, nettle, fennel, sage, and motherwort. 

In addition, limiting caffeinated teas such as matcha, chai, black, green, and white tea is recommended due to their caffeine content. 


4. What herbs should you avoid in tea when pregnant?

Herbal teas, including nettle, fennel, fenugreek, sage, motherwort, and blue cohosh, are made from herbs that, if consumed in excess, may increase the risk of pregnancy complications, including uterine contractions, preterm labor, and increased risk of miscarriage.

5. Can hibiscus tea reduce fertility?

Yes, there is evidence that hibiscus can block the implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus, which lowers the risk of conception and successful pregnancy outcomes.  

6. Is hibiscus tea dangerous while pregnant?

Hibiscus has estrogenic effects, which can potentially mimic the effects of estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. 

These effects can either interfere with normal estrogen signaling or amplify estrogen's impact, which can result in an increased risk of bleeding during the first trimester and may trigger premature labor. 

7. Are there potential hibiscus tea pregnancy risks?

Hibiscus increases blood flow to the uterus. This can stimulate menstruation during the early stages of pregnancy, which increases the risk of miscarriage. Hibiscus may also potentially trigger uterine contractions during the third trimester, increasing the risk of preterm labor. 

8. Who should not drink hibiscus tea?

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid drinking hibiscus tea due to its potential to cause hormonal imbalances, which can impact the health of both the mother and the baby. 

9. What teas can I drink while pregnant?

Teas safe to drink during pregnancy include ginger, lemon balm, rooibos, peppermint, rose, and raspberry leaf tea. 

10. Can I drink chamomile tea while pregnant?

No, there is some evidence that regularly drinking chamomile tea during pregnancy can increase the risk of low birth weight and preterm labor. 

11. Why should you not drink tea when pregnant?

While some teas are linked to increased pregnancy risks, others are safe during pregnancy. Certain herbal teas and excessive intake of caffeinated teas are linked to an increased risk of complications such as miscarriage, vaginal bleeding, uterine contractions, and preterm labor. 

Ginger, lemon balm, rooibos, peppermint, rose, and raspberry leaf tea are generally considered safe during pregnancy and aren't associated with pregnancy risks. 

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