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Reprinted from Nature’s Field Vol. 7 No. 6
November/December 1991

Herbs and the Drug-Abused Child
From a Lecture by Diana Alexander

Drug abuse is taking on a new face in the United States- the face of a baby. Areas in Southern California report that as high as 18%-21% of babies born test positive on their urine screen for cocaine. That is a significant number of babies growing up with needless and preventable mental, physical, and emotional problems because they were exposed to drugs in the womb.

Doctors are not certain of the potential emotional and mental problems that may occur, but one thing is certain, all babies experience negative effects from drugs. The problem is broader than just the use of hard drugs. The use of alcohol, tobacco, and cigarette smoking, all contain addicting chemicals that kill brain cells, damage and weaken individual organs as well as complete systems of the body. Almost 98% of all women addicted to cocaine have or presently use alcohol to enhance the mind-altering effects of this controlling drug.

What happens to a person under the influence of cocaine (one of the most common, yet harmful)?

A number of organs and systems feel the unhealthful effects of cocaine. Blood pressure raises, the heart pounds and beats irregularly, and breathing is often difficult as lung efficiency decreases. Perceptions of the outside world become distorted, while mental and emotional factors of the inside world become exaggerated. Sometimes total control of bladder and bowel movements is lost. The person may not have any recognition or recollection of anyone, including their own identity.

Some drugs, such as marijuana, are promoted as being less harmful than so-called hard drugs. This is deceiving to those who are ill-informed because medical evidence has proven that marijuana produces serious physical effects. For example: “Over 400 separate chemicals have been identified in the marijuana plant.” The main mind-altering ingredient is called deltatetrahydro-cannomobinol or THC. This chemical is introduced into the fatty tissues of the body and can remain there for up to a month. So, how does this effect an unborn child in the womb?

The placenta is a miraculous organ, designed to screen out toxic materials while nourishing the fetus to maturity, but it cannot screen out most harmful drugs. They pass freely through the membranes of the placenta and into the baby. Sometimes, the placenta will tear away from the lining of the uterus pre-maturely, and can cause malnutrition, hemorrhaging of the uterus, or even spontaneous abortion. This is only one of the risks. The baby experiences all of the symptoms of the mother and many more. While the mother’s body is in a mature state, the baby’s body is still undergoing all of the developmental stages preparing it for birth.

Under the influence of cocaine, essential nutrients are robbed from the baby potentially slowing or even stopping the development of limbs or organs. Breathing patterns are disrupted and oxygen levels decrease which may result in growth or mental retardation.

Cocaine always effects the central nervous system, which includes the spinal cord and the brain.
Incomplete development of either of these important components will limit the potential of what the child can accomplish. There is also a higher incidence of bowel movements in the womb indicating the amount of stress felt by the baby. In the worst scenario, the mother and or the baby could O.D. (overdose) and have a stroke, heart attack, or even die.

Drugs in Delivery

There are also some risks associated with delivery. Legal drugs administered to suppress or eliminate pain for the mother freely pass through the placenta to the child. These drugs can also produce side-effects. All should be advised to consult with their physician and medical reference books about the potential risks and side-effects of any drug given during delivery. Doctors are not required to consult patients about the possible adverse effects of drugs used in delivery, but they are generally well informed and give what information is known upon request.

According to Herbs, Helps, and Pressure Points for Pregnancy and Childbirth, Katherine Tarr states that recent research has linked some birth abnormalities to medicated childbirths. Lower intelligence, short attention spans, deafness, behavioral problems and learning difficulties when a child reaches school age are just a few of the effects which experts think may result from over-use of modern delivery drugs. So, before accepting medication, ask questions!

Once a cocaine-addicted or fetal-alcohol syndrome baby is born, problems will manifest themselves almost immediately. The child may experience mild to severe withdrawal symptoms. ”Jitters”, the “shakes”, uncontrollable, high pitched screaming, pain, and abnormal suck and swallow patterns are common. They are often easily startled and can’t seem to tolerate the slightest sound or touch. This also makes it very difficult for them to bond with their mother. Sleeping as much as 20 hours at a time, these little ones have a hard time getting adequate nutrition and are prone to vomiting spasms which robs them of vital nutrients needed to grow and develop.

Good nutrition, knowledge of the proper usage of herbs, and a great deal of patience is needed for mother and child to begin to overcome some of the damaging habits and physical effects of cocaine. Withholding judgment while teaching will make overcoming this problem a positive and hopefully life-lasting experience for everyone.

Some readers may be thinking, “How can a woman do this to her own body or to the body of her unborn child?” Using harmful substances is a weakness, one that robs an individual of the ability to control his or her own life. Many women eat food that they know isn’t good for the baby, but they give in to their own appetites, hoping that there will be no noticeable side effects.

When a woman is misusing drugs and becomes pregnant, she is not suddenly endowed with super-human will power to overcome her addictive behaviors; she simply hopes that the negative consequences of her actions will not be felt by her baby.


Every member of the family needs help. Calming everyone’s nervous system is the first step. The mother is feeling extreme stress dealing with a child that screams all the time, the father is having to deal with the emotions and frustrations of his wife, the other children are feeling the tension in the home while trying to adjust to the baby, and the newborn is struggling to find relief and peace.

Some good suggestions might be: Nerve Eight, Chamomile, Valerian extract, Hops, Nutri-Calm and Passion flower all nourish and support the nervous system.
[ Highly Recommended: Nature's Prenatal for pregnant women ]

Once everyone is calm, it is time to cleanse to body of impurities. Regular bowel movements are a must, and LBS II combined with Psyllium hulls should help in creating and maintaining proper eliminatory habits.


Ridding the body of residual toxins will help eliminate some of the negative side-effects. Red Clover Blend has traditionally been used for its cleansing properties, and comes with the advantage of being available in capsules, bulk, or liquid base. The liquid Red Clover is ideal for the newborn and perhaps some of the other children, especially if they have difficulty swallowing capsules. Liquid Chlorophyll enhances the actions of the Red Clover while adding a stabilizing quality.

Marshmallow and Pepsin in the formula Small Intestine Detox is the foundation of the cleanse. Doctors have found that babies as well as adults often get a build-up of mucus in the intestines. The mucus becomes thick and hard, possessing the same texture as plastic. This kind of coating inhibits the body’s ability to assimilate nutrients. Small Intestine Detox breaks down this mucus build-up and restores proper assimilation of nutrients through the intestines.

Along with assimilation problems, drug-addicted babies will often experience terrible break-outs of diaper rash. Blisters and swelling are common, and the pain can be excruciating. To gently soothe inflamed or irritated tissues, Aloe Vera Juice and Pau D’Arco Lotion have been used to protect and encourage healing of these delicate tissues. Now the body is in a proper condition to be rebuilt. Proper nutrition combined with the use of the herbs will help rebuild and restore those systems where the damage is repairable.

Building and nourishing the respiratory system with ALJ is a good place to start. If the lungs are underdeveloped or congested, the Chinese combination Lung Support has been used for hundreds of years successfully.
Hawthorn berries is a must. Even if the heart isn’t under-developed, this herb provides so many nutrients that the heart needs that it simply must not be ignored.


When the word "nutrition" is used, many people picture the four food groups that have been taught for 50 years. In the case of drug-abused children, nutrition means eliminating all foods that could become an addicting habit. That’s right, these children do not need to eat foods that have in their description the color "white". No white sugar, flour, rice, or milk. The baby does not need these types of processed foods. The child can still experience a normal childhood without consuming soda pop, ice cream, chocolate, junk food and candy.

These “junk” foods can be very dangerous to a child suffering with hyperactivity, low energy reserves and a poor immune system. Wholesome herbs, grains, plenty of pure water, organic nuts, and organically grown fruits and vegetables will help increase the chance of obtaining full health.
It will take a great deal of patience and love to help these babies through problems that seem insurmountable. There will be some damage that cannot be reversed, such as the loss of brain cells, or underdeveloped or missing limbs and organs, but a child exposed to drugs in the womb can be helped to find strength and peace living in his own body.