BackgroundThe use of herbs for malaria treatment is common among pregnant women in Nigeria. This study through a survey documented three most commonly used herbs in the management of pregnancy-associated malaria in Abeokuta, Nigeria. This study also evaluated the efficacy and abortifacient properties of the selected herbs against established Plasmodium berghei NK65 infection in 110 experimental pregnant mice randomly distributed into 22 groups and treated with extracts of Morinda lucida (L.) Benth. (Rubiaceae), Enantia chlorantha (oliv.) (Annonaceae), and Cymbopogon citatrus (Stapf) (Poaceae) at a graded dose of 100, 200, and 300 mg/kg and Sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (Fansidar) at 10 mg/kg.ResultsFrom the survey, Cymbopogon citratus (Leaf), Morinda lucida (Leaf), and Enanthia chlorantha (Bark) were the most frequently mentioned to be useful in management of malaria during pregnancy. Both M. lucida and E. chlorantha produced up to 70% P. gerghei chemosuppression in a dose dependent manner. Chemosupression was less than 50% in mice treated with C. citratus extracts. E. chlorantha induced abortion, while extracts of C. citratus and M. lucida caused miscarriage in pregnant mice. Progesterone titters were reduced in mice treated with plant extracts compared with those administered with Fansidar and untreated groups (p < 0.05).ConclusionThis study showed that M. lucida and E. chlorantha had anti-malarial properties, which are promising in reducing problems with pregnancy associated malaria in the face of growing resistance to currently available drugs. However, they are capable of inducing abortion by impairing the production of progesterone. In order to reduce the risk of danger posed by use of herbs in pregnancy on mothers and the developing fetus, there is need for proper awareness on the possible abortifacient and teratogenic properties of herbs used in management of malaria during pregnancy.