Herbs and Breastfeeding
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Colleen
Posted on: September 6, 1998

I am a nursing mother and am extremely interested in learning more about the use of herbs both to stimulate my milk supply and for "medicinal" purposes like what I can take to get over a cold while breastfeeding. Do you also sell books? Or are there some particular books you would recommend?

I don’t know of any herbal books specific to breastfeeding. Herbs recommended to stimulate the flow of milk are: Caraway, Fennel seeds, Aniseed, Blessed Thistle and Fenugreek seeds. Rosemary Gladstar in "Herbal Healing for Women" (available at Richters) gives recipes for 2 herbal teas to increase milk flow. One with Fennel, Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle and Hops, the other with Blessed Thistle, Nettle and Raspberry Leaf. Sage and Parsley will dry up the milk supply. Gladstar’s book is an excellent reference guide for women’s health. She lists additional reference books for women’s and general health and healing in an appendix. Her descriptions of herbs include references to any known toxicity.

"The Green Pharmacy", by James Duke, St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010 is an excellent Herbal guide. Duke states the Feverfew and all laxatives, including herbal laxatives containing the chemical anthraquinone (aloe, buckthorn, cascara sagrada, frangula and senna) must be avoided when breastfeeding.

Although there is a long list of herbs to avoid in pregnancy, there are few contraindicated in breastfeeding. Others contraindicated are Inula (Elecampane), Bladderwrack and Anemone pulsatilla.

Herbs which may be used for a cold are Echinacea to stimulate the immune system, Limeflower/Lindenflower as an astringent, to soothe a cough and Elderflower to soothe a cough and promote sweating to rid the body of toxins.

Onions, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, cucumber, red & green pepper, garlic and hot spices should be avoided in your diet if the child has colic.

For a general herbal guide, David Hoffman’s "The New Holistic Herbal" (1992, Element, Inc., 42 Broadway, Rockport, MA, 10966 USA) is an excellent reference. An excellent guide to natural medicine is Siegfried Gursche’s "Encyclopedia of Natural Healing" (Alive Publishers, Canada, (800) 663-6580 or Natural Life Publishing Inc., U.S. (800) 663-6513).

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