Is Olive Leaf Extract Safe in Breastfeeding?
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Lori
Posted on: June 28, 2006

Is olive leaf extract safe to take while breastfeeding?

I have no information on the safety of olive leaf extract during breastfeeding. Olive leaf has the following actions: lowers blood pressure, lowers blood sugar, diuretic, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, antibacterial.

There is little safety information available on the effects of herbs in breastfeeding. In general, we look at the actions of herbs to see whether the herb’s action would have a negative effect on the health of the mother or baby. Some of the herbal actions that you want to avoid in breastfeeding are the following: herbs that decrease the milk supply (e.g. sage); herbs with hormonal actions that may affect your hormones and therefore your breast milk supply (e.g. licorice); herbs that are stimulating (this may cause overstimulation or sedation of the baby’s nervous system or of a particular organ (e.g. bladderwrack stimulates the thyroid gland); herbs that cause digestive distress (e.g. lots of garlic); herbs that are toxic in large doses (e.g. wormwood); herbal laxatives (e.g. senna, Cascara sagrada); herbs that cause an allergic reaction in the mother.

In olive leaf, you do not want the blood pressure lowering or blood sugar lowering actions transmitted to your baby. Without any safety information on the use of this herb with breastfeeding, it may be best to avoid it because of these actions. In general, it is advisable to avoid starting new herbal medicines during breastfeeding without consulting a medical or clinical herbalist.

For more information on herbs in breastfeeding, please see our website at www.richters.com. Choose "Q&A" from the main menu, then enter "breastfeeding" for the search.

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