Herbal Remedies for Milk Supply
It is quite possible that some herbal remedies will help increase milk supply and flow of milk to the baby. Almost every culture has some sort of herb, plant, or natural source potion to increase milk supply. Some may work, some may work as placebos (which is fine), and some may not work at all. Some will have active ingredients that will not increase the milk supply but have other effects, which may not be desirable. If a drug, even herbal and natural, has a positive effect, it can also have negative effects. For example, foxglove, a commonly grown flower, contains digitalis which has been used to treat heart failure. But ingest too much foxglove and it can cause serious side effects and even death.
To emphasize, note that even herbs can have side effects, even serious ones. Natural source drugs are still drugs, and there is no such thing as a 100% safe drug. Luckily, as with most drugs, the baby will get only a tiny percentage of the mother’s dose, which means the baby is extremely unlikely to have any side effects.
If you take other medications or supplements or have any health conditions, check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any of the remedies below.
Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle
Fenugreek: 3 capsules 3 times a day Blessed Thistle: 3 capsules 3 times a day, or 20 drops of the tincture 3 times a day
o Use 3 capsules of each herb 3 times a day as a starting point.
o Fenugreek has a distinct smell. Ensure the capsules are fresh and give off a strong odour.
o When you are taking enough fenugreek, you will be able to smell it on your skin, in your sweat, and/or in your urine. If you cannot smell it, consider increasing the dose to 4 capsules 3 times a day.
Some manufacturers sell capsules or tinctures that contain fenugreek and blessed thistle together (as well as other herbs for milk supply, in some brands). In general, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Because the herbs are combined in one capsule or liquid tincture, these types of products are a good option if you have difficulty taking many capsules multiple times per day.
If the product does not seem to help, try increasing the dose slightly. If there is still no difference, trying fenugreek and blessed thistle separately may be worthwhile.
Tea: Make an infusion with 1 teaspoon leaves per 1 cup boiling water. Let steep for 15 minutes, covered, and drink 2 times a day.
Tincture: Take 20-40 drops in water or juice, 3 times a day.
Capsules: Read the directions on the bottle.
Capsules: take multiple times a day (e.g. 3 or 4 times per day), up to a total of 4.5 g a day.
Powder: follow manufacturer’s directions; can be mixed into a beverage, such as a smoothie.
Powder: 2 teaspoons stirred into warm milk 1 to 2 times per day. This is the traditional ayurvedic formulation for the powdered root. It can probably be mixed with other beverages if you do not consume dairy.
Capsules: 1 to 2 500 mg capsules, 2 times per day
Other herbal treatments that have been used, but may or may not work to increase milk supply are:
Food that may help increase milk supply:
Everything listed here is thought to help milk supply. None of these herbal or food treatments, including blessed thistle and fenugreek, has been proved effective scientifically.
Questions or concerns? Email Dr. Jack Newman by visiting our website www.ibconline.ca. Click on “Ask a Question” in the drop-down menu under “Info and Videos”.
To make an appointment with our clinic go to www.ibconline.ca, click on “Book an Appointment” in the drop-down menu under “Appointments”.
The information presented here is general and not a substitute for personalized treatment from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or other qualified medical professionals.
This information sheet may be copied and distributed without further permission on the condition that it is not used in any context that violates the WHO International Code on the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (1981) and subsequent World Health Assembly resolutions. If you don’t know what this means, please email us to ask!