Herbs to avoid while breastfeeding

July 29, 2011. Posted in: Got Milk?,Herbs/natural treatments

By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC

Herbs that may decrease milk supply

Using large amounts of the following herbs and other natural remedies should be avoided while nursing because they have been known to decrease milk supply. The amounts of these herbs normally used in cooking are unlikely to be of concern; it’s mainly the larger amounts that might be used therapeutically that could pose a problem. However, some moms have noticed a decrease in supply after eating things like dressing with lots of sage, sage tea (often recommended when moms are weaning), lots of strong peppermint candies or menthol cough drops, or other foods/teas with large amounts of the particular herb. These herbs are sometimes used by nursing mothers to treat oversupply, or when weaning.

 

  • Black Walnut
  • Chickweed
  • Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
  • Lemon Balm
  • Oregano
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)/Menthol
  • Periwinkle Herb (Vinca minor)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
  • Spearmint
  • Thyme
  • Yarrow

Herbs that may be harmful to mom and/or baby

Other herbs should be avoided while nursing due to their potential for harming mom and/or baby. Here are a few herbs that are generally considered to be contraindicated for nursing mothers. This is by no means a complete list.

  • Bladderwrack
  • Buckthorn
  • Chaparral
  • Coltsfoot (Farfarae folium)
  • Dong Quai (Angelica Root)
  • Elecampane
  • Ephedra / Ephedra sinica / Ma Huang
  • Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
  • Indian Snakeroot
  • Kava-kava (piper methysticum)
  • Petasites root
  • Phen-fen, herbal
  • Rhubarb
  • Star anise
  • Tiratricol (TRIAC)
  • Uva Ursi
  • Wormwood

Additional Information

Hidden Hindrances to a Healthy Milk Supply by Becky Flora, IBCLC

Too much milk: Sage and other Herbs (this website)

Birth control pills are also well known for decreasing milk supply, particularly the ones that contain estrogen.

Sudafed (a decongestant) can also decrease milk supply, particularly with regular use.

Individual herb listings (this website)

Disclaimer: Most herbal treatments have not been thoroughly researched, particularly in regard to lactation. Herbs are drugs, and some caution is necessary. I am presenting this data as is, without any warranty of any kind, express or implied, and am not liable for its accuracy nor for any loss or damage caused by a user’s reliance on this information.