List of Galactagogues
A galactagogue is an herb that is used to help increase breastmilk production in nursing mothers. Below is a list of some of the more effective and popular ones and some important information about each:
Fenugreek – one of the best and strongest herbs for increasing milk production. When taken in very large amounts, Fenugreek is also used for lowering blood sugar levels, and is, therefore, not recommended for use by diabetics or those who are on strict insulin regimens to regulate their blood sugar levels. It also works on the digestive system, and in a small percentage of people, it may cause gas in either the mother or baby. Many mothers of adopted babies have successfully used this herb to help establish a breastmilk supply to feed their adopted babies. Fenugreek is not recommended for use during pregnancy as it can cause uterine activity. Fenugreek must be used with consistency for best results, otherwise it can negatively affect or decrease milk production.Fenugreek – Also known as Trigonella foenumgraecum, fenugreek has been used as a remedy for increasing milk supply in nursing mothers for more than a thousand years. It can usually produce results in as little as 25-72 hours, though some women might require a longer wait before obvious results in milk production are noticeable. It is considered safe to take up to 3500 mg/day. Pregnant women should not take fenugreek because it can cause uterine contractions.
Goat’s Rue – Goat’s Rue is a powerful herb for stimulating milk production and increasing the flow of breastmilk. It has been shown to increase milk production by 50% in many cases, and may also stimulate the development of the mammary glands themselves. This herb is safe for use during pregnancy. This herb is one of the main ingredients of the Nursing Tea/Nursing Tincture. It can be used as a single herb by itself, or to use along with or to add to the Nursing Tea/Tincture when something a little stronger is needed.Known as Galega officinalis and popularly used in France, this herb is incredibly efficient at helping to develop mammary tissue. The more breast tissue, often the more milk can be produced. Goat’s rue may also be helpful for mothers who have low milk supply as a result of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Milk Thistle – Aside from being a great tonic for the liver, milk thistle has been shown to increase milk supply over a placebo in clinical studies. Silybum marianum, or milk thistle can help to reduce the toxic overload in a nursing mother as well as increase her baby’s milk.
Shatavari – This Ayurvedic remedy is not only great for increasing breast milk production, but also is used as a fertility treatment. A little tongue in cheek information to boot – the Sanskrit word translates to mean, “she who shall possess 100 husbands.”
Indonesian Torbangun – Also known as Coleus amboinicus Lour and used heavily in the Bataknese traditional cuisine, torbangun helps to increase milk production by up to 65%. It has been used throughout Indonesia for hundreds, if not thousands of years as a lactagogue – it has worked in clinical trials better than B12 supplements and even fenugreek.
Fennel – this herb is great for increasing breastmilk production, and at the same time is also extremely helpful in relieving symptoms of gas or upset stomach. It is the perfect herb to take in conjunction with Fenugreek, when gas is a problem. This is also one of the main ingredients of the Nursing Tea/Nursing Tincture, as well as the Tummy Tea/Tummy Tincture which is specifically formulated for gas, colic, reflux and indigestion.Taken throughout Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries as well as India for centuries, this herb has been shown to greatly enhance milk production in lactating women. Some women experience a doubling of breast milk supply with fennel seed.
Turmeric – Many women either can’t breastfeed or cut the time they breast feed their babies short due to swollen breasts and clogged mammary glands, which can be very painful for nursing moms. Turmeric has been shown to reduce inflammation in nursing mothers’ breasts so that they can continue to breastfeed for a longer duration. Turmeric has been used as an Ayurvedic remedy for centuries in treating inflamed tissue throughout the body, not just the breasts. Check out some other health benefits of turmeric here.
Ginger – Ginger is not only an overall blood tonic for the body, but it has also been shown to be helpful in aiding milk let-down and increasing flow.
Red Raspberry Leaf – also one of the ingredients of the Nursing Tea/Nursing Tincture. It not only helps to increase breastmilk production, but it also will help the uterus recover after birth, as it is a uterine toner. Red Raspberry Leaf is incredibly high in vitamins and minerals, including Niacin (a B vitamin), which has been said to be helpful in relieving symptoms of Reynaud’s Syndrome.
Vitex – although this herb is a prolactin-inhibitor, it has traditionally been used, and is proven in case studies, to actually increase breastmilk production in nursing mothers. Its main function is that of balancing hormones, therefore, this herb is very helpful for women who are experiencing hormonal imbalances, such as PMS symptoms, while breastfeeding. Note: Vitex use may re-start the menses in nursing women.
Alfalfa – a great herb for increasing breastmilk production while providing the body with lots of good vitamins and minerals. It is very high in Vitamin K in particular, which helps to staunch bleeding. Many midwives encourage all their clients to take Alfalfa for at least six weeks before birth, and for several months afterwards, to help avoid hemorrhage at the birth, and to help the body recover and make plentiful breastmilk afterwards. (Alfalfa is also an ingredient in the Nursing Tea/Nursing Tincture. Note: This herb is not recommended for use by those on blood-thinning medications due to its high levels of Vitamin K.This is another lactogenic herb used to increase mammary tissue and therefore, milk supply. It can safely be taken during pregnancy and after the birth of your child.
Nettle – a similar herb to Alfalfa. Helps to enrich the milk.
(Also a Nursing Tea/Nursing Tincture ingredient.)
Blessed Thistle – also known as “Our Lady’s Milk Thistle”. It increases breastmilk while helping to alleviate mild forms of postpartum depression. It is a bitter herb (known as a digestive bitter), which is healthful for the liver and digestion. Although it is an effective herb for increasing milk production, it is no longer included in the Nursing Tea. Many customers found it to be too bitter and did not like the taste, therefore hesitated to use the tea. We do have Blessed Thistle available as a single herb in the tincture form.Cnicus benedictus has been used to improve milk production, improve digestion and even elevate mood as to help with the ‘baby blues’ or post-partum depression after a mother gives birth.
Borage – traditionally used to help balance the adrenals as well as increase breastmilk production. It is not for use on a long-term basis, and because it contains an alkaloid that can be hard on the liver, it is not one of the herbs that is recommended for nursing mothers/babies.
Anise – Putting a few anise seeds into a cup of rum and drinking it was an age-old folk remedy for increasing milk supply, but you can probably just skip straight to the anise seeds and omit the rum for better milk production today.
Hops – used in many cultures for years to help with breastmilk production. You’ve heard women say that they “breastfed their babies on beer”? The Hops is why. Beer from other countries has Hops that are helpful, but our beer here in this country is not as effective. It is the dark German beers that tend to have the right ingredients or the right quality of Hops. Hops is not on the list of favorite herbs recommended for increasing breastmilk production, however, because it can be quite sedating and it can cause depression with prolonged use.
NOTE: The drug Reglan, commonly used to increase breastmilk production, can also cause depression.
Domperidome is another pharmaceutical drug used to increase lactation, but it does not seem to have this depression-causing quality.