Plants need water to grow, Popeye needs spinach to gain strength, and sometimes, women need a little help when it comes to increasing their milk supply. If you are currently nursing and have noticed you are on the lower spectrum of steady milk production, there are many different ways you can grow your milk supply—one of which is by using natural herbs.
To take some weight off your shoulders, we’ve compiled a list of ten different herbs that can increase your milk supply. Keep in mind that herbal supplements, while supportive, aren’t miracle workers on their own. Make sure you are breastfeeding regularly to support the stimulation of breast milk.
Like all things when it comes to breastfeeding, consult with your doctor or a lactation consultant before adding any herbal supplements to your diet. Some of these herbs can be found in the custom lactation blend in our Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder, and for the ones that aren’t, we’re sharing some tips on how you can incorporate them into your diet. Let’s dive in!
If you’ve ever looked into breastfeeding herbs or lactation teas, fenugreek is typically one of the main ingredients. This herbal plant has been said to help increase breast milk supply since the biblical times.
Fenugreek encompasses phytoestrogens, plant chemicals that resemble female estrogen hormones. Some believe breasts are modified sweat glands and because fenugreek can raise sweat production, it can also affect breast milk production. This may also explain the fact that multiple sources state that when women take fenugreek consistently, their sweat and urine may start to emit a maple syrup smell (a sign that you are intaking the proper dosage of fenugreek).
Fennel is another ingredient most women who have looked into lactation products are familiar with. Fennel contains estrogen-like properties making it a great herb for increasing milk production. Fennel is most commonly known for its use in Mediterranean foods and can be eaten as a vegetable, consumed in its seed form (which is known for its flavor resembling licorice), or in teas or capsules.
In addition to stimulating a mother’s breast milk supply, fennel can be passed through the breast milk to your infant. For babies, fennel can improve digestion and soothe symptoms of colic.
Did you know breastfeeding women can learn a thing or two from cows? Alfalfa is often consumed by dairy animals as it is said to help stimulate milk production. Because alfalfa mimics the properties of estrogen, alfalfa is said to increase milk supply and as an added bonus, can help increase the volume of breast tissue (helping your ta-tas get back into shape…literally!). High in protein, fiber, and full of healthy antioxidants and vitamins, alfalfa is a nutrient-rich herb that also aids in digestion and lower cholesterol.
The custom lactation blend in our Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder contains Fenugreek, Fennel Seed, and Alfalfa in order to provide you with an extra boost of lactation support. Rather than taking several different supplements or finding ways to incorporate these 3 herbs into your diet, you can rest assured that you’re reaping the benefits with our lactation powder.
Now, let’s jump into the rest of the herbs and discuss how you can incorporate them into your daily routine.
Another herb said to support increased breast milk supply is blessed thistle. Indigenous to the Mediterranean, blessed thistle is said to work best when combined with fenugreek or similar galactagogues (substance that supports lactation).
In moderation, blessed thistle is perfectly safe for breastfeeding mothers. However, taking blessed thistle while pregnant is not recommended. The herb is also a uterine stimulant that may potentially signal the body to start contractions.
Blessed thistle can be taken in many different forms, including capsules, tinctures, or teas. Here are a few places it can be found:
As the name suggests, brewer’s yeast is notoriously used for creating beer. In addition to its bubbly counterpart, brewer’s yeast also supports increased milk supply in nursing mothers. High in nutrition, brewer’s yeast contains protein, iron, selenium, and various B vitamins all used to promote energy and combat postpartum blues. Brewer’s yeast can also help nourish skin and hair, making it a double whammy for lactation and beauty needs.
Brewer’s yeast is available in the form of powder, flakes, liquid, or tablets.
The moringa tree, also referred to as the ‘Miracle Tree’ is indigenous to Asia and Africa. In the past, it has been used as a treat-all medicinal herb. The leaves of moringa are natural galactagogues and scientific studies have shown women who incorporated moringa into their diet saw an increase in breast milk supply. Moringa is safe for breastfeeding and pregnant women to consume, but is not recommended for women trying to conceive as the properties in Moringa may make conceiving more difficult. Moringa is loaded with essential vitamins and amino acids, and is especially high in iron. One scoop of moringa powder is said to be close to 47% of your daily iron intake.
Moringa is available in the form of powder, tea, oil, and capsules.
Shatavari is a healing herb used to fight respiratory and reproductive issues in both men and women. In women, shatavari is especially beneficial in the restoration of the female reproductive system. Shatavari is used to alleviate symptoms related to the menstrual cycle, balance the pH of female reproductive organs, and aid in fertility. For breastfeeding mothers, shatavari can be used to enhance the supply and quality of breast milk. Because this herb can regulate and prep the body for fertility, shatavari is a great supplement for mothers who want to maintain ample milk supply while trying to conceive.
Shatavari is available in the form of powder, tablets, and liquid.
Is it any surprise the milk thistle plant can aid in the production of breast milk? Legend has it that centuries ago, the milk of the Virgin Mary spilled onto the body of the milk thistle, leaving small white veins in the plant. It is believed that if you are nursing and consume the herb, you will have an increase in breast milk supply. Similar to alfalfa, cows that feed on milk thistle have been known to have an increased production of milk. Although both the milk thistle and the blessed thistle (mentioned earlier in this post) are of the same family, if you are choosing to incorporate one or the other, blessed thistle is said to have more of an impact than milk thistle does on increased lactation.
Milk Thistle is available in the form of powder, tea, liquid extract, and tablets.
Goat’s Rue, whose scientific name is galega officinalis, is literally translated into gale – milk and ega – to bring on. Goat’s rue is often used to grow mammary tissue. If you didn’t experience a growth in breast tissue during pregnancy, if you’ve had prior breast surgery, or if you plan on nursing an adopted child, goat’s rue can be used to increase breast milk supply and develop breast tissue. Goat’s rue also stimulates the let-down reflex letting your body know it is time to feed.
A word of caution: while dried goat’s rue is considered a galactagogue, fresh goat’s rue is considered toxic. Women who have diabetes or low blood sugar should consult with a physician before implementing goat’s rue into their diet as the herb can potentially lower blood sugar levels.
Goat’s Rue is available in the form of liquid extract and capsules.
Although sometimes considered a prolactin-deterrence, vitex can be used to support breast milk supply. In addition to increased milk production, vitex is most prominently used to balance hormones. Vitex is safe to use while breastfeeding, for women who are trying to conceive, and can assist in regulating hormones after giving birth. It is recommended that women stop using vitex once they are pregnant so your hormones can alter organically.
Vitex is available in the form of liquid extract and capsules.
As always, consult with a doctor or lactation consultant before adding any of these herbs to your diet. Asking about safety, side effects, and proper dosage for each herb is highly recommended so you can get the most benefit for your body and milk supply!
Bonyata, Kelly. “Fenugreek Seed for Increasing Milk Supply.” Kelly Mom, 31 May 2018, https://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/herbs/fenugreek/.
Caldwell, Pam. “Galactagogues - Herbs That Increase Breastmilk Production.” Herb Lore, https://herblore.com/overviews/list-of-galactagogues-herbs-that-increase-breastmilk-production.
Chakravarty, C. “How Milk Thistle Can Help You During Breastfeeding.” Mom Junction, 10 May 2016, www.momjunction.com/articles/milk-thistle-for-breastfeeding_00392193/#gref.
Curtis, Cindy. “Fenugreek FAQ.” Breastfeeding Online, http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/fenugreek.shtml#sthash.Lj7LeI8t.HFu6PSpx.dpbs.
“Goat's Rue and Breastfeeding.” Breastfeeding Problems, www.breastfeeding-problems.com/goats-rue-and-breastfeeding.html.
M, Rahkee. “Alfalfa During Breastfeeding - 5 Health Benefits & 5 Side Effects.” Mom Junction, 5 Aug. 2015, www.momjunction.com/articles/alfalfa-during-breastfeeding_00364318/#gref.
“Moringa & Breastfeeding: How Moringa Can Double Breast Milk Supply.” Aduna, aduna.com/blogs/learn/improve-your-breast-milk-supply-with-moringa.
Murray, Donna. “Blessed Thistle and Breastfeeding.” Very Well Family, 9 Aug. 2017, https://www.verywellfamily.com/blessed-thistle-breastfeeding-and-breast-milk-supply-431835.
Murray, Donna. “Brewer's Yeast, Breastfeeding, and Increasing Breast Milk Supply.” Very Well Family, 6 Mar. 2018, www.verywellfamily.com/brewers-yeast-breastfeeding-and-breast-milk-supply-431836.
Murray, Donna. “Breastfeeding Herbs to Increase the Supply of Breast Milk.” Very Well Family, 13 Aug. 2017, https://www.verywellfamily.com/herbs-to-increase-breast-milk-supply-431855.
Murray, Donna. “Milk Thistle to Increase Breast Milk Supply.” Very Well Family, 11 June 2018, www.verywellfamily.com/milk-thistle-and-increasing-the-supply-of-breast-milk-431599.
Murray, Donna. “Using Fennel While Breastfeeding.” Very Well Family, 12 Jan. 2018, www.verywellfamily.com/fennel-breastfeeding-and-increasing-breast-milk-supply-431838.
“Shatavari Tincture.” Herb Lore, https://herblore.com/products/shatavari-tincture.
“Vitex Capsules.” Herb Lore, https://herblore.com/products/vitex-capsules.
No thanks, I don’t want my free recipe guide.