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Herbs for Increasing Milk Supply

By Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC

            It is quite possible that herbal remedies help increase milk supply. There are several drugs which obviously do increase milk supply, and of course it is reasonable to assume that some plants and herbs might contain similar pharmacologic agents. Almost every culture has some sort of herb or plant or potion to increase milk supply. Some may work as placebos, which is fine; some may not work at all; some may have one or more active ingredients. Some will have active ingredients that will not increase the milk supply but have other effects, not necessarily desirable.

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 motherís dose. The baby is thus extremely unlikely to have any side effects at all from the herbs. Two herbal treatments that seem to increase the milk supply are fenugreek and blessed thistle, in the following dosages:

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

The tincture container states that blessed thistle should not be taken by nursing mothers, presumably because of the tiny amount of alcohol the mother would get. Donít worry about this. Teas also work, but to take enough to make a difference, you will be drinking tea all day and night.

Other herbal treatments that have been used to increase milk supply are raspberry leaf, fennel, brewerís yeast. The effectiveness of none of these treatments, including blessed thistle and fenugreek, has been proved.

About the Author: JACK NEWMAN , MD , FRCPC is a pediatrician in Toronto Canada and is a graduate of the University of Toronto medical school. He started the first hospital-based breastfeeding clinic in Canada in 1984. He has been a consultant with UNICEF for the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in Africa. Dr. Newman has practiced as a physician in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.If you would like to contact Dr. Newman, you can e mail him at:


Dr Newman is also the author of The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers : The Most Comprehensive Problem-Solution Guide to Breastfeeding from the Foremost Expert in North America by Jack Newman MD


Here are two more links to articles on the herbal remedy Fenugreek at the website of my cyberfriend Cindy Curtis, RN, IBCLC

Fenugreek - Overlooked But Not Forgotten by Rima Jensen , M.D.

Fenugreek-One Remedy for Low Milk Production by Kathleen Huggins, RN, MS

Maurenne's note-I've had very good success professionally and personally with increasing milk supply with the herbs fenugreek, blessed thistle, fennel and red raspberry leaf, including capsules, tinctures and teas.  If you would like more information about these galactogogues (milk supply boosters) like how to use them and where to find them, please e-mail me.

  For more information, please contact us.


Updated 01/30/2001

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