Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Empowering Benefits of Essential Oils during Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is often spoken of as one of the best gifts a mother can give to her new child.  Many studies confirm numerous health and emotional benefits for both child and mother.  Today’s society has suggested that formula can replace this natural form of nutrition but the evidence is staggering that this is not true.  Mother’s milk not only has the nutrients a baby needs but also elements that will protect and fight a number of diseases.  For the baby these benefits extend well beyond the time of breastfeeding laying a foundation for a lifetime of good health.

Benefits to baby and mother attributed to breastfeeding
·  Stronger bonding with the mother for emotional stability
·  Proper nutrients that change appropriately with the baby’s age
·  Antibodies and other protective agents to reduce the risk of a host of diseases including infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, meningitis, kidney infections, allergies, eczema, childhood diabetes, and asthma
Fewer gastro intestinal problems including diarrhea, constipation, colic, gastroenteritis, and necrotizing entercolitis
·  SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is lower risk among breast fed infants
·  Many other benefits reported including many that extend to adulthood
·  Emotional bonding with baby has a positive effect on the mother’s emotional state
·  Helps return the body to the state before pregnancy including controlled weight loss while helping to naturally space pregnancies
·  A number of health risks for the mother are reported to be reduced including anemia, osteoporosis, and various forms of cancer including breast, cervical, endometrial and ovarian
Breastfeeding can have challenges and there are many positive, holistic suggestions on how to deal with various issues.  On the tabs above are a number of ways essential oils and other natural products can help with increasing and decreasing milk supply and some cautions to consider while breastfeeding plus other folks' experiences on using essential oils while breastfeeding.

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends:
Increasing milk supply.  Clary sage, geranium
Non-doterra essential oil for increasing milk supply and quality: Moringa oil 2oz, or 4oz

Decreasing milk supply. Peppermint
Note: Some report decreased milk supply with peppermint others do not.  To err on the side of caution peppermint and blends using peppermint (DigestZen, Slim & Sassy) should be limited if milk production is at risk.

Essential oils based products: Life Long Vitality supplements are highly recommended.

Also consider: For other conditions during lactation the following oils are suggested as safe to use.  Bergamot, Citrus Bliss, clary sage, grapefruit, geranium, lavender, lemon, melaleuca, patchouli, Roman chamomile, sandalwood, Serenity, wild orange, ylang ylang.  It is reported that Dr. David Hill notes that all doTerra essential oils and blends are safe to use during pregnancy and lactation with the consideration that peppermint may decrease milk supply.

Suggested protocols:
Increasing milk supply.  Add 15 drops of geranium or 10 drops of clary sage to 2 tablespoons of carrier oil.  Topically apply to breasts and surrounding areas once a day.  Drink lots of water, relax, and be patient.
Decreasing milk supply.  Add 3 - 5 drops of peppermint to a cup of warm water with honey to make a peppermint tea and drink.  Or apply 3-5 drops topically with a carrier oil.
Note: Some report decreased milk supply with peppermint others do not.  To err on the side of caution peppermint and blends using peppermint (DigestZen, Slim & Sassy) should be limited if milk production is at risk.

More Information:

Lactogenic Foods and Herbs
·  By Hilary Jacobson CH.HU.SI.
·  Based on her book Mother Food for Breastfeeding Mothers
Natural Remedies for Problems in Breastfeeding
·  by Susun S. Weed
·  see: Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, by Ash Tree Publishing.

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Experiences and Testimonials (shared by Rob James)

Megan Vara
Megan - For women that are breast feeding and your milk is drying up, you want to use basil essential oil. My sister-in-law was having the same problems till we looked in our wonderful essential oils book and started using basil. Also do not use peppermint or any oil blends that have peppermint in them because they will dry you up very fast even using small amounts.

 Dani Garn
Dani - I have had many experiences with essential oils in the last few months and I would like to share them with others.

I I LOVE MY LAVENDER!! My 5-month-old son is the best-behaved baby I have yet to meet. Of course he has his moments, but for the most part he is so happy. We use lavender sometimes in the bath, or in lotion, or on his feet. I also used it behind his ears on the plane ride from SLT to PHX (think he only cried once!). I sometimes even just put the lavender on me so he can smell it on me while I hold or feed him.

Increasing milk supply
Autumn - I have a friend with a newborn who wants to know what oils will help increase breast milk production. Any ideas?
Julia - Citrus Bliss and our women's blend Serenity would be good.  Also below is a blend to increase milk flow, and a list of essential oils that can be used safely, as well as an excellent article on traditional herbs that can be used to support breastfeeding (this article is included under the tab Diet & Nutrition).
To help increase milk flow, add one of the following oils to 2 Tbsp. of grapeseed oil: fennel (15 drops), geranium (15 drops) or clary sage (10 drops). Rub the oil into the breasts and area around them in a circular motion once a day.   Here’s a list of additional essential oils considered safe to use: bergamot, chamomile, grapefruit, geranium, jasmine, lavender, lemon, mandarin, neroli, orange, patchouli (pogostemon patchouli)

Sherri - I am so devastated.  I read about the peppermint and cried because I drank it every day for the three weeks leading up to my delivery.  Now I am even more devastated.  I had heard that with a C-section the medicine they give you causes constipation.   I thought I would be smart and use DigestZen.  I am now 1 week after having my baby, and my milk is struggling to come in and I didn't know why till I read the post about peppermint.  Tonight I went to put on my DigestZen and about died.  It smelled like peppermint, and the ingredients read that it has it in it.  Now I officially know why I am not getting any milk.  I know there are a lot of benefits to using the oils, but now all I want to do is cry.  I don't know if I dare use them anymore because I don't know what their side effects, or how they will effect different things.  I bought my doctor mom kit knowing with a C-section my sons immune system would be compromised.  However, I am now so upset my milk would have given him so much more than the essential oils, and now its gone and I am struggling to get any out.  Breast feeding is so important to me, the health of my child is so important to me, I don't know how I am going to reverse the damage I have done and bring back my milk.
Monica - I know that I've spoken with Emily Wright, who told me that Digest Zen is recommended for pregnancy-related morning sickness, so maybe as the delivery date nears, perhaps not so much... I encourage you to make sure that you are well hydrated...drink LOTS of water, and give yourself a break... Stress and frustration can slow systems of the body, as can surgery... My own milk production came slowly at first, post c-section (all 3 times), but eventually, we got it worked out (my "secret" was simply that I refused to give up)... I was never a 'heavy milker', but I was able to successfully feed the boys for at least a little while (years ago - they're all ginormous now)... Be patient, and enjoy your baby!
Jonelle - Sherri- I am so sorry you are dealing with this. Honestly, I have used peppermint throughout all my pregnancies (4- one with twins, as I have 5 children), and I have used peppermint often postpartum.  Essential oil precautions are just that. The FDA mandates that warning labels be put on anything about pregnancy and nursing. Some of these are founded and some are not. As a consumer, it is hard to tell sometimes. Use your own intuition and judgment. I personally don't think that the peppermint could have lessened your milk supply that dramatically.  In my history as a doula and childbirth educator, I have not seen this problem with peppermint.  Breathe.... drink lots of water. Snuggle up with your baby in bed and your only job is to eat good food, drink water and teas and nurse.  Seriously. I have seen this do wonders for milk supply, and I mean wonders! I would recommend Mother's Milk Tea (not a tea but an herbal infusiotn, really) from Traditional Medicinals, and I also love an herbal blend of encapsulated herbs called Nursing Magic.  Also has some great ideas.  Hang in there.  It may take some work, but it will be well worth it.
Samara - I had a problem with breast milk also.  I know how horrible it can be.  I found out after the fact that my thyroid was compromised during pregnancy and was causing the breast milk problem.  I used the herb goat's rue.  You can buy it online.  It was the most effective thing I tried, besides not giving up.
Tamalu - I hear your frustration and concern. You only want the best for your baby. As do we all. The essential oils can do wonders for your baby's health, and for yours. My recommendation is Serenity (on neck and chest where you hold baby -- calming) and Elevation (use as deodorant in the armpits-- to stimulate milk production), with Balance on your feet.  Lots and lots of water, and the teas that have been recommended are terrific as well.
If baby is fussy, I am not afraid to boil a little water now and then to keep baby hydrated and give me a few more minutes to rest up for the next feeding. My experience is that if my nipples are sore, it is harder to relax and make milk. In addition to the oils mentioned before for sore nipples, I have used helichrysum. We are here for you, Sherri. Don't give up. You are a wonderful mom!
Tahna Lee - I used 5-10 drops DigestZen in a capsule everyday for three weeks after my baby was born this January. It kept the bowels moving and there was not a decrease in my milk supply compared to the other 3 babies I have had and nursed using o-t-c laxatives vs. DigestZen. Mine was a vaginal delivery, so maybe the C-section is more to blame than the oil? Blessings,
Debbie - What Tamalu suggests kind of makes sense - maybe the body had that baby so fast with a C-section that it takes a little more time kicking in with the milk production.  I have 3 daughter/daughter-in-laws that had babies this year.  The two that had vaginal births had no problem with nursing.  The other who had an emergency C-section struggled with milk production.  I do know there are wonderful lactation experts out there who will do anything to help a mom with this challenge.  The best to you -
Keri- I am really sorry about the stress you are feeling, I know exactly what you are going through. I have had three children and try as I might, I do not produce breast milk. For the first 3 months after childbirth I tried everything to get my milk to come in (I can produce an ounce at a time). Because of this experience, I have been blessed to come in contact with scores of women who have suffered from this same problem. The bottom line is, not all women produce enough milk to feed their baby. Some women I talked to had great breastfeeding experiences with their first and second child and then had very little milk for their third or fourth baby. I think that it's important that as women we share our experiences so that we can stop feeling like we are the only ones suffering. When I had my first baby, I spent the first 3 months crying and feeling like the most worthless woman on the planet. Looking back at it, I realize that all the agony was for nothing (and actually ended up being a blessing). My kids have always been very healthy, they are at the top of their class, and they are very talented. Who would have imagined that such great kids could come from drinking formula. Yes, breast milk is "best", but formula is pretty darn awesome too.

Sore nipples and baby help
Sherri - Help! Are there any oils that will help me with breastfeeding. 1) First my milk is not coming in very strong, barely 2 ounces when I feed.  2) My nipples are so sore.  Is there anything that will help with that? As a side note.  Which oils should I be using on my baby on a regular basis.  I only have the Doctor Mom kit so anything I do has to use those oils. Thank you,
Maria - Here are my thoughts for you... For your milk not coming in Julia posted a wonderful answer about increasing milk flow. She said Citrus Bliss was wonderful for this and then listed many others. Here are a few of the others she listed - "fennel (15 drops), geranium (15 drops) or clary sage (10 drops). Rub the oil into the breasts and area around them in a circular motion once a day."
For your sore nipples, I would get a snug nursing bra and some nursing cups and wear the nursing cups 24/7 for a week or so.  Breast milk is very healing for sore nipples and the cups will catch any and sooth you.  You can put nursing pads at the top of the cups where the holes are so it won't leak at all while you are sleeping or laying down.  You may want to try this even if not much milk is coming out. Hope this gives you some relief.
Julia - II just registered that you only have the Dr. Mom kit on hand so use lavender in a little carrier oil massaged in for you. Lemon can be used too. Lemon and lavender are always so nice together. Relax and hang in there. The more relaxed you are the easier it is. Have faith that you and your baby will know what to do. Maria's suggestion on the nursing bra was awesome.

Decreasing milk supply
Holly - have been breastfeeding my twins for 4 months now and I have such a great supply that I have also managed to save up a deep freeze and a half of milk so I've decided to quit since the babies will still have breastmilk.  I haven't breastfed or pumped for 12 hours and I'm in so much pain!  Is there any oil I could use that will help dry up the milk faster and what is the best oil for the pain?  Help me, that pump is callin my name but I'm really ready to stop!
Dani - I used peppermint to dry up my milk and I might get in trouble for saying this, but Tylenol helped me, because I was in such bad pain.  It took about 48 hours for my engorgement to go down.
Ramona - I'm so jealous of your milk!!!  I always struggled with a good supply.  Use lots of peppermint!  Peppermint is supposed to reduce supply and it will help with the pain.  I would also do it gradually.  If you haven't pumped or nursed in 12 hours, then I would pump what you have to relieve the pain and it won't reproduce as quickly before.  Then I would string it out a bit and see if you can go 24 hours without a lot of pain, etc.  You don't want to let it build up too much without releasing some of the pressure, because you put yourself at risk for infection.  Also, binding yourself helps a ton.  I would just get a brown wrap and wrap it tight around your chest area for the next few days.
Holly - My baby’s pediatrician said the same thing so I'm going to put the pump away now so the temptation isn't there.  Sorry to ask more questions but did you drink the peppermint or put in on topically? Thanks again for your help, this mom stuff is crazy!
Pat - Peppermint will dry up your milk, I would drink it (peppermint tea) or just rub it on the breast. Make sure you use a carrier oil as the peppermint can be a little warm.
Connie - I agree. peppermint, sage and parsley are all good for drying up milk. Good luck drying up!

Netti - Is it ok to take Slim & Sassy whilst breastfeeding?
Larissa - Well, I was taking Slim & Sassy while I was breastfeeding and I noticed a decrease in my milk production. About the same time I learned that peppermint decreases milk production and Slim & Sassy does have peppermint in it. I'm sure it's safe for the mother and the baby, but just keep in mind the 'side effects' peppermint has.
Tiffany - I took Slim & Sassy for two weeks while nursing and it decreased my milk supply from getting five ounces when I pumped to only getting 3/4 oz combined. I immediately stopped using it and called a lactation consultants and others to try to see if I could get it back. I tried using essential oils to build it back but it was too late. The quality had already decreased to such a point that it was almost clear milk. So it was like feeding my baby skim milk. Once the quality is gone you can't get it back whereas sometimes when quantity goes, you can get the quantity back. So personally, if you are not ready to wean, I wouldn't use it because you never know! Some people respond to the peppermint differently. Just because it dried my supply up doesn't mean that there is a 100% chance it will do it to you, but it could happen. But, as far as it being unhealthy for you or the baby, it is not.
Ramona - I had a very similar reaction in using peppermint.  It was before Slim & Sassy came out, but I was using peppermint for other things and it decreased my milk.

Hersheykiss - Does anyone know if I can take the Life Long wellness trio pack while I am nursing?
Pat - You can take the Life Long Wellness supplements while nursing, in fact it is recommended.

Kendra - Is it ok to breastfeed while taking oregano internally?  Is that safe?
Shannon - It is safe.  It may slow milk production so keep an eye on that.  If you notice a lower supply, you may want to discontinue.

Missymae - I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and am breast feeding right now.  My baby is only 2 months old so I am wondering if it would be safe for me to do the GX assist and also PB assist.  Also how often can I do this? Every month or do I need to give my system a break? I know I could probably benefit from the Life Long Wellness supplements but to be honest there is only so much I can afford at this stage in my life.  What do you think would be the most effective? Thanks
Monica - Dr. Hill says that all of our products are safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding.  The only consideration that I've heard from him regarding this is that peppermint essential oil can possibly reduce milk flow.  So, if you are breastfeeding, and notice a reduction, then of course, consider reducing or eliminating your use of peppermint during this time.
Regarding the Life Long Wellness supplements, I would recommend that as your first step every day, to help bring your body back into balance from your recent pregnancy.  If possible you could also use the GX Assist for 10 days, followed by the PB Assist for 5 days (resting from both of those two products for the remainder of each month).  However, I do understand budget constraints.

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Diet and Nutritional complements to essential oils

Lactogenic Foods and Herbs
By Hilary Jacobson CH.HU.SI.
Based on her book Mother Food for Breastfeeding Mothers
What mothers eat can influence their milk supply
Around the world and throughout history, mothers have known that certain foods support their milk production. These foods were valued in earliest cultures and highlighted in mythology. Mother Goddesses were associated with barley grain, the almond, coconut, lotus, the elder tree, and many other plants and foods that were used historically to increase milk production.
Today, mothers dealing with low milk supply are again interested to learn how foods and herbs can support their milk production. Experts who work closely with low-supply mothers report that certain foods influence milk supply for some mothers. These so-called “lactogenic foods and herbs” are the subject of this article.
Dietary Guidelines Following Birth
Getting a good start the first few weeks after birth can be helpful in supporting the onset and development of a mother’s milk supply:
·  Get enough to eat. Simply eating regularly and getting enough calories will support your milk supply.
·  Get enough to drink, but not too much. Between 2 – 3 quarts a day is a good goal to aim for. Some mothers discover they need much more, and some find that they need to get “just enough” fluids to maintain an optimal milk supply. /p>
·  Eat at least one warm meal per day that includes a source of protein, a portion of green salad, a grain such as millet or rice, and cooked vegetables such as yam, carrot, and fennel.
·  Spice moderately with lactogenic spices, for instance with sea-salt or gomasio, with dill or caraway, or basil and marjoram, and, if tolerated, with garlic.
·  Avoid food that is hard to digest such as fried or extremely fatty food. /p>
·  Take probiotic yogurt or lactobacilli supplements to protect your intestinal flora and to help prevent colic and allergy in your baby(1).
·  Get healthy fats such as butter and olive oil, and remember to supplement with essential fatty acids. /p>
·  Herbs useful after birth include stinging nettle to rebuild the blood lost during birth, turmeric, to help prevent breast inflammation, oat-straw, to nurture the nerves and to help prevent nervous exhaustion. These herbs also increase milk supply, so keep an eye on your supply and reduce or increase your dosage of these herbs as necessary.
·  If you lost a lot of blood during birth, avoid taking ginger for several weeks.
·  A traditional Chinese remedy used in the early postpartum is homemade chicken soup, simmered with the bones for several hours and rich with chicken fat, taken only once a week—otherwise, it is said to over-stimulate the baby. This remedy is reputed to prevent depression, to restore a mother's vitality, and to help develop an abundant milk supply.
Individual Dosage Requirements
Mothers have individual needs when it comes to lactogenic foods and herbs. Although most mothers produce milk well without having to consider their use at all, a few mothers find that they need to take a good amount every day, and that they may need to take a high dosage for two to four days to kick-start lactation.
As a breastfeeding mother gathers experience about her unique reaction to foods and herbs, she will learn the dosage that works best for her, both for building and for maintaining milk supply.
All mothers should consider the following: If you do not have low milk supply, and you take an abundance of herbs and foods to increase your supply, you may create unnecessary difficulties for yourself such as over-supply, engorgement, plugged ducts, or mastitis. Your baby may develop colic due to too much foremilk, or sucking difficulties due to an overly strong let-down reflex, both of which are common with over-supply. Use these foods and herbs wisely, and reduce or stop their use if you notice such problems. /p>
Lactogenic foods support lactation for many reasons. Eating sufficient calories and getting an abundant supply of nutrients is helpful in itself for lactation, but these foods also contain substances that interact with and support the chemistry of lactation. These substances include phytoestrogen, natural plant sedatives, plant sterols and saponins, and tryptophan, among others. In addition, a rich supply of minerals and a good balance of fats ensure that the mother’s cells and nerves are functioning at an optimal level.
Fennel can be eaten raw or cooked, for instance, steamed, or sautéed in butter and then simmered in a bit of water. Fennel seed is well-known as an herb to increase milk production. The vegetable, containing the same pharmacologically active volatile oils, acts as a gentler support.
Carrot, Beet, Yam
These reddish vegetables are full of beta-carotene, needed in extra amounts during lactation. Carrot seed has been used as a galactagogue, and the vegetable, also containing the volatile oils and phytoestrogen, acts as a gentler support. The beet is a wonderful source of minerals and iron. Taking raw beet can help alleviate iron deficiency. These vegetables are naturally sweet, and they support the liver.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green vegetables are a potent source of minerals, vitamins and enzymes, as well as phytoestrogen that support lactation. Dandelion and stinging nettle leaves are diuretic, and can help reduce edema during pregnancy and after birth. They can be plucked from your garden in early spring and eaten whole, chopped into salad, or used to make tea. Stinging nettle can be harvested for salad or cooked as spinach. In your market, you'll find arugula, beet leaves, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, chicory, collard greens and others.
Grains and Legumes
Grains and legumes have a long history as galactagogues. The most commonly used grains include oats, millet, barley and rice. Oats are the most widely used lactogenic food in the US. Legumes to include in your diet are chickpea, mung beans and lentils.
Nuts that support milk supply include almonds, cashews, and macadamia nuts. As much as possible, eat raw nuts, not roasted or salted. The taste of raw nuts will grow on you.
Oils and fats
Healthy fats play a vital role in cellular and neural metabolism. The kinds of fats a mother eats will influence the composition of fats in her milk. Please see the article “Dietary Tips for Pregnancy and the Postpartum” for more information.
The renowned expert in fats, Mary G. Enig, suggests that mothers get regular and substantial dosages of butter and coconut oil. In addition, use cold-pressed virgin olive oil, and take equal amounts of cold-pressed sesame oil and flaxseed oil in salads.
One way to balance the fats is to dribble a quarter teaspoon of olive oil, flaxseed oil, sesame oil, and a thin slab of butter over meals. Be sure to eliminate unhealthy fats such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and transfatty acids from your diet, as these will also enter your milk.
In addition, be sure to have a source for essential fatty acids. For more information, see “Dietary Tips.”
Lactogenic beverages include getting enough plain water to hydrate the body, drinking commercial lactation teas, non-alcoholic beer, ginger ale, Rivella, and natural herbal root-beers from your health food store. Check out coffee substitutes based on the lactogenic grain barley, such as CARO, Roma, Caffix, Pero or Dandy Blend. These imitation coffees usually also contain chicory or dandelion, plus malt—ingredients that are all lactogenic. A recipe for "Barley Water," a potent lactogenic beverage, is at the bottom of this article.
Garlic is famous for its medical benefits, and has a long history as a galactagogue.
In one study, babies were seen to latch on better, suckle more actively, and drink more milk when the mother had garlic prior to nursing(2). If you do not wish to eat garlic, try adding a capsule of garlic extract to a meal eaten about an hour before breastfeeding.
If you would like to introduce garlic to your diet, and are not used to eating garlic, introduce it very slowly and observe your baby’s reaction. Take only 1 – 2 cloves per day. These can be chopped or pressed through a garlic press into any food after it has finished cooking. Try it in vegetables, rice, grains, pulses, salad sauce, spaghetti sauce, or other sauce.
Our culture does not encourage eating garlic, and many people do not tolerate garlic well (or onions, another food which is traditionally lactogenic). For this reason, garlic is not recommended by the American Herbal Product’s Association while breastfeeding except under the guidance of a qualified herbalist. However, if you do tolerate garlic there is no reason that you should not benefit from it. Take garlic in moderation as do mothers all over the world.
Caution: Do not combine with anticoagulants, as garlic has blood-thinning actions.
Danger: Babies and small children should never be given garlic in any form, whether fresh, dry, powdered or in capsules, to chew, swallow, eat or suck on. Garlic is highly caustic to delicate body tissues, and rubbing it in one’s nose or eyes could be painful and dangerous. Babies will benefit from the garlic a mother eats, and that reaches him through her milk.
Ginger is helpful for the letdown and milk flow. Some mothers benefit from drinking ginger ale. Even commercial ginger ale is flavored with “natural flavoring” that is real ginger.
Warning: Do not use ginger or ginger ale in the early postpartum if there was significant blood loss during birth. Do not take ginger immediately after birth due to danger of hemorrhaging.
Caution: Ginger tends to compound and increase the effects of medication being taken. Talk to your doctor if you are taking medication, especially diabetic, blood-thinning, or heart medicine.
Sources: You can find ginger at your local grocery store. Check out stores that sell Asian foods, health food stores, and on line.
Spices in your kitchen can be used to support milk production. Try adding marjoram and basil to your meals, and anise, dill or caraway. Black pepper, taken in moderation, is helpful.
This powdered yellow root gives curry its yellow color and basic flavor. A potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, turmeric is being studied in connection with the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatism, and cancer. Turmeric has lactogenic properties and can also be taken to help prevent inflammatory conditions. One half teaspoon of turmeric a day may help prevent inflammation in the breasts.
Caution: Some herbalists warn that pregnant women should not use turmeric if they are at risk for miscarriage.
Oats (Avena Sativa)
The humble oat is one of our most nutritious foods, and contains proteins, vitamins, minerals and trace elements that nourish the nerves, support the metabolism of fats, and uplift the spirit. In traditional medicine, both the seed and the leaf—called oat-straw—are taken. Oats are prescribed as a nervine tonic in the treatment of nervous exhaustion. In Europe, women traditionally take oats after birth. Oats are taken today in the US to increase milk production, both as food and as a supplement. Like other galactagogues, oats are antidepressant, antispasmodic, and they increase perspiration.
Allergy: Occasional. Persons sensitive to gluten in wheat are frequently able to tolerate oats.
Dosage and Preparation:
Taking large dosages of oats is helpful in kick-starting milk production.
Oatmeal can be taken for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
Oat-straw is especially rich in minerals. It is available as capsules or as an ingredient in so-called “green-drinks.” Take as indicated on the package.
Fluid extract: 3 – 5 ml (15 – 35 drops), three times a day.
Nutritional and Brewer's Yeast
Nutritional or brewer’s yeast frequently leads to a significant boosts in a mothers’ milk supply. Mothers sometimes say that they feel much more energetic and emotionally balanced while taking yeast. This may signal a lack of essential nutrients in their diet, in particular, chromium, vitamin B complex, and especially vitamin B12, found in some brands of fortified nutritional yeast. Brewer’s and nutritional yeast also contain protein and good levels of phytoestrogen.
Allergy: Persons who are allergic to yeast should avoid these products.
Side-effects: Occasionally, mothers or babies become gassy, more so with brewer’s yeast than nutritional yeast. To be on the safe side, start with a small dosage and slowly increase.
Sources: Vegetarian stores and health food stores.
Green Drinks
Green foods are reputed to increase the fat content of breastmilk. Some mothers supplement with chlorophyll. So-called "green drinks" can be very helpful. Their ingredients include barley-grass, alfalfa leaf, spirulina, corellas, kelp, oat-straw and other herbs with lactogenic and medicinal properties.
Caution: Chlorella, a common ingredient in commercial green-drinks, is used by medical specialists to chelate (remove) heavy metals from the body, especially mercury. If not taken at the correct dosage, chlorella can lead to an increase of mercury in the bloodstream and probably in a mother’s milk as well. It is wise to choose green-drinks that only contain a low percent of chlorella.
Sources: Super markets, health food stores, online.
Green Papaya
Green papaya is taken as a galactagogue across Asia. It is a superb source of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamins C, A, B, and E. Green papaya is the unripe fruit, and it needs to be simmered until soft. Green papaya can also be taken in supplement form.
Allergy: Persons allergic to latex may be allergic to papaya and other fruit.
Caution: Persons taking Warfarin should consult with their doctor before taking papaya supplements.
Sesame Seed
Large, black sesame seeds are used to increase milk production across Asia. Husked, light-colored sesame seeds are also effective and easier to digest. Sesame seed "butter" known as Tahini can be found in health food stores. Sesame is our most potent vegetable source of calcium!
Allergy: Allergy to sesame is becoming more common.
Spirulina is a non-toxic variety of blue-green algae. It has been farmed in lakes and ponds as a food source for thousands of years. It is valued for its proteins, enzymes, minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll, and essential fatty acids. Spirulina's nutrients are easily absorbed, even when a person’s digestion is not up to par.
It is important that spirulina be cultivated on a farm that is not located in waters that are contaminated, in particular with heavy metals. It is also advisable not to use spirulina that has been genetically ‘improved.’ Spirulina and other “green foods” may increase the fat-content of breastmilk.
Note: It is not wise to rely on spirulina as a source of B12.
Barley Water
Barley-water is used medicinally to treat colds, intestinal problems (both constipation and diarrhea) and liver disorders. It was recorded in Greek medicine two thousand years ago as a galactagogue. Taken for a week or two, it often helps mothers with chronic low milk supply. Make a pot in the morning and drink it throughout the day, warming each cup and sweetening it with a natural sweetener as desired.
Barley-water can be made with whole grain or pearl barley. Barley flakes can also be used, though these have been processed and are possibly less potent than the whole or pearled grain.
·  Quick-and-easy: 1/2 cup of flakes or pearled barley can be simmered in 1 quart of water for twenty minutes.
·  Long-and-intensive: 1 cup of whole or pearled barley is simmered in 3 quarts of water for up to 2 hours. About half the liquid should cook off. Some recipes call for only 1/2 hour cooking time. However, the longer the barley simmers and the more pinkish (and slimier) the water becomes, the more of the ‘cream’ will enter the water and the stronger the medicinal effect will be.
·  If the barley water becomes too thick to drink comfortably, add in more water.
·  When finished, remove from the stove and sieve off the water. The grain is now tasteless and can be thrown out.
·  Add 1 tablespoon of fennel powder or steep 2 – 3 teaspoons of fennel seeds for ten minutes in the barley-water before drinking.
·  The traditional recipe calls for fennel seed. I personally find that powdered fenugreek seed is tastier than fennel in barley-water.
1. While studies on focusing on probiotics and allergy during pregnancy and in childhood continue and are controversial, a series of studies on the anthroposophic community in Europe convincingly shows results of a different composition of bacteria and lactobacteria in the stool of the lifestyle of these children: breastfed, eating naturally fermented vegetables, fewer treatments with antibiotics and vaccines. Therefore in this author’s opinion, it is fair to assume that each of these factors, and all of them combined, serve to protect the child against allergy.

Julia suggested the following article for natural nutritional helps while breast feeding.
Natural Remedies for Problems in Breastfeeding by Susun S. Weed
With the resurgence of interest in breastfeeding, there is increasing demand for natural remedies for the minor problems that accompany nursing. These remedies, taken from my book Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, offer simple, safe ways for nursing women and their infants to counter problems and stay healthy. This information has been collected from wise women, old wives, and granny midwives. May you benefit from their wisdom.
Increasing and Maintaining Milk Flow
One of the easiest problems to remedy is lack of sufficient milk. First, it is important to see to it that nursing takes place in a safe, inviting space where both mom and babe can be relaxed. Second, try to include one or more of these herbs and foods that are well known galactagogues, that is, able to encourage abundant breast milk.
Nourishing herbs, such as raspberry leaves, stinging nettle, oatstraw, and red clover blossoms - prepared as strong infusions (see below), not taken in pills, capsules, tinctures, or teas - not only encourage a plentiful supply of breast milk, they support the overall health of mother and child. The minerals in these herbs are amazingly abundant, so they counter mineral loss from nursing, and help keep mom calm and alert during those first few weeks of round-the-clock infant care. I don't combine the herbs, but use them individually, to derive the unique benefit of each.
To make an infusion :
·    Place one ounce, by weight, of dried herb in a quart canning jar.
·    Fill to the top with boiling water.
·    Lid tightly and let steep for at least four hours or overnight.
·    Then strain.
·    Drink liquid portion hot, cold, or in between.
·    Refrigerate what you don't consume at once; use within 48 hours. (Water houseplants with old or excess infusion.)
Foods rich in carotenes , such as cooked apricots, asparagus, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peas, and all cooked leafy greens - including kale, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, parsley, watercress, and dandelion leaves - are considered critical for women wishing to increase or sustain lactation. Carotenes are most available when foods are well cooked: tomato sauce has over 2000 times more of them than a fresh tomato. And carotenes are more easily utilized in the body when consumed with plenty of fat. (Olive or butter are my favorite fats.)
Blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus) is famed for its ability to increase milk supply. As the tea is very bitter, this herb is best used as a tincture. A dose is 10 - 20 drops, two to four times daily. Blessed thistle is said to lift postpartum depression and relieve suicidal feelings, too.
Borage leaves (Borago officinalis) are highly respected for their ability to increase milk flow. But because they contain compounds that may have a harmful effect on an infant's liver, it is best to drink borage only as a weak tea, and to take it after, rather than before nursing. Half a cupful of borage leaf tea, made by steeping a spoonful of herb in a cup of water for a few minutes, taken two or three times a day will ensure an abundant supply of milk, act as a mild laxative, and soothe jangled nerves.
Comfrey roots (Symphytum uplandica x) contain the same liver-damaging compounds sometimes found in borage. But comfrey leaves do not. That's a relief, because comfrey leaf infusion is one of the most treasured of all remedies. Comfrey leaf infusion (*"To make an infusion" above) not only to increase the amount and richness of the breast milk, but also to build strong bones and teeth for mother and child, to improve digestion, to check allergies, and to repair ligaments, muscles, or other tissues traumatized during the birth. I love comfrey leaf infusion and drink it freely.
Fennel/barley water is a tried-and-true classic. Soak one‑half cup pearled (regular) barley in three cups cold water overnight, or boil the barley and water for 25 minutes. Strain out barley. (You may save it and add it to a soup.) Store barley water in refrigerator or cool place until needed. Then heat a cup or two to boiling and add fennel seeds - one teaspoon per cup of barley water. Steep for no longer than 30 minutes. This combination not only increases the breast milk, but eases afterpains and settles the digestion of mom and babe.
Hops (Humulus lupulus) is another old remedy. It is especially for mothers of twins who need lots more milk. Hops tea is a suitable accompaniment to nighttime feedings, as it brings sleep along with increased milk flow. Hops is also used in beer, which tastes better than the tea. No more than one high-quality, additive‑free beer, such as Guiness Stout, per day is fine. For those who wish to avoid alcohol, there are alcohol-free brews rich in hops and malt available.
Aromatic seeds such as anise, cumin, fennel, caraway, coriander, and dill increase milk production and tone the digestive system. Their powers are carried through the breast milk, curtailing colic and indigestion. To brew, simply put a heaping spoonful of dried seeds in a cup and fill to the top with boiling water. Let steep for 5-10 minutes. Drink warm with honey. Up to two quarts a day can be consumed.
Triple Blessing Brew. Combine 1/2 ounce dried blessed thistle leaves with 1/2 ounce dried oatstraw or nettle. Place in a quart jar. Add boiling water until the jar is full. Cap tightly and let steep overnight or for at least four hours. Strain out herbs. Refrigerate liquid until needed. Before nursing, pour off one cupful of the brew and heat it nearly to a boil. Pour it over a teaspoon of anise, cumin, fennel, caraway, coriander, or dill seeds (not a spoonful of each). Let it brew for five minutes before drinking. Blessed thistle stimulates the milk flow and helps restore vitality to weary mothers. Both oatstraw and nettle are rich sources of vitamins and minerals, notably calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The aromatic seeds improve the quality and quantity of milk and ease digestion.
For more information about herbs and pregnancy, including herbs to use during birth, to improve lactation, and to help the newborn infant, see: Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, by Ash Tree Publishing.

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What Science & Research are saying

Suppression of puerperal lactation using jasmine flowers (Jasminum sambac).
Shrivastav P., George K., Jasper M. P., Thomas M., Kanagasabhapathy A. S.
Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore, India.
The efficacy of jasmine flowers (Jasminum Sambac) applied to the breasts to suppress puerperal lactation was compared that of Bromocriptine. Effectiveness of both regimens was monitored by serum prolactin levels, clinical evaluation of the degree of breast engorgement and milk production and the analgesic intake. While both bromocriptine and jasmine flowers brought about a significant reduction in serum prolactin, the decrease was significantly greater with bromocriptine. However, clinical parameters such as breast engorgement, milk production and analgesic intake showed the 2 modes of therapy to be equally effective. The failure rates of the 2 regimens to suppress lactation were similar; however, rebound lactation occurred in a small proportion of women treated with bromocriptine. Jasmine flowers seem to be an effective and inexpensive method of suppressing puerperal lactation and can be used as an alternative in situations where cost and nonavailability restrict the use of bromocriptine

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

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