Herbs to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Herbal Nursing 101: Top 4 Herbs to Avoid While Breastfeeding

As a breastfeeding mother, your baby's well-being is always at the forefront of your mind. You're careful about what you consume, knowing that certain substances can pass through your breast milk and affect your little one. While many herbs offer health benefits, it's critical to use them cautiously while nursing.

Herbs are natural, but that doesn't guarantee safety for you and your nursing baby. Some herbs can impact your breast milk supply, change its taste, or even negatively affect your baby's health. Understanding these risks is key to making informed decisions about your herbal use during this special time.

When you consume certain herbs, their active compounds can enter your bloodstream and then your breast milk. Depending on the herb and the amount consumed, these compounds can affect your body and your baby. Some herbs may decrease milk production, while others might cause digestive upset, allergic reactions, or even more severe health concerns for your little one.

Your goal is to give your baby the best possible start, and that includes being mindful of what you put into your body. In this article, we'll discuss four herbs to avoid while breastfeeding to ensure your baby’s safety and well-being. Understanding the potential effects of these herbs will help you make wise choices for your little one.

Peppermint | Herbs to Avoid While Breastfeeding

To kick off the herbs to avoid while breastfeeding, here’s one that might surprise you—peppermint! This refreshing, aromatic herb is a favorite for many of us, whether in herbal teas, candies, or even skincare products. However, for breastfeeding mothers, peppermint can pose some unexpected risks.

Peppermint’s main concern is its potential to decrease milk supply. It contains menthol, which can interfere with the hormones that stimulate milk production. Consuming large amounts may hinder your body’s ability to produce enough milk—frustrating and concerning for any nursing mother.

While peppermint tea may seem like a soothing option for digestive issues or relaxation, proceed with caution while breastfeeding. Even small amounts can impact your milk supply, so it's best to avoid it altogether or use it very sparingly.

Now, if you're a peppermint fan, don’t despair! There are safer alternatives to consider. If you're craving a refreshing, minty flavor, try spearmint, which is generally considered safer for breastfeeding and less likely to impact milk supply.

If you're using peppermint for its digestive benefits, other gentle herbs like ginger, chamomile, and lemon balm can soothe your tummy without impacting your milk supply.

Sage | Herbs to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Next on our list of herbs to avoid while breastfeeding is sage. This fragrant, savory herb is a kitchen staple, adding depth and warmth to countless dishes. However, for nursing mothers, it can have some unintended consequences.

Sage has a long history of medicinal use, particularly for women's health. It has been used to regulate menstrual cycles, alleviate menopausal symptoms, and even reduce milk production during weaning. While beneficial in those contexts, these properties can be harmful while you’re actively breastfeeding.

Like peppermint, the primary concern with sage is its potential to decrease milk supply. Sage contains compounds with an anti-lactogenic effect, meaning they can interfere with the production and release of breast milk. Consuming sage in large amounts may lead to a noticeable drop in your milk supply.

If you’re after sage’s warm, comforting flavors, there are safer alternatives to enjoy while breastfeeding. Herbs that provide a similar flavor profile, such as thyme, rosemary, or marjoram, add depth and complexity to your dishes without the added risks.

Other culinary herbs generally considered safe for breastfeeding mothers include basil, oregano, and parsley. These zippy greens impart flavor while offering various health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.


Parsley | Herbs to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Speaking of parsley—this vibrant green herb is a typical garnish and staple in many recipes, adding freshness and flavor to dishes across the globe. However, parsley carries potential risks for breastfeeding mothers.

Parsley is known for its diuretic properties, meaning it increases urine production to flush excess fluids from the body. While this can be helpful to reduce bloating or water retention, it can pose risks while breastfeeding.

One of the greatest concerns with parsley is—you guessed it—the risk of decreasing breast milk supply. Consuming large amounts forces your body to produce more urine, potentially leading to dehydration. Since your body needs adequate fluids to produce breast milk, dehydration can negatively impact your supply.

For green leafy vegetables offering similar nutritional benefits to parsley, try spinach, kale, or Swiss chard. These vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals to support your overall health and well-being, and are generally considered safe for breastfeeding mothers.


Comfrey | Herbs to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Let's discuss one of the lesser-known herbs to avoid while breastfeeding: comfrey. This herb has a long history in traditional medicine for easing wounds, sprains, and broken bones. However, comfrey poses severe risks to nursing babies.

The primary concern is its content of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), toxic compounds that can cause liver damage. When you consume comfrey, these PAs can be absorbed into your bloodstream and passed on to your baby through breast milk.

Infants are particularly vulnerable to PAs because their livers are still developing and therefore less able to process these toxins effectively. Exposure to PAs through breast milk can lead to serious health problems for your baby, such as liver damage, developmental issues, and even life-threatening conditions.

It's crucial for breastfeeding mothers to avoid comfrey in all forms, including topical use. Even small amounts can be harmful, so it's best to err on the side of caution and steer clear of this herb altogether.

For safer herbal alternatives to support wound healing or skin health, explore gentle herbs like calendula, chamomile, or aloe vera. These herbs have anti-inflammatory and skin-soothing properties and are generally safe for breastfeeding women when used in moderation.

Stay Cautious with Herbs to Avoid While Breastfeeding

As we conclude our discussion on herbs to avoid while breastfeeding, we want to honor the importance of making informed choices for the health and well-being of both you and your baby.

While it can be overwhelming to navigate the world of herbs for breastfeeding, remember that you're not alone in this journey. Always consult your healthcare provider, lactation consultant, or a qualified herbalist before adding new herbs to your routine. They can help assess your needs, address any concerns, and provide guidance on safe and effective options.

You can also explore herbs for lactation like milk thistle, maca, or fenugreek, or try ashwagandha while breastfeeding. These herbal supplements are valued for their safety and efficacy for nursing mothers and may help increase milk supply. As above, just be sure to run it by your healthcare provider first.

Remember, breastfeeding is a unique journey for every mother and baby. Trust your instincts, listen to your body, and don't hesitate to seek support. You're doing an incredible job, mama, and we honor your efforts to provide your baby with the best possible care and nutrition.

Garden Organics is a brand dedicated to women's health and wellness. It was founded with the vision of providing herbal supplements tailored to the unique needs of the female body. Through careful research and ingredient selection, we’ve developed a range of high-quality products that address common female health concerns.

We are proud to be trusted assistants in harnessing the power of Mother Nature for women's well-being. Join us, sister!

Herbs to Avoid While Breastfeeding
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