Fenugreek Trigonella foenum graecum
Fenugreek is one of the most important lactation herbs and has been used in ancient civilizations to support birth (Rome) and lactation (India). It was also used as incense and to embalm mummies in ancient Egypt. It is a wonderful herb for women, helping the breasts to develop and as an aid for nursing mothers. Currently, exciting research has shown that the seeds of the Fenugreek plant have strong anti-cancer abilities, and can prevent the growth of breast, liver, pancreatic and prostate cancer cells. Other research has revealed its ability to reduce cholesterol and blood sugars, which is beneficial for new mothers whose energy requirements are so high that they tend to crave carbohydrates.
Other herbs that can improve milk supply are Lemon Verbena, Stinging Nettle, Goats Rue, Cinnamon and Kyolic Garlic.
One of the wonderful things about using a Nursing tea is that there are many benefits besides just supporting healthy lactation. As you now know, many herbs can help control sugar cravings, create more sustainable energy, and ease colic and flatulence in breastfed babies. This is a great way to enhance your nursing experience naturally.
You can also treat low milk supply by avoiding foods that dry up breast milk, such as parsley, sage and citrus fruits. Instead eat lots of onion, garlic, cinnamon, almonds, walnuts, alfalfa, oats, fennel and aniseeds. Ensure you eat a high protein diet, as breast milk will draw largely on your protein supply. The other major component of breast milk is water, so ensure you drink 1.5 – 2 litres of pure water daily.
The easiest way to start using herbs for low milk supply is to purchase a pre-packaged nursing tea and follow the instructions on the label. You can also consult a herbalist to prepare a tea for you. Nursing tea will help support a good quantity and quality of breast milk, and use it when you feel unable to meet your babys needs.
Negative reactions to herbs are rare, and usually occur due to over-dosing. Always take the recommended dosage on the label. It is also important to ensure that you dont have allergies to any of the herbs used in a nursing tea.
This article was written by Su-lin Sze. She runs Herbalwell, a naturopathic and herbal clinic in Bondi Junction, Sydney, and is a consultant to Weleda Australia, producers of natural and biodynamic products for mother and baby. www.weleda.com.au
– Fact Sheet (2008) “low milk supply” The Royal Womens Hospital, Victoria
– Renee van Leuwen
– Li Yen Chin and Lisa H. Amir. (2008) “Survey of patient satisfaction with the Breastfeeding Education and Support Services of The Royal Womens Hospital, Melbourne.” BMC Health Services Research, vol.8, iss.83, p.83.
– S. Shabbeer, M. Sobolewski and R.K. Anchoori. (2009) “Cancer Biol Ther: Fenugreek: a naturally occurring edible spice as an anticancer agent.”, Alternative Medicine Review vol.14, iss.2, p.185
– S. Kannappan and C.V. Anuradha. (2009) “Insulin sensitizing actions of fenugreek seed polyphenols, quercetin & metformin in a rat model.” Indian Journal of Medical Research, vol.129, iss.4, p.401
– Ethan Basch, Catherine Ulbricht, Grace Kuo, Philippe Szapary and Michael Smith. (2003) “Therapeutic applications of Fenugreek.” Alternative Medicine Review 8.1 p.20