One of the most commonly used galactagogues, the substance that increases milk supply, Fenugreek is a herbal plant with many milk-stimulating benefits ¹. Its efficacy is so potent that consuming fenugreek not only enhance breast milk production, but can also facilitate infant birth weight gain – especially in early postnatal days ².
Fun Fact Do you know that Fenugreek seeds have a smell and taste that is similar to maple syrup? It is also often used to treat menstrual cramps, high cholesterol, diabetes and other conditions ³.
The Science Reports indicate that fenugreek seeds have stimulating growth of mammary glands. One study also found estrogen-like compounds that can increase milk flow. Another recent study further confirmed a significant increase in milk production.
Caution Not recommended for pregnant women. If you have diabetic or hypoglycemic conditions, consult your doctor prior to consumption ⁴.
Used in Lactation Booster Tea.
An aromatic wild herb with many benefits, Fennel is known to increase milk production and milk fat content, with no adverse effect in humans ⁵ ⁶.
Fun Fact Thanks to its delightful smell, don’t be surprised to find fennel as an ingredient in soaps, cosmetics and also flavoring agents.
The Science Two small fennel-therapy studies found an increase in some parameters such as milk volume, fat content and infant weight gain ⁷.
Caution Always consumed in recommended doses, not safe for use in pregnancy. May cause allergy effects similar with those in celery, carrot and mugwort ⁸.
Used in Lactation Booster Tea.
Nigella Sativa (Black Seed)
Also known as black seed, Nigella Sativa has been used traditionally to increase the volume of breast milk. Its rich content of fatty acids and protein has been used in medicine for many useful effects, including during lactation time.
Fun Fact SOne of the most ancient medicinal plants which can be traced back to 2.000 years ago, archeologists even discovered them in the tomb of Egyptian King Tut, emphasizing their importance in history for healing ⁹.
The Science Not only on a global scale, the efficacy of Nigella Sativa has also been researched locally in Yogyakarta. The report shows a significant increase in breast milk quantity and quality. This is because black seeds contain an element of lipids and hormone compounds that play an active role in the milk production process, including polyphenols which increase the levels of prolactin and oxytocin¹⁰.
Caution Not safe for use in pregnancy. It can lower blood sugar – if you’re diabetic or hypoglycemic, consult your doctor.
Used in Lactation Booster Tea.
A plant that grows easily in the tropical climate of Southeast Asia, Androgynus leaves have pharmachemical effects such as antibacterial, antianemic, and anti-inflammatory. Other nutrients such as folate, vitamins, and polyphenols can also be found in the leaves, which are beneficial for health. As a traditional alternative, its most popular use is in extract form to increase milk production ¹¹.
The Science An earlier research showed that oral infusion of androgynus leaves can increase the quantity of milk production in mice. It was also reported that the androgynus leaf extract can increase the mother’s breast milk production up to 50.7% without decreasing the quality of the breast milk ¹².
Caution Consume in recommended dosage to avoid possible drowsiness and constipation ¹³.
Used in Zoyamix and Almond Mix.
Oatmeal is universally considered to be one of the healthiest foods, lauded for its rich content of iron and other nutrients, including fiber and calcium ¹⁴. It is known that maternal anemia or low iron levels can result in decreased milk supply. Naturally, foods that are high in iron such as oat might increase milk supply in some women.
Fun Fact In some countries, oatmeal is a part of traditional wisdom that relates to increased milk production. Most lactation consultants also recommend oatmeal because it’s safe, nutritious and comforting!
Caution Oats are not associated with any adverse effects, but those with gluten sensitivity should eat in moderation.
Rich in linolenic acid (ALA), flaxseeds have estrogenic properties which can boost nursing moms’ milk supply that is high in omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are not only important in breastmilk quantity, but also in improving its quality for your baby’s brain and heart.
Fun Fact The latin name for flax seeds is Linum usitatissimum, which means “the most useful” referring to its health-protective properties.
The Science Since 50% of the energy in human milk is supplied by fat, typically Omega 3 (DHA) and Omega 6 (AA), a study confirmed that flaxseed, increases the breast-milk, plasma, and erythrocyte contents by transforming ALA into omega 3 fatty acids DHA & EPA. Flaxseed can also increase levels of prolactin and oxytocin, and contain nutrients that can be used as raw material for breastmilk synthesis ¹⁵.
Caution Consume in recommended dosage or consult your doctor if you have a blood clotting problem, diabetes and blood pressure ¹⁶.
Used in Almond Oat Cookies.
Raw almonds are full of protein and calcium which is important to protect nursing moms’ bone health. Eating almonds during lactation is believed to increase the creaminess, sweetness, and amount of their breast milk.
Fun Fact Sweet almond nuts are eaten as a postpartum food for mothers in the Middle East and India to enrich the taste and quality of breastmilk ¹⁷.
The Science The amino acids in nuts are building blocks for serotonin, which is a necessary neurotransmitter for lactation. At the same time, the monounsaturated fats (MUFA) in almonds can increase the richness of breastmilk ¹⁸. The study found that MUFA intake is one of the important factors affecting breast milk’s profile.
Caution Almonds are generally safe when taken as foods in a healthy amount, both for pregnant and breast-feeding mothers. Consult your doctor if you have nut allergy.
Used in Almond Oat Cookies and Almond Mix.
2. Turkyilmaz C, Onal E, Hirfanoglu IM, et al. The effect of galactagogue herbal tea on breast milk production and short-term catch-up of birth weight in the first week of life. J Altern Complement Med 2011;17(2):139-42.
3. Vitamins & Supplements : Fenugreek. Webmd.
4. Gong J, Fang K, Dong H, Wang D, Hu M, Lu F. Effect of fenugreek on hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia in diabetes and prediabetes: A meta-analysis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 Dec 24;194:260-268.
5. Mills S, Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh, UK: Churchill Livingstone; 2000.
6. Agrawala IP, Achar MV, Boradkar RV, Roy N. Galactagogue action of Cuminum cyminum and Nigella staiva . Indian Journal of Medical Research. PubMed.1968;56(6):841–844.
7. Brodribb W. ABM Clinical Protocol #9: Use of galactogogues in initiating or augmenting maternal milk production, second revision 2018. Breastfeed Med. 2018;13:307-14.
8. Ottolenghi, A., De Chiara, A., Arrigoni, S., Terracciano, L., and De Amici, M. [Diagnosis of food allergy caused by fruit and vegetables in children with atopic dermatitis]. Pediatr Med Chir 1995;17(6):525-530.
9. Zohary D, Hopf M. Domestication of Plants in the Old World. Oxford University Press; 2001.
10. THE EFFECTIVENESS OF FLAXSEED (Linum usitatissimum) AND BLACK SEEDS (Nigella sativa) COOKIES TO INCREASE BREASTMILK VOLUME IN SLEMAN DISTRICT GY Okinarum Department of Midwifery, Faculty of Health Science, University of Respati Yogyakarta
11. AKTIVITAS FARMAKOLOGI EKSTRAK DAUN KATUK (Sauropus androgynus (L.) Merr) Tiara Salsabila Majid, Muchtaridi Muchtaridi Fakultas Farmasi Universitas Padjadjaran
12. Sa’roni, T. Sadjimin, M. Sja’bani, Zulaela. Effectiveness of the Sauropus androgynus (L.) Merr leaf extracts in increasing mother’s breast milk production. Media Litbang Kes 2004, 14:20-24.
14. Marasco, Lisa. (2008). Inside track. Increasing your milk supply with galactogogues.. Journal of human lactation : official journal of International Lactation Consultant Association. PubMed. 24. 455-6. 10.1177/08903344080240041501.
15. Francois CA, Connor SL, Bolewicz LC, Connor WE. Supplementing lactating women with flaxseed oil does not increase DHA in their milk. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;77:226–33.
16. Prasad K, Dhar A. Flaxseed and Diabetes. Curr Pharm Des. 2016;22(2):141-144. doi:10.2174/1381612822666151112151230
17. Hillary Jacobson. Mother Food: A Breastfeeding Diet Guide with Lactogenic Foods and Herbs
18. Antonakou A, Skenderi KP, Chiou A, Anastasiou CA, Bakoula C, Matalas AL. Breast milk fat concentration and fatty acid pattern during the first six months in exclusively breastfeeding Greek women [published correction appears in Eur J Nutr. 2016 Sep;55(6):2177]. Eur J Nutr. 2013;52(3):963-973. doi:10.1007/s00394-012-0403-8