What Herbs are Dangerous During Breastfeeding?






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1. About Herbs And Breastfeeding

Many women these days are opting away from harmful and potentially dangerous drugs and medications, and are instead turning to all natural herbal remedies as a way to stay healthy.


However, there are some special considerations to be aware of. Breastfeeding mothers need to keep in mind that any herbs that they ingest while they are breastfeeding will be transmitted to the baby as well. This can sometimes be a bad thing, as not all herbs are considered safe for babies.


Also, sometimes using herbs while breastfeeding can decrease milk supply. Keep reading for some information about some of the most popular herbs and their effect on nursing moms and babies.

2. St. John’s Wort

A popular herb for treating depression, some studies have shown that St. John’s Wort does not affect babies. However, there have been conflicting reports that state that St. John’s Wort actually can cause babies to become listless and drowsy, and some studies even say that it causes colic. Definitely ask your doctor before using this herbal supplement.


3. Fenugreek

Women often take this herb in hopes that it will boost their milk supply. However, there is no proof that it really works, and some experts say it can actually be harmful. It can cause high blood pressure and low blood sugar in nursing moms, and can lead to diarrhea and colic in babies.


4. Comfrey

Comfrey is usually used as an ointment to soothe cracked, sore nipples due to breastfeeding. However, doctors say that it should never be used by nursing moms. It can cause liver damage in babies. As a result, comfrey has been banned in many countries.

Comfey--can-cause-liver-damage-in-babies5. Other Herbs

There are a host of other herbs that are considered to be potentially dangerous to nursing moms. These are a few of those herbs, but this is not a complete list.

Bladderwrack Buckthorn
Chaparral Coltsfoot (Farfarae folium)
Dong Quai (Angelica Root)
Elecampane Ephedra / Ephedra sinica /
Ma Huang Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Indian Snakeroot
Kava-kava (piper methysticum)
Petasites root
Phen-fen, herbal Rhubarb Star anise Tiratricol (TRIAC)


In addition, there are even more herbs that are known to decrease milk supply. These herbs, while not dangerous to the mom or baby, can hurt the milk supply, so therefore should be avoided by breastfeeding women. These herbs include:

Black Walnut
Chickweed Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Lemon Balm
Oregano Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Peppermint (Menthapiperita)/
Menthol Periwinkle Herb (Vinca minor)
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Sorrel (Rumexacetosa)
Spearmint Thyme


Of course, there are many other herbs out there that are not on these lists. It is important to always discuss your herbal remedies with your doctor in order to keep you and your baby safe.

Regina Ledoux, RN, CNM

Ms. Ledoux began her career as an ObGyn nurse practitioner prior to becoming a practicing midwife in the Santa Cruz community. Working together with ObGyn physicians in her own practice, she has over 20 years experience in women's health, pregnancy and childbirth.