Last update May 18, 2019
Fruits of this herb are used.
Essential oil is composed basically by trans-anethol and Estragol with a mild estrogenic effect.
Properties attributed but unproven are: anti-spasmodic, carminative and expectorant.
It is widely used as a galactogogue (Wagner 2019, Javan 2017, Winterfeld 2012, Muresan 2011, Dennehy 2010, Ayers 2000).
Trans-anethole is excreted in breast milk in a very small amount (Hausner 2008).
Plant widely used as a condiment and infusion in many cultures. It has been used even for pain relief during pregnancy and colicky pain in fussy babies (Abdulrazzaq 2009), without proved data on this.
Since it is non toxic at appropriate dose, a moderate and occasional consumption is believed to be compatible while breastfeeding.
High dose of trans-anethol may decrease milk production and induce neurotoxicity along with development of seizures and coma. Estragol may be carcinogenic.
Based on this, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA 2013) has disapproved it for children younger than 12 years old.
Reportedly, two young infants were severely intoxicated after ingestion by the mother, as galactagogue, of two daily liters of a mix infusion with Licorice, Fennel, Anise and Galega officinalis (gout's rue), Symptoms were attributed to Anethol from both Fennel and Anise (Rosti 1994).
There is no good quality scientific evidence to increase milk production or improve the weight of infants (Wagner 2019, Ozalkaya 2018, Nóbrega 1983). The best galactagogue is frequent and at demand breastfeeding with correct technique in a self-confident mother (ABM 2018 and 2011, Mannion 2012, Forinash 2012, O'Leary 1982).
Precautions when taking plant preparations:
1. Ensure that they are from reliable source: poisoning has occurred due to confusion of one plant with another with toxic properties, poisonings from heavy metals that are extracted from the soil and food poisoning due to contamination with bacteria or fungi (Anderson 2017).
2. Do not take too much; follow recommendations from experienced phytotherapy professionals. "Natural" products are not good in any quantity: plants contain active substances from which a large part of our traditional pharmacopoeia has been obtained and can cause intoxication or act as endocrine disruptors (they contain phytoestrogens: Powers 2015, Zava 1998) if they are taken in exaggerated quantities or over extended time periods.
We do not have alternatives for Anise.
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it.
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