Last update Oct. 31, 2018
The flowering tops of this herbaceous plant are consumed. It contains guanidine and galegine, with supposed hypoglycemic effects (Blumenthal 1998 p 332).
It has been used as a galactagogue in domestic animals since ancient times and at the beginning of the 20th century it was seen to increase milk production in cows (Zuppa 2010).
Since the last update we have not found published data on its excretion in breastmilk.
Despite its widespread use (Sim 2013, Forinash 2012, Zuppa 2010), there is little quality scientific evidence on its effect as a galactagogue (Mortel 2013, Forinash 2012, Breastfeeding Committee of the Spanish Pediatric Association 2012, ABM 2011).
The few studies that claim to demonstrate its galactagogue properties (Serrao 2018, Ozalkaya 2018, Zecca 2016, Turkyilmaz 2011) use a mixture of herbs, all allegedly galactagogues, in mothers from the test group, so that the effect found can not be attributed to one herb in particular.
Other studies found a maternal sensation of increased milk production and good tolerance (Salatino 2017).
No greater antioxidant capacity has been found in the breastmilk of women who drank mixed infusions of this and other plants (Kavurt 2013).
Two newborns and their mothers were seriously intoxicated after the latter drank an average of two litres a day of an infusion mixed with licorice, fennel, anise and galega (Rosti 1994).
A mother was severely intoxicated (gastroenteritis, liver inflammation) by continuously drinking a mixed infusion of fennel, fenugreek and galega (Sahin 2016).
It can cause hypoglycemia (Zuppa 2010, Blumenthal 1998 p 332), although no study has ever been published.
It is a very toxic plant for sheep (Puyt 1981).
The Commission E of the German Ministry of Health discourages its use in humans due to lack of evidence of its therapeutic usefulness (Blumenthal 1998 p. 332).
Given its widespread use, low toxicity and good tolerance at correct doses, moderate consumption would be compatible with breastfeeding. Do not use as a galactagogue without health checks.
The best galactogogue is frequent on-demand breastfeeding with correct technique in a mother who maintains her self-confidence (Mannion 2012, Forinash 2012, ABM 2018 y 2011).
Precautions when taking plant preparations:
1. Make sure they are from a reliable source: poisonings have occurred due to confusion of one plant with another with toxic properties, poisonings due to heavy metals that are extracted from the soil and food poisoning due to contamination with bacteria or fungi (Anderson 2017).
2. Do not take in excess; follow recommendations from experts in phytotherapy. “Natural” products are not good in any quantity: plants contain active substances from which much of our traditional pharmacopoeia has been obtained and can cause poisoning or act as endocrine disruptors (they contain phytoestrogens: Powers 2015, Zava 1998) if consumed in exaggerated quantities or periods of time.
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it.
Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.
Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.
e-lactancia is a resource recommended by Confederación Nacional de Pediatría (CONAPEME) of Mexico
Would you like to recommend the use of e-lactancia? Write to us at corporate mail of APILAM