Last update May 19, 2021
Turmeric, curcumin or Indian saffron is a yellowish vegetable pigment that is obtained from the boiled, dried and ground root of the Curcuma longa plant.
Curcumin is also found in the root of a related plant, Javanese turmeric (Curcuma xanthorrhiza), but not in very different plants, such as Canadian turmeric (Hydrastis canadensis) or saffron (Crocus sativus).
It is used as a condiment to flavor and color food (a component of curry) and as a colorant in cosmetics, medicines, fabrics and other materials.
It has antioxidant properties and is used in traditional medicine as a gallbladder stimulant (choleretic, cholagogue), appetite stimulant and general anti-inflammatory.
Listed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as “Traditional herbal medicine used for the relief of digestive disorders, such as feeling full, slow digestion and flatulence” (EMA 2018).
In some eastern cultures it is used as a galactogogue (Chaudhuri 1989)
Note: this plant has nothing to do with hydrastis, also called Canadian turmeric (Hydrastis canadensis).
At the date of the last update, we did not find any published data on its excretion in breast milk.
No problems have been observed in infants whose mothers took 100 mg of curcumin 3 times a day for 4 weeks (Bumrungpert 2018).
There is no consistent evidence of its galactogogue properties as the studies are of low methodological quality (Foong 2020) and used mixed with other plants such as fenugreek, a known galactogogue (Bumrungpert 2018). Furthermore, a study shows that curcumin inhibits breast milk production in vitro (Kobayashi 2021).
The best galactogogue is frequent on demand breastfeeding with correct technique in a mother who maintains her self-confidence (ABM 2018, Mannion 2012, Forinash 2012, ABM 2011).
TOPICAL USE ON THE CHEST:
Topical application of multi-composition Thai herbal compresses (turmeric, ginger and camphor) decreased the time to lactogenesis II or “milk surge” after delivery or caesarean section by about 5 hours (Dhippayom 2105), which is of doubtful clinical significance and hardly attributable exclusively to turmeric).
Its topical effect on postpartum breast engorgement or to treat pain or inflammation in mastitis has the same methodological flaws: compress application with up to 9 components, -turmeric, salt and other plants from the area of Thailand (Ketsuwan 2018) - , and there are doubts regarding the blind methodology (Afshariani 2014).
Topical allergic reactions (contact dermatitis) to curcumin are rare (Chaudhari 2015).
Should not be applied on the nipple to prevent the infant from ingesting it; if necessary, apply after one feeding and clean well with water before the next.
Although toxicity has not been demonstrated, the EMA has established a maximum daily intake of 2 mg/kg of body weight, which is 120 mg for a person weighing 60 kg (EMA 2018). Other agencies establish it at 3 mg/kg of weight (AESAN 2020). It is not advisable to take products with a turmeric content greater than 500 mg/kg for food or 200 mg/L for drink, and which are usually found in fine pastries and dairy products and flavored beverages (EMA 2018).
It is used in many kitchens around the world as a flavoring and coloring and does not cause problems when consumed in culinary doses. Turmeric in its culinary use is therefore compatible with lactation.
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. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.
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