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March 01, 2019
In very simple terms, galactagogues are substances that are used to enhance or induce breast milk production.
Galactagogues can be herbal (like all the ingredients in out lactation teas), natural/food items (such as brewers yeast and oats) or pharmaceutical (Domperidone – more commonly known as Motilium).
Herbal and food galactagogues have become popular due to the high amount of anecdotal evidence and personal experience indicating their success.
When it comes to herbal and food galactagogues, there is actually very little scientific evidence to validate their efficiency. But all that means is that there is limited clinical data measuring the actual increases in volume during trials using galactagogues, not that they aren’t effective. There are some studies available with positive outcomes and results but most are small sample sizes or animal results not human.
Many human studies that have been done about the use of herbal galactagogues are mainly retrospective, so involve talking with breastfeeding mums about their experiences and the large majority of these studies report that mothers had noticeable increases in milk supply and felt confident and like they had a measure of control knowing they had access to these. Reducing emotional stress is a huge factor in the post natal journey and galactagogues play a big role in alleviating stress for mums concerned about their supply by allowing confidence and a feeling of proactively ‘doing something’.
Domperidone (Motilium) for example is a dopamine antagonist, which means it blocks dopamine. Dopamines role is to decrease the release of prolactin (the milk making hormone) from the pituitary. Less dopamine means more prolactin can be released, hence increasing breast milk.
While the scientific studies with data are scant, new studies are slowly coming out, which is fantastic for confirming the large abundance of anecdotal evidence and what women all over the world have known for hundreds of years – and that is that herbal and food galactagogues work and are effective at supporting breast milk supply.
Basically, for foods like oats, brewers yeast and other herbal galactagogues, the mode of action is not known. There are theories, like that Moringa stimulates prolactin release that Goat’s Rue stimulates mammary tissue growth and that brewers yeast is a polysaccharide that stimulates prolactin release.
The benefits of oats, brewers yeast and linseed and our herbal ingredients like Moringa, Alfalfa and Raspberry Leaf go beyond their milk promoting qualities. Brewers yeast contains B group vitamins, oats are amazing for heart health, linseed contains good fats that our body needs, Alfalfa, Moringa and Shatavari are nutritional power houses full of iron, calcium and other vitamins. All these ingredients are found in both our breastfeeding teas and our lactation cookies and lactation brownies. Malt is another favourite for breastfeeding mums, it is probably similar to brewers yeast in it's action, but my goodness our lactation malt drink will get those ta ta's milking! It is like milo, except so much more malt and so much better!
A good nutrient rich diet is important for pregnancy, breastfeeding and the whole family.
I (from personal experience and happy customers!) truly believe galactagogues are a powerful item to have in your breast feeding tool kit.
I do urge you, don’t self diagnose supply issues, there are other underlying factors that can impact supply, so please book in with an international board certified lactation consultant. Having cookies and lactation tea on hand while you are waiting on the phone to book in never hurt though ;)
Happy feeding, happy parenting, happy you. x
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