Women all over the world are raving about the success of fenugreek in increasing the amount of breast milk they produce. The thing is, they have been for centuries. It is said to be one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plantsand has been used since ancient times in India, North Africa, and the Middle East to increase breast milk supply. The reason for this is that the herb contains chemicals called phytoestrogens that are similar to the female sex hormone extrogen. Research has shown that an increase in lactation of up to 900 percent can be achieved by consuming this herb.
Kathleen Huggins is a Registered Nurse and lactation consultant who works at a breastfeeding clinic in San Luis Obispo, California. She personally recommends fenugreek to women who need to stimulate milk flow. In an article she wrote on babycenter.com she said, Nearly all mothers report an increase in their milk supply within 24 to 72 hours after taking the herb. Most find that they can stop taking the herb once their level of milk production goes up as long as they make sure that both breasts are being completely emptied every two to three hours.
A study published in the 2010 Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical Sciences conducted in Rome, Italy at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart Department of Pediatrics found that fenugreek was successful in helping nursing mothers with lactation. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved fenugreek as an effective means to stimulate breast milk production.
BreastfeedingOnline.com supports nursing mothers? use of fenugreek, and notes that it can be taken in pill form or as tea. However, they mention that, tea is believed to be less potent than the pills and the tea comes with a bitter taste that can be hard to stomach. Remember that although recommended to most nursing mothers that need increased milk supply, it may not be the answer for everyone. It has been known to lower blood glucose levels in some diabetic women as well as aggravate asthma symptoms in others.
In regards to side effects, Huggins states that rarely do women have negative reactions to the herb, but you should not take it if you are pregnant because it can stimulate the uterus and cause you to have contractions. She and many members of the site said that urine and sweat may have a maple syrup-like odor. One member from India suggested that you buy seeds of fenugreek (available at the Indian market) and soak a tablespoon of them in water overnight, and eat it in the morning. She said this is the way women in India consume the herb. Her personal experience with this was that it tasted bitter, but did double her milk supply.