The Effect of Herbal Medicine on Breast Milk Production: An Overview of Systematic Reviews

Document Type : Review Article


1 MD, Evelina London Children’s Hospital, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ National Health Service Foundation Trust, London, UK.

2 General Pediatrics, Evelina London Children’s Hospital, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ National Health Service Foundation Trust, London, UK.



Background: Insufficient milk production can cause stress and discomfort in mothers. Some mothers resort to herbal medicine to increase milk production. This study aims to review the effect of herbal medicine on breast milk production according to existing scientific literature.
Materials and Methods: In this overview, online databases Medline, EMBASE, Web of Science, Scopus, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, CIVILICA, and Google search engine were searched for studies on the effect of herbal medicine on increasing milk production published up to February 2023. Two independent authors undertook the screening, selection, and quality assessment of selected research (using the AMSTAR checklist).
Results: Five systematic reviews were included. One review (on nine experimental studies) showed that torbangun leaves, young papayas, moringa leaves, katuk leaves, and banana buds contain chemical compounds that can increase the production and secretion of breast milk. Two reviews (on eight experimental studies) showed that the consumption of fenugreek and milk thistle significantly increased the production of breast milk compared to the control, although the studies were highly heterogeneous. Another systematic review (on 41 experimental studies) reported increased milk volume in 13 studies (with Bu Xue Sheng Ru, Chanbao, Cui Ru, banana flower, fenugreek, ginger, moringa, fenugreek, ginger and turmeric mix, ixbut, mixed botanical tea, Sheng Ru He Ji, silymarin, Xian Tong Ru, palm dates), although a meta-analysis was not possible due to high heterogeneity.
Conclusion: There is evidence that some herbal medicines may increase milk production in mothers. However, the magnitude of these effects is uncertain due to the substantial heterogeneity of the studies, imprecision of measurements, and incomplete reporting. High-quality RCTs on the efficacy and safety of galactagogues are needed.