Nursing mothers who experience low milk production may look to natural remedies as a first-line option to promote and support a healthy supply of breast milk. Ginger is a power food with many health benefits and may be well suited as a dietary addition to increase milk supply. This spice is generally recognized as safe; however, due to limited clinical studies on the use of ginger by lactating women, breast-feeding mothers must consult a health care professional before using it as a herbal supplement.
Ginger is a rhizome, or “mass of roots,” commonly used fresh, powdered, dried or as an oil or juice. People in Asia have used ginger widely as a medicinal herb for thousands of years to address conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, muscular aches, pains, sore throats, cramps, constipation, indigestion, vomiting, hypertension, dementia, fever, infectious diseases and parasitic worm infections.
Ginger now lands on lists of lactogenic foods -- those thought to aid in the production of breast milk. The substances in ginger believed to contribute to its therapeutic effects are ketones, specifically gingerols. While the specific mechanism of action requires additional research, the constituents of ginger regulate immune function, counteract the formation of tumors, prevent cell death, reduce inflammation, decrease blood glucose, reduce lipids in the serum, and suppress nausea and vomiting.
Ginger and Breast-Feeding Specifics
The foods and beverages a breast-feeding woman consumes not only pass through to her baby, but ultimately have an effect on the production of milk itself. Moms who experienced significant blood loss during birth should not consume ginger in early postpartum, advises lactation expert Hilary Jacobson on the website of MOBI Motherhood International; it can increase the risk of hemorrhage.
A simple technique for ginger consumption is boiling fresh ginger root to make an herbal tea. Cut two to three thin slices of fresh ginger root, steep in 1 to 2 cups of simmering water for a few minutes and then pour into a mug. Alternatively, moms can add ginger to an array of entrees and side dishes.
- Mobimotherhood.org: Lactogenic Foods and Herbs
- BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine: The Use of Herbal Medicines During Breastfeeding: A Population-Based Survey in Western Australia
- Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects: The Amazing and Mighty Ginger
- Food Chemical Toxicology: Some Phytochemical, Pharmacological and Toxicological Properties of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale Roscoe): A Review of Recent Research