Many lactating mothers question the safety of herbal treatments or supplements during breastfeeding. Although the root and leaves of the dandelion plant have been used for medicinal purposes and herbal remedies for centuries, scientific research is lacking on the safety of the herb while nursing. Consult your physician before taking dandelion root, leaves or supplements while you are breastfeeding.
Although many people think of dandelion as a common weed, herbalists consider it a rich source of vitamins and minerals with medicinal properties. Dandelion is a perennial that grows in temperate climates in North America, Asia and Europe. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the leaves of the herb produce a diuretic effect, while dandelion roots stimulate appetite, aid digestion and strengthen the immune system. Available in fresh or dried form, dandelion is used in herbal teas, extracts and dietary supplements.
Rich in iron, vitamin A and calcium, dandelion reportedly helps nourish your liver and treat mild edema. As a natural diuretic, dandelion increases urination and might help prevent urinary tract infections, constipation, loss of appetite, upset stomach and gastrointestinal problems. According to Kelly Bonyata, certified lactation consultant, dandelion may encourage ovulation and reduce fatigue, however more scientific research is needed to test the validity of these claims. Consult your healthcare provider before using dandelion to treat any of these health concerns while breastfeeding. Benefits of dandelion on infant development or milk production remain unknown.
Possible Side Effects
Herbs such as dandelion may cause certain side effects when used orally or topically. Mild side effects include upset stomach and heartburn. Dandelions might cause contact dermatitis in individuals with sensitive skin. The plant may also cause mouth sores or a severe allergic reaction. Avoid dandelion if you are allergic to marigolds, daisies, ragweed, chrysanthemums, chamomile or iodine. As a diuretic, dandelion might interfere with the absorption of certain medications due to increased urination. Do not use dandelion if you take lithium, antibiotics or antacids.
Although dandelion used as a culinary ingredient is considered safe to consume while breastfeeding, high dosages of the herb in supplements or teas might be unsafe for your newborn during lactation. The National Institutes of Health recommends avoiding the use of dandelion while breastfeeding or pregnant. Always consult a knowledgeable healthcare professional before ingesting dandelion root or leaves while breastfeeding.