Use of herbals as galactagogues

J Pharm Pract. 2012 Apr;25(2):222-31. doi: 10.1177/0897190011431636.


With a substantial number of women using herbal products to augment their milk production, this article will review available literature illustrating efficacy and adverse effects of using these products. Embase, PubMed, and EBSCO (all databases) were searched from inception to June 2011 using terms such as ‘‘galactagogue,’’ ‘‘galactogogue,’’ ‘‘herbal,’’ and ‘‘botanical’’ and the search was subsequently narrowed to specific herbals by name. Additional articles were obtained from article reference lists. Supplemental information was obtained with Natural Standard. All abstracts retrieved were evaluated for relevance and germane articles were included. Numerous lactation-stimulating herbals have been identified in the literature with varying degrees of evidence,mostly anecdotal. Use of torbangun, milk thistle, and fenugreek may correlate with increased milk supply. Evidence regarding adverse effects, pharmacodynamic properties, and pharmacokinetic effects remains scarce. Despite the fact that postpartum women may turn to herbal galactagogues, scant clinical evidence exists to justify their effectiveness. Further clinical trials are needed in order to substantiate these findings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Galactogogues / administration & dosage*
  • Galactogogues / adverse effects
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Lactation / drug effects*
  • Lactation / physiology
  • Milk, Human / drug effects*
  • Milk, Human / physiology
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Plant Preparations / administration & dosage*
  • Plant Preparations / adverse effects
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Galactogogues
  • Plant Preparations