Targeting: Choosing Galactogogue Foods, Herbs, and Drugs with Purpose
So often we hope to find our quick fix in the form of a food, herb or drug that will magically resurrect our milk production. Just as there is no one best antibiotic to treat every infection, however, so also there is no one substance that we can ingest to increase milk production in all situations. When you are ill, a smart doctor takes a good general health history as well as details on your illness that include onset, duration, symptoms, lifestyle, nutrition habits, and any other underlying issues. She then selects an antibiotic that is appropriate for the cause of your infection (the individual bug) as well as your overall health and history. There are many medications because there is no one medication that cures everything all the time.
In the same way, those substances that do indeed positively influence milk production may work in different ways. While scientific, evidence-based information on how many of our most popular substances work is seriously lacking, we often do have some general information about them that may be clues to how they may contribute to improving lactation functionality. When selecting a drug, herb, or food to help with milk production, it may be wise to look beyond what is popular and instead try to match your choice to the suspected underlying cause of your milk production problem.
What does this mean? Consider a mother who has suffered a severe bleed after birth and is experiencing a delay in lactation. According to our current knowledge, the problem may be related to low iron status, reduced pituitary function, or medications used to treat the emergency. Instead of automatically resorting to the more common or popular galactogogues, a better result might be obtained if the galactogogue is chosen based on specific reputed properties that may more closely target the suspected roots of the milk production insufficiency. For instance, foods and herbs that are high in iron would be a good first line of defense. Things that are supportive of the pituitary or prolactin-increasing may also be helpful. Nettle is high in iron and also considered a galactogogue, and would be a good choice. Alfalfa and oats are both also considered lactogenic as well as possibly supportive of pituitary function, so they might be good additions as well. It makes sense to carefully consider the circumstances of your low milk production first so that you can more intelligently choose which avenues to pursue. This should result in an improved chance of increasing your milk production.