Ginger use while Breastfeeding
Drugs containing Ginger: Ginger Root, Dramamine Non-Drowsy Naturals, Hofels Ginger One A Day, Zingiber, B-Nexa, Focalgin-B
Ginger Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) root contains the pungent principles or gingerols that are considered to be responsible for its pharmacological activity. Ginger is commonly used for nausea and motion sickness. It has no specific lactation-related uses in Western medicine, but is reportedly used as a galactogogue in some parts of Laos. However, no scientifically valid clinical trials support this use. In Thailand it is used as part of a topical herbal mixture to shorten the time to full lactation. Galactogogues should never replace evaluation and counseling on modifiable factors that affect milk production. Very limited data exist on the safety and efficacy of ginger in nursing mothers or infants. However, ginger has a long history of use as a food and medicine and is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) as a food flavoring by the US Food and Drug Administration, including during lactation. When used as a medicinal, ginger is generally well tolerated in adults, but mild gastrointestinal side effects such as bad taste, heartburn and abdominal discomfort, are reported occasionally. In Thailand it is used as part of a topical herbal mixture to shorten the time to full lactation.
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Maternal Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Infant Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Effects in Breastfed Infants
Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk
A study in Japan compared the use of a mixture of 13 herbs, including ginger, to ergonovine for their effects on lactation and serum prolactin in postpartum women. The herbal mixture, called Xiong-gui-tiao-xue-yin, was given in a randomized fashion to 41 women in a dose of 2 grams of a dried aqueous extract 3 times daily. A comparable group of 41 women were randomized to receive methylergonovine 0.375 mg daily. Therapy was started on the day of delivery, but the duration of therapy was not specified. Plasma oxytocin and prolactin were measured on days 1 and 6; milk volumes were measured daily, although the method of measuring milk volume was not specified. Serum prolactin was higher on days 1 and 6 in the women who received the herbals; plasma oxytocin was lower on day 1 in the women who received the herbal, but not different on day 6. Milk volumes were greater on days 4, 5, and 6 in women who received the herbal mixture. This study has serious flaws that make its interpretation impossible. First, milk volume measurement is subject to considerable variability depending on the measurement method used, but the method was not specified. Second, methylergonovine has caused decreases in serum prolactin and milk production in some studies. Because of the lack of a placebo group, the differences found could be a negative effect of methylergonovine rather than a positive effect of the herbal preparation. Because this study used a multi-ingredient combination products in which ginger was only one component, the results might be different from studies in which ginger was used alone.
Studies of Thai herbal compresses containing ginger, turmeric and camphor have evaluated the effect of application of the compresses to the breasts on lactation. The studies showed that the compresses shortened the time to lactation postpartum compared to routine clinical care for enhancing lactation.
1. Lamxay V, de Boer HJ, Bjork L. Traditions and plant use during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum recovery by the Kry ethnic group in Lao PDR. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2011;7:14. PMID: 21569234
2. Dhippayom T, Kongkaew C, Chaiyakunapruk N et al. Clinical effects of Thai herbal compress: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:942378. PMID: 25861373
3. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM clinical protocol #9: use of galactogogues in initiating or augmenting the rate of maternal milk secretion (First revision January 2011). Breastfeed Med. 2011;6:41-9. PMID: 21332371
4. O'Hara M, Kiefer D, Farrell K, Kemper K. A review of 12 commonly used medicinal herbs. Arch Fam Med. 1998;7:523-36. PMID: 9821826
5. Ushiroyama T, Sakuma K, Souen H, Nakai G, Morishima S, Yamashita Y et al. Xiong-gui-tiao-xue-yin (Kyuki-chouketsu-in), a traditional herbal medicine, stimulates lactation with increase in secretion of prolactin but not oxytocin in the postpartum period. Am J Chin Med. 2007;35:195-202. PMID: 17436360
6. Peters F, Lummerich M, Breckwoldt M. Inhibition of prolactin and lactation by methylergometrine hydrogenmaleate. Acta Endocrinol (Copenh). 1979;91:213-6. PMID: 463447
7. Arabin B, Ruttgers H, Kubli F. [Effects of routine administration of methylergometrine during puerperium on involution, maternal morbidity and lactation]. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 1986;46:215-20. PMID: 3519353
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