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Turmeric use while Breastfeeding

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 17, 2020.

Turmeric Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding

Summary of Use during Lactation

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) rhizome contains curcuminoids such as curcumin. No data exist on the excretion of any components of turmeric into breastmilk or on the safety and efficacy of turmeric in nursing mothers or infants. Turmeric is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) as a food ingredient by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Turmeric is generally well tolerated even in high doses, but gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea and diarrhea, and rare allergic reactions have been reported, and it may increase the risk of bleeding in patients taking warfarin and antiplatelet drugs. Because of a lack of data, turmeric in amounts higher than those found in foods as a flavoring should probably be avoided during breastfeeding. Turmeric has been used as a galactogogue in India;[1][2] however, no scientific data support this use. In Thailand it is reportedly used as part of a topical herbal mixture to shorten the time to full lactation and also part of a topical herbal mixture used for breast engorgement.[3][4] Galactogogues should never replace evaluation and counseling on modifiable factors that affect milk production.[5] In India turmeric is a component of a paste applied to the breasts for sore nipples.[6] Contact dermatitis has been reported after contact of the skin with curcumin-containing products.[7]

Dietary supplements do not require extensive pre-marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers are responsible to ensure the safety, but do not need to prove the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements before they are marketed. Dietary supplements may contain multiple ingredients, and differences are often found between labeled and actual ingredients or their amounts. A manufacturer may contract with an independent organization to verify the quality of a product or its ingredients, but that does not certify the safety or effectiveness of a product. Because of the above issues, clinical testing results on one product may not be applicable to other products. More detailed information about dietary supplements is available elsewhere on the LactMed Web site.

Drug Levels

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

In a study of exclusively nursing mothers receiving fenugreek seed 200 mg, turmeric 100 mg and ginger 120 mg (Fenucaps; Herbal Acharn's Home Co. Ltd., Thailand) 3 times daily for 4 weeks, no adverse events were reported in their infants, although the method used to determine this finding were not reported.[8]

Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk

A randomized study of nursing mothers with mastitis compared a cream containing curcumin (n = 32) to a placebo (n = 31) cream in the treatment of mastitis, defined as two of the following: erythema, breast tension and breast pain. Cream was applied to the affected breast 3 times daily for 3 days. Mastitis improved in both groups, but the improvement was greater in the group that received the curcumin cream.[9] The authors claimed that the study was double-blinded; however, curcumin has a bright yellow color, and no mention was made of the color of the placebo cream. This difference may have negated the blinding of the study.

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.[3]

A randomized trial in women with breast engorgement compared warm compresses to warm compresses containing a mixture of dried herbs, including ginger, lemon grass, Stapf leaves and leaf sheaths, Acacia concinna leaves, tamarind leaves, Citrus hystrix (kaffir lime) peels, Blumea balsamifera (sambong) leaves, salt and camphor. Both treatments relived the pain of engorgement, but women who received the compress with herbs (n = 250) had greater pain relief than those who received the warm compress alone. Because of the possible color and odor differences between treatments, the study cannot be considered to be blinded.[4]

Fifty women in Thailand who were 1 month postpartum and exclusively breastfeeding were randomized to receive either a placebo or capsules containing fenugreek seed 200 mg, turmeric 100 mg and ginger 120 mg (Fenucaps; Herbal Acharn's Home Co. Ltd., Thailand) 3 times daily for 4 weeks. Participants pumped milk on 2 days at 0, 2 and 4 weeks of the study. The average milk volumes increased by 49% at 2 weeks and 103% at 4 weeks among participants receiving the active product. The macronutrient composition of the milk did not change in either group over the 4-week period. Growth of infants was not reported.[8]

References

1.
Sayed NZ, Deo R, Mukundan U. Herbal remedies used by Warlis of Dahanu to induce lactation in nursing mothers. Indian J Tradit Knowl. 2007;6:602-5.
2.
Chaudhuri RN, Ghosh BN, Chatterjee BN. Diet intake patterns of non-Bengali Muslim mothers during pregnancy and lactation. Indian J Public Health. 1989;33:82-3. [PubMed: 2641755]
3.
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. [PMC free article: PMC4377500] [PubMed: 25861373]
4.
Ketsuwan S, Baiya N, Paritakul P et al. Effect of herbal compresses for maternal breast engorgement at postpartum: A randomized controlled trial. Breastfeed Med. 2018;13:361-5. [PubMed: 29688768]
5.
Brodribb W. ABM Clinical Protocol #9: Use of galactogogues in initiating or augmenting maternal milk production, second revision 2018. Breastfeed Med. 2018;13:307-14. [PubMed: 29902083]
6.
Amuthavalluvan V, Devarapalli J. Indigenous knowledge and health seeking behavior among Kattunayakan: a tribe in transition. Glob J Human Soc Sci. 2011;11. http:​//socialscienceresearch​.org/index.php​/GJHSS/article/view/198/161.
7.
Chaudhari SP, Tam AY, Barr JA. Curcumin: A contact allergen. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2015;8:43-8. [PMC free article: PMC4689497] [PubMed: 26705440]
8.
Bumrungpert A, Somboonpanyakul P, Pavadhgul P et al. Effects of fenugreek, ginger, and turmeric supplementation on human milk volume and nutrient content in breastfeeding mothers: A randomized double-blind controlled trial. Breastfeed Med. 2018;13:645-50. [PubMed: 30411974]
9.
Afshariani R, Farhadi P, Ghaffarpasand F, Roozbeh J. Effectiveness of topical curcumin for treatment of mastitis in breastfeeding women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Oman Med J. 2014;29:330-4. [PMC free article: PMC4202229] [PubMed: 25337308]

Substance Identification

Substance Name

Turmeric

Scientific Name

Curcuma longa

CAS Registry Number

8024-37-1

Drug Class

  • Breast Feeding
  • Lactation
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Food
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts
  • Galactogogues

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Further information

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