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Turmeric use while Breastfeeding

Medically reviewed on April 11, 2017

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. Galactogogues should never replace evaluation and counseling on modifiable factors that affect milk production.[3] In Thailand it is used as part of a topical herbal mixture to shorten the time to full lactation.[4] In India turmeric is a component of a paste applied to the breasts for sore nipples.[5] Contact dermatitis has been reported after contact of the skin with curcumin-containing products.[6]

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

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

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.[7] 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.[4]


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. PMID: 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. PMID: 25861373

4. 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

5. Amuthavalluvan V, Devarapalli J. Indigenous knowledge and health seeking behavior among Kattunayakan: a tribe in transition. Glob J Human Soc Sci. 2011;11.

6. 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. PMID: 25337308

Turmeric Identification

Substance Name


Scientific Name

Curcuma longa

CAS Registry Number


Drug Class

Complementary Therapies



Plant Extracts


Administrative Information

LactMed Record Number



Information presented in this database is not meant as a substitute for professional judgment. You should consult your healthcare provider for breastfeeding advice related to your particular situation. The U.S. government does not warrant or assume any liability or responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information on this Site.

Further information

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