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; however, no scientific data support this use. Galactogogues should never replace evaluation and counseling on modifiable factors that affect milk production. In Thailand it is used as part of a topical herbal mixture to shorten the time to full lactation. In India turmeric is a component of a paste applied to the breasts for sore nipples. Contact dermatitis has been reported after contact of the skin with curcumin-containing products.
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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 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. 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.
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. http://socialscienceresearch.org/index.php/GJHSS/article/view/198/161
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
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