Withania use while Breastfeeding
Withania Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
Withania (Withania somnifera) roots and berries contain alkaloids, steroidal lactones, and saponins. It is called ashwagandha in ayurvedic medicine where it is sometimes used as a galactogogue. However, no scientifically valid clinical trials support this use. Galactogogues should never replace evaluation and counseling on modifiable factors that affect milk production. No data exist on the excretion of any components of Withania into breastmilk or on the safety and efficacy of Withania in nursing mothers or infants. In general, Withania is generally well tolerated in adults with occasional gastrointestinal upset and allergic skin reactions. It should be used cautiously by patients with diabetes or hypertension. Because there is no published experience with Withania during breastfeeding, it should be avoided, especially while nursing a newborn or preterm infant.
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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
Forty women who complained of an insufficient milk supply at 5 days postpartum were given a combination herbal supplement as 2 capsules of Lactare (Pharma Private Ltd., Madras, India) 3 times daily. Each capsule contained wild asparagus 200 mg, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) 100 mg, fenugreek 50 mg, licorice 50 mg, and garlic 20 mg. By day 4 of therapy, no infants required supplementary feeding. Infants were weighed before and after each feeding on day 5 of maternal therapy to determine the amount of milk ingested. On the day of the test weighing, infants' milk intake averaged 388 mL, and the fluid and caloric intake was considered adequate. This study cannot be considered as valid evidence of a galactogogue effect of these herbs because it lacks randomization, blinding, a placebo control, and maternal instruction in breastfeeding technique. Additionally, infants were breastfed only 6 to 8 times daily, which is insufficient to maximize milk supply.
1. Sholapurkar ML. 'Lactare' for improving lactation. Indian Pract. 1986;39:1023-6.
2. Rasiya Beegam A, Nayar TS. Plants used for natal healthcare in folk medicine of Kerala, India. Indian J Tradit Knowl. 2011;10:523-7.
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
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