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P05.26. Systematic review of breastfeeding and herbs


Despite popular and historical use, there has been little modern research conducted to determine the safety and efficacy of herb use during breastfeeding. The purpose of this study was to systematically review the clinical literature on herbal medicine and lactation.


Databases such as Pubmed, CAB abstracts, Cochrane clinical trials, HealthStar, CINHAL, and Reprotox were systematically searched for human trials from 1970 till 2010. Reference lists from relevant articles were hand searched.


Thirty-two studies met the inclusion criteria. Clinical studies were divided into three categories: survey studies (n=11), safety studies (n= 8), and efficacy studies (n= 13). Six studies were randomized controlled trials. The most common herbs studied were St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) (n=3), garlic (Allium sativum L.) extract (n=2), and senna (Cassia senna L.) (n=2). Studies were very heterogeneous with regards to study design, herbal intervention, and outcome measures. Overall, poor methodological quality predominated among the studies.


Our review concludes that further research is needed to assess the prevalence, efficacy, and safety of herbs during breastfeeding.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Budzynska, K., Gardner, Z., Duguoa, J. et al. P05.26. Systematic review of breastfeeding and herbs. BMC Complement Altern Med 12 (Suppl 1), P386 (2012).

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