When I wrote a recent article about whether it’s safe to take Ashwagandha while pregnant, I also came across a bit of data regarding breastfeeding. It’s a niche question to ask, and unfortunately, not many health writers are interested in finding the answers for everyone–they just hype up products.
But at the Great Green Wall we’re all about getting the best information to everyone. So without further ado, here’s all the scientific data I could find about taking Ashwagandha while breastfeeding.
Why Some Breastfeeding Mothers Take Ashwagandha
People in cultures with a history of herbal remedies and tinctures have been taking Ashwagandha specifically for breastfeeding benefits for centuries. By examining what traditional practitioners and modern mothers are saying, we can begin to see why so many women are asking about this herb during lactation.
Everyone knows that whatever nutrients a breastfeeding mother ingests are passed along to the child. The opposite of that is equally true: whatever a mother is lacking in her diet, so too will her child miss out on.
I previously mentioned that at least one study has been conducted on lactating mothers taking Ashwagandha. In this trial, mothers took a compound containing several Ayurvedic remedies to increase milk production, including Ashwagandha. The women not only produced more milk, but no side-effects have been mentioned.
As a breastfeeding mother, you know better than anyone that it takes a real physical toll on your body, and one of those tolls is on the tissue around the nipple and areola. This inflammation is not only painful, but it can lead to bacterial infections; not good for you the mother, and because it’s right at the site of feeding, it’s especially dangerous for your infant.
That’s why many women turn to Ashwagandha. It has proven anti-inflammatory effects that can potentially reduce swelling, thereby increasing the strength of your breast tissue at the site of feeding, and possibly reduce the risk of infection.
Nearly 15% of all mothers experience some form of Postpartum depression, which if we extrapolate that out, makes for hundreds of millions of women worldwide. Ashwagandha has demonstrated safe and effective reduction of depression symptoms across the board, making it an attractive option for many women.
Note: if you or someone you know suffers from Postpartum, please contact a professional.
Getting enough quality sleep becomes doubly important when your body is supplying the nutrients for another living being. That’s why some women have turned to Ashwagandha, and why so many traditional practitioners recommend it. Turns out, in clinical trials, Ashwagandha is a powerful enough sleep aid that it may even treat diagnosed insomnia.
Lastly, Ashwagandha has recently been discovered to have desire and stimulation benefits for women. Sexual health is as important as any other, and many mothers can tell you, if you haven’t experienced it already, that a new mother’s libido can crater, especially while breastfeeding. The studies I’ve reviewed that recommend Ashwagandha for a woman’s libido specifically mention breastfeeding women, with no warnings.
Immune Systems and Lactation
One warning about breastfeeding while taking Ashwagandha arises due to the immune system effects it has on our bodies. In a highly exacting study, Ashwagandha increased several immune system cells in patients. Lactating women should keep this in mind because a mother directly transfers her immune cells to her child when breastfeeding. While it may seem like a positive thing, the fact is there simply aren’t any studies evaluating if this is a positive or a negative. But we wouldn’t be doing our jobs at the Great Green Wall if we didn’t at least mention that there is an effect taking place when taking Ashwagandha.
This question still seems open to debate. There are large-scale reviews of Ashwagandha promoting its benefits while warning lactating mothers to stay away. On the other hand, we’ve seen a few studies actively promote Ashwagandha for breastfeeding women, with no warning flags.
Where does that leave you, the breastfeeding mother? It means that you should make as informed a decision as possible regarding not only your child’s health, but your own health as well. Your baby depends on you being your most healthy self. If in consultation with your medical provider you determine that the benefits of Ashwagandha outweigh the unknowns, then that is your decision to make. We can only provide the data, as we hope we’ve done.