Archive for October, 2012

Using fennel to increase milk production

From time to time we like to turn the spotlight on one of the herbs that we use in our products, such as goat’s rue, plantain, and fenugreek.

Today, we’re focusing on a versatile herb that features in a number of our products:  fennel.

You may know from eating the plant in a salad or garnish that fennel is a licorice flavored, feathery, aromatic herb. It grows to be several feet tall with umbels of small, yellow flowers that look very similar to a dill plant.  Its name derives from a Latin word for hay.

Fennel has many uses, from the culinary to the medicinal.  It features prominently in Mediterranean cuisine, used as a spice, eaten raw, cooked as a side dish, used in pasta and risottos, and used in vegetable and meat dishes, among other uses.

Its medicinal uses are similarly varied.  Fennel was found by the German Commission E to relieve mild indigestion and coughs.  The seeds can be chewed to sweeten breath and help a toothache, and a gargle will relieve a sore throat. Fennel is sometimes used as a colic remedy.  It’s even used as flavoring in some natural toothpastes.  You may have also seen fennel seeds offered as you leave Indian restaurants to help with digestion.

Fennel has been used for centuries to increase breast milk production, and it’s an ingredient in a number of our products, including: More Milk Plus, More Milk Plus Alcohol Free, More Milk Plus Capsules, More Milk Special Blend, More Milk Special Blend Alcohol Free, More Milk Special Blend Capsules, and More Milk.  We do not use fennel oil, but instead the whole seed extract in our products.

To prepare fennel tea, The Nursing Mother’s Herbal recommends combining 1-3 teaspoons of freshly crushed seeds with 8 ounces of boiling water, covering, and steeping for 10-20 minutes.  It can be drunk up to 5-6 times per day.  You can also use fennel in a compress to relieve swollen, tender breasts by putting crushed seeds in hot water.

The essential oil of fennel is not recommended for use during pregnancy or with infants and small children.  There are no known drug interactions with fennel.

Sources:  The Nursing Mother’s Herbal,, WikipediaImage credit: Wikimedia Commons

This information is provided for educational purposes only, and should not to be construed as medical advice.  These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

Fight breast cancer by donating your breast milk!

Could your breastmilk hold the keys to the prevention and treatment of breast cancer?

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re pleased to share some ground breaking breast cancer research which uses breast milk to unlock the secrets of the disease.  And if you fit the criteria for one of the studies using breast milk, you may be able to donate your own!*

Dr. Kathleen Arcaro at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is an environmental toxicologist who analyzes breast milk for clues about breast cancer risk.  In spite of years of breast cancer research, we know little about the reasons why women develop it.  The most widely known risk factors – family history and inherited gene mutations – account for only a small number of the new cases diagnosed each year.

But breast milk might be able to help.  Some of your breast duct cells naturally slough off into your milk.  These cells are incredibly valuable in understanding breast cancer, and they’re also hard to get without an invasive procedure.  But you produce an average of 30,000 per milliliter every time you nurse or pump!

Scientists can now use DNA analysis to examine these breast cells for patterns of “methylation:” the presence of methyl groups which attach to key parts of our DNA such as tumor suppressor genes, and “turn them off,” rendering us less capable of stopping the growth of tumors.  Some forms of methylation, which is related to things like diet, smoking, exposure to toxins, stress, and exercise, can render us more vulnerable to breast cancer.

Since 2009, Dr. Arcaro has been investigating whether breast milk could reveal patterns in breast cancer risk by studying women who had or were planning to have a breast biopsy.  Her research has found that certain patterns of methylation are correlated with a higher risk of breast cancer.

This finding is important because it may allow mothers to one day get a personalized breast cancer risk profile. Even more importantly, the hope is that new treatments may actually be able to reverse methylation, dramatically reducing our risk of breast cancer.

You may have known that your breast milk is amazing for its nutritional and immunological properties, but now you know how it’s a weapon in the war on cancer, too!

* Dr. Arcaro is currently looking for milk camples from 1) African American nursing mothers living anywhere in the country, OR 2) nursing mothers of any race living anywhere in the country who have had a breast biopsy or are expecting to have one, OR 3) mothers of any race living anywhere in the country who have had breast cancer and are now nursing.  To participate, see Dr. Arcaro’s donation page.  If you don’t qualify for one now, please check Dr. Arcaro’s website at another time, as her criteria do change over time.

If you don’t qualify to participate but want to be involved (whether you’re nursing or not), you can register for the Love/Avon Army of Women, which will put you on a list of people willing to be contacted should another opportunity arise.  Dr. Arcaro would appreciate it if you’d select “breast milk study” when asked how you heard about the study.


How does tongue tie impact breastfeeding? A podcast interview with Catherine Watson Genna

How does having a tongue tie (restricted frenulum under the tongue) affect breastfeeding?

In this interview, Catherine Watson Genna, author of Supporting Sucking Skills in Breastfeeding Infants, discusses the types of tongue tie, what it’s like to nurse a baby with a tongue tie, what it’s like for the baby to have a tight frenulum clipped, and where to turn for help with a tongue tied baby.

In the interview Cathy mentioned two useful sites for mothers of tongue tied babies:

You can listen to this interview using the player below, listen with Quicktime, or download it from our free iTunes store!

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