There are many remedies for breast engorgement, ranging from massage, to cold packs, to cabbage.
But did you know that herbs – in the form of a poultice – can also help reduce swelling and inflammation associated with engorgement?
What’s a poultice? It’s an age-old way of treating soreness and inflammation, using moist herbs applied directly to the skin, usually held in place with a cloth.
Herbs that work well in a breast compress are anti-inflammatory and reduce swelling (comfrey, chamomile, calendula, lavender), increase lymph circulation and drainage (cleavers, burdock root, yarrow), and draw out infection (slippery elm, marshmallow root). Mullein leaf relieves pain.
To prepare, pour boiling water over the herbs and steep for 10-15 minutes. When cool enough to touch, apply herbs as a poultice directly to skin. You can also dip a cotton cloth in the warm infusion, wring it out and wrap around the breast and under the armpit. Keep the poultice on until it cools. Reapply throughout the day. If infection is present, a clean poultice or cloth should be used every time.
For a comprehensive discussion of engorgement, including prevention, treatment, and when to seek help, see this page on Kellymom.com.
Image credit: Chamomile, Wikimedia Commons
But there’s good news: the scent of herbs may help lift your spirits. Scents can be powerful mood changers, stimulating many regions of the brain and influencing emotional, immune, and hormonal functions.
The essential oils of a number of herbs can be helpful at this time of year. You’ll find them in lotions, bath salts, and massage oils. You can use them in an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer. Or you can create a quick steam inhalation bath by putting two drops of oil in a tub of hot water and leaning over it while covering your head with a towel (*Kathryn – are all of the oils below safe to inhale in these small amounts?). Just remember that essential oils generally shouldn’t be applied to the skin in undiluted form.
Here are a few of our favorite scents to lift the spirits in winter:
Citrus fruits (lemon, orange, grapefruit) have invigorating scents which many people find energizing. Research has even found that they can reduce stress and improve mood. Other energizing scents include basil, ginger, lemongrass, juniper, mint, sage, and thyme.
Lavender is a familiar, clean and crisp scent. It’s traditionally used to relieve headaches, depression, exhaustion, and to promote relaxation and sleep. You’ll find the herb and scent used in many herbal body care products, sachets and sleep pillows. Other soothing and relaxing herbs include: chamomile, elder, hops, jasmine, rose, and valerian.
Pine. When you’re stuck indoors, the scent of pine can bring your mind right back outside. Pine has been used traditionally for many purposes, including stress reduction, pain relief, and for strengthening concentration. Research suggests that it’s an effective mood-elevator.
Rosemary is another energizing scent to lift late winter spirits. It’s used for stress, anxiety, depression, and even strengthening brain function. Its strong scent may also be useful as a decongestant for winter colds.
This week we thought we’d point to a few plants which may help* with another common complaint: premenstrual syndrome (PMS). From bloating to acne to mood swings, PMS is estimated to affect at least 85% of menstruating women.
While there are many things that can help to alleviate PMS symptoms, we’d like to point out a few friends from the plant world which may make this time of the month easier.
Evening Primrose. Evening primrose oil is derived from the seeds of the Evening Primrose plant, a North American wildflower. It was used as a wound healer by Native Americans, and has traditionally been eaten as a leaf vegetable. It’s commonly used to treat symptoms of PMS, including breast tenderness related to menstrual cycles.
Chasteberry. Chasteberry is the fruit of the Chaste Tree, a shrub-like tree native to Asia. It has been used for thousands of years to ease PMS symptoms and to increase breastmilk production. It is thought to balance hormones produced by the pituitary gland.
Motherwort. Motherwort is a perennial plant in the mint family that derives its common name from its traditional uses as a uterine tonic and to regulate menstruation. It may calm emotions around menstruation as well.
* This information is provided for educational purposes only, and not as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider for care suited to your individual needs, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
At this time of the year we also love using herbs in fragrant, beautiful, and useful gifts. Our founder Kathryn Higgins has taught classes with kids during the holiday season, helping them create potpourri, wreaths, and bath bags for their parents.
These crafts make great gifts for teachers and day care providers, colleagues, and friends. And they’re simple enough to make with kids. Here are some of our suggestions for making your herbal gifts!
Potpourri: Fragrant herbs in potpourri sachets, placed in clothes drawers, closets, and even in cars provide a lasting reminder of the generosity the season. For an energizing blend, use herbs such as citrus, ginger, lemongrass, mint, and rosemary. For an uplifting blend, use herbs such as bergamot, clary sage, lemon, lime, and sage. For a soothing and relaxing blend, use herbs such as chamomile, jasmine, lavender, lemon balm, and rose.
Wreaths: Herbs can be used to create beautiful and fragrant wreaths. The simplest way to create an herbal wreath is to buy a small, premade wreath like those you can find at craft stores, and place some herbs in it. For more of a challenge, you can make a completely new one with lavender, with sage or with a stunning mixture of herbs. Herbs can also be used to create these adorable herbal wreath holiday cards!
Bath teas and salts: Make soothing and detoxifying bath products like herbal bath tea or herbal bath salts. Soothing and relaxing herbs to add include chamomile, jasmine, lavender, lemon balm, and rose. Detoxifying herbs include burdock root, citrus peel, dandelion root, echinacea root, fennel seed, juniper berries, and nettle. For soothing muscles, aches and pains, use herbs like chamomile, camphor, cinnamon, ginger, and eucalyptus.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
In this month’s podcast interview we speak with naturopathic physician Dr. Laila Tomsovic about preconception cleansing. We ask when to do it, whether cleansing is safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding, which foods are especially cleansing, and about the role of exercise and stress reduction in a cleanse. You may also be interested in our interview with Dr. Tomsovic on nutrition for fertility.
We’ve got a salve for that!
Motherlove’s line of protective and soothing herbal salves provides natural and effective relief to get you through many skin problems:
Motherlove’s Pregnant Belly Salve is an all natural way to prevent and soothe stretch marks. Certified organic herbs added to a scar-healing base of shea butter do wonders to prevent, soothe, and minimize stretch marks. You can use our Pregnant Belly Salve on dry heels, elbows, your c-section scar, even chapped lips. The stars of this salve are marshmallow, which softens skin and soothes skin irritations; rosehips, which helps prevent scarring and hydrates the skin; calendula, an an all purpose skin healing herb; and chamomile, an anti-inflammatory herb which softens skin.
Motherlove’s Green Salve is all-purpose, multi-tasking soother and healer. This organic, all natural salve is the perfect remedy for rashes, and chapped or irritated skin, including eczema. In winter it’s great for dry, chapped skin; in summer it’s great for taking the itch out of bug bites, bee stings, and poison ivy. Green Salve contains extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, plantain herb, comfrey herb, marshmallow root, and calendula flower. Plantain herb is known as “nature’s band aid” because it is excellent for healing wounds and drawing out toxins. Comfrey herb is nicknamed “knitbone,” as it quickly heals wounds and prevents scarring. Marshmallow and calendula soothe, heal, and soften skin.
Motherlove’s Nipple Cream is made with all certified organic ingredients which heal and soothe sore, cracked nursing nipples. Motherlove’s Nipple Cream contains extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root, calendula. All ingredients are safe for ingestion, so it does not need to be washed off prior to nursing. Have leftover Nipple Cream? Here are 13 more ways to use our Nipple Cream including using it on chapped lips, dry elbows, and even to tame frizzy hair!
Motherlove’s Diaper Rash & Thrush is an all-natural salve made with certified organic ingredients for persistent, inflamed diaper rash. It contains healing herbs oregon grape root to clear up skin conditions, yarrow to soothe rashes, myrrh to fight bacteria and yeast overgrowth, and calendula to soothe skin. If you’ve been treating diaper rash unsuccessfully with other products, your baby may have a yeast infection which requires a product with antifungal properties. Our Diaper Rash & Thrush salve is diaper safe and compatible with all diapers including cloth. This salve can also be used on nursing nipples, and does not need to be washed off nipples prior to nursing.
Motherlove’s Tattoo Care is a certified organic salve which provides optimal moisturizing and healing properties for a new tattoo, yet retains a consistency that is comfortable to apply while tattooing or to a fresh tattoo. Unlike petroleum-based products, Motherlove Tattoo Care allows the skin to breathe, and allows ink to fully penetrate the skin. Made with calendula flowers and marshmallow root, infused in extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, and shea butter, it keeps pores from getting clogged and promotes a quicker healing time.
Motherlove’s Rhoid Balm is a certified organic balm which provides immediate relief for inflamed tissues. It contains a soothing combination of herbs including witch hazel, recommended by moms and doctors alike to reduce swelling, slow bleeding, and ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids
Dry air from heating systems, winter winds, and even tissues can make our skin dry and irritated. Here are some herbs to keep your skin stay healthy:
Calendula is an all purpose skin healer used to stop bleeding, wash wounds, heal cuts, abscesses, rashes, boils, chapped skin, and eczema. It’s an ingredient in many Motherlove products, including our Nipple Cream and Green Salve.
Rosehips (the seedpod of the rose flower) are known to hydrate the skin and are wonderful to use for a face wash, steams and herbal baths. Rosehip oil also helps prevent scarring. The hips are very high in Vitamin C. Rosehips are an ingredient in many of our products, including our Pregnant Belly Oil and Salve.
Chamomile is an herb you may know in the form of a tea, but it’s also an anti-inflammatory herb which is also used on sores, rashes, scaly skin, sunburn, and windburn, to soften skin and to reduce wrinkles. You’ll find chamomile in many of our products, including our Pregnant Belly Oil and Salve.
Marshmallow softens skin and soothes skin irritations. And it’s good for winter colds, too. The tea is soothing to mucus membranes, swollen glands, and irritations of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract. You’ll find it in our Nipple Cream and Green Salve.
Water. Okay, it’s not an herb, but we include it as a reminder that staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to keep your skin happy. Running a humidifier may also mitigate the effects of dry air.
And however you choose to soothe your skin the winter, be sure to use avoid products which contain chemicals that may irritate your skin further.Pin It
What are the advantages of a liquid extract over a dried herbal supplement or tea?
Motherlove liquid extracts are made with only the highest quality certified organic herbs – picked and processed at peak potency. A liquid extract maintains this quality over time and has a high rate of absorbability. Dried powdered herbs can lose potency over time, making them less effective and requiring higher dosage amounts.
What is the difference between Motherlove alcohol based extracts and the alcohol-free extracts?
Initially, both products’ herbal components are extracted in alcohol and water. An alcohol/water blend is the preferred medium as it extracts the widest range of constituents from the herbs. The amount of alcohol in the finished extract is minimal and is not contraindicated in breastfeeding, but it does have a sharp taste.
In the alcohol-free products, the alcohol is slowly steamed away without removing the important herbal constituents. Glycerin, a syrup derived from coconuts, is then added to replace the alcohol. Motherlove offers alcohol-free choices in the More Milk Plus, More Milk Special Blend, More Milk Two, and Fenugreek products. All capsules are also alcohol-free.
Does the alcohol affect my baby?
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that a small amount of alcohol is compatible with breastfeeding, and that alcohol is out of breast milk within two hours after consumption. Our alcohol-based tinctures contain a very small amount of alcohol, about the equivalent of one glass of wine consumed over a 2- week timeframe. If there is a concern about alcohol content, Motherlove does have alcohol-free liquid extracts and vegetarian capsules available.
What is the difference between Motherlove’s liquid extracts and Motherlove’s capsules?
Initially the herbal components in all our formulas are extracted in grain alcohol and water, resulting in what is commonly known as a tincture. For our alcohol-free extracts the alcohol is then slowly removed without destroying the important herbal constituents. Glycerin, derived from coconuts, is added in place of the alcohol; acting as a natural preservative and giving the tincture a sweeter taste. To make our capsules, we again remove the alcohol and add coconut oil and soy lecithin as a natural preservative. This is then encapsulated in a vegetarian capsule. The liquid extracts and the capsules have the same herbal strength per dose. Liquid extracts are more quickly absorbed through the mucus membranes in the mouth than the capsules, which take about 1/2 hour to digest and enter the system. Many women prefer the capsules due to the strong taste of the liquid extracts.
Are Motherlove products gluten-free?
Yes, all Motherlove products are gluten-free.
Are there any known side effects from Motherlove products?
Commonly, fenugreek may cause increased perspiration, gas and/or loose stools, and the body may excrete a maple syrup-like smell when taking it alone. Both fenugreek and goat’s rue can lower blood sugar levels. Women who are insulin dependent or hypoglycemic may want to consult with a health care provider prior to use. As with any ingested food or product, if adverse effects appear in mother or baby, discontinue use.
Are allergic reactions to Motherlove herbal extracts possible?
Any ingested food has the potential for allergic reaction. Motherlove’s liquid extracts do not contain any dairy, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, gluten or soy. The vegetarian capsules do contain non-GMO soy lecithin. Fenugreek and goat’s rue are in the legume family, as are soy and peanuts. Those with allergies to plants in this family should use these products with caution. Discontinue use if side effects appear in mother or baby.
Can Motherlove products be used with other medications?
Our products can be taken along with many other medications. Please call us with any concerns. We keep books on file to research specific contraindications with the herbs we use in our products and other medications. Please consult a health care practitioner with contraindication concerns.Pin It
Herbs can be a huge help in maintaining the health of your skin during pregnancy, soothing and preventing stretch marks. But did you know that they can also help heal and minimize your cesarean scar?
Here are some herbs which can applied topically – once your incision has fully healed and your health care provider approves – to assist in the healing and minimizing of your c-section scar.* You may also want to listen to our podcast on caring for your c-section.
And when looking for products which contain these ingredients, be sure not to choose ones with body care ingredients to avoid.
Aloe vera is a classic skin healer, used for nearly thousands of years to soothe burns, moisturize, and condition skin.
Calendula, an herb we use in our Pregnant Belly Oil, Pregnant Belly Salve, Nipple Cream, Diaper Rash & Thrush, Rhoid Balm, is an an all-purpose skin healing herb used to stop bleeding, wash wounds, heal cuts, abscesses, rashes, boils, chapped skin, and eczema.
Sea buckthorn is an orange berry heralded for the its rare omega 7 fatty acids, high Vitamin C content, and its anti-inflammatory properties, all of which can condition the skin.
Jojoba seed oil was first used by Native Americans in order to heal and condition skin and hair. It’s also useful as a treatment for burns.
Gotu kola has been used for centuries to heal wounds and treat skin conditions.
St. John’s Wort is better known for its effects on mood, but it’s also a useful herb for skin healing and burn care.
* This information is provided for educational purposes only, and is not medical advice. Consult your health care provider before using this information, and never apply topical agents to your c-section scar before it has healed.
Image credit: Wikimedia CommonsPin It
Our new Motherlove Tattoo Care salve is the perfect product to soothe, moisturize, protect, and heal your new tattoo!
Motherlove Tattoo Care is made with 100% certified organic ingredients and is handcrafted in Colorado using the same tried and true ingredients that have been in our products for over 20 years.
This thoughtful formulation of herbs provides optimal moisturizing and healing properties, yet retains a consistency that is comfortable to apply. Unlike petroleum based products, Motherlove Tattoo Care allows the skin to breathe, promotes quicker healing, and allows ink to fully penetrate the skin.
Motherlove Tattoo Care is made with certified organic calendula flowers and marshmallow root, infused in extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, and shea butter. The ratio of each ingredient has been carefully formulated to provide optimal moisture and healing properties, while retaining a consistency that is comfortable to apply while tattooing or applying to a fresh tattoo.
Olive oil serves as the moisturizing base of the salve. It holds the herbal properties while allowing the skin to breathe, promoting quicker healing time. Shea butter softens the skin as well as adding to the moisturizing constituents of the salve. Beeswax thickens the salve and allows it to “stick” somewhat to the skin so that it can hold over the sensitive area longer.
We also think our Tattoo Care salve is special because of what’s not in it! It contains no petroleum, no synthetic ingredients, no parabens, and no artificial preservatives. It’s certified cruelty free, and certified organic.
Petroleum and lanolin products can pull the ink away from the skin and can clog the pores, causing a longer healing time. Our Motherlove Tattoo Care salve contains ingredients which keep pores from getting clogged. This promotes a quicker healing time.
Learn more, see our growing gallery of user submitted tattoos, and order online at our Motherlove Tattoo Care page!Pin It
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