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Liquid vs. capsule? Alcohol-free? Tincture vs. tea? We answer some common questions about our milk supply products

products_breastfeedingHere are some answers to some common questions about our products to increase milk supply:

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.

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How the herbs in More Milk Plus complement each other

more milk plus motherloveWhen you look at the label of our popular galactagogue More Milk Plus you might think that we simply combine several herbs which increase milk supply.

But More Milk Plus is much more thoughtfully designed than that.  We’ll explain.

In the U.S., fenugreek is the most popular galactagogue herb and is the herb most recommended by lactation consultants to increase milk supply.  Fenugreek has been used as a food for centuries, and you may have even unknowingly eaten it as maple syrup flavoring.  It’s also a galactagogue, and is a key herb in our More Milk Plus.

While side effects are uncommon, some mothers find that when they take high doses of fenugreek in powdered capsule form they experience gas and diarrhea in themselves or their babies.

More Milk Plus has been designed with this in mind, in two important ways:

First, because liquid extracts are a higher quality preparation (encapsulating a dried herb leads to more oxidation), you can take less of them, reducing the chances that you’ll experience side effects.

Second, we have included two herbs - Blessed Thistle and fennel – which nicely balance the effects of fenugreek.  Blessed thistle and fennel are both digestive herbs which reduce gas and diarrhea.  Fennel in particular is a classic digestive herb, used an an anti-colic and anti-heartburn preparation.  You may have noticed it offered as you leave Indian restaurants as a post-meal digestive aid.

We believe that the quality of our preparations and the thoughtful balancing of herbs in More Milk Plus have contributed to its success as the best selling breastfeeding supplement in the U.S. (SPINS data report).


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I need to increase my milk supply. Which Motherlove product is right for me?

home_productsAt Motherlove we’ve created a number of different formulas to increase milk supply which meet varied and specific needs.*

These formulas are carefully composed to address different causes of low milk supply and different situations.  They use combinations of herbs to balance and enhance their effects.

Which ones is right for you?  Here’s our guide to determining which Motherlove product will meet your needs:

My milk supply has dropped.  This may have happened because of a separation, illness, pumping, going back to work, or another reason.

We recommend our More Milk Plus formula.  It’s Motherlove’s most popular product, and the best-selling breastfeeding supplement in the US. It contains fenugreek, blessed thistle, nettle, and fennel seed. This combination helps most women increase their supply within 24-48 hours. Available in a grain alcohol or alcohol-free liquid extract; and as a liquid extract concentrate in vegetarian capsules. Not for use during pregnancy.

I need to increase milk supply, and I have PCOS, insufficient glandular tissue (breast hypoplasia), have had breast surgery, or am an adoptive mom:

We recommend our More Milk Special Blend formula, which contains the herbs in More Milk Plus blended with goat’s rue, an herb that helps to build mammary tissue. Specially-formulated at the request of lactation consultants, this product can help increase breast milk supply for women who have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), did not see an increase in breast size during pregnancy or have suspected or confirmed insufficient glandular tissue (breast hypoplasia), have had previous breast surgeries, or for adoptive mothers.  Increases in milk supply are seen after 2-3 weeks of use of this product.  Available in a grain alcohol or alcohol-free liquid extract and as a liquid extract concentrate in vegetarian capsules. This formula is not for use during pregnancy.

We also have a Goat’s Rue extract (single herb).  Goats rue is not contraindicated during pregnancy, as is fenugreek and blessed thistle, which are included in More Milk Special Blend.  Lactation consultants have used it in the last 2 weeks of pregnancy with women who know from previous pregnancies they have serious difficulty producing milk.  Available in a grain alcohol base, and as a liquid extract concentrate in vegetarian capsules. Discuss product use with a healthcare professional before using during pregnancy.

I need to increase milk supply, but I cannot take fenugreek:

We recommend our More Milk formula, which has blessed thistle, nettle and fennel but does not contain fenugreek for those who may be sensitive to its potential side effects (usually gastric upset that may occur in either mother or baby).  Not for use during pregnancy.

I’m pregnant and nursing, and need to increase my milk supply:

We recommend our More Milk Two formula, which contains raspberry leaf, nettle and alfalfa – a nourishing combination of herbs that is specially formulated to safely increase the breast milk supply of pregnant breastfeeding mothers. Alcohol-free and safe for use during pregnancy.

I prefer or need to take only Fenugreek, or that is what my lactation consultant recommended.

We recommend our Fenugreek extract. This single herb extract is most recommended by lactation consultants to quickly help increase breast milk supply. Available in an alcohol-free liquid extract. Not for use during pregnancy.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, great, cure, or prevent any disease.

Questions About Fenugreek for Low Milk Supply?

You probably know fenugreek as the most popular herb to increase milk supply, but fenugreek sure is one multi-tasking herb.

It’s long been used as a cooking spice in East Indian and Asian cuisine and can be used externally to soothe wounds and sores. It can be gargled to relieve a sore throat and its seeds aid digestion.  It’s even approved as an appetite stimulant in Germany.

But it’s fenugreek’s status in the galactagogue world that puts it on center stage among breastfeeding herbs. (A galactogogue is a substance which increases milk supply.) Fenugreek is by far the most popular galactagogue, and can be taken as a liquid extract, dried powder capsule, or in tea form.

Note: Motherlove products all contain liquid extracts, or tinctures. Our vegetarian liquid capsules are popular with mothers who dislike the taste of the extract, but are the same liquid extract — just packaged differently for ease of use. Motherlove does not manufacture any dried herb capsules or teas.

Fenugreek’s smell and taste are so close to maple syrup that it’s used as flavoring in artificial maple syrup.  A few years ago, when New Yorkers reported periodic smells of maple syrup (they became known as “maple syrup events“) authorities identified the cause as a fenugreek processing plant!  Many mothers report that they smell like maple syrup when they use fenugreek to increase milk supply.

Fenugreek is an annual that grows 12-18″ high, and is a member of the legume family. It produces “pea pods” that contain yellow-brown seeds.

Fenugreek is an ingredient in a number of Motherlove products, including:  Fenugreek, 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.  Please see each product page for suggested use.

Why Fenugreek:

Why is fenugreek such a popular galactagogue? Simply, because it’s safe and has such a long history of use without serious side effects. (See cautions and possible side effects below.) Its ability to increase milk supply is well established and it’s the number one recommended herb by lactation consultants. 

Before Using Fenugreek:

Consult a certified lactation consultant. There are many reasons why milk supply can suffer, and you may not have low supply at all. It’s common to worry about how much milk your baby is receiving and often everything is just fine. Also, low supply can be a complex issue and taking a supplement might mask the real problem, or not be effective without also altering your pumping schedule, correcting your baby’s latch or diagnosing another medical condition, such as PCOS. If you’re building a freezer stash so you can return to work, a lactation consultant can suggest the timing of introducing the bottle and getting a pumping routine established. We always recommend seeing a lactation consultant as the first step before taking any of our supplements.

Note: Always let your lactation consultant or healthcare professional know any medications that you may be taking, as any food has the potential to cause a reaction or interfere with medications.


Fenugreek has been used for generations all over the world without any documented deaths. Fenugreek is widely used as an ingredient in spice blends and artificial maple syrup. It is a basic ingredient of curry powder and five spice mixtures and is also popular in salads. Fenugreek is on the FDA’s GRAS list (Generally Recognized as Safe).

Note: More Milk Plus is the number one recommended supplement to increase breast milk. More Milk Plus is carried in over 100 hospitals on the birthing floors where women get advice and support from lactation consultants on staff.

Possible Side Effects & Cautions:

Dosage:  Mothers who are fearful about producing enough milk have been known to take large quantities of fenugreek, which increases the risk of side effects. Dried herbal supplements can vary in their potency (which is normal — not all plants grown in the same garden are identical) and different brands recommend different dosages.

Note: Motherlove’s recommended dosage of our products is specific to breastfeeding. Fenugreek purchased as a general supplement may have other suggested dosages. Always follow the label’s dosage recommendations and talk to your lactation consultant about breastfeeding-specific dosages.

Contrary to much of what is recommended on the internet, taking enough fenugreek to smell like maple syrup is not always necessary. You might find an effective dose without the odor. Use caution and consult your healthcare professional before taking large doses of any herbs or supplements.

Also consider the dose that is effective for you. If you are taking a large dose and not seeing results in two to three days, ask your lactation consultant for advice. You might have low milk supply caused by a condition that does not respond to fenugreek. Common sense and professional advice can not only limit potential side effects but also save you valuable time and frustration, and get your breastfeeding relationship on track much quicker.

Note: Motherlove supplements are herbal extracts (not dried herbs) and are carefully blended for maximum effectiveness. It is possible to take a more moderate dose of these products because of their potency as compared to dried herbs and diluted dried herbs (teas). Always follow label instructions and do not take more than the recommended dose.

GI Upset:  Fenugreek is known to cause diarrhea and/or intestinal upset in a small number of people. The odds of this reaction can be minimized by taking the most moderate dose that works for you.  Dried herbs can also cause stomach upset because of the amount of fiber they are adding to your diet. If you are taking fenugreek along with other supplements, be aware of this potential side effect.

Dried fenugreek can inhibit the absorption of other medications because of the mucilage it produces. Fenugreek, when added to water, produces a thick-slimy substance that can coat the inside of your stomach and interfere with absorption. Liquid extract/tincture does not have this side effect, and it is absorbed much more quickly than powdered herbs.

It’s helpful to take a blend of herbs instead of fenugreek alone. A blended formula addresses several reasons milk supply may be low, and generally, it has less possibility for side effects than a single herb. Motherlove products are formulated with checks and balances — for example, fenugreek can cause diarrhea, but blessed thistle is anti-diarrheal.

Note: Motherlove has more formulas to increase breast milk than any other company. These include a fenugreek and alcohol-free galactagogue for use during pregnancy, More Milk Two, and fenugreek-free More Milk.

Allergies: Fenugreek is a legume as are beans, peas, chickpeas, peanuts and soy.  If you have a severe peanut allergy you should avoid fenugreek and other foods that contain it, such as those listed above. Studies have shown that people allergic to peanuts are not necessarily allergic to fenugreek, and there are people that have shown an allergy to fenugreek, but not peanuts.

Hypoglycemia: Clinical trials have shown that fenugreek lowers blood sugar, and it is used to control blood sugar by diabetics. If you are diabetic, talk to your healthcare professional before using fenugreek.

Pregnancy/Smooth Muscle Stimulation: One theory about why fenugreek works to stimulate breast milk production is its action on smooth muscles. (Breast tissue is a smooth muscle.) The uterus is also a smooth muscle making fenugreek unsafe during pregnancy. Do not take fenugreek while pregnant or while you can become pregnant.

Other Contraindications: Fenugreek contains coumarin, and animal studies have shown fenugreek to increase the effects of warfarin. Do not use fenugreek if you have been prescribed blood thinners. Fenugreek may lower the thyroid hormone T3 (also based on animal studies only), so fenugreek is not recommended for women with hypothyroid. Fenugreek has been said in some internet forums to have an effect on blood pressure/medications but we are unable to find any credible studies or links to fenugreek’s effect on either high or low blood pressure. However, as cautioned above, you should consult your lactation consultant and other healthcare professionals before taking any supplements or medications.

About Motherlove herbs:

Before being accepted for use in any Motherlove supplement, each ingredient undergoes quality testing. Then, the finished product is tested for bacteria, yeast, mold, E. coli, Staphylococcus, salmonella and heavy metals by a third-party lab.

Manufacturing and packaging of Motherlove supplements is done in a GMP certified and FDA registered facility, and all herbs used in the products are USDA certified organic.

Motherlove products do not contain dairy, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat or gluten. Our capsules contain non-GMO soy lecithin.

The German Commission E
The Botanical Safety Handbook
Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions
Medication & Mother’s Milk
The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety
The Nursing Mother’s Herbal
Herbal Medicines, A Guide for Health-Care Professionals
The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk
The Nursing Mother’s Companion
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding


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Motherlove Replies to E. Coli Outbreak in Europe

As many of you are aware, there is an outbreak of E. Coli in Europe that appears to be tied to Egyptian fenugreek. Since we’ve been getting calls from our customers around the world, we have issued the following press release about the issue. The short story is that no Motherlove products are affected and that we do third-party tests to prevent this type of problem. Full details below.



July 8, 2011 — Laporte, CO — Motherlove® Herbal Company ( issued the following statement today regarding the E. coli outbreak in Europe that has been linked to fenugreek: “We want all our customers and retailers to know that Motherlove products are not affected by the Egyptian fenugreek implicated in the outbreak,” said Kathryn Higgins, CEO and founder of Motherlove. “We do not use Egyptian fenugreek in our products and our products undergo testing before being approved for shipment,” Higgins added.

At this time, there has been no E. coli contamination linked to products used or sold in the US, only in Europe.

Motherlove Herbal Company, located in Laporte, Colorado, near Fort Collins, manufactures the bestselling herbal supplement for breast milk production in the US (according to Spins data), and uses fenugreek as a central ingredient in several supplements. “Any agricultural product carries the potential risk of E. coli if not handled properly,” said Higgins. “Extensive testing is done on both the ingredients and final products we produce,” she said.

This particular outbreak of E. coli appears to be limited to sprouted seeds, which are used mostly for culinary purposes. The fenugreek used in Motherlove products is not sprouted, but extracted from un-sprouted seeds.

Before being accepted for use in any Motherlove supplement, each ingredient undergoes quality testing. Then, the finished product is tested for bacteria, E. coli and salmonella by a third-party lab.

Manufacturing and packaging of Motherlove supplements is done in a GMP certified and FDA registered facility, and all herbs used in the products are 100% USDA certified organic.

“As the oldest company in the US specializing in herbal products for pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, we take our responsibility to provide safe products very seriously,” said Higgins. “Certification and testing, as well as insisting on only the best ingredients allows us to be confident every day about the safety and effectiveness of our products.”



We have a new product! Fenugreek is now available as a single herb liquid extract in an alcohol-free formula.

FenAF-2-759160-55002_2ozFenugreek is the best known herb to increase breast milk supply for breastfeeding mothers and is highly recommended by many lactation consultants. Our liquid extracts are stronger and more easily absorbed than dried herbal formulas.  Now you have one more choice to help you increase your breast milk supply.  Check out our website or your favorite local store for Motherlove’s Fenugreek.

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