Breastfeeding Remedies

| Modified on Dec 13, 2020

Treating nursing issues naturally is safest for a nursing baby and mother. Several topical applications as well as internal supplements effectively treat breastfeeding issues. Anise seed tea, apple cider vinegar and cabbage wraps are three of the most common treatments for issues with breastfeeding.

What are Nursing Issues?

Nursing or breastfeeding is often considered the most natural and healthiest choice for babies. The process involves the act of feeding the infant by way of milk naturally produced in the mother’s breast. However, nursing can sometimes cause issues for the mother and baby. Common nursing issues include latching pain, cracked or irritated nipples, clogged or plugged milk ducts, engorgement, mastitis and high or low milk supply.

Natural Remedies for Nursing Mothers

Breastfeeding issues can be uncomfortable at the very least and required intentional treatment. Natural options including anise seed tea, apple cider vinegar and cabbage wraps as well as others offer fast relief without any harm to the nursing mother baby. Breast milk can also be used as a remedy for many nursing issues.

Anise Seed Tea

Anise seed tea contains an important spice compound anise. Anise seeds contain anethole, which is a phytoestrogen that aids in boosting milk supply. This supply boost often helps treat issues of clogged ducts as well as other problems in the milk glands by maintaining a constant flow of milk.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be used to treat a number of breastfeeding issues. Diluted apple cider vinegar taken orally or applied topically eliminates infection. Apple cider vinegar also offers an added energy boost.

Cabbage Wraps

Cabbage wraps offer nursing mothers relief from engorgement and clogged ducts. Cabbage has a high sulphur content which is a known remedy for inflammation and swelling. Leaves may be chilled and applied directly to the breast to relieve engorgement as well as oversupply.

Breastfeeding is a natural process but one that is not without its issues and difficulties. Many new mothers experience breast pain, tenderness, inflammation and other problems associated with nursing. Natural treatment methods, however, afford mother and baby a safe, happy and healthy breastfeeding experience.

Anise Seed Tea

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Brigitte (Houston, Texas) on 01/11/2008

re: anise seed tincture for treatment of nonproductive coughs. A nonproductive cough is another name for a dry cough which does nothing to move phlem from the throat and lumgs. This is often a precursor to a more serious ailment like pneumonia. It is of the utmost importance that you remove the excessive phlem from your system. I have found that the best expectorant that I can find is made by placing five tablespoons anise seeds into 1 cup of rum. I take no more than 2 teaspoons of this as needed to induce a cough which allows for the mucus to be removed from the body.

A note to nursing mothers who have problems with milk production; a good side affect of anise is that it increases milk production in lactating mothers. I know this for a fact as my last child was born when I was 40 and I had problems producing milk sufficient to meet my child's needs. Be cognisant of the fact that you do not want to over do it with alcohol if you are nursing as this would be counter productive to the health and well being of the child who depends on you for nourishment. I used an anise tea when I was nursing it works well for increasing milk production.

Replied by Margaret

Where can I get the anise seed tea

Anise Seed Tea
Posted by Brigitte (Houston, Texas) on 01/11/2008

To increase milk production drink anise tea. It really works to increase milk supply for lactating mothers.

Antibiotic Use While Breastfeeding

Posted by Rachel (Maryland) on 09/12/2013

Recently I developed a UTI which became a bladder infection. I was prescribed an antibiotic, which I hate to use. I would like to replace the good bacteria that was lost, so I am considering a probiotic. Is there any reason I should be cautious using one while Breast Feeding?

I also believe I may have a fungal infection on my feet, toes and shins. I have read about ACV and coconut oil. Again, is there anything I should know about starting a regimen while breastfeeding? Would a foot soak be better then taking it internally?

Thank you so much. Your site is wonderful!

Replied by Mama To Many
(Tennessee, Usa)

Hi Rachel,

I have used ACV, Coconut Oil and probiotics while breastfeeding. Personally, I think they are all safe to use internally. I have never seen any ill effect from them for myself or baby while breastfeeding.

As far as the fungal infection on your legs/feet, it might help the most to treat internally and externally, especially if it is causing discomfort.

~Mama to Many~

Apple Cider Vinegar

3 User Reviews
5 star (2) 
1 star (1) 

Posted by Casey (Norwalk, Ohio) on 01/31/2010

Apple Cider Vinegar and Breastfeeding

I breastfeed my son, and he was 8 months old when I started taking the apple cider vinegar for joint pain. At his age, nothing I ate or drank bothered his stomach, but when I was taking the apple cider vinegar he had frequent stomach aches, was very fussy, and would go days without bowel movements when he normally would have one twice a day. I would definately not suggest drinking apple cider vinegar if you're a breastfeeding mother.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Danielle (Everett, WA) on 02/18/2009

I was looking on your site to see if there were any dangers of using ACV while breastfeeding and I see that there are three others with the same question, but couldn't find any answers. I am not having any trouble breastfeeding my 7 month old. My mother in law just started using the daily ACV dose and looks and feels great and has more energy and has not gotten sick this year (she is a grade school teacher). I want to do the same, but want to make sure there will be no problems for my baby or my milk production.

EC: We've been searching the net and this is the typical response to your question:

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Not recommended due to lack of sufficient data.

However, here is one response from (

"When I had some problems with plugged ducts in the early weeks of dd's life, I came here and read some of the threads looking for suggestions. Someone suggested apple cider vinegar in order to prevent plugged ducts/mastitis. I did a search on google and found out that it can be used to prevent mastitis. I've been taking a tbsp daily with a little honey and some cold water. I use Bragg - organic apple cider vinegar. You should not have any problems, in fact it will probably be good for you. That's just my 2 cents


Replied by Earth Clinic

UPDATE: We decided to email the _____ company this afternoon to see if they could answer the question as to if apple cider vinegar is safe for pregnant or nursing women.

John Westerdahl, PhD, MPH, RD and director of the _____ Health Foundation emailed us back, "_____ Apple Cider vinegar is safe to consume for pregnant and lactating women."

Good to know.. FINALLY!

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Vanessa (Denver, CO, USA) on 01/11/2009

Please if anybody has any information about taking ACV for weightloss and the side effects it has on breastfeeding, if any, let me know. I was just wondering if there was any reason why I shouldnt be taking it while breastfeeding. Thank you.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Leticia (Houston, Texas) on 01/08/2009

Does taking Apple Cider Vinegar affect anything having to do with nursing? My niece has acid reflux and I want to recommend this to her because ACV has helped me so much...can someone shed some light? will it affect an infant thru her milk? If so, what are the side effects?

Replied by Maggie
(Springfield, Il)

I took ACV (organic) all through my last pregnancy and while nursing with no problems at all. Helped a lot with the problems of constipation during pregnancy. I also took unsulpherated blackstrap molasses and never needed iron sups (I needed them for my first kids). And oh yes....I had my last when I was 47, am still nursing at 48 1/2 and she is perfectly healthy and I feel great. In fact, I can eat anything (healthy of course) and it doesn't bother her. A very happy baby!

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Aline (Chico, CA) on 01/05/2009

I've been drinking the cleansing dosage of water and ACV and like it very much, but I just heard that, while breastfeeding, I shouldn't drink it. Could it harm my 17 months old son? Is it OK to do a "light" cleansing like this at all? Thanks!!

Replied by Sammy
(Johannesburg, South Africa)

I have a 3 month old baby and would like to find out if its safe to drink apple cider vinegar. During the day am at work, hence only breastfeed him in the evening, was thinking I drink it in the morning.

Replied by Mama To Many

Dear Sammy,

I put Apple Cider Vinegar in my water every day during my last pregnancy and the entire time I was nursing that baby. I probably used up to 2 T. a day. When my baby was able to drink from my cup he would take sips of my vinegar water, too! :)

I have never heard of Apple Cider Vinegar being a problem for breastfeeding moms.

~Mama to Many~

Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic

Posted by Freeha (Ferwania, Kuwait) on 03/24/2009

Hi, I am lactation women and i want to know about apple cider vinegar/honey and garlic mix,,,i am using applecider vinegar/honey and garlic mix three times a day and two tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and lime mix in 16oz water and sip all day long for weight loose,,,,so need to know that can i do this during lactation becouse i ahve 8 months old baby ,,,can i use only ACV and lime without baking soda for weight lose during lactation? if the toxins are released to drink all these things then will it harmfull for my baby,,,,If the toxins are entre to baby so what can be heppen ,,is that so danger and what the symptoms if and how do i know that the toxins enter to my babay,, thanks but waiting your feedback,

Breast Milk

4 User Reviews
5 star (4) 

Posted by Christina (Minneapolis, MN, USA) on 03/12/2009

Here is an article from Mothering magazine about the healing properties of breast milk. I see that there are no posts about breast milk, that surprises me as it has been used to cure many ailments throughout human history.

Your Walking Medicine Chest
By Liz Laing
Issue 133, November/December 2005

Mother's milk is the perfect panacea for a whole host of ailments - from pinkeye to acne. Just a squirt will do the trick!

Most people know about the health benefits of breastfeeding, but few know about breastmilk's medicinal benefits. Breastmilk is sterile, antibacterial, and has many healing properties. It can be used to treat a variety of ailments and can be applied topically for eye and ear infections, minor skin injuries, sore or cracked nipples, diaper rash, sore throats, and stuffy noses. Is breastmilk an everyday cure-all? Read on and judge for yourself.

When your child gets a cold and has a stuffy nose, drizzle breastmilk into each nostril. It will thin the mucus, and the milk's natural antibodies will help fight infection. Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP, IBCLC's nationally recognized pediatrician, author, and breastfeeding authority, encourages the use of breastmilk in this way. "I recommend breastmilk as the best nose drop for babies and children with colds," he says. "The milk kills viruses on contact (sounds like a TV commercial!), and the best part is that it makes babies sneeze. The sneeze sends viruses, bacteria, dust, and more flying out of the nose at 100 mph."

Several clinical studies have shown that since each mother's milk is made specifically for her own baby, it is effective in ridding the infant's eyes and nose of viruses and germs. I have used it on my own children, and even on myself. Recently, my son had pinkeye; when I applied my breastmilk to his eyes several times a day, the conjunctivitis cleared up. A friend of mine used her breastmilk on all her family members whenever they got pinkeye, and thus for years she was able to avoid having to buy prescription eyedrops.

You never know when breastmilk will come in handy. I got liquid soap in my eye once while in the locker room at my gym. My eye was burning and extremely red, and rinsing it with water didn't help at all. I checked my purse for eyedrops but found none. Then I remembered the built-in medicine chest I carried around on my own chest. I went into a bathroom stall, cupped my hand, squirted out some milk, and bathed my eye in it. Ahhhhhh! Instant relief - the redness and painful stinging were gone. I was glad to have this option available, and felt proud that my body produces something that can be used to help heal other parts of my body. What a great way to recycle.

Besides colds and eye irritations, there are several other conditions that might benefit from the use of breastmilk. In most cases you simply express your milk into a clean saucer, cup, or bowl, then use a cotton ball or eyedropper to apply or squirt milk directly onto the area, as needed, for the desired results.

In many places - including Mexico, Russia, Africa, South America, and India - the use of breastmilk in alternative ways is quite common. One mother on a Midwifery Today online forum said, "In Nigeria, if a child has a condition of the eyes, such as mucus, we simply squirt a bit of breastmilk and it clears right up."1

Besides healing common minor afflictions, breastmilk has recently been in the news for helping to treat more serious illnesses. Adult cancer patients have been drinking breastmilk in an attempt to boost their immune systems and cope better with the side effects of chemotherapy.2 While this is not a common practice, a milk bank in California has supplied a group of pioneering patients with breastmilk for the past few years. One lucky recipient of this donor milk, Howard Cohen of Palo Alto, California, strongly believes that ingesting breastmilk daily has helped his prostate cancer go into remission.3

Donor milk is used to treat a variety of health problems. I spoke with Pauline Sakamoto, RN, MS, executive director of the Mothers' Milk Bank in San Jose, California, about some of the other ways breastmilk benefits people. "Historically, human milk has been used for diseases and health conditions of adults and children and as a superior food for babies. These folk cures have been tested throughout time. Currently, there has been more interest in the scientific community to test the components of human milk's effect on different health problems that plague us today. Hopefully, in the near future, we will validate the incredible power that our body has to promote growth, heal itself, and preserve its integrity via human milk.

Breastmilk may even kill cancer cells. In 1995 physician and immunologist Catharina Svanborg and a team of research biologists at Sweden's Lund University discovered in breastmilk a protein compound, alpha-lactalbumin (they gave it the acronym HAMLET), that selectively induces apoptosis in tumor cells.4 In other words, HAMLET makes cancer cells commit suicide. In fact, it has killed every type of cancer the researchers have tested it against. HAMLET has also been used to successfully treat virally infected warts, which were reduced by 75 percent in volunteers who received daily treatments with an ointment containing the protein. The same viruses that cause warts are also linked to cervical cancer, genital warts, and some types of skin cancer. Well, we all knew that breastmilk is powerful.

You may wonder why this discovery of a possible cure for cancer has not received greater attention. Funding is part of the problem, but slowly, in the past decade, more attention has been paid to this small laboratory in a quiet corner of the world. Even the American Cancer Society has given its stamp of approval by giving a grant to Svanborg and her team to help fund further research into their discovery.

While this type of scientific news is exciting, let's not forget the real miracle of breastmilk and its primary use. The healing powers of this liquid gold are incredible enough, but breastmilk's most amazing quality is that it gives life. No other food or substance on earth comes close to doing what breastmilk does. Human breastmilk is the ideal food for human babies. Pediatrician Jay Gordon reminds us how crucial breastfeeding is when he says, "Babies denied breastmilk during the first year of life get sick and die at a much greater rate than babies who nurse."

I am still amazed when I watch my son nurse. I know that his healthy, growing body is thriving because he is suckling the perfect food, which my body makes for his body. But in addition to satisfying this primary need, my breastmilk can help heal his body in other ways as well.


http: //

Michael Day, "Adults Turn to Breast Milk to Ease Effects of Chemotherapy," Daily Telegraph (16 January 2005); xml

"The Man Who Swears by Breastmilk," BBC News Online, UK edition (23 January 2005): uk/1/hi/health/4187697.stm

Catharina Svanborg, MD, PhD, "Treatment of Skin Papillomas with Topical Alpha-Lactalbumin-Oleic Acid," New England Journal of Medicine 350 (2004): 2663-2672.

Liz Laing, ACE, is a freelance writer and mother of four beautiful, breastfed children. She has been a stay-at-home mom for the past 12 years and most recently is overcoming the challenges of single motherhood. A certified childbirth educator and doula, Liz lives in Los Angeles, California.

Breast Milk
Posted by Michelle (Regina, Sask., Canada) on 01/06/2009

Breast milk makes your skin appear younger, remove acne scars and wrinkles. I nurse my daughter and collected a couple drops of breast milk in my hand and put on my face. I leave the breast milk on my face. You can see the results in minutes. The first time I did it, my older daughter asked what I did because she said that I looked so young. Now when I leave the house I put a thin layer of fresh breast milk on my face but I make sure it is only a little bit, all over my face, otherwise the breast milk runs and gets dry and white,then I have to wash and reapply. I have read that breast milk is good for ear infections in babies and I tried it out on my daughter a couple times, I just squirted some breast milk in her ears a couple times a day within a couple of days cleared up. I did want to wean my daughter off but want to try to freeze the breast milk in little ice cubes trays, then use the iced breast milk on my face.

Breast Milk
Posted by Shirley (Springfield, Missouri) on 06/20/2008

When you are breastfeeding your newborn and are sore and chapped, try expressing the breast milk, rubbing it into the nipple area, and letting it air dry. When I first start nursing a new baby, I do this 2-3 times a day. It works extremely well! Lanolin cream is great when you need a barrier, but your own breast milk actually heals the soreness. I actually learned this one from my doctor.

My mom taught me that squirting breast milk in your infant's nose is helpful when they are congested.

Replied by Mesem
(Toulon, France)

For some support and humour go to Utube and enter 'Phyllis Diller Breast Feeding'. This lady was really onto it. Despite her humour to the contrary she was a natural mother and great home maker. Here in France I think you might get put away for being so pro-mothering.

Breast Milk
Posted by Audrey (Rocklin, CA) on 04/02/2006

I breast fed all my children. However, one of my babies was babysat for just 3 hours while I looked for a new home. My sister-in-law unfamiliar with breast feeding or the allergic dangers of cows milk on a 6 month old, fed my son a bottle of cow milk. My infant son went into pneumonia. He (we) suffered for 3 weeks and were at the brink of putting him in Children's Hospital. He cried all night, all day and I had to pump my breast because he could not breathe and suck at the same time. The doctor said his lungs were damaged.

The doctor told me that he would probably have weakened lungs and allergies when he got older. Exactly as predicted, my son has terrible allergies, sinus infections and occasionally pneumonia throughout his life (he is 28 now). My three other breast fed children did not have milk products introduced until 2 years old. They experience NO allergies or problems with milk products.

Infants were meant to grow on breast milk NOT prepared cows milk! I have seen this same scenario played out in families for years young and elderly friends will tell of similar incidents where they as infants were given cows milk formula or straight cows milk and led lives miserable because of early ingestion of cows milk.

Just one bottle in spite of breast feeding causes my son years of miserable respiratory illness! Breasts are meant to nourish infants, even animals know that! If breast milk without introducing milk products too early can prevent a life time of illness, why aren't young moms told by doctor's and nurses the complications that their children will bear?

My mom (born in 1912) saw in her generation (1920-30's) artificial milk in baby bottles introduced in the commercialized hospital. Babies were brought up on formula and often watered down formula were weak and sick all the time. She braved being labeled having "a third world" mentality (used to bully the new mom into a formula customer). Breast feeding nourishes the whole infant and prepares the digestive system as well as being the BEST first food that is the best preventative against allergies, sinus infections and digestive ailments for life!

A little time out of a mother's life can benefit the child and the mother from the beneficial hormones.

She also braved having a child at 39 in 1952, me! I learned from this old gal who used common horse sense and, yes, she also used good old fashioned organic apple juice to cure many ills.

Replied by AllieBee

This is absolutely a ridiculous claim and it's dangerous! It's also shaming many moms who don't follow your EXACT lifestyle! My word! Not a single educated person, dotor, scientist or others would support this outrageous claim. Dear EC team, please take this down, it is spreading very dangerous claims that can harm many families! Breastfeeding is amazing, but cows milk is not anywhere near this "dangerous" or anything of the sort!! Awful Earth Clinic! Awful!

(somewhere, europe)

AllieBee, for sensitive children it IS a problem. The catch is that many times one doesn't find out until years later. And by that time, some people are so used to dairy, they almost cannot stop ingesting it even tho they have traced their ills to it.

(faithville, Us)

I breast fed my three but breast milk is affected by diet and stress levels. Cows milk is also affected by diet and stress levels. Most animals are plumped up these days to produce quicker and more quantity so that is why we have hormone problems and other issues. Crops are also on the same production line . The divine reset is here to help us get back to the basics. You tube is my tv and Justin Rhodes family show their farm and lots of kids happily helping to live, eat, and be merry doing the work to raise healthy food, kids, and animals. It's fun to see someone that has stress but makes the best of it for the next generation. I think the trick is to see the glass half full and not get obsessed with the what ifs or dwell on what wasn't . Allie Bee, I'm sorry you felt shamed . There is no reason for any woman who brings life into the world to feel shame for doing her best, no matter what anyone else thinks about how they do it. I couldn't count all the mistakes I made but when I see my kids raising their kids I know they are doing their best and I look at all the things they are doing right . Focus on the good and the good will get more prominent. We are all human and like sheep being led astray have to filter anything and everything we are being fed. The books at the library contradict each other on most topics. You pick the ones you believe by your filter and deem them to be your truth. Science can change, it is limited by current data. Who owns the medical schools? Follow the money . Shake off anything holding up the good and dwell on what the perfected universe would be and it will come about. What a wonderful wonderful world it can be when I have eyes to envision it and speak it forth and believe in it. We are all powerful and create our atmospheres. I am working on some reprogramming to readjust my future. I have decided to have bigger dreams. Blessings. charity

Replied by Freethinker

Dear Earth Clinic,

Please do not censor your site. We do not all have to agree.


3 User Reviews
5 star (3) 

Posted by Ann (Paris, France) on 06/24/2009

A few years ago, my daughter having had her baby and having chosen to breast feed her, began getting "knots" in her breasts. Apparently the baby was not drinking enough milk to have a smooth flow and the milk was causing congestion in the ducts. The result was very hard and painful swollen breasts.

I believe this is a situation that many nursing mothers face. We tried using fresh cabbage leaves and it worked miracles! Just take the individual leaves, dip in boiling water for a couple of minutes to soften; let cool till warm and wrap the breasts in 2 or 3 layers of leaves. Cover with a warm damp towel and leave for an hour or so, then repeat until the breasts have become supple once again.

Try it, it works! Cabbage works for alot of other types of congestion and swelling and even for wounds. It's a great home remedy.

Replied by Sunnymummy
(Seattle, Wa)

Cabbage for engorgement is AWESOME! When I had my frist child I got very very engorged, to the point where my breasts were red like they had been sunburned and I could not put my arms at my sides anymore. So I put a head of green cabbage in the fridge and let it get cold. When it was cold I peeled off the largest outside leaves and put them on my breasts and then put a bra on to try to keep them against the skin. There was instant relief from the pain beacause the leaves were cold but after a few hours the swelling had reduced and I was not in excruciating pain. I only had to use this method one more time becasue my child was nursing better so the engorgment was gone but it was awsome when I needed it!

Replied by Bj
(Porirua, Wellington, New Zealand)

yes! I did not believe such a simple thing could work and suffered terribly with my two firstborn children. I finally tried it when my 3rd child was born (some many wise years later). It is like a miracle. I used it cold as above, wore one leave as a bra liner, it also helped soften my cracked (bleeding) nipples. Better than anything else.

Coconut Oil

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Helena (Nashville, TN) on 05/16/2009

Nursing and Cleansing: Hi...I have a question. I would really like to do some cleansing, but I'm still nursing my 5-month-old baby. Can I use EVCO safely while nursing? Do I need to wait until I stop nursing to start anything new? Thanks for the help!

Replied by Bekah
(Gresham, Or)

EVCO is completely safe to use while nursing and while pregnant. There are no known allergies to EVCO and there are hundred of health benefits! Google 'health benefits of coconut oil' you'll be amazied at what you find!

Replied by Marisa
(Norton, Oh)

Coconut oil is actually good for mom and baby when she is nursing. Since it is anti- viral, -bacterial, -fungal, she may detox quickly if taken too much at one time. Start slowly, then increase slowly. It is a good immune booster for both, and the fat is good for mom's milk. Coconut oil is especially a good alternative if a mom has to exclude dairy from her diet, as she can easily replace butter in baked goods, cooking, etc.

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