Question

I am a breastfeeding mother and i want to know if it is safe to use Blessed Thistle? Is Blessed Thistle safe for nursing mother and child? Does Blessed Thistle extracts into breast milk? Does Blessed Thistle has any long term or short term side effects on infants? Can Blessed Thistle influence milk supply or can Blessed Thistle decrease milk supply in lactating mothers?

Answer by DrLact: About Blessed Thistle usage in lactation

Blessed thistle (Cardui benedicti) contains sesquiterpene lactones, triterpenoids, lignans, tannins, essential oils, flavonoids, and polyenes. Blessed thistle is a purported galactogogue,[1][2][3][4][5][6] and is included in some proprietary mixtures promoted to increase milk supply; however, no scientifically valid clinical trials support this use. Galactogogues should never replace evaluation and counseling on modifiable factors that affect milk production.[7] Blessed thistle is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) as a flavoring in alcoholic beverages (e.g., Benedictine) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Because it is a member of the ragweed family, allergy is a concern and high doses reportedly cause nausea and vomiting. Elevated liver enzymes occurred in a woman taking Mother's Milk Tea, which contains blessed thistle.[8] Dietary supplements do not require extensive pre-marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers are responsible to ensure the safety, but do not need to the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements before they are marketed. Dietary supplements may contain multiple ingredients, and differences are often found between labeled and actual ingredients or their amounts. A manufacturer may contract with an independent organization to verify the quality of a product or its ingredients, but that does certify the safety or effectiveness of a product. Because of the above issues, clinical testing results on one product may not be applicable to other products. More detailed information #about dietary supplements# is available elsewhere on the LactMed Web site.

Blessed Thistle Side Effects in Breastfeeding

A small manufacturer-sponsored, double-blind, randomized study compared Mother's Milk tea (Traditional Medicinals, Sebastopol, CA) to lemon verbena tea in exclusively breastfeeding mothers with milk insufficiency. Each Mother's Milk tea bag contained 35 mg of blessed thistle herb as well as several other herbs. Mothers were instructed to drink 3 to 5 cups of tea daily. No differences were seen between groups in infant digestive, respiratory, dermatological, and other maternal-reported adverse events. No differences were seen in the growth parameters of the breastfed infants between the two groups.[9]

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