Last update May 4, 2022
Plant widely used as a condiment and infusion in many cultures. It has been used even for pain relief during pregnancy and colicky pain in fussy babies (Kaygusuz 2021, Abdulrazzaq 2009), without proved data on this.
Fruits of this herb are used. Essential oil is composed basically by trans-anethol and Estragol with a mild estrogenic effect.
Trans-anethole is excreted in breast milk in a very small amount. (Hausner 2008).
Reportedly, two young infants were severely intoxicated after ingestion by the mother, as galactagogue, of two daily liters of a mix infusion with Licorice, Fennel, Anise and Galega officinalis (gout's rue), Symptoms were attributed to Anethol from both Fennel and Anise. (Rosti 1994).
It is widely used as a galactogogue. (Wagner 2019, Javan 2017, Winterfeld 2012, Muresan 2011, Dennehy 2010, Ayers 2000)
There is no scientific evidence to increase milk production or improve the weight of infants (Wagner 2019, Ozalkaya 2018, Nóbrega 1983). The best galactagogue is frequent and at demand breastfeeding with correct technique in a self-confident mother. (ABM 2018 and 2011, Mannion 2012, Forinash 2012, O'Leary 1982)
High dose of trans-anethol may decrease milk production and induce neurotoxicity along with development of seizures and coma. Estragol may be carcinogenic. Based on this, the European Medicines Agency has disapproved it for children younger than 12 years old. (EMEA 2013)
Since it is non toxic at appropriate dose, a moderate and occasional consumption is believed to be compatible while breastfeeding.
Precautions when taking plant preparations (Anderson 2017, Powers 2015, Posadzki 2013, Efferth 2011, Kopec 1999, Hsu 1995):
Make sure they are from a reliable source: poisonings have occurred due to confusion of one plant with another with toxic properties (Hsu 1995), poisonings due to containing heavy metals extracted from the soil, and food poisoning due to contamination with bacteria or fungi. (Anderson 2017)
Do not take in excess; follow the recommendations of expert phytotherapy professionals. “Natural” products are not good in any quantity: plants contain active substances from which much of our traditional pharmacopoeia has been obtained and can cause poisoning or act as endocrine disruptors if consumed in quantity or for an exaggerated time because they contain phytoestrogens. (Powers 2015, Zava 1998)
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.
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e-lactancia is a resource recommended by Asociación Española de Bancos de Leche Humana of Spain
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