Peppermint & Breastfeeding: Does mint affect milk supply?

Does Mint affect Milk?

Conversations around the benefits of breastfeeding are in no shortage when you’re a new mother. And with immutable warnings for what you can and can’t ingest, inhale, and anoint when nursing (as if those from pregnancy weren’t enough), creating your self-care ritual can seem like a daunting task—especially when it comes to your armpits. Given they’re the breasts’ friendly neighbour, there’s a lot to be said for what you apply under your arms when you’re breastfeeding. And while we’ve covered the use of antiperspirants, there’s been buzz about a natural ingredient we’d like to explore.

We’re talking about peppermint—the mighty mint well known for soothing stomachs, sinuses, and sleep disturbances. It’s a powerful and popular ingredient in holistic health products. However, there’s a narrative full of ambiguity around peppermint and breastfeeding.

Let’s Look at the Facts

Peppermint essential oil (often in the form of gels and solutions) has been studied for pain prevention for sore and cracked nipples in breastfeeding mothers. Most of these studies concluded with positive results. Peppermint is also known for its cooling effects, positively impacting postpartum sweating and keeping the body feeling cool and refreshed. Based on recent studies, peppermint is generally recognized as a safe herb for ingestion and topical use.1 And yet, because many sources advise against using this minty herb in any form while breastfeeding (most often without scientific evidence to back the claim), mothers are wary of its use. One study actually proved using peppermint oil for nursing-related nipple pain improved breastfeeding duration, which, according to the rules of supply and demand, can positively impact milk production. In another anecdotal study where mothers self-reported symptoms and effects, polls showed only 30% of mothers reported peppermint oil reducing their milk supply, while 70% said it had no effect.

Keeping Your Cool

Bottom line: while there is still more scientific evidence to be discovered, nursing mothers should listen to their bodies and make their own conclusions about how peppermint affects their bodies, breastfeeding, milk supply, or otherwise. There is, however, evidence of cooling effects in positively soothing postpartum sweating (and sweating of any kind), which is why we’ve included a small amount (less than 0.5%) of peppermint oil in our Detox deodorant.

The return to natural botanicals for self-care is a fast-growing movement, and the opportunity to return to our roots, in every way, is ripe for picking. So why shouldn’t we take the opportunity to care for ourselves the natural way? 

Whether you breastfeed or not, whatever you choose to use, not to use, do, or not do, we know you’re doing what’s best for you and your baby. You are wholesome. You are worthy. You are womxn.

Take care, mama, always.

REFERENCES:
  1. Bethesda (MD). Peppermint (Drugs and Lactation Database 2019). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501851/
  2. Singh, Maanvi. How Peppermint Tricks Us Into Feeling (Deliciously) Cold (National PUblic Radio 2014). Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/12/19/371462345/how-peppermint-tricks-us-into-feeling-deliciously-cold
  3. Melli, Manizheh Sayyah, Rashidi, Mohammad Reza, Delazar, Abbas, Madarek, Elaheh, Maher, Mohammad Hassan Kargar, Ghasemzadeh, Alieh, Sadaghat, Kamran, & Tahmasebi, Zohreh. Effect of peppermint water on prevention of nipple cracks in lactating primiparous women: a randomized controlled trial (International Breastfeeding Journal 2007). Retrieved from https://internationalbreastfeedingjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1746-4358-2-7
  4. Tisserand, Robert. Peppermint and Breastfeeding – Results of Poll (Tisserand Institute 2016). Retrieved from https://tisserandinstitute.org/peppermint-and-breastfeeding-results-of-poll/
  5. Harper, Tata. What’s Driving The Billion-Dollar Natural Beauty Movement? (Fast Company). Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3068710/whats-driving-the-billion-dollar-natural-beauty-movement
Image via Mother Muse

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