Heroic Herbs for New Moms

Try these herbs and select foods after giving birth.

| March/April 2004

A number of herbs that are excellent for supporting physical and emotional well-being also can be safely taken by the breastfeeding mother during the postpartum period. Indeed, several such herbs actually help support breast-milk production and quality. Herbs that are nourishing sometimes are known as nutritive or tonic herbs; those that support the nervous system, helping to relieve stress and tension, are called nervines; and those that promote breast milk are referred to as galactagogues. One of the beauties of herbs is that one plant can have many actions and serve many functions.

Nutritive (Tonic) Herbs: Good for Nourishing

  • Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera). An herb from the tradition of Indian Ayurvedic medicine, ashwaganda enjoys wide acceptance in the U.S. herbal community to help adapt to stress; thus, it is classified as an herbal adaptogen. Adaptogens gently support the adrenal system, reducing irritability and jangled nerves, while serving as a gentle support to the immune system. Ashwaganda generally is taken as a tincture or as a tea with a small amount of milk and honey. Dose: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon tincture twice daily; 1 to 2 cups tea daily.

  • Gotu kola (Centella asiatica). This is another herb that comes to us from Ayurveda. It is known both as a tonic for connective tissue (making it excellent to include in formulas for restoring uterine ligament tone) and as an excellent nervous system and cerebral tonic. As such, it’s said to reduce nervous exhaustion and promote mental clarity. Use it in teas or take as an herbal tincture. Combine with ashwaganda or any of the nervines described below to benefit the nervous system.Dose: Same as ashwaganda.

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