I was given an herbal mix for weight loss and I am wondering if it’s safe since I am breastfeeding?

Thank you for your excellent question. I sympathize that diet and exercise alone have not been enough but the good news is, breastfeeding is one of the healthiest ways to lose weight while re-setting your metabolism with food choices (avoiding that dread word, diet) and regular activity.

The herbs (lobelia, fenugreek, red clover, parsley, mullin, golden seal, fennel) - this sounds like a liquid formula called a tincture, which has low amounts of alcohol. That is to both extract and preserve the different herbs. However, the hot water does NOT evaporate off the alcohol sufficiently for lactating or alcohol-sensitive people. As for this herb formula, I cannot recommend it for you: some herbs are fine (fennel seed helps prevent colic and gas for your baby), while others may be passed through your milk that your infant does not need (red clover, lobelia, goldenseal). This does not even seem like a formula targeting weight loss — more of a general digestive, diuretic, hormonal, and immune formula. Safety data tells us a few too many of these ingredients are not for breastfeeding moms. It isn’t so much “dangerous” (so relax if you tried it) but it isn’t a good mix for you to take regularly right now.

Here is my opinion: save your money. Instead, buy local salad mixes and summer fruit that you love. Breastfeeding your baby as long as possible while walking or exercising daily, eating fruits, veggies, lean protein, and LOTS (1/2-1 gallon a day) of water and unsweetened herb tea (not milk or juice) is best for your baby and your weight loss. I know it can be a struggle. Have faith that you are both starting a new chapter in your lives together. Breastfeeding on demand (historically, global norms are 1-3 years, not the typical 6 months in the US) PLUS rehydrating on a clean eating plan is your very best way to break the vicious cycle of stubborn weight.

Excellent safety info for breastfeeding exists on the following for teas: fennel seed, lemon balm leaves, rooibos (caffeine free looks and tastes like tea), 1 mug (6-7 fluid oz.) of green tea a day (low caffeine, helps metabolism). Chamomile, peach leaf, ginger root, and linden flower, all reasonably good tasting hot or cold, made as mild or strong as your palate desires. You might try adding a teaspoon of flax seeds to fruit smoothies or on morning oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon to help improve blood sugar, promote heart health, and better elimination. There is a chapter on herbs for pregnancy, breastfeeding, and babies in my book, Herbal Remedies for Women. I hope this gives you hope and help.

Congratulations and best wishes,
Amanda McQuade Crawford

Amanda McQuade Crawford

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