Peppermint and other Herbs that can decrease breast milk supply

Every winter, my answering service gets flooded with calls from concerned mothers who can’t understand why all of sudden in these holiday months, there milk supply has seemed to drastically fallen. In some cases it is the lack of sleep, the stress from festivities, or the increase of the flu and cold season putting a damper on that milk supply. For we well know that decongestants and anti-histamines will drastically lower your milk supply and even dry it up. However often, the drop in milk production has everything to do with the holiday treats you may be consuming. Peppermint, menthol, parsley and sage are four of the biggest herbal culprits when it comes to putting a damper on milk. In fact I often recommend peppermint tea or ingesting peppermint Altoids when beginning the steps of weaning your baby. Never fear, if you have been ingesting these things and have noticed a decrease in your milk, the good news is that it is easy to bring it back to full production. This however should be done under the care of a trained Lactation Consultant. Below is a wonderful resource taken from of herbs that can and or will lower your milk production:

Herbs that may decrease milk supply

Using large amounts of the following herbs and other natural remedies should be avoided while nursing because they have been known to decrease milk supply. The amounts of these herbs normally used in
cooking are unlikely to be of concern; it’s mainly the larger amounts that might be used therapeutically that could pose a problem. However, some moms have noticed a decrease in supply after eating things
like dressing with lots of sage, sage tea (often recommended when moms are weaning), lots of strong peppermint candies or menthol cough drops, or other foods/teas with large amounts of the particular herb. These herbs are sometimes used by nursing mothers to treat oversupply, or when weaning.

  • Black Walnut
  • Chickweed
  • Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
  • Lemon Balm
  • Oregano
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)/Menthol
  • Periwinkle Herb (Vinca minor)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
  • Spearmint
  • Thyme
  • Yarrow

This is the season of candy canes, peppermint lattes, menthol cough drops, and sage filled stuffing! So you may want to double check before taking second helpings of any of these lovely tasty treats now and through out the year!

Copyright© 2011 Danielle Gauss – All Rights Reserved.

This entry was posted in Diet Concerns, Herbs and Breastfeeding, Low Milk Supply. Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to Peppermint and other Herbs that can decrease breast milk supply

  1. Nicole says:

    Thanks so much! This was extremely helpful! I knew to stay away from natural peppermint but didnt know the candy and flavoring would affect my milk so much but explains why my supplies been low.

  2. Catharine says:

    Thanks for the information. I think I took too much vicks lozenges while breastfeeding and today my milk supply has tremendously dropped (I was not that great with the supply to start with and was slowly increasing). Is there anyway you can get rid of the too much menthol or reverse the effect? I am feeding a 6 week old and would much appreciate any information.

    • Admin says:

      Yes you can absolutely help reverse the effects. Drink plenty of fluids, and begin pumping. Remember your breasts work by supply and demand, the more they are stimulated, the more milk you will make. So, after you feed your baby, give your breasts a 10 min. break, then double pump, meaning both breasts at the same time, for 10-15 min. It is okay if you don’t see very much milk express, it is all about stimulation and sending those messages to your brain to produce more. Do this for about 2 days. On top of that I would go to a health food store and get some More Milk Plus capsules and begin taking 2 capsules 2x a day. If you are allergic to peanuts or are diabetic, then you need to NOT take a capsule that contains fenugreek. It will take about 3 days to see a significant increase. Eat oatmeal, barley, oats, etc… For more information, visit the “Increasing Milk” section of the website. Good luck!

  3. shannon says:

    Is it just if peppermint is ingested? What about using peppermint oil topically? I typically make my own “vapor rub”, and use peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil and camphor oil in it. A friend also has a facial scrub with peppermint oil in it that she’s been avoiding using.

    • Admin says:

      It is generally more of an issue if the peppermint is ingested, however there have been reports of some problems with the peppermint oil causing some decrease in supply topically. You can always try it and see if it causes a temporary drop. If it does, you will know what it was that caused it, and can quickly retrieve your milk supply by increasing stimulation and or adding in a an herbal galacagogue.

  4. Amy says:

    I am EBF my 2 week old son. Is peppermint gum not even good to use? I popped a piece in my mouth the other day and remembered ahh this isnt good! So I was wondering if one piece of gum will hurt my supply, or gum here in there?

    • Admin says:

      Gum is generally fine, there usually isn’t enough peppermint in the gum to effect supply, simply because it isn’t true peppermint extract like what is found in Altoids. If a drop in supply is noticed, my guess is that it would be due to a different underlying reason. Hope this helps!

  5. alma says:

    Do I boil some water and than put the oregano or boil both n than drink it without sugar?

    • Admin says:

      Oregano will lower milk supply in large quantities. Are you trying to lower your supply? If so I would recommend sage or peppermint vs. oregano. I recommend reading my article on weaning for further steps on how to dry up your milk supply. Best of luck!

      • sadee says:

        im trying to stop my breastmilk on the second day of cold turkey. but have no money to go out and buy sage but i do have oregano how would i use it

        • Admin says:

          I would follow the instructions in my article about weaning for instructions on what to do to help dry your milk up. I recommend peppermint oil capsules to eat, and wearing crushed green cabbage leaves in your bra to help reduce your supply. Oregano you can just mix in your food and it will help lower your supply, but it is not as effective as peppermint and sage. If you get engorged cold compresses will help. Please let me know if you have any further questions. Thank you.

  6. lesley says:

    Just wantd to say a big thank you for this information it well help my daughter reduce her milk supply.

  7. Shannon foldy says:

    I have mitrovalve valve prolapse. Are peppermint altoids Ok to use? I’ve heard peppermint is not good for people with mitrovalve prolapse.

    • Admin says:

      I would consult with your cardiologist before trying anything new. Altoids are probably fine, but since you have a specific case, I would want you to run it by your doctor first.

  8. Emily says:

    Hi! I diffuse peppermint oil with others for sinus issues. While that affect my supply?

    • Admin says:

      It can. It is more of an issue if the oil is ingested or rubbed on the skin. If you are only smelling it, and using it as aroma therapy then it may not effect your supply as drastically. However, anything with menthol or peppermint that you are touching can lower a supply.

  9. Charity says:

    Will peppermint affect colostrum coming in? I’m 39.2 now, I’ve been steeping peppermint tea in my pregnancy tea for the last month or so. I haven’t had any colostrum come in. Is the raw the culprit? If so will eliminating the peppermint tea allow me to produce in time… Any day now, I hope. 🙂

    • Admin says:

      Hopefully you have had your little one by now. Peppermint in pregnancy is perfectly fine. Often better to eliminate it the week of your due date, but you should be just fine. I do not recommend peppermint once your baby is here though. Best of luck for a safe and blessed birth.

  10. Karen says:

    I’m interested in using a topical product (the body scrub and Cree found on page 31 of the catalog here: and I’m particularly concerned about the possible effect on my milk supply caused by the essential oils in the product (esp spearmint). I’m physically ready to wean (toddler is 2-1/2yo who nurses to get to sleep before nap and bedtime and upon waking) but I’m not sure if we’re emotionally ready for the transition. What is your recommendation for use of the product if I don’t want to decrease my milk supply yet?

    • Karen says:

      *body scrub and CREME^

    • Admin says:

      essential oils can be very powerful in decreasing a supply. I often recommend the use of peppermint to reduce supply. Sage and spearmint also have an effect. If you want to jsut slow it down but aren’t ready to wean completely then this would be a good start. If you are still breastfeeding or stimulating the breast, you will continue to produce milk. But this may be a nice gradual way of lowering the supply gently until you and your baby are ready. The body scrub will not effect your supply as much as if you were to ingest the oils, but it may have some effect.

  11. Shanterria whitehead says:

    Do you chew the Altoids or just suck on them to help decrease milk supply ???

    • Admin says:

      Either way works. The key is to have large amounts of peppermint. Ideally peppermint oil capsules would be best if you can get a hold of them, but anyway you can get the peppermint in your system the better.

  12. Shanterria whitehead says:

    Another think if your using the cabbage for engorgement an swelling but dont leak any milk does that mean it’s gone but I’m still engorged tho ?

  13. kcf says:

    what about pepermint foot spray if i sprayed a little on my feet ..n a piece
    of excell pepermint gum will this harm my milk supply?

    • Admin says:

      Gum should not effect your milk supply, there is not enough peppermint in that to do much. If the foot spray was sprayed on the top of your foot you should be okay, however if it was applied to the bottom of your feet that is a different story, as the soles of our feet absorb everything and spread it through your system. It won’t be as strong as ingesting it, but could still effect the supply.

  14. Scf says:

    Help – a hair pomade I used has sage in it. I didn’t realize it until I read the ingredients after I rubbed it all in my hair. It’s number 8 out of 12 ingredients. Am I at risk for a drop in supply??

    • Admin says:

      You are probably okay with using a hair product with sage. You are not ingesting the sage so you are good.

  15. Yessy says:

    Just drank two cups of pepermint Tea today,didn’t know it would lower milk supply will two cups do that if so how how do I reverse it??

    • Admin says:

      Only time will tell, but you should be just fine. If you notice a slight decrease just start adding in a few extra pumping sessions and you should be fine. You can always have some oatmeal or anything with oats and barley in it. If you notice a significant drop then you can start an herbal galactagogue to help boost.

  16. Pattie says:

    Could drinking mint infused water (approx. 10 mint leaves) lower my supply?

  17. Nicole says:

    Hi, my shampoo and conditioner both have sage oil. I already struggle with my milk supply keeping up with my baby. Will this affect my milk production?

    • Admin says:

      Sage is more of an issue when you ingest it. However, if you are struggling it may be good to try not using it and see if it helps. Most likely the sage in the shampoo should be just find though.

  18. Jeny says:

    Trying to lower milk supply. had overproduction with all 3 other kids, same now with new baby. how much peppermint is effective to lower. Some things I’ve read say a very large quantity of sage or peppermint tea is necessary? What about essential oils? A drop or two….advice pls.

    • Admin says:

      Because peppermint is so strong, I would start first with the tea, 3 cups a day. If you don’t notice a big enough drop, then you can use essential oil. But only one drop orally to start.

  19. rachel says:

    My husband uses a body was with peppermint essential oil in it. Would this cause issues to my milk supply? I won’t be using it, but I’m worried about the aroma or close contact

    • Admin says:

      You should be okay, unless you happen to have really sensitive skin. Most of the peppermint issues are associated with you ingesting the oil vs. being around it. But I would be cautious not to use the wash yourself.

  20. shai says:

    what about lifesavers GREEN_O_MINT. I eat them like its a shortage lol.

    • Admin says:

      It does have some of the peppermint in it that could cause a problem. I wouldn’t eat them, especially if you are having a problem with your supply. It is probably not as big of a deal as altoids, but still can effect the supply

  21. Miriam says:

    Hi, I have a muscular injury – my shoulder muscle and have been applying an ointment with eucalyptus oil. Is it safe for me to use or will this affect my breastmilk supply?
    I’m really worried about this.

  22. Azka says:

    Hi! I unknowingly had two full bars of chocolate infused with pure peppermint oil, over a few days. Is that enough to decrease supply? My baby has been nursing more frequently and breasts have been feeling emptier for a couple of days.6 week old Baby tends to have green poop in morning diaper right after waking but yellow the rest of the day. Does that indicate lowered supply? Also, a weight loss home remedy I want to use contains dried mint leaves. Are all varieties of mint anti galactagogues? Thank you for your help!

    • Admin says:

      The pure peppermint oil probably did lower your supply a bit. You can get it back however, just remember to add in a few more pumping sessions and if you need to you can always start taking some herbs to increase your supply. Remember your breasts work by supply and demand, the more you stimulate the more milk you will make. Best of luck!

  23. Heather says:

    Very interesting! I have had milk supply issues with both children (currently nursing and supplementing a 7-month old). I have tried many many MANY things to increase my supply. I just realized that there is probably quite a bit of some kind of mint herb growing wild in my ravine lot. Any bizarre chance this could be my problem?? Thank you for any insight!

    • Admin says:

      It is possible, especially if you are ingesting it at all. Have you also tried acupuncture? There is so much research to support acupuncture working to increase your supply. Worth a try!

  24. Meghan says:

    I use Giovanni organic shampoo and conditioner and just realized it has peppermint in it…I have not had any supply problems yet and my baby is 7 weeks old…but would you recommend changing shampoo? Or do you think it’s not really a problem? I realize it’s shampoo and your hair doesn’t absorb into your blood stream, but it also runs down your body…
    Also I use a blend of essential oils on my baby that contains peppermint when he has a stomach ache, so it rubs into my fingers when I rub it on his stomach, what is your take on this?
    #paranoid mom

    • Admin says:

      If you haven’t noticed a decrease as of yet, you are probably just fine. Peppermint is more of an issue if you are ingesting it. Glad you are using the essential oils! They are awesome!

  25. Lyly says:

    I plan on making beard oil, balm, and wax for my fiance for Christmas and I will be using a few different essential oils in them. I was wondering, will it affect my milk supply? I will be wearing gloves just to be safe. I will be smelling it to make sure the scent is good. The oils I will be using are:
    Juniper berry
    Orange sweet

    Thank you in advance

  26. Kristina says:

    I just had my 2nd baby two days ago. With my first son I had a terrible time producing any milk, and had hopped to correct a few mistakes I made last time. Unfortunately I think I just made a big new mistake!

    • Admin says:

      That is okay. You are doing great. Just remember supply and demand. Continue to keep your baby skin to skin, and if you have to you can always add in herbs to help increase your supply. If you need further help, feel free to ask a Lactation consultant to make an appointment to do a pre and post weight so you know exactly what milk is being brought it.

  27. Nicole says:

    I love the smell of sage as a deodorant. Will it reduce my supply if I put a couple drops with coconut oil on my armpits? Thanks x x

  28. Jessica says:

    3 of my kids have been sick and I’m applying peppermint essential oils for them. No wonder I can see a drop in my milk supply. Anyway to reverse it?

    • Admin says:

      You poor thing. Yes peppermint is very strong! You can start adding in herbs such as more milk plus or fenugreek. Or since you have essential oils….fennel and cleary sage oils (not straight sage) have been shown to increase milk. You can try rubbing those on your breasts as well. Also increasing your pumping (just 2-3 pumping sessions, 10 min after a feed, for 10 min) will increase your supply. There also is a new tea by Traditional Medicines called Shatavari Cardamom tea that works amazingly well! Let me know if you have any further questions. Best of luck!

  29. Jade says:

    I’ve been breast feeding my 16th month old and he eats more table food than anything and only nurses before his nap and through the night. I’ve tried to wean before but it wasn’t a success. I’m now trying the peppermint tea. How often do you need to drink it to help reduce your supply a large amount?

    • Admin says:

      You may have more success by using peppermint essential oils to help decrease your supply or sage tea especially if you are wanting to wean more then anything. Peppermint tea just to decrease your supply will work, but you need to drink at least 3 cups a day.

  30. ramya says:

    Is it safe to breastfeed my baby while taking sage tea?

    • Admin says:

      Yes it is safe to breastfeed your baby while drinking sage tea, however the sage tea will dry up your milk supply.

  31. Jenny says:

    Our 2nd daughter was born a week ago. With my first child I had an oversupply, and it appears after day 4 I will be facing the same problem again. She has latched very well, but I am only able to feed from one side which still doesn’t empty my breasts. Build up to the next feedings has become so painful. How often can I have a peppermint tea? I know in a few weeks my supply should align with her demand. Until then, I need some relief since I am oozing milk usually an hour after she ate. Thank you

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