There is not a large body of research about the effect of these herbs on milk supply. Anecdotally, lactation professionals and nursing parents share that sage, peppermint, oregano, and parsley have the potential to lower milk supply when these herbs or their oils are taken in larger, therapeutic amounts. Many lactation professionals believe that occasional use of these herbs as flavorings is not likely to create issues, but it is important to note that each individual is different and will have different reactions to each herb.
Sheila Humphrey, an IBCLC and the author of the book The Nursing Mother’s Herbal, has this to say about sage and peppermint use during breastfeeding:
“Sage (Salvia officinalis) is noted in lactation and herbal texts alike as having a folk reputation for lowering milk supply (Bissett 1994, Riordan: and Auerbach 1993). Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and parsley (Petroselinum crispum) are viewed by some traditional herbalists to lower milk supply, especially if the oil is taken internally in therapeutic doses (Ody 1994). Keep in mind that consumed on occasion, in small amounts, and as part of a reasonably varied diet, peppermint, parsley, sage and other culinary herbs currently have no documented negative effect on lactation (2003).”
A serving of stuffing with sage or a candy cane latte is not likely to lower your milk supply. When in doubt, avoid these herbs if you notice they have a negative effect on your milk supply or if you have had a negative reaction to them before.
Two general articles from KellyMom about herbs:
A link to an informal poll of breastfeeding mothers about their response to peppermint:
A fairly comprehensive article from La Leche League about herbs and milk supply:
All Holiday Breastfeeding Questions
- What is this painful ache in my breast? How do I get rid of it?
- I’ve never nursed in front of family before! How do I nurse without flashing them? What if someone says something judgy?
- I just had a glass of wine. Can I nurse my baby?
- Is it safe for me to have peppermint-flavored snacks? What about stuffing with sage in it? I have read both of those can negatively affect my milk supply.
- Where can I pump? I’m heading to _______ and not bringing my baby!