Fenugreek and blessed thistle are plants that may help with lactation for breastfeeding moms. But don’t confuse blessed thistle with milk thistle.
The crying won’t stop. Baby is hungry. You pull out your breast to nourish baby. But nothing is coming out. Your milk flows only a trickle. So you try and unleash the dam by massaging the breast. But the milk flow remains stagnant.
Nearly every mother can relate to this deeply unsettling experience of breastfeeding. After all, your breast milk is the best source of nutrition for baby. Sure, you could try a bottle. However, the bonding between mommy and baby is deepest when baby latches on to the breast.
For countless generations, women have used plants to stimulate milk flow. Two of these botanicals include fenugreek and blessed thistle. Of the two, fenugreek is perhaps better well-known. However, blessed thistle is becoming more popular. Several natural brands and supplement companies feature it in their products.
Blessed thistle for breastfeeding
Again, blessed thistle is a plant that may be beneficial for improving milk supply in nursing mothers. However, there is no scientific research that proves this. The research on blessed thistle and lactating women is lacking.
This research article references a survey on breastfeeding women in Australia. Nearly a quarter of the lactating women in the survey supplement with ‘galactagogues.’ Galactagogues are herbs that boost breast milk flow. Fenugreek and blessed thistle are two of the most popular galactagogues.
There is some limited research suggesting fenugreek enhances breastfeeding. This study analyzes 22 breastfeeding women supplementing with fenugreek tea. The researchers conclude in the study that fenugreek tea supplementation might enhance breast milk production.
The babies of the mothers in the study were of low birth weight. Fenugreek tea, suggest the researchers, help infants gain critical weight in the early weeks of infancy.
Yes, there is scant research on both fenugreek and blessed thistle. However, countless centuries of use by women in traditional societies should also count. Moreover, these galactagogues don’t benefit only breastfeeding moms in remote villages in developing countries. In fact, more and more modern-day western society moms are using them.
Blessed Thistle at Walmart?
In fact, you can even buy blessed thistle from Walmart these days! Walmart offers more than one supplement containing the herb. The retail giant sells it as a stand-alone supplement. It is from a company known as Mother’s Select.
Another supplement you can buy from Walmart is from TerraVita. It combines fenugreek and blessed thistle. Also, Nature’s Way blessed thistle is for sale at Walmart. The Solaray brand of capsules also sells at various Walmart stores.
As you can see, Walmart offers different blessed thistle supplements. Perhaps this means more and more women are using the herb these days.
Blessed Thistle Benefits
In addition to helping with lactation, blessed thistle offers other health benefits.
According to WebMD, it’s used for skin lesions. Other things blessed thistle may help with include: indigestion, bacterial infections, colds, diarrhea, poor appetite, and acting as a diuretic. The reason blessed thistle may be useful is because it contains tannins. Tannins contain antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect against premature aging and disease.
Blessed thistle may also improve the health of the liver and gallbladder.
“However, there isn’t enough information to know how well blessed thistle might work for many of its uses,” a WebMD article concludes. Blessed thistle may also ease depression. Although, much of the research focusing on depression examines another type of thistle besides blessed.
Blessed thistle vs milk thistle
Blessed thistle and milk thistle are not the same. You can think of them as first cousins. But they are different plants. Milk thistle is perhaps most well-known for its benefits on liver health. In fact, it may help regenerate liver cells. Although, this review of several milk thistle studies seems to be a mixed bag.
Like blessed thistle, as well as other herbs, milk thistle is also used for lactation support. Again, though they are not the same thing, blessed thistle and milk thistle are very common. In fact, both are used by many women as part of a herbal lactation support tea.
And milk thistle may offer an added benefit to lactating moms. It may decrease toxins in the breastmilk. One example of toxin is pesticides. Although more scientific research is needed to confirm this, it makes sense. If milk thistle helps detoxify the liver, it may cleanse the blood of toxins. Less toxins in the blood results in less toxins in breastmilk.
However, since milk thistle may act as a strong liver cleanser, perhaps it may be harmful to baby. On the other hand, blessed thistle seems to not have as strong effect on the liver as milk thistle.
Fenugreek and blessed thistle: the bottom line for breastfeeding moms
Whether it’s fenugreek and blessed thistle or milk thistle, goat’s rue or other herbs that boost breastmilk production, consult with both a lactation consultant as well as a physician or pediatrician. And if you receive conflicting advice, seek more opinions. Do more research.
But also take into account what breastfeeding women have been doing for thousands of years. This includes taking both herbs to improve lactation.