Do cabbage leaves help engorgement?

By Me & Qi
Mar 13, 2019

This post is part of our complete guide on treating engorgement and clogged ducts. Refer back to the guide if you want a complete list of topics covered, from prevention to diagnosis and treatment. If you're specifically interested in whether cabbage leaves can help engorgement, please read on!

Do cabbage leaves help engorgement?

There have been many scientific studies to understand whether cabbage leaves help relieve engorgement. No serious study has to this day seen that cabbage leaves help engorged breasts. They all tend to conclude that applying cabbage leaves on your breasts has no significant impact on engorgement or plugged ducts.

For instance an Australian study performed in 19981 gave cabbage leaves to 21 lactating women with engorged breasts while a group of 18 other lactating women were given a placebo cream with nothing in it. Both groups perceived the same relief on their engorged breasts after applying their respective treatment, meaning that cabbage leaves were no more effective than a placebo cream with nothing in it. What this study found however was that emptying your breasts by breastfeeding was actually effective against engorgement. This is consistent with what we recommend under our article on how to relieve engorged breasts.

Other example, a 2001 systematic review of various forms of treatment for breast engorgement2 also found that cabbage leaves had “no overall benefit” on breast engorgement. They did find however that breast massage is likely an effective remedy against engorgement, again consistent with what we recommend under our article on relieving engorged breasts.

So to summarize, do cabbage leaves help engorgement?

  • They don’t, serious studies conducted on the question find that the application of cabbage leaves provides no benefit to breast engorgement.
  • Instead of relying on cabbage leave, read our article on relieving engorged breasts to learn about effective ways to help engorgement.

> Back to our complete guide on engorgement and clogged ducts


1. Roberts KL, Reiter M, Schuster D. Effects of cabbage leaf extract on breast engorgement. J Hum Lact. 1998 Sep;14(3):231-6.

2. Mangesi L, Dowswell T. Treatments for breast engorgement during lactation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;9:CD006946.


Article tags: Breastfeeding and maternity