Low breast milk supply according to Chinese Medicine

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Lactation insufficiency, Insufficient milk syndrome, Agalactia, Agalactorrhea, Hypogalactia and Hypogalactorrhea redirect here

Low breast milk supply factsheet

Chinese name: 缺乳少乳

Pinyin name: Quē Rǔ Shǎo Rǔ

Possible causes and remedies:

Traditional Chinese Herbalism believes that a lack of milk or a low quality milk supply is often due to low level of Qi and Blood.

Another usual cause is Liver Qi Stagnation, an issue where Qi gets blocked in the Liver and cannot flow freely to the breasts. Nipples and Liver are both connected to the Liver Channel.

Finally it can also be due to Phlegm, a disorder that disrupts Body Fluids and would therefore naturally affect breast milk.

As you can see below we've detailed for you the three "patterns of disharmony" associated with low breast milk supply. Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted. It is not equivalent to a Western condition, as a matter of fact here low breast milk supply can be explained by three different patterns.

Each of those patterns can be treated with one or several herbal formulas. Drinking herbal infusions is the most common remedy in Chinese Medicine, together with acupuncture. It is the Chinese Medicine equivalent to drugs, apart that it's 100% natural!

In total we detail below seven formulas that can help treat the various patterns that cause low breast milk supply, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The three "patterns of disharmony" associated with low breast milk supply

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Qi Stagnation

Low levels of milk supply is often due to Liver Qi Stagnation, an issue where Qi gets blocked in the Liver and cannot flow freely to the breasts.

The Liver and nipples are connected through the Liver Channel. To deal with low lactation due to this specific pattern, the Liver needs to be pacified and Qi needs to be moved by eliminating Stagnation. Only when the Stagnation is removed from the Liver Channel that connects to the breasts can the new mum can be encouraged to promote lactation.

A nursing mother is often emotional and stressed after delivering her baby because she need to adopt new habits and a new schedule around the newborn. This is the main reason causing Liver Qi Stagnation. On top of that, lacking of sleep or worries about milk supply worsen the situation. It is suggested that the nursing mother avoids emotional problems and try her best to be isolated from any source of irritation or worry.

Milk Boost Tea is an ideal formula to tackle this pattern as it contains many herbs that promote Qi movement such as Flowering quince fruit (Mu Gua) or Rose flower (Me Gui Hua). 

Read more about Liver Qi Stagnation here

Coco-Grass Rhizomes (Xiang Fu) is the key herb for Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan, a formula used for Phlegm

Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Thick coating

Tongue color: Pale

Recommended herbal formulas: Milk Boost Tea, Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan

Symptoms: Fatigue Overweight Bad breath Watery milk Low metabolism Thick tongue coating No feeling of distension of the breasts

The main cause for the formation of Phlegm is Spleen Deficiency since the Spleen rules the transformation and transportation of Body Fluids. If the Spleen doesn't transform or transport Body Fluids they will accumulate and change into Phlegm, which often stay in the Spleen and Stomach.

The accumulated Phlegm then impairs the Stomach's function of ripening and rotting food as well as the Spleen's function of transforming and absorbing food. This leads to a situation where those Organs do not properly extract Grain Qi (Gu Qi) and Essence out of what we eat and drink. In turn, insufficient Qi and Blood are produced which impacts the body's ability to produce breast milk. 

This theory is very similar to the Western medicine concept of "low metabolism". The body is not good enough at processing and absorbing food and drink. The body of the nursing mothers affected by this can not produce sufficient breast milk due to the Phlegm in the Spleen and Stomach. They are often overweight and it is very hard for them to lose weight. It is because food and drink can not be digested and transformed properly so it just accumulates in the body. 

Out of the three patterns that cause low breast milk supply, Phlegm is the most difficult one to deal with and it requests the most amount of time to resolve. It it normal because Phlegm often accumulates over a long period of time.

Milk Boost Tea is a recommended formula for this pattern since it contains herbs that remove Phlegm and Dampness such as Poria-cocos mushroom (Fu Ling) and Amomum Fruit (Sha Ren). 

Read more about Phlegm here

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) is the key herb for Si Wu Tang, a formula used for Blood and Qi Deficiency

Blood and Qi Deficiency

Traditional Chinese Herbalism believes that a lack of milk or a low quality milk supply is often due to low level of Qi and Blood. It's normal, a nursing mother needs much more Qi and Blood than usual and her supplies have been depleted during the act of birth-giving. Qi and Blood are the main ingredients of all Body Fluids, which include breast milk. Therefore, Qi and Blood Deficiency will naturally lead to very little or no breast milk after delivering the baby. 

When breast ducts are empty or with little flow, the breast is often soft and there is no distension or fullness feeling. Pale face and lips indicate Blood Deficiency, since not enough Blood can reach the head. Low breast milk due to Qi and Blood Deficiency will also lead to a pale tongue with very little coating. Weak (Ruo 弱)or Thin (Xi 细) pulses are also indicators, because Blood Deficiency results in a failure to fill the blood vessels and Qi Deficiency results in its lacking in strength.

It is important that the nursing mother eats easily digestible but also nourishing foods and especially foods that nourish Blood such as beef or chicken. If the mother is vegetarian, she should pay great care and attention to eating enough protein of vegetable origin.

Milk Boost Tea is our top recommended formula for this pattern since it contains many herbs that invigorates Qi or Blood such as King solomon's seal root (Huang Jin), Yam (Shan Yao), Dong quai (Dang Gui) and Longan (Long Yan Rou). King solomon's seal root and Yam are used to boost Qi while Dong quai and Longan are to nourish Blood. It also contains Platycodon root which is often added to direct these ingredients upward to the Upper Burners. Liquorice (Gan Cao) is also used to harmonize all these ingredients.  

Read more about Blood and Qi Deficiency here

The seven herbal formulas that might help with low breast milk supply

Milk Boost Tea

Number of ingredients: 13 herbs

Key actions: Promotes healthy breast milk production*

Rating: from 127 customer reviews

Why might Milk Boost Tea help with low breast milk supply?

Designed by Me & Qi's expert practitioners, Milk Boost Tea gathers all the herbs necessary to tackle the three patterns behind low breast milk supply. A 100% natural and vegan product, Milk Boost Tea is composed solely of the 13 herbs listed in its ingredients.

Read more about Milk Boost Tea here

Xia Ru Yong Quan San

Source date: 1840 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Blood. Increases breast milk supply.

Why might Xia Ru Yong Quan San help with low breast milk supply?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Liver Qi Stagnation, a pattern sometimes associated with low breast milk supply. If it looks like you might suffer from Liver Qi Stagnation, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Xia Ru Yong Quan San here

Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan

Source date: 1817 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Resolves Dampness and Phlegm.

Why might Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan help with low breast milk supply?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Phlegm, a pattern sometimes associated with low breast milk supply. If it looks like you might suffer from Phlegm, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan here

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Why might Si Wu Tang help with low breast milk supply?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Blood and Qi Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with low breast milk supply. If it looks like you might suffer from Blood and Qi Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Si Wu Tang here

Xiao Yao San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen. Relieves Liver Qi stagnation. Nourishes the Blood.

Why might Xiao Yao San help with low breast milk supply?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Liver Qi Stagnation, a pattern sometimes associated with low breast milk supply. If it looks like you might suffer from Liver Qi Stagnation, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

Yue Ju Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes the movement of Qi. Releases all types of Stagnation (Qi, Blood, Phlegm, Fire, Food and Dampness).

Why might Yue Ju Wan help with low breast milk supply?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Liver Qi Stagnation, a pattern sometimes associated with low breast milk supply. If it looks like you might suffer from Liver Qi Stagnation, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Yue Ju Wan here

Tong Ru Dan

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies the Qi and Blood. Removes Stagnation from the breast connecting Meridians.

Why might Tong Ru Dan help with low breast milk supply?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Blood and Qi Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with low breast milk supply. If it looks like you might suffer from Blood and Qi Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Tong Ru Dan here

Me & Qi product associated with low breast milk supply