Spontaneous flow of breast milk

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Spontaneous flow of breast milk factsheet

The Chinese term for this condition 漏乳 (Lou Ru) literarily means 'trickling breast milk'. It refers to the condition of breast milk flowing spontaneously out of the breasts without any stimulation (e.g. baby breastfeeding or pumping machine). It can even happen to women who aren't nursing or even to males!

As you can see below we've detailed for you the two "patterns of disharmony" associated with spontaneous flow of breast milk. 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 spontaneous flow of breast milk can be explained by two 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 four formulas that can help treat the various patterns that cause spontaneous flow of breast milk, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The two "patterns of disharmony" associated with spontaneous flow of breast milk

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

Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Recommended herbal formulas: Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San, Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Symptoms: Thirst Insomnia Headaches Dense milk Irritability Constipation Breast distention Bitter taste in the mouth Distention and pain in the chest and hypochondria

Alongside Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency, Liver Fire is the other key pattern causing a spontaneous flow of breastmilk. Since the Liver is connected to nipples through the Liver Channel, Liver Fire agitates the breast milk and pushes it out. This is a Excess type of pattern, therefore the milk appearance is rather dense and yellow. 

Long term emotional stress such as anger, frustration, resentment or a sudden emotional upset can lead to Liver Qi stagnation. If untreated for a while, it can then evolve to Liver Fire. 

The treatment principle is to pacify the Liver, drain Fire and move Liver Qi

Read more about Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire here

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

Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency

The pathology behind the spontaneous flow of breast milk is a bit similar to that of abnormal uterine bleeding. A key cause is that Qi is not firm enough to hold Body Fluids, be they breast milk or periods' blood, so the Fluids flows out unwantedly. As the Spleen and Stomach are responsible for generating Grain Qi from the intake of food and drinks, Deficiency of both Organs is what ultimately causes the spontaneous flow of breast milk.

A difficult childbirth can be one of the reasons for Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency as a large amount of Qi is exhausted during the act of giving birth. The problems is even compounded if the mother had a pre-existing issue with Qi Deficiency. Since it is a Deficient pattern, the breast milk that is expressed is normally watery, diluted and pale. 

The treatment principle is to tonify Qi, nourish Blood and strengthen Body Fluids.

Read more about Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency here

The four herbal formulas that might help with spontaneous flow of breast milk

Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San

Source date: 2002 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver Fire from Stagnant Liver Qi.

Why might Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San help with spontaneous flow of breast milk?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire, a pattern sometimes associated with spontaneous flow of breast milk. If it looks like you might suffer from Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San here

Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Nourishes the Heart. Calms the spirit.

Why might Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang help with spontaneous flow of breast milk?

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

Read more about Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang here

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Why might Long Dan Xie Gan Tang help with spontaneous flow of breast milk?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire, a pattern sometimes associated with spontaneous flow of breast milk. If it looks like you might suffer from Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang here

Ba Zhen Tang

Source date: 1326 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and augments Qi. Tonifies and augments Blood.

Why might Ba Zhen Tang help with spontaneous flow of breast milk?

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

Read more about Ba Zhen Tang here