Thick breast milk according to Chinese Medicine

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Thick breast milk can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like thick breast milk here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here thick breast milk is often associated with insufficient or absent lactation after childbirth, breast distention and breast lumps in the pattern “Liver Qi Stagnation”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause thick breast milk.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of thick breast milk we’ve identified four herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat thick breast milk.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause thick breast milk

In Chinese Medicine thick breast milk is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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

Liver Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red)

When Liver Qi does not flow smoothly or regularly, it becomes Stagnant and in Excess. This leads to Heat accumulating in the Liver. The feeling of ‘Distension’ (zhang 胀) is the main symptom of Liver Qi Stagnation.

In addition to thick breast milk, other symptoms associated with Liver Qi Stagnation include insufficient or absent lactation after childbirth, breast distention and breast lumps.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Liver Qi Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Mastitis or Breast Engorgement.

Liver Qi Stagnation is often treated with Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Liver Qi Stagnation here

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for Phlegm

Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

The concept of Phlegm is much wider and important in Chinese Medicine than in the West. Broadly speaking, Phlegm is a substance produced when the body fails to handle Body Fluids properly.

In addition to thick breast milk, other symptoms associated with Phlegm include watery milk, no feeling of distension of the breasts and fatigue.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Phlegm is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Late Menstruation or Scanty Menstruation.

Phlegm is often treated with Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Er Chen Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm here

Four herbal formulas that might help with thick breast milk

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 thick breast milk?

Designed by Me & Qi's expert practitioners to tackle some of the patterns that can cause thick breast milk, Milk Boost Tea is a 100% natural and vegan product 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 thick breast milk?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which thick breast milk is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Liver Qi Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Low Breast Milk Supply.

Read more about Xia Ru Yong Quan 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 thick breast milk?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm' of which thick breast milk is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Phlegm can contribute to many health issues, including Low Breast Milk Supply.

Read more about Yue Ju Wan 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 thick breast milk?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which thick breast milk is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Liver Qi Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Low Breast Milk Supply.

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat thick breast milk

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with thick breast milk?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat thick breast milk as a symptom, like Xia Ru Yong Quan San or Xiao Yao San for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with thick breast milk?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat thick breast milk as a symptom, like Yue Ju Wan or Xia Ru Yong Quan San for instance.

Szechuan Lovage Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Read more about Szechuan Lovage Roots here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with thick breast milk?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat thick breast milk as a symptom, like Yue Ju Wan or Xiao Yao San for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with thick breast milk?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat thick breast milk as a symptom, like Xia Ru Yong Quan San or Xiao Yao San for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Bupleurum Root (Chai Hu) help with thick breast milk?

Because Bupleurum Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat thick breast milk as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Xia Ru Yong Quan San for instance.

Bupleurum Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Harmonizes exterior and interior. Smoothes the Liver and upraises the Yang.

Read more about Bupleurum Roots here

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Conditions associated with thick breast milk

Low breast milk supply