Jun 8, 2017

Fenugreek & Blessed Thistle: Nature’s Answer to Lactation Deficits! By Terry Vanderheyden, ND

Women's Health

Fenugreek & Blessed Thistle: Nature’s Answer to Lactation Deficits!

By Terry Vanderheyden, ND

St. Francis Herb Farm

Fenugreek is widely recognized as a nutritive tonic for breastfeeding women and has been traditionally used throughout the world for this purpose.

A 2011 human clinical trial found a significant improvement in babies’ weight gain and in their mama’s milk supply after they consumed fenugreek tea (Turkyilmaz et al. 2011) Specifically, milk volume was significantly higher, while babies of fenugreek-supplemented mothers regained their birth weights more quickly and lost significantly less weight than the placebo group.

Since the 17th century, blessed thistle has been primarily recognized by herbalists as a remedy to enhance milk production in nursing women. It is an excellent digestive tonic for the anemic and weak and is especially good for lactating women with a low milk supply. The herb is thought to stimulate blood flow to the mammary glands (see Zapantis et al 2012).

A lactation specialist in Toronto, Dr. Jack Newman (his International Breastfeeding Centre is located at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto) writes about the effectiveness of blessed thistle and fenugreek when used together: “These two herbs seem to increase milk supply and increase the rate of milk flow.” (Newman 2009) He adds that their effects are additive: “fenugreek and blessed thistle seem to work better if you take both, not just one or the other.” Dr. Newman notes that mothers generally notice an increase in milk production within 24-72 hours after starting the herbs.

St. Francis has encapsulated a 5:1 extract of fenugreek/blessed thistle, in a convenient 2 capsule per day dose!


1. Turkyilmaz C, et al. J Altern Complement Med 2011; 17(2): 139–142.

2. Zapantis A et al. J Pharm Pract 2012; 25(2): 222–31.

3. Jack Newman, Herbal Remedies for Milk Supply, Accessed online September 2, 2014 from http://www.nbci.ca/


Terry Vanderheyden, ND

Terry Vanderheyden, ND is a 1994 graduate of the CCNM and has a practice in Barry’s Bay, ON. He also acts as a consultant to the botanical manufacturing industry, working in product development, regulatory affairs, and general medical consulting.  He is a board licensed ND with the College of Naturopaths of Ontario. His is a general family practice with a minor emphasis on cancer treatments. As well, Terry is a contributor to the Integrated Healthcare Practitioner magazine and is a peer review board member of that same publication.