Herbal Breastfeeding Supplements and Epilepsy

Again this is for educational purposes only and not a substitute for a doctor or health care providers professional advice.

A couple of months ago a fellow lactation consultant called me about a client taking two specific medications for epilepsy carbamazepine and lorazapam. The parent was having issues with a low milk supply and wondering what galactagogues and herbs she could take with these medications for her issues. She and the LC brought this information to her health care providers to make a plan. I just gave them information. I caution always go the safest route and if that includes supplementation do so. I also found an interesting information in Herb books and link to the Epilepsy Society of Southern New York Inc.  It gives a more comprehensive list of herbs, supplements and alternative medications for avoidance in other than just lactation.  I did not include CBD oil as that is another blog completely.

These were the findings for this situation.

No’s for reasons stated.

Ashwanganda,  not drug compatible

Black Cohosh, 1 seizure reported use with caution. Homoepathic use is probably ok. Blue Cohosh no as well. Both have been used in herbal anti-seizure protocols, but does by dose interfere with and counteract medications and can increase seizure activity as well.

Borage, Evening Primrose oil, Black (cumin) Seed oil,  It is the GLA (gamma lenoleic acid) interferes with the receptors and reactions with medications. No essential oils for these either.

The following herbs lower the threshold for convulsant activity and you must avoid the essential oils of these as well.

Hops, Valerian, Skullcap, Passionflower, also increases sleepiness.

Dong Qui, Sassafras,, St. Johns Wort, Kava, Mate’, Kola nut, Gingko, Grapefruit juice, Ephedra, Ginseng, Hawthorn,. Kava, Mate, Kola are high in caffeine and increases the chance for seizure activity, these also interfere with medications and medication responses.

Star Anise, Especially the Essential oil. It is a known abortificient. We also never know if it is Japanese or Chinese origin and can be contaminated. The Essential oil is known to cause seizures.

Saw Palmetto is a caution as there is a report of convulsant activity noted.

Avoid Dill and Fennel Essential oils. As a food in small doses it is usually fine.

Lemon Balm interferes with the medications and is in the mint family and may dry or lower supply as well. Avoid overuse of the tea.

Wild Lettuce or Lactuca Virosa interferes with the medication. Homeopathic form should be fine for lactation.

Cautionary use: Goat’s Rue (galega officinalis) is known at high doses to cause seizure activity especially in animals. Overgrazed sheep, goats, Interrupted small dose or homeopathic use should be fine.  This is different from Rue (ruta graveolens) or herb of grace. It should not be used in pregnancy, but is used and known to have anti-convulsant activity and is used for such. Homeopathic use is fine.

Now for better news. These are herbs a breastfeeding parent can use with these medications and others for this specific disorder.

Moringa in food amounts is safe and medical research is showing anticonvulsant activity and may be considered useful in epilepsy. no more than 2-3 grams a day.

Oat Straw lifts depression, great for nerves hot flashes and is used in epilepsy treatments.

Shatavari (asparagus root) is fine.

Vitex also called Chaste Tree berry is known to increase the seizure threshold.

Sesame Seeds are known to increase milk supply and is used in Tradition Chinese Medicine.

Cumin (regular) and black cumin seeds in moderation. See the note above on GLA.

Alfalfa is fine and is safe during pregnancy and nursing. Caution too much alfalfa can cause gas and diarrhea. Cut back on dose if you find this to be of concern.

Red Raspberry leaf safe during pregnancy and is known to build supply. These are also part of the rose family and includes blackberry leaf as well. So these teas are safe as well.

Milk Thistle is a great liver cleanser, hormone modulator and safe with these medications.

Dandelion is safe, it helps the liver, moderates thyroid levels, and is a great potassium sparing diuretic.

Fenugreek in moderation is fine as well. Some folks just don’t like to smell of syrup.

Tinctures in vinegar base are fine. If alcohol based place tincture dose in hot water to steam off the alcohol.

I strive to help parents nurse their children successfully and happily as long as they wish.  M. T.

Some resources i used.  PDR for herbal medicines, Commission e monographs, Green Pharmacy by Dr. James Duke, Herbs for women Dr. Aviva Romm, Mosby;s Handbook of Herbs and Natural supplements, Epilepsy society of Southern New York Inc, Chinese Materia Medica, www.nccam.nih.gov/health/alerts/silver, www.epilepsy.com/ professionals, The Clinician’s handbook of Natural Medicine, Mosby’s drug guide. Many other resource guides as well.