Can I Drink Nettle Tea When Breastfeeding? Is It Safe? 

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Nettle tea is an earthy tea that many enjoy for its slightly tangy and bitter flavor. However, can you enjoy this tea while you are breastfeeding? 

Overall, there is no clinical evidence that supports the safety of drinking nettle tea for breastfeeding women. Therefore, it is best to avoid drinking nettle tea or consuming nettles in any form while breastfeeding.

This article will cover more information about the safety of stinging nettle or nettle leaf and if it can actually boost your milk supply. Read on! 

Is Stinging Nettle or Nettle Leaf Safe When Breastfeeding?

Unfortunately, stinging nettle and nettle leaf are not safe for consumption in nursing mothers because of the lack of scientific clinical trials in this area (source: Drugs and Lactation Database).

nettle leaf tea in a glass cup

However, many breastfeeding women are interested in taking stinging nettle or nettle leaf (often in tea) because it is reported to be a galactagogue and potentially help with treating postpartum anemia. 

However, it is tricky to establish the safety of certain herbs, such as nettle leaf or stinging nettle, for breastfeeding women and their breastfeeding babies because of the unethical implications of conducting experiments involving this population.

Therefore, it is difficult to say if nettle is even effective for its reported purposes as well. 

Additionally, nettle is often sold as a supplement as well. Dietary supplements are regulated differently in the United States when compared to foods. Supplements are not regulated for safety or effectiveness by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to becoming available to the general public for purchase (source: FDA).

However, they are monitored for any adverse effects after the dietary supplements are put on the market. 

Therefore, speak with your physician before taking any dietary supplement while you are breastfeeding. 

Topically, when applied to the mother’s nipple, stinging nettle can cause allergic reactions, particularly in the form of rashes, to the breastfed baby (source: Drugs and Lactation Database). 

In other words, whether it is consumed as a tea, supplement, or another product or used topically on the nipple, it is best to avoid nettle leaf or stinging nettle while you are breastfeeding. 

Can Nettle Leaf Tea Boost Milk Supply?

It is commonly purported that stinging nettle has a galactagogue effect, meaning it supports increased breast milk production. However, research does not support the effectiveness of nettle as a lactogenic herb (source: Drugs and Lactation Database).

Healthy nettle tea or infusion and nettle herbs on wooden table

As mentioned above, there simply is not enough research that has been done in this area to support using it for galactagogue purposes. However, there are some safe lactogenic foods that can increase your milk supply.

This list focuses on foods and supplements with scientific clinical studies that support use for increasing the production of breast milk in lactating women.

Some of these foods and supplements include fenugreek, fennel, milk thistle, and alfalfa. 

However, as mentioned above, it is crucial to speak with your physician before taking any dietary supplements and if you are having trouble with your breast milk supply.

In conclusion, I hope this article was helpful in breaking down the information regarding whether stinging nettle and nettle leaf are safe while breastfeeding.