Is Hibiscus Safe When Breastfeeding? Flower, Tea, + More

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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We all love the tart, sweet, and slightly fruity flavor of hibiscus, whether in a tea, powder form, supplement, or more. This article will cover if these products are safe for breastfeeding.

Overall, it is best to avoid hibiscus tea, supplements, or any other hibiscus product while you are breastfeeding due to a lack of evidence that it is safe. Additionally, supplements are not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness until after they are already available to the public to purchase. 

Let’s discuss more information regarding consuming hibiscus tea, water, and other products while you are breastfeeding. Read on! 

Is Hibiscus Tea Safe While Breastfeeding?

Like in pregnancy, hibiscus tea should be avoided while breastfeeding because there is insufficient research to support its safety (source: Drugs and Lactation Database). 

Hibiscus tea in glass teapot and hibiscus flower

Unfortunately, the safety of many herbs and spices is unknown for breastfeeding women and their breastfed babies because of the ethical concerns and implications of conducting experimental clinical trials on breastfeeding women. 

While human studies are significantly lacking, in vitro studies involving animals show a potential lactogenic effect of hibiscus (source: Nutrition and Care Open Access Journal). Another study involving albino wistar rats confirmed this effect due to an increase in prolactin (source: Food Chemistry).

A human study was conducted in which lactating women received an herb blend including hibiscus (source: Pharmacognosy: Medicinal Plants). However, animal studies showed a potentially toxic effect on the liver and more. 

Due to the lack of information in humans, it is best to either avoid hibiscus tea while you are breastfeeding or speak with your physician about the potential risks of consumption. 

Hibiscus Juice or Water When Nursing – is it Safe? 

Hibiscus is considered “Generally Recognized as Safe” or GRAS by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (source: Cleveland Clinic). However, it is still recommended to avoid hibiscus juice or hibiscus water when you are breastfeeding since there is no substantial evidence that it is safe for breastfeeding

In other words, it is best to steer clear of these beverage options when you are lactating. 

heap of hibiscus tea

Other Hibiscus Products When Breastfeeding

Any other product containing hibiscus should also be avoided when breastfeeding unless you have the go-ahead from your physician. Many want to use hibiscus powders or supplements because hibiscus contains antioxidants, may lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, promote weight loss, and more (source: Cleveland Clinic). 

Many cultures also claim that hibiscus can have a lactogenic property and increase breast milk production. However, there is insufficient evidence to support these claims (source: Drugs and Lactation Database). 

For a list of 10 lactogenic foods that can help to increase your breast milk supply, check out this article here!

However, dietary supplements are not regulated as strictly as regular foods and beverages are in the United States. For example, the U.S. FDA does not monitor dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they are put on the grocery store or health food store shelves (source: FDA).

They do, however, monitor any adverse reactions that occur from the supplement after it is available to the general public. 

It is also essential to check the ingredients of your tea blends that may contain hibiscus so you can avoid them. For example, the Lipton Probiotic “Glow” herbal tea blend contains hibiscus as a primary ingredient.

In conclusion, it is essential to speak with your physician before consuming any hibiscus products.

I hope you found this article useful for discussing hibiscus and its safety implications for breastfeeding women.