Due to the serious side effects that could occur when consuming real licorice, breastfeeding women should not consume it on a regular basis or use licorice supplements or extracts. Licorice may affect estrogen and, therefore, could interfere with the quality and quantity of breast milk production. Talk to your healthcare provider about the safety of using licorice products while breastfeeding.
Licorice and Breastfeeding: An Overview
It is not known if it is safe for breastfeeding women to take licorice supplements or extracts (or even to eat real licorice candy). Keep in mind that many "licorice" candies do not actually contain any licorice. For instance, red licorice does not contain any real licorice, and many black licorice products use anise instead of licorice as a flavoring agent.
Is Licorice Safe While Breastfeeding?
Although it is not known if licorice is safe to consume while breastfeeding, licorice can cause some very dangerous side effects (see Licorice Side Effects), especially in people with high blood pressure or heart problems. It may also affect estrogen and, theoretically, could interfere with the quality and quantity of breast milk production.
It is probably safe to eat a little licorice candy now and then, but regular consumption or taking licorice extracts or supplements should be avoided while you are breastfeeding.
Talking With Your Healthcare Provider About Licorice and Breastfeeding
You should talk with your healthcare provider before taking licorice. Each woman's situation is different, and you and your healthcare provider understand your situation best. After considering what you want and expect, as well as your current health situation, the two of you can make a shared decision about licorice and breastfeeding that is right for you.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed January 29, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: Licorice root (June 2006). NCCAM Web site. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/. Accessed January 29, 2008.
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