What You Need To Know About Moringa And How It Can Boost Milk Supply
Making sure your baby gets the right amount of nutrients is your top priority, but breastfeeding can be a daunting task especially if you’re a new mom. We take a look at how moringa can help not only boost your milk supply, but also your overall health.
There’s a tree that’s gaining popularity among new moms and nursing moms for its benefits in increasing their milk supply.
Moringa, a plant that’s native to countries like Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, and is also grown in Africa, Asia, and South Africa, is said to not only increase moms’ milk, but also treat conditions like asthma, diabetes, and even menopause symptoms.
A cup of moringa’s leaves is packed with Calcium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Iron, Riboflavin, Vitamin A, Magnesium. Even its other parts like its bark, flowers, root, and seeds are used in medicine. What’s also great about it is that it’s fairly cheap and easy to grow. A few studies suggest that certain compounds in moringa can regulate blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, protect against heart disease, as well as reduce inflammation.
HOW MOMS ARE USING MORINGA
Moringa or malunggay as it’s called in the Philippines is known as a native galactagogue or a substance that helps promote the flow of a lactating mom’s breastmilk.
Moringa supplements are prescribed to mothers as early as two to three weeks before their due date. Since moringa is also commonly sold in markets and grown in backyards, breastfeeding moms use its leaves in broths and soups, or baked into lactation cookies. Moms can also coat its leaves with flour and fry these into chips.
Because the leaves are fortified with nutrients like calcium and iron, mothers can add these to their diet to help keep their immune system strong as they take care and feed their baby.
In the U.S., moringa is available in liquid herbal extract, powder, capsule, or in tea form. Moms can sprinkle the moringa leaf powder on salads or add it to smoothies, stir it into teas or lattes, or even mix it into dips and pasta sauces.
WHAT STUDIES SAY
In one of its documentaries, Discovery Channel featured the benefits of using moringa leaf powder to treat malnutrition in Senegal’s breastfeeding women and in their children. The mothers increased the production of their milk and the children’s birth weight also improved. Similarly, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has also cited moringa as a “source of maternal and child nutrition.”
There has been little research in Western countries on the effects of moringa on moms’ milk, but moringa has received attention from medical practitioners in the last few years.
One of the most internationally recognized studies was conducted by the University of the Philippines Manila. The study involved 68 mothers who gave birth before 37 weeks.
The mothers took moringa capsules twice for five days. They were asked to pump milk every four hours during their first five days postpartum and to note how much milk they pumped. On days three to five, a random sampling of the moms was asked to take moringa capsules or an identical capsule which had flour as placebo. There was an upward trend with the moms’ milk production especially with the moms who drank the moringa capsules.
Despite the positive results, the authors pointed out that the study did not involve a large enough sample size, plus, a lot of moms dropped out throughout the study and did not submit their data on their milk supply.
While these studies showed mostly positive results, the study’s authors noted that more studies and clinical trials involving humans should be conducted to confirm any effects observed in animals.
THE BENEFITS TO NON-BREASTFEEDING MOMS
It’s not just nursing moms who can potentially benefit from drinking moringa supplements or adding moringa to their diet.
An 11-month study looked into the effects of moringa leaf powder when incorporated into the food of cancer-induced male and female rats. The mutation in K-ras oncogene, a protein that functions in cell division, was slower in the rats who ingested moringa leaf powder. Mutation of the K-ras oncogene typically leads to the progression of many cancers.
Another study looked into how the bioactive components in moringa’s leaves can protect against chronic diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, insulin resistance, non-alcoholic liver disease, cancer, and overall inflammation.
SHOULD YOU START TAKING MORINGA?
In 2018, the moringa products industry in the U.S. was valued at $1062.2 million and is projected to more than double by 2027.
Because of its many reported health benefits, it’s safe to say that we can call moringa a superfood. While there are a few studies that give an indication of its efficacy in protecting against certain conditions, these have been mostly conducted on animal test subjects. Until moringa has been tested thoroughly on humans, it’s hard to say if we can start treating it as an actual wonder drug or medicine.
The use of moringa though in food or as a supplement for boosting milk supply does have some research involving actual breastfeeding moms, so it wouldn’t hurt to give this wonder plant a try. Just make sure to check with your obstetrician, first. Happy nursing!