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Goat's rue (Galega officinalis) is one plant that is thought to promote lactation

A galactagogue, or galactogogue (from Greek: γάλα [γαλακτ-], milk, + ἀγωγός, leading), also known as a lactation inducer or milk booster, is a substance that promotes lactation in humans and other animals.[1][2] It may be synthetic, plant-derived, or endogenous. They may be used to induce lactation and to treat low milk supply.


Synthetic galactagogues such as domperidone and metoclopramide interact with the dopamine system in such a way to increase the production of prolactin; specifically, by blocking the D2 receptor.[3] There is some evidence to suggest that mothers who are unable to meet their infants' breastfeeding needs may benefit from galactogogues.[4][5] Galactagogues may be considered when non-pharmacologic interventions are found to be insufficient.[6][7] For example, domperidone may be an option for mothers of preterm babies who at over 14 days from delivery and after full lactation support still have difficulty expressing breast milk in sufficient quantity for their child's needs.[8]

Domperidone (like metoclopramide, a D2 receptor antagonist) is not approved for enhanced lactation in the USA.[9][10] By contrast, Australian guidelines consider domperidone to be the preferred galactagogue when non-pharmacological approaches have proved insufficient.[6] Unlike metoclopramide, domperidone does not cross the blood–brain barrier and does not tend to have adverse effects such as drowsiness or depression.[6]

Other drugs which may increase lactation include:

Progestogens like progesterone, medroxyprogesterone acetate, and cyproterone acetate have been found to produce lobuloalveolar development of the breasts, which is important for lactation as milk is produced in the mammary lobules.[12][13][14]


Herbals and foods used as galactagogues have little or no scientific evidence of efficacy, and the identity and purity of herbals are concerns because of inadequate testing requirements.[15] The herbals most commonly cited as galactagogues are:[15]

Other herbals that have been claimed to be galactagogues include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gabay, M. P. (2002). "Galactogogues: Medications that induce lactation". Journal of Human Lactation. 18 (3): 274–279. doi:10.1177/089033440201800311. PMID 12192964. S2CID 29261467.
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster: galactogogue
  3. ^ Forinash AB, Yancey AM, Barnes KN, Myles TD (2012). "The use of galactogogues in the breastfeeding mother". Ann Pharmacother. 46 (10): 1392–404. doi:10.1345/aph.1R167. PMID 23012383. S2CID 207264697.
  4. ^ McInnes RJ, Chambers J (2008). "Infants admitted to neonatal units—interventions to improve breastfeeding outcomes: a systematic review 1990-2007". Matern Child Nutr. 4 (4): 235–63. doi:10.1111/j.1740-8709.2008.00150.x. PMC 6860595. PMID 18811790.
  5. ^ Osadchy A, Moretti ME, Koren G (2012). "Effect of domperidone on insufficient lactation in puerperal women: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials". Obstet Gynecol Int. 2012: 642893. doi:10.1155/2012/642893. PMC 3306907. PMID 22461793.
  6. ^ a b c Amir LH, Pirotta MV, Raval M (2011). "Breastfeeding—evidence based guidelines for the use of medicines". Aust Fam Physician. 40 (9): 684–90. PMID 21894275.
  7. ^ Forinash AB, Yancey AM, Barnes KN, Myles TD (October 2012). "The use of galactogogues in the breastfeeding mother". Ann Pharmacother. 46 (10): 1392–404. doi:10.1345/aph.1R167. PMID 23012383. S2CID 207264697.
  8. ^ Donovan TJ, Buchanan K (2012). "Medications for increasing milk supply in mothers expressing breastmilk for their preterm hospitalised infants". Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 3 (3): CD005544. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005544.pub2. PMID 22419310.
  9. ^ Da Silva, O. P.; Knoppert, D. C. (2004). "Domperidone for lactating women". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 171 (7): 725–726. doi:10.1503/cmaj.1041054. PMC 517853. PMID 15451832.
  10. ^ The Academy Of Breastfeeding Medici (2011). "ABM Clinical Protocol #9: Use of Galactogogues in Initiating or Augmenting the Rate of Maternal Milk Secretion (First Revision January 2011)". Breastfeeding Medicine. 6 (1): 41–49. doi:10.1089/bfm.2011.9998. PMID 21332371.
  11. ^ a b Zuppa, Antonio; Paola Sindico; Claudia Orchi; Chiara Carducci; Valentina Cardiello; Costantino Romagnoli; Piero Catenazzi (2010). "Safety and Efficacy of Galactogogues: Substances that Induce, Maintain and Increase Breast Milk Production". Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. 13 (2): 162–174. doi:10.18433/j3ds3r. PMID 20816003.
  12. ^ Conneely OM, Mulac-Jericevic B, Arnett-Mansfield R (2007). "Progesterone signaling in mammary gland development". Ernst Schering Found Symp Proc. Ernst Schering Foundation Symposium Proceedings. 2007/1 (1): 45–54. doi:10.1007/2789_2008_075. ISBN 978-3-540-73492-5. PMID 18543434.
  13. ^ Penagos Tabares F, Bedoya Jaramillo JV, Ruiz-Cortés ZT (2014). "Pharmacological overview of galactogogues". Vet Med Int. 2014: 602894. doi:10.1155/2014/602894. PMC 4165197. PMID 25254141.
  14. ^ Kanhai RC, Hage JJ, van Diest PJ, Bloemena E, Mulder JW (January 2000). "Short-term and long-term histologic effects of castration and estrogen treatment on breast tissue of 14 male-to-female transsexuals in comparison with two chemically castrated men". Am J Surg Pathol. 24 (1): 74–80. doi:10.1097/00000478-200001000-00009. PMID 10632490.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mortel M, Mehta SD (May 2013). "Systematic review of the efficacy of herbal galactogogues". J Hum Lact. 29 (2): 154–62. doi:10.1177/0890334413477243. PMID 23468043. S2CID 38727190.
  16. ^ Chantry, Caroline J.; Howard, Cynthia R; Montgomery, Anne; Wight, Nancy (2004). "Use of galactogogues in initiating or augmenting maternal milk supply" (PDF). The Academy Of Breastfeeding Medicine. ABM protocols, Protocol#9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 June 2007.
  17. ^ Damanik R, Wahlqvist ML, Wattanapenpaiboon N (2006). "Lactagogue effects of Torbangun, a Bataknese traditional cuisine". Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 15 (2): 267–74. PMID 16672214.
  18. ^ "Herbs for Increasing Milk Supply . Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation . Fondation canadienne de l'allaitement".
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Nice, F. J. (19 May 2011). "Common Herbs and Foods Used as Galactogogues". ICAN: Infant, Child, & Adolescent Nutrition. 3 (3): 129–132. doi:10.1177/1941406411406118.
  20. ^ "Moringa use while Breastfeeding".

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