Are you curious about adaptogens, but worried to take them while breastfeeding?

Taking botanicals while nursing can be scary, but I’m here to put your anxiety to ease.

Don’t wait to start taking these, try one at a time and see how your body feels after each botanical.  And always consult your doctor before adding in any new botanicals.

Ready to dive in?

What are adaptogens?

  • Adaptogens are a category of herbs that help us “adapt” to stress and help us reach homeostasis. When taken regularly, you could feel like you’ve slept all through the night, your heat is regulated {not too hot, not too cold}, you get sick less, and you notice those little things your family members do – don’t bother you so much.
  • They basically take us out of the “fight and flight” rhythm and put us in the “rest and digest” phase to help restore our nervous system and ease anxiety. Which makes them perfect for this day and age!

How do you know they’re safe?

Breastfeeding Herbal Safety

I look to two references.  The American Academy of Pediatrics and Dr. Aviva Romm’s references from the German Commission E Monographs.

  • #1 The American Academy of Pediatrics published guidelines for drugs used in lactating women:
    • ND: No data available
    • C: Compatible with breastfeeding
    • CC: Compatible with breastfeeding but use caution
    • SD: Strongly discouraged
    • X: Contraindicated
  • #2 Data from German Commission E Monographs & Dr. Aviva Romm’s Studies:
    • L1-Safest- no adverse effect observed in infants of lactating mothers
    • L2- Safer – Limited studies demonstrate no increased risk
    • L3- Moderately safe- no controlled studies in breastfeeding women or controlled studies demonstrate minimal adverse effects
    • L4- Possible risk- Positive evidence of risk but benefits may make the risk acceptable
    • L5- Contraindicated- Significant documented risk.

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The reality is, in this non-stop lifestyle we are living; adaptogens are necessary for women to consume daily.

8 Adaptogens For Breastfeeding Moms

#1 Rhodiola – Rhodiola rosea

  • Rhodiola is an adaptogen that helps decrease anxiety, improves mood, reduces stress, and supports sleep. Tibetan medicine uses this herb to nourish the lung and treat lung problems like coughing blood and pneumonia.
  • Also known to help reduce chronic pelvic pain, endometriosis, PCOS, PMS, fibroids, hysteria, headaches or struggle with ADHD.  But, keep in mind it’s not used for anyone with bipolar disorder!
    • Qualities: Sweet, slightly bitter, spicy, cool, and dry.  Because it’s cooling if you tend to be cold; choose a warming adaptogen.
    • Tincture Dose: 20-60 drops; 2-3x day
    • Breastfeeding? LS/LD likely safe with limited data ¹ there are no expected contraindications with lactation.

>>Pro tip: Not for pregnancy and avoid if you have bipolar disorder.  Also, it can cause insomnia in sensitive people. 

#2 Shatavari – Asparagus racemosus

  • Translated as “she who has hundreds of husbands”, Shatavari can be used to enhance your libido and enhance fertility. It’s also great for minor hormonal imbalances, reduces vaginal dryness and dry skin, and improves libido.  A diuretic and soothing demulcent; it relieves urinary, repatriation, and gastric irritation. 
  • Qualities; sweet, bitter, warm, moist
  • For moms; if you’re feeling dry and inflamed especially in the urethra, cystitis {inflammation in the bladder}, and experience a dry cough this herb may be for you!
  • Traditional recipe: Boil Shatavari root, sugar, honey, pippali long pepper, and milk. Follow this recipe
    • Dose: Tincture; 20-30 drops; 2-3x day
    • Pro tip: If you’re experiencing diarrhea or abdominal bloating; mix with ginger or skip altogether. Not to be used with fat malabsorption, GI irritation, reflux, and during pregnancy.
    • Breastfeeding? Shatavari is considered Category C; compatible with breastfeeding. ¹
    • Bonus: Shatavari may increase milk product and milk flow in lactating women!

#3 Schisandra – Schisandra chinensis

  • The Chinese name for Schisandra is wu wei zi, which means “five flavors fruit”.
  • Schisandra is an immune tonic; used for a cough, weakness, excess phlegm, and “hood vertigo” a feeling of congestion in the head.  As an astringent, it’s used to control diarrhea, frequent urination and excessive night sweats, and vaginal discharge. It can be drying
  • It also calms the shen, and is effective if you have stress-induced heart palpitations, feel like you can’t take a deep breath, insomnia, anxiety, and bad dreams.
  • Use for stress-related illnesses, mild depression, PCOS, PMS, Insomnia, Fibroids and to improve memory and stamina.
    • Breastfeeding? Mills & Bones states N; No data available
    • Qualities; sour, sweet, salty, bitter and pungent, warm and dry

*Pro tip: Don’t take during acute illnesses

#4 Eleuthero – Eleutherococcus senticosus

  • Otherwise known as Siberian Ginseng this plant can be used for the treatment of people with wind or damp conditions.
  • As an adaptogen; it can help with depression, exhaustion, fatigue, stress, and improve physical stamina. It’s mild and unlikely to be overstimulating. 
  • If you struggle with insomnia, take Siberian Ginseng in the morning or skip it altogether. 
  • Take for mental stamina, physical or nervous stress, exhaustion, depression, fatigue, or illness exacerbated by stress.
    • Qualities; sweet, slightly bitter, slightly warm
    • Breastfeeding? KS known safe or likely safe with limited data ⁴

#5 Maca –Lepidium meyenii

  • Maca is loaded with important vitamins and minerals Vitamin C, as well as 20 amino acids — 8 of them essential. Great for low sex drive and reduces peri-menopause and menopausal activity like hot flashes and night sweats.
  • Maca can also reduce anxiety, and provide stress support; possibly due to flavonoids
  • Not for use pregnancy. Rich in essential amino acids, iodine, iron, and magnesium.  The taste may turn you off, add to hot water, nut milk, or a smoothie
    • Breastfeeding? This source says it’s safe and will boost supply and suggests there is limited data.

30 Maca Recipes {so you can get your superfood on!}

#6 Ashwagandha – Withania somnifera

  • Ashwagandha is the Hindi name for this herb; which translates to “horse sweat-like odor” and is believed to give you the strength and stamina of a stallion.  
  • In Ayurveda medicine, this herb is used to prolong life, stimulate the kind and enhance vigor and sexual prowess.
    • Breastfeeding? Withania somnifera is considered Category C; compatible with breastfeeding ⁶ and has been used to promote lactation in Ayurvedic medicine.  One teaspoon (.5g) of Withania powder may be given 2x day with milk for lactation.
  • Qualities; bitter, warm, and dry
  • For moms; As a calming adaptogen, you can take it any time of day.  Use it for acute and chronic pain, to decrease anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, Hypothyroidism, and PMS.  Also, if you habitually miscarry and have a lack of libido – try Ashwagandha. 
    • Dose:Tincture: 30-40 drops; 3x day
    • Powder; 1/2 tsp. of dried root in 8 oz. of water, decoct for 10 minutes, steep for 1/2 hours.   form with hot water, ghee, and honey
    • Avoid if you are sensitive to the nightshade family, do not use the powder internally if you have excess iron, and avoid if you have hyperthyroidism. Avoid during pregnancy.

#7 Holy Basil – Ocimum sanctum

  • Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi is a great botanical for new moms trying to reduce coffee and wanting to soothe anxiety. 
  • Known to promote the flow of mother’s milk, it also can also reduce “mental fog”,  improving memory {great for ADD and ADHA} and reducing stress. 
  • David Winston says he uses Holy Basil with Damiana, Rosemary, and Lavender for stagnant depression; when one has some type of traumatic event and you’re unable to move on. 
  • Qualities: pungent, sweet, warm
    • Dose:Tincture: 40-60 drops; 3x day
    • Tea: 1 tsp. to 8 oz of hot water, steep, covered 5-10 min.

Breastfeeding? This herb was first suggested in my Optimal Nutrition for Postnatal recovery by Burrel Education but not found in my other herbal books. 

Mommypotmus states that it has the safest rating possible and The Botanical Safety Handbook considers it as having no concerns while breastfeeding. 

**BUT!! Do avoid during pregnancy or if trying to get pregnant; it can have an anti-fertility effect in men and women! Caution with medications. 

#8 Reishi – Ganoderma lucidum

Great for frequent colds, HSV1 and 2, Heart palpitations, and to reduce stress.

  • Breastfeeding? LS w/C likely safe with cautions.  Look for rashes and avoid if you have an autoimmune disorder.
  • Qualities; bitter and warm
  • Dosing: 20-30 drops 2-3x day or try Reishi tea or coffee!

Stinging Nettles – Urtica dioica {leaf & root}

  • Although not a true adaptogen, Stinging Nettles are considered a nutritive, tonic, and diuretic. But, I had to put them in here as the nutritional value supersedes another other botanical when it comes to women’s health. 
  • Filled with Vitamin C, K, A & B, as well as, Ca, Mg, Iron, Potassium, and essential amino acids; a cup of stinging nettle tea could be the perfect botanical to nourish your body, reduce body pain, cramps, spasms, improve sleep and reduce constipation. 
  • It’s also one of the best natural remedies to reduce allergies; when you use the freeze-dried stinging nettle capsules. 

In Chinese medicine, Stinging nettles are used to dispel wind and dampness.

  • Qualities: Bitter and pungent and aids the liver in processing hormones and balancing emotions.
  • Dosing: 1-2 cups of tea or 20-30 drops of tincture 2-3x day
  • Lactation Category C; compatible with breastfeeding for both leaf & root ⁷
  • One of my favorite recipes is stinging nettle soup every spring made with rice or potatoes


Adaptogens are necessary in this modern world we are living in.  I know it’s scary to consider adding in new botanicals while you breastfeeding, but I assure you these have been used for centuries before us.  Always add in one botanical at a time and watch your child see for any adverse reactions.

I prefer tinctures, but some moms do prefer using botanicals as a powder or supplement.

I’d love to know your thoughts.  Have you tried adaptogens? Let me know your questions in the comment area below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.




  • Mills & Bones; The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety ¹ pg. 573 ⁶ pg.631 ⁷ pg.517
  • Winston & Maimes; Adaptogens for Strength, Stamina &  Stress Relief
  • Dr. Romm, Aviva: Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health ¹ pg. 598 ⁴ pg. 570
  • Lactogogue in Lactational Inadequacy {Sharma et al. 1996}

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As always,  I want to mention that none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA, this article is not medical advice, and it is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. Please talk with your healthcare provider about any herbs or supplements you are considering.

8 Must-have adaptogens for moms; even if you\'re breastfeeding