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2012-08-03 08.57.01


After doing more research on essential oil safety, especially of these two oils, I no longer recommend using them to increase breast milk production. Neither are listed as safe to use for breastfeeding in Robert Tisserland’s book Essential Oils Safety. Fennel is potentially carcinogenic (based on estragol content) and should not be used if pregnant, breastfeeding, and for children under 5. There are many changes you can make before taking the drastic step of using EO’s for breastfeeding including making sure you are drinking enough water, eating enough calories (You need an extra 300-500 calories a DAY while breastfeeding), galactogogue herbs and more.

This is my mamma’s milk tea recipe. Here are my nutritional recommendations for breastfeeding moms


There are a few studies going around the doTERRA forums discussing how essential oils can aide in increasing breast milk production. I am honestly amazed every time I work with essential oils. Really I am a sceptic at heart and rely heavily on experimentation and experience to form my opinions. Essential oils helping with gout pain? Yup that worked. Essential oils helping with unbearable hip and back pain during pregnancy? Yes please. Essential oils helping treat ear infections, UTI’s, slow bleeding after pregnancy? Yes I have done all that as well. So, since I am breast feeding, and my milk production has been lower than normal due to my diet (which is fine because I overproduce in a big way) I figured I would test out this essential oil increasing breast milk theory.

Studies are currently being done to see how basil and fennel essential oils will affect breast milk production in a hospital setting with lactation consultants.

What did I do?

I applied three drops of basil essential oil diluted in 1 tsp carrier oil onto my right breast and fennel similarly diluted onto my left after completely nursing and pumping my self dry on each side. As I said earlier my production has been just enough to feed my little guy. I have stopped over producing, probably because of my quick weight loss and restrictive GAPS diet.

My right breast with the basil started feeling full within about 30 minutes. I had no tingling or other sensation. N nursed just fine on that side and seemed happier than normal nurse from of that breast at night. He usually has issues with that side being flatter at night, it must be harder to nurse off of when deflated.

My left breast felt warm and tingly verging on uncomfortable. I could almost feel the milk ducts filling and there was almost a burning sensation. I have used fennel oil for my stomach and not had this issue. You can definitely FEEL the fennel working to increase milk production. I applied it again a few days later, just 1 drop,with 1 tsp carrier oil (coconut oil) and I could feel warmth and production, but not burning or pain so definitely use the fennel with a carrier oil. The fennel boosted milk production as well, there was not as much volume but when I pumped both sides and refrigerated the milk, the fennel side had MORE fat content than the basil side! I have read before that fennel can increase the amount of fatty milk you are producing, but I was surprised to see the difference between the two sides. I am wondering if it is because he had nursed off of that side last so there was less fore milk? It is a possibility.

Both fennel and basil are known stimulate the appetite encouraging your little one to eat more which is great for fussy eaters. Fennel also calms the stomach and aides in digestion, so for babies with gas or digestive issues, the smell coming from your breast might ease some pains they were having while eating.

Suggested method of application:

Add 1-2 drops of basil, fennel, or both oils to 1tbsp carrier oil (I suggest coconut oil) Rub oil into both breasts once a day as needed. I found my supply maintained very well after just two applications. Discontinue use of fennel after 10 days and use basil exclusively for 7 days until you can resume fennel use.

Why do these oils help increase milk production?

Both fennel and basil have estrogen like properties that increase the production of breast milk. * Edited: Both fennel and basil contain progesterone like properties which help balance hormones.


There is a lot of bad information going around the internet about not using basil in concentrated forms while breast feeding. I have consulted five different books, all mention not using basil during pregnancy, but every book says that basil is used to promote lactation and none warn of its use while breastfeeding. I think the confusion stems from Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) which is different from sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) in the way it interacts with the body. Holy basil is a wonderful mood enhancer and has many great properties, but it is also known to decrease breast milk production and cause miscarriage in medicinal doses.

Other cautions:

Basil: Avoid during pregnancy. Not for use by people with epilepsy. It may irritate sensitive skin. Use diluted.

Fennel: Repeated use can possibly result in contact sensitization. use with caution if susceptible to epilepsy. Use with caution during pregnancy. It is suggested that you use fennel for 10 days and then take 5 days off. Fennel is a diuretic, so it is good to give your body a rest every once in a while.

Applying essential oils directly to the breast, even at a 1% dilution as recommended, will put the EO directly into your breast milk. Use caution and watch your child for any reactions.

I get my essential oils here.

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About Amanda

Amanda is a mother of two amazing toddlers. She is an herbalist, natural living guru, and real food, gluten free eating pro. She loves to help educate others on how to take control of their own health through natural living, real food, herbs, essential oils, and most of all - a positive mind set. Her other business Natural Herbal Living Magazine is all about helping people learn about how to use one herb a month on a deep and profound level.
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24 Responses to How to boost breast milk production with Essential Oils

  1. I had no idea you could use essential oils to help milk production! Great info!
    Thanks for sharing with my Super Link Party! 🙂

  2. […] Sage is often used to start production. Apply to the insides of ankles or bottom of feet. Fennel and Basil  are used to increase milk production.  Peppermint and jasmine will rapidly and perhaps […]

  3. Kate says:

    I’m going to try this! thanks for the info.

  4. […] Sage is often used to start production. Apply to the insides of ankles or bottom of feet. Fennel and Basil  are used to increase milk production.  Peppermint and jasmine will rapidly and perhaps […]

  5. April says:

    My baby is nearly 2 weeks old. Last weekend we started with a problem. She wasn’t eating well, she was losing weight and very jaundiced. Who knows what started it. Was she jaundiced bc she wasn’t eating well, or not eating well bc she was jaundiced? Anyway, I had to start pumping and bottle feeding her to get her over the hump (and she is doing much better now, but I have to figure out how to get her off the bottle and onto the breast). My milk supply dipped down to 1/2 ounce per side at the lowest point this week. I’m back up to 2 ounces per side, but I’ve been doing all kinds of things to increase it. One thing I wondered was about this homemade toothpaste I’ve been using. I put peppermint essential oil in it, and that is known to decrease milk production, but in this quantity would it make a difference? The recipe filled an 8-ounce jam jar, and I put in 20 drops of EO.

    • Amanda says:

      Essential oils are very potent and it doesn’t take much to have a lasting effect. I would substitute peppermint with myrrh (great for dental health) and orange, fennel, basil, birch (great for dental health), any of those would be fine and not decrease your milk supply. There is also an herbal supplement called mothers milk plus. You may want to check it out and see if it is a good fit. I know a lot of women who swear by it. Good luck!

  6. Belinda says:

    Do you have to wash off the oils at all before they nurse?

    • Amanda says:

      I never put the oil directly on the nipple, instead I rub it on the breast tissue. I like to do it right after nursing or when I know baby will be sleeping a lot just in case they are sensitve to the smell.

  7. Lyndsey says:

    Does the fennel oil need to be food grade? Or did you just use regular therapeutic grade? I can’t seem to find food grade anywhere (I had seen on a different site to use it in a tea).
    I had started birth control and my supply dipped big time. I have been trying EVERYTHING to get it back up but nothing has works (I stopped the bc as soon as I realized that’s what it was.. Only about 4 days) I do oatmeal, flax, brewers yeast, blessed thistle, fenugreek, goats rue.. You name it lol
    Thank you!

  8. Michelle says:

    You mentioned that there were hospitals doing studies on Basil and lactation. What hospitals are doing these studies? Also, where did you read that Basil increases progesterone production? How does that increase milk supply? Please email me!

  9. Heidi says:

    In your most recent edit, you state, “Fennel is potentially carcinogenic (based on estragol content) and should not be used if pregnant, breastfeeding, and for children under 5.” I see quotes like this often, but rarely followed with helpful information about *when* this becomes a concern, such as quantity, frequency and mode of application. I’m an essential oil user as well as a doTERRA IPC and am all about educating people. It frustrates me to see this kind of blanket statement, because often the info has been taken out of context. (Do a search for the “dangers of tea tree oil” for examples.) I don’t currently own Robert Tisserand’s book that you referenced. If you wouldn’t mind, could you share at least a snippet of what you read that made you change your recommendations?

    • Amanda says:

      I understand completely and highly recommend getting the book if you can. The company (and the other company like doTERRA) have been spreading inaccurate safety information that worries me. Mostly, these issues fall on consultants who have only taken company education and have not expanded into books and safety information not sanctioned by their respective companies. Robert Tisserland is the leading expert in essential oil safety and his book is very comprehensive. This is what it says about fennel and how it could be potentially carcinogenic. “Both (+)-limonene and fennel oil induce glutathione synthesis, and (+)-limonene anticarcinogenic while estragole is carcinogenic. In the absence of any further information, sweet fennel oil should be treated as a potential carcinogen because of its estragole content.” The estragole content of sweet fennel oil sold on the market can range from 2-4.25% of the oil make up.

      I personally, if I couldn’t boost my milk production any other way, would still use oils because it is better than the alternative to me – which would be bottle feeding. I tend to be less moderate than most and would use the oils once in a while if I needed to for breast milk production, but I can’t recommend it for others, who need to educate them selves – if that makes sense.

  10. aisya says:

    Hi Amanda,

    what type of basil and fennel should i choose ?
    i got ;

    Basil – Lemon Basil ( Citriodorum Basil ) Essential Oil
    Basil – Purple Ruffles Basil Essential Oil
    Basil – Sweet Basil ( Giant Basil ) Essential Oil
    Basil – Cinnamon Basil ( Thai Basil ) Essential Oil

    Fennel Essential Oil
    Fennel Leaf Essential Oil

    i’ve no idea which one is the best to choose.please help me!

  11. Sara Bench says:

    Do you just put the oil with carrier oil in your hand, on a q tip, or what? I have used make up cotton squares to apply but I feel like I am wasting some by doing that.

  12. Laura Rodas says:

    Hi. I see you’ve edited the information and no longer recommend the use of fennel and basil essential oils. What made you change your mind? Do you have website addresses or names of articles I can read on the potential harm? I bought fennel EO but have not used it because I came across this website. I’m thinking if the lactation consultant suggested I take More Milk Plus and then changed me to the More MIlk Special blend. They both contain fennel? Should I not take those capsules either? Is the caution on anything that has fennel or only the essential oil?


    • Amanda says:

      The caution is just for the essential oil. The herb is a wonderful, safe galactagogue used by women for thousands of years. The essential oil is just so much more potent it comes with health risks you don’t see in herbal doses.

  13. laura says:

    The book you mention regarding essential oils to ge dangerous is from 1995!! How far has science advace since then. If the oil bottle says do not ingest and its a plant or citris then i would question and wouldn’t take because that’s a red flag that its not all natural lije they claim. I drink doterra oils all the time. Feel much better than ever. Thanks for the helpful suggestions

    • Christy says:

      Robert’s book has a 2nd edition out now. I don’t question his findings because they are based on over 4,000 studies, all with merit. He’s a neutral biochemist who has no benefit from the sales of any oil. May I caution against casual ingestion as well, unless you’re doing it under the guidance of a doctor. You will burn your mucous membranes in your esophagus and stomach, and overload your liver. I’d be very concerned about your organ health.

  14. […] How to boost breast milk production with Essential Oils … – **Edit** After doing more research on essential oil safety, especially of these two oils, I no longer recommend using them to increase breast milk production. […]

  15. matt says:

    making the veggie caps for my wife just wondering 1 or 2 drops of each per cap, and add fco?

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