Natural Remedies for Mastitis

Natural Remedies for Mastitis

If you’ve ever had mastitis, you know how painful and frustrating it can be. Most doctors will prescribe strong antibiotics that will pass through the milk supply to the baby. When my baby girl was struggling to learn how to breastfeed due to tongue-tie and lip-tie, I had several plugged milk ducts. One of them suddenly went from uncomfortable to painful. I had the classic symptoms of mastitis:

  • A hard, swollen lump
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Achy joints (common, but not always)
  • Fever

I try hard to avoid antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary, so I quickly researched some natural remedies and got to work on treating myself.

My mastitis treatment:

  • Echinacea: I always start with echinacea when I suspect any kind of infection. Although echinacea has been used to stimulate the immune system, I use it because of its antibiotic properties. In the early 1900′s, it was often used to treat blood infections. I am comfortable with taking echinacea during pregnancy and breastfeeding, if necessary. I took two capsules every four hours.
  • Raw garlic, raw honey and cayenne: This combination is a powerhouse for fighting infections of all kinds! Garlic is strongly antibacterial (again, I am comfortable with its safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding, unless the blood-thinning side effect could be dangerous- such as near birth or C-section). Raw honey has also been proven to be useful in treating bacterial infections. Cayenne pepper multiplies the effect of whatever antibacterial herb you add it to, so I always add a pinch. To take, crush and finely chop a clove of garlic and leave it on the cutting board for 15 minutes. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey and a pinch of cayenne. Mix it up until all of the garlic is coated with honey, scoop it up with a spoon and swallow (don’t chew!!). Be ready with a drink of water to help it go down. This method prevents the stomach ache that I normally get from raw garlic. :-) I took this at the same time as the echinacea, every 4 hours.
  • Herbal compress: Although there are many herbs that would be effective, it was extremely important to me that I only use herbs that would be safe for my baby,  should any of them soak in through the skin and get into my milk supply.
    Calendula was to reduce the swelling.
    Marshmallow root was to help draw out the infection.
    Rosemary was to help fight the infection.
    Dandelion root was to reduce pain and inflammation.
    I made a strong brew of the herbs, strained it and soaked a washcloth in the warm liquid. After squeezing out the extra liquid, I applied the washcloth 10 minutes before nursing. Sometimes, I would put a piece of plastic wrap over it and then hold a rice-filled heating pad on top to keep it warm longer.
  • During nursing, I gently massaged, trying to move the milk out. Sometimes I held a warm washcloth over the affected milk duct and pressed gently.
  • After nursing, I would get in a warm shower and try to massage out any milk that was left. I found that using a little oil helped a lot.
  • When I got as much milk as possible out (pumping, when necessary), I would switch to a cold compress. The cold herbal tea that was left over worked well, but I also used bags of crushed ice wrapped in a washcloth.
  • I tried many nursing positions and found that either leaning over the baby or having her nose or chin pointed towards the affected area worked best.
  • We were already nursing frequently (every 2 to 2 1/2 hours), so I just made sure we never went more than 2 1/2 hours.

For the first 6 or so hours, nothing seemed to help. After that, though, I started to get better. It took about 24 hours before the pain, swelling and redness were gone, but by 36 hours I was fine. I took a few doses of echinacea, garlic, honey and cayenne for the next few days, just to be sure. Had I not gotten better within 24 hours, or if I had suddenly gotten worse, I would have called my midwife, then possibly my doctor.

*I hope that you find my experience to be helpful, but I am not a medical professional. Consider consulting a midwife, naturopath or herbalist in a situation like this. :-)

Have you used natural remedies to treat mastitis?

*This post is linked up at:

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25 comments to Natural Remedies for Mastitis

  • Justyn, thanks so much for posting this….I’ve pinned it for reference. :-) I hope I don’t need it, but I’m glad to know where to get the information if I do.
    You rock.

  • Justyn – Great post! I remember when I learned that mastitis in humans looked different than animals (I know the signs for animals and assumed they would be the same in all aspects). I actually think I might have been experiencing mastitis in both breasts (along with a cold) when I returned home from Cleveland the day I traveled to see you and your lovely family and get Ethan’s tongue and lip tied clipped.

    I had a mild fever (and fever symptoms), along with major engorgement, pain, and redness. I hadn’t nurse ALL day! Thankfully I found rest, drinking a lot of fluids, nursing, hot showers, and pumping to be extremely helpful. I will keep your remedies in mind. Hopefully I won’t need them thought!! :)

    • Poor thing! I’m sorry that you felt so rotten, but I’m glad we got to meet! :-) I pray for you and Ethan whenever I think of you and hope that he improves quickly.

  • Carissa

    I’m going to be bookmarking this page. These are all great suggestions! I can’t even remember how many times I had mastitis with DS. I’m thinking it was about 10 or 12 times. I am not as informed in herbs are you are, but I was able to do research and find some stuff that worked for me. I used echinacea extract, ACV, GSE, raw garlic, cabbage, garlic press, moist heat, got lots of rest, and took hot showers rubbing the clogged duct out. I found that if I was able to clear the duct and get the yellow pus out I was able to treat it naturally, so I would work really hard to clear the duct, and once it was cleared I would make sure to drain it before and after every feeding. I would make a little concoction of 1 to 2 tsp of ACV, 10-15 drops of GSE, and one clove of raw garlic that I would just chew and swallow. I took that every 6 hours for about 10 days just to make sure the infection was gone since it was so recurrent for me. DS is 14 months and I haven’t had mastitis for about 4 or 5 months now. I still take my ‘concoction’ every night to make sure I don’t get it again because like you know it is painful and not fun.

  • This is great information! Thank you for linking up to Healthy 2Day Wednesday and come back next week to see if you were featured!

  • You have some fabulous remedies and great information here! I would definitely use many of them. I also have used with great success, a warm compress of mullein and lobelia tea. Mullein is a gland herb that strengthens and nourishes glands and lobelia is a “thinking” herb that helps other herbs work more effectively. It also helps relieve pain. I like to put some lavender or wild orange essential oil in the tea as well. I would do this topically and use some of your other suggestions to strengthen the whole body and immune system. Thanks for publishing such great information! I’m going to get to know your blog better!

    • Thanks for the great ideas, Jenni! We love mullein for respiratory and ear infections, but I hadn’t known that it would help for mastitis! I get swollen glands in my throat during allergy season, so I wonder if a mullein compress and/or tea would help with that. I know burdock is a good one for glands, too, so maybe I’ll try those two together…

      My hubby uses lobelia for his occasional asthma attacks (along with clary sage), so we always have that on hand, too. I’m glad to know of another use for it.

      I know lavender oil kills bacteria and eases pain, but what does the wild orange oil do? I know you’re an herbalist (I’m really enjoying exploring your blog!), so I’d love to hear what you know about it. :-) All I have is sweet orange oil.

  • This is a wonderful write up and great use of herbs! Love it!

  • The only time I had mastitis I was in ROUGH shape before I finally realized what it was. I ended up going with the antibiotics only because my midwife said the herbal remedies could take a day or two to work, and I seriously felt like I was dying.
    But now that I know the symptoms, I am glad to have this natural guide to fighting it off as I’m prone to blockages in a particular duct. My only question is did the babe complain about all that garlic and cayenne in the milk?

    • I know what you mean! It can be pretty horrible! In answer to your question, she didn’t seem to even notice the garlic and cayenne, or if she did it seems she didn’t mind. We’re pretty big on flavorful foods around here, though, so maybe it wasn’t that different from normal. Thanks for the question, Victoria! :-)

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  • Evelyn

    I just developed Mastitis and I am going down to the kitchen now to create your concoction. It’s exactly what I make any time I get sick, but I also squeeze the juice of a fresh organic lemon in there to boost bit C. I will let you know how it goes.

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