Natural Remedies for Mastitis |

Natural Remedies for Mastitis

Rustina August 1, 2022

By Rustina, Contributing Writer

After 10 years of breastfeeding, I have gained quite a few experiences – most of them towards the end too! My youngest (a three and a half year old) has almost weaned himself now. 

Seeing the end of nursing in sight, I have been reflecting on my breastfeeding journey a lot lately. My oldest and my 3rd sons were so fast to latch on and had barely any troubles, but my 2nd and 4th sons had some struggles that taught me about patience and perseverance.  One had a lip tie, tongue tie, and buccal ties restricted his mouth movement. 

The other, my youngest, took a few weeks to get his latch right. During that time, I had my first experience with mastitis. I thought I had the flu. I felt so sick, tired, and even the lightest touch hurt that breast. I started searching for natural remedies right away to avoid taking anything that could negatively affect my brand new tiny little baby.

Signs of Mastitis and How it Affects Breastfeeding

Recognizing mastitis is generally simple. If it is mastitis, it is most common that only one breast is sore, along with one or more of these symptoms:

  • Swelling on the breast that feels hot, looks red, and hurts when touched.
  • May feel a hard lump on the breast.
  • A deeper, pulling pain when you breastfeed.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • Full body aches, chills, and fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Swollen lymph nodes around the armpit (1

It is more than the pain during an improper latch. If there is only soreness around the nipple then it may be from improper latch, like with a tongue tie. A cold compress and changing positions while working on getting a better latch will make a huge difference. If it is mastitis, then something more is happening.

What is Happening when Mastitis Strikes?

With mastitis, the cause of the inflammation is usually a clogged milk duct. Sometimes, that can also develop into an infection which gives the flu-like symptoms. Mastitis is most common while women are lactating, but anyone, whether breastfeeding or not, can actually have mastitis. 

Other causes of mastitis:

  • Toxins from tobacco can damage breast tissue 
  • Nipple area damage, like with a piercing, eczema, shaving/plucking hairs
  • Breast implants
  • Autoimmune or other conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis (2)

The causes of infection (3) are often: 

  • Coagulase negative staphylococci (CNS)
  • Viridans streptococci
  • Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) 
  • Group B streptococci (GBS) 
  • Enterococcus faecalis 

A rare cause of mastitis is autoimmune mastitis autoimmune disease targeting mammary glands/ducts.  4

Natural Remedies for Mastitis

There are different types of support to help mastitis, topically on the breast and internally for the whole body. If an infection is present (symptoms that are similar to the flu along with the breast pain), then the whole body support is a very helpful addition.

Topical Breast Support

My favorite remedy for getting the clogged milk (and lymphatic stagnation) moving is the Milk Flowin’ salve. It helped reduce the pain and blockage quickly while helping with infection also. I keep it on hand at all times now. It is made with:

  • Organic Castor Oil
  • Organic Rosemary Leaf
  • Organic Lavender Buds
  • Candelilla Wax

Castor Oil can be helpful for moving the clogged milk and reducing pain. Castor oil is antibacterial so it helps with infection as well.(5) Try it with a Flax Heating Pad to soothe the area as well. You can learn more in Everything You Need to Know About Castor Oil (and How to Use it).

Cold packs or cold cabbage leaves. It is helpful to press firmly along the veins of the cabbage leaf so it can form more fittingly to your breast. However, cabbage can reduce milk supply in some women. If you are struggling with milk production or uncertain if you are sensitive to cabbage, then it is best to go with a cold pack made with crushed ice in a waterproof bag. If you are struggling with overproduction and engorgement, then the cabbage will be helpful. 

Massaging the breast – especially in a hot shower so the heat can help as well.

For nipple irritation from discharge or troubles latching, try this Breast Balm salve made with:

  • Apricot Oil
  • Candelilla Wax
  • Organic Calendula

It is very important to keep nursing. The risk of an abscess occurring increases when there is an abrupt stop to breastfeeding. 6 

Some tips to help make nursing more comfortable (along with the above suggestions):

  • Change nursing position
    • To help remove the clogged milk, it is helpful to try new positions. One very helpful position is Dangle Feeding. To do dangle feeding:
      • Lay your baby on a comfortable surface flat on their back
      • Hover over your little one by getting on all fours or leaning.
      • Offer your affected breast to your baby – trying to angle the baby’s mouth towards where your clogged duct is so a stronger vacuum is pulling on it.
  • Massage the breast while your baby is nursing right after the let down has evened out. Start where the lump or pain is and massage towards the nipple.
  • Pump after nursing to help ensure the breast is emptied as well as it can be. Massaging again while pumping.

Making an herbal compress to use (either warm, cold, or room temp) can help as well. Try these anti-inflammatory and antibacterial herbs: marshmallow, ginger, aloe, and turmeric. 8

Whole Body Support

Increase your water intake if you are drinking less than the recommended amount. While water intake recommendations can depend on many health aspects, this is one way to determine how much to drink: Find half your weight and then drink that many ounces of water. For example: 180 lb total weight – half the weight = 90 lbs so 90 ounces of water. 

Vitamin D is a great immune system supporter and helps your little one too! Be sure to get adequate amounts of sunlight or use this Vitamin D Cream during massage.

Feel Better Fast has a lot of herbs that are great for supporting your immune system during infection or illness:

  • Echinacea root*
  • Fennel seed*
  • Astragalus root*
  • Elder flower*
  • Cinnamon*
  • Vegetable glycerin*
  • Filtered water

*Organic ingredient

Adding garlic to your diet whether it is raw cloves, fermented cloves, or to the meals you’re cooking is another great remedy. According to this study, bacterial strains were most susceptible to the garlic extract. 7

Turmeric along with its supporting companion Black Pepper are great inflammation and pain reducers. 9 10 (Try these capsules)

Probiotics are also very helpful in improving the mastitis condition and reducing further occurrences of mastitis. 11

Most of the time, mastitis can be cleared up at home using natural remedies such as a combination of the above methods. Dealing with mastitis is never fun, but hopefully you can reduce the pain and duration quickly and comfortably!

What natural remedy have you tried for clogged ducts? Did it work well for you?

This is the writings of:

Rustina started studying herbs and natural living after allopathic medicine was unable to provide answers or support when she needed it. She is continually working on learning more and improving her and her family’s health, diving in and researching any topic. A love of learning led her to homeschool and begin working from home. She now spends each day with her husband and four sons as they travel on their home education journey together. She is thankful for the opportunity to write about these interests and passions for Earthley Wellness and Modern Alternative Mama.

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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