Goat's Rue: A Popular Galactagogue - Legendairy Milk

Goat's Rue: A Popular Galactagogue

By: Sabrina Granniss, IBCLC


4 min

Goat’s Rue (Galega officinalis) is part of the legume family and is a perennial flowering herb. It originated in the Middle East and then began being grown in Europe and Asia. The bushy plant grows in grasslands and wetlands with a long, deep taproot, flowering in the summertime. When the seed pod becomes ripe, it bursts open and scatters its seeds. In the United States, it is considered an invasive weed. However, it has been used throughout history as a powerful medicine. It has many benefits for breastfeeding mothers and their milk production.

Goat’s rue is often called galega, but its other names include:

  • Professor weed
  • Common milk pea
  • French Lilac
  • Italian fitch

Historically, Goat’s rue has been given as a remedy for many conditions. It has been used to treat digestive problems, including indigestion and chronic constipation caused by insufficient digestive enzymes, as well as bring relief to bee stings and snake bites. It was used to treat the plague, and a preparation of it was used to induce sweating when trying to get a fever to break. A footbath preparation was said to relieve sore feet. 

Its Latin name comes from “gale,” meaning “milk” and “ega” meaning “to bring” coining it the bringer of milk. (1)  The Greek words “gala” means “milk” and “aigos” means “goats”. In the 19th century, Goat’s rue was found to increase the milk supply of goats, sheep, and cows that grazed on it. (2) Some plants in the genus Galega were found to be toxic to sheep when it was introduced to fields in the United States. It seems this is due to the large quantity they were grazing on since research confirms the positive effect of goat’s rue on increasing milk supply by 16.9% without toxic effects. (3)

Goat’s Rue and Lactation

Goat’s rue is unique in the group of herbs for supporting lactation and milk supply. It has a compound called genistein (isoflavone phytoestrogen), which has been shown to help increase breast tissue and milk storage. This is a beneficial effect for parents who did not experience changes in their breast size during pregnancy. People who have insufficient glandular tissue (IGT) or hypoplasia often have success taking goat’s rue to grow more tissue and increase their milk supply. It can also be used by parents who have had breast surgeries and those who want to breastfeed their adopted baby. (4)

Goat’s rue boosts milk supply by increasing prolactin, a hormone responsible for making milk. As milk is removed by your baby or pumping, prolactin is released, and the glands fill with more milk.

In a randomized, double-blind study, a group of 50 mothers in a control group took a placebo, and another group of 50 mothers took a supplement containing Milk thistle and Goat’s rue. The study aimed to find if the supplement had an impact on milk supply during the first month of life for mothers of preterm infants. From day 7-30 of the study, the mothers taking the milk thistle and goat’s rue supplement had significantly higher milk production. The study showed that the group taking the herbal supplement maintained their milk supply throughout the first month of their babies' lives compared to only ⅓ of the control group being able to maintain their supply during that time. (5)

Some people notice an increase in milk supply within 2-3 days of taking Goat’s Rue, but it can take up to 2 weeks for its full benefits.

Goat’s rue has been used as a diuretic and can help rid the body of excess water by promoting urine production. This is helpful after you have given birth and are retaining lots of fluids. Water retention can cause discomfort and make it more challenging for your baby to latch if it causes swelling in your breast tissue. Swelling can put pressure on the milk ducts and make it harder for milk to flow.

Goat’s rue is in the same family as Fenugreek, but fenugreek can cause stomach upset and digestive issues for some people. Goat’s rue can be used instead and doesn’t have the same side effect of an upset stomach. Many people feel it works even better for them than Fenugreek.

Legendairy Milk Products that contain Goat’s Rue:

  • Liquid Gold contains Goat’s Rue, digestive herbs, and other powerhouse herbs to increase milk production and flow.
  • Cash Cow is a blend of herbs, including Goats Rue, that can be taken after 36 weeks in pregnancy, which may benefit mothers concerned about low milk supply.
  • Lechita encourages milk flow and ejection reflex.

Goat’s Rue, insulin, diabetes and milk supply

Goat’s rue is in texts as early as the 1600s as a way to lower blood sugar. In the 1920s, the compound Galegine began to be studied more and led to making the synthetic medication Metformin. Insulin does more than process glucose. Our milk-making glands are highly sensitive to insulin. Someone who is insulin resistant is more likely to experience a delay in their milk increasing during the first few days after birth, sometimes combined with a lower milk supply. Goat’s rue can keep blood glucose levels lower, helping with increased insulin sensitivity. (6) 

Considerations when taking Goat’s Rue

  • It is toxic when used in its fresh state, so it should only be used dry. 
  • Because it can lower blood sugar, it should be used with caution by people who have diabetes or have hypoglycemia. 
  • It is part of the Pea family, so if you are allergic to other foods in that family, like peanuts, soybeans, and alfalfa, talk to your healthcare provider before taking it.

Goat’s Rue has a long history of medicinal use and offers numerous benefits for breastfeeding mothers and their milk production. With its unique compound genistein, Goat's Rue supports lactation by increasing breast tissue and milk storage, making it particularly valuable for parents with insufficient glandular tissue, previous low milk supply, or those who have had breast surgeries. Additionally, Goat's Rue can alleviate discomfort from retained fluids in the postpartum period and supports the maintenance of a healthy milk supply as breastfeeding continues. Its effectiveness and gentle nature make it a preferable alternative to other herbs like Fenugreek.


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