Torbangun Used as a Lactagogue
What is Torbangun? Torbangun is a semi-succulent plant with the Latin name Coleus amboinicus as well as Plectranthus amboinicus.(1) It is a perennial herb in the mint family. Torbangun can grow up to three feet tall and is densely packed with leaves that are oval-shaped, broad, and covered with hairs that make the leaves look slightly frosted. It produces light purple flowers. Torbangun likes to grow in sunny warm locations, but can also be grown indoors in cooler climates. It is grown as an ornamental plant as well as for culinary and medicinal purposes.
Torbangun is most likely native to South Africa but has traveled to many other parts of the world. It is indigenous to Thailand, India, and Indonesia. Torbangun is known by many different common names around the world.
- Indian borage
- Indian mint
- Mexican mint
- Spanish thyme
- Cuban oregano
- French thyme
- Soup mint
- thick/broadleaf thyme
- Orégano francé
In Indonesia, the Bataknese people have used torbangun, natively called bangun-bangun, for hundreds of years passed down from generation to generation. The leaves are used in soup prepared for new lactating parents for the first month after giving birth. The word bangun means “wake up”. It is given to support their recovery from postpartum fatigue as well as to establish (wake up) abundant breast milk production.
Torbangun leaves smell and taste like oregano with a hint of mint which makes it a natural addition to soups. Traditionally, Torbangun is added to a soup with chicken or fish which symbolizes a blessing of happiness and safety for the new parent and baby. It is eaten by the new mother immediately after they have given birth through the first thirty days postpartum. Today, the torbangun leaf soup is made with coconut milk which helps cover up the slightly bitter taste of the leaves. In Bataknese culture, consuming torbangun after delivery of the baby is thought to help with postpartum bleeding, acts as a uterine cleansing agent, and is warming to the body.(2)
A 2006 study did a randomized clinical study including 63 mothers for four weeks. 23 of the mothers were given torbangun leaf soup, 22 mothers took fenugreek seed capsules and the remaining 22 mothers were given a B12 vitamin. All the mothers planned to breastfeed for at least four months. The results showed that the parents receiving torbangun had a 65% increase in milk production after two weeks compared to a 20% increase for the fenugreek group and a 10% increase in the vitamin B12 group.(3) The study also revealed at day 56 after the study, milk supply in the group who had torbangun continued to have an increased supply which suggests that taking Torbangun helps with the establishment of milk supply and better outcomes for maintaining adequate milk supply. The fenugreek group and vitamin B12 group at day 56 of milk collection both had a reduction in supply. A noted study in mince concluded torbangun played a role in the proliferation of mammary secretory cells.
Torbangun is rich in:
- Vitamin C
- Carotenoids which have antioxidant properties(4)
Torbangun is the main ingredient in Legendairy Milk’s wildcrafted lactation blend Lactivist. The benefits of this traditional herb to support milk production and milk enrichment have helped many parents continue their breast/chestfeeding journey. Lactivist is certified vegan, verified non-gmo, fenugreek free, gluten-free, and Halal.
- High in vitamin C, Torbangun is a great immune booster
- It has also been used to treat sore throats and congestion. It helps to eliminate excess mucus
- It is used to ease arthritis and osteoporosis
- Used by athletes to reduce stress on their bones and joints
- Soothe inflammation in the stomach and improve digestion
- Relieve diarrhea and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Reduce itching and swelling of insect bites
- It is shown to have antibacterial and antifungal properties(5)
Torbangun Safety & Cautions:
- Torbangun can lower blood sugar. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking it if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia
- May not be safe for use with people on blood-thinning medications(6)
- Although torbangun side effects are considered to be very well-tolerated, discontinue use if you experience hypersensitivity or allergic reactions
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