More Remedies 2: Plugged Duct, Mastitis

Hopefully with the At Home Remedies, you’ll be able to resolve the plug and stop it from getting worse. A plugged duct can be stubborn and it may require another approach. This blog covers a few more techniques that may help.

Epsom salt is a tried and true remedy. The simple sink technique is good. If you have a  HaaKaa (it’s used for expressing milk) already, here’s a technique that uses the suction from the Hakka (with Epsom salts) to facilitate more movement of the plug.

• Partially fill the Haakaa with warm water… enough that your nipple touches the water though isn’t soaking in it. Add one to two tablespoons of Epsom salts.

• Flip the lip of the Haakaa back, squeeze the Haakaa as you apply it to your breast and flip the lip over your breast. That suction and the warmth/salts will help draw out the plug. Haakaa pumps cost around $15 and are very practical.

Lecithin is useful because it breaks up fat deposits; helps with wound healing and can loosen plugs. This is relevant for someone who has several or recurring clogs. Start with one capsule a day and see how that works for you. You still need to do breast massage to move the plug along.

It’s preferable to use sunflower lecithin rather lecithin from the soy plant. Lecithin is extracted from sunflowers without use of chemicals. In contrast, lecithin is extracted from soy plant by using hexane, a toxic chemical. In addition, some people have allergic reactions to soy.

A plugged duct that isn’t cleared, an injury to your nipple, overall fatigue can lead to mastitis. Symptoms include a general achiness; a red and swollen area on one breast, a fever and your milk supply is lower. Mastitis is also known as “Mammary Dybiosis”: an imbalance (dys) in the ecosystem (biosis) of the breast (mammary) tissue.

Acupuncture rebalances your energy flow so you can function more effectively. Using very fine needles on specific points of the body, it can release a block. There are specific points to help with mastitis and milk flow. Some acupuncturists can also recommend herbs. It may take a few appointments.

A Quark poultice is an interesting therapy my colleague recommended. This is a cottage cheese like fermented product. Put directly on the skin, or wrapped in a cloth (a poultice), it helps draw out toxins. It’s cool (stored in the refrigerator) and thus relieves swelling. Being a fermented product, I think that is an interesting application of a probiotic.

And speaking of probiotics, there is research that has identified a particular strain of probiotic bacteria to alleviate mammary dysbiosis. L. fermentum is not usually found in most products on the shelves. You can order this online through Klaire Labs. If you’ve had a course of antibiotics, your good gut flora could be disrupted which could affect your breast tissue. This specific probiotic may help to restore your good mammary flora.

There is still more to learn about the balance of specific probiotics in our systems. In addition, this costs about $60 a bottle, so I am mindful of that limitation.

It’s not unusual to have a plugged duct, and hopefully it’s a small bump (or rather, lump) along the way. Now you know the symptoms and you have some options to get comfortable again.

If you have a temperature, the swelling is spreading, in general are not getting better, definitely call a health care provider.

 

Research
Maldonado-Lobón JA, Díaz-López MA, Carpet R, et al. Lactobacillus fermentum CECT 5716 Reduces Staphylococcus Load in the Breastmilk of Lactating Mothers Suffering Breast Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Breastfeed Med. 2015 Nov;10(9):425-32.

Arroyo R, Martín V, Maldonado A, et al. Treatment of infectious mastitis during lactation: antibiotics versus oral administration of Lactobacilli isolated from breast milk. Clin Infect Dis. 2010 Jun 15;50(12):1551-8.

McFarland LV. Use of probiotics to correct dysbiosis of normal microbiota following disease or disruptive events: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2014 Aug 25;4(8):e005047. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005047. PMID: 25157183; PMCID: PMC4156804.