Fact or Fad: Can You Use Breast Milk As Medicine?

Fact or Fad: Can You Use Breast Milk As Medicine?

Natural Use of Breast Milk

Can you use breast milk to treat a diaper rash? Can you use it to treat an eye or ear infection? Or what about in a bath to moisturize your skin or to heal eczema?

Is it fact or fad?

Medicinal Use of Breast Milk

Breast milk has healing properties that can prevent or treat minor illnesses and sores. 

Breast milk has antibacterial properties, and vitamin A, E, D, K, E, B complex, protein, and calcium that can heal mild cases of diaper rash, clogged tear ducts, mild ear infections, and eczema!

These properties in breast milk are why breastfed babies are often protected from respiratory infections, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal diseases.

There is research supporting the medicinal use of breast milk. However, if you are using breast milk for medicinal purposes, be careful.

Breast milk that is prescribed by a doctor and obtained through a legitimate milk bank goes through a screening and pasteurizing process to ensure it is safe. Fresh breast milk can contain bacterial and fungal infections, such as streptococcus, staphylococcus, as well as viral infections including cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). When you place fresh breast milk into the eyes or ears, or onto an opening in the skin, it could cause complications, illness, and infection. You should use caution and common sense when considering any of these alternative breast milk uses. Use breast milk safely and make sure you don’t have any of the bacteria or viruses mentioned above.

How to Use Breast Milk Medicinally

There is some evidence that it can heal eye infections, minor ear infections, eczema, diaper dermatitis.

Eye infection: Using mother’s milk is probably safe. Blocked tear ducts typically resolve without any therapy at all. But if you want to do something, instilling mother’s milk seems safe.

Ear infection: Breastmilk applied in the ear canal has the potential to be effective against bacteria if the infection is located in the outer portion of the ear canal.  We do know that warmth is soothing to an inflamed ear so mothers who have tried putting freshly expressed breastmilk in baby’s ear may have found that it gave some relief. Warm compresses or warmed oil drops or ear drops may also have the same effect.

Eczema: There is evidence that human breast milk is as effective in healing infants' eczema as 1% hydrocortisone. The degree of improvement in the infants' skin condition was similar. Breast milk has no side effects and is cheaper than hydrocortisone, making it a great solution to this skin condition. You can add breast milk to a bath to help moisturize and heal your skin.

Diaper dermatitis (aka diaper rash): The topical application of the breast milk decreased the incidence of dermatitis rash by 80%. The study found a significant difference between the number of dermatitis rash and lesion score on the third day as a result of topical use of the breast milk. 

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