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Natural Breast Enlargement

What You Should Know


Updated June 25, 2014

Natural breast enlargement pills are advertised on the Internet, television, and in women's magazines. Some of the ads focus on women's insecurities about their breasts, especially after childbirth, weight loss, and the removal of breast implants.

Women in search of an alternative to breast enlargement surgery are trying these herbal pills, without realizing that there is little-to-no evidence about the safety of breast enhancement pills. Most websites selling natural breast enhancement pills do not list any potential risks.

Could Natural Breast Enlargement Pills Work?

Natural breast enlargement pills could theoretically increase breast size because some of them contain herbs that have known estrogen-like effects on the body.

Birth control pills are thought to temporarily increase breast size in the same way--estrogen causes fluid retention in the breasts and may have an effect on breast tissue.

Are Breast Enlargement Pills Safe?

But if natural breast enlargement pills do work, there is no evidence that they're safe. Adriane Fugh-Berman, M.D., professor of complementary and alternative medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, said in an article published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, "The use of bust-enhancing products should be discouraged because of lack of evidence for efficacy and long-term safety concerns."

If breast enlargement pills do have estrogen-like effects in the body, there are some safety concerns. Estrogen given on its own stimulates the growth of tissue in the uterus and is believed to promote uterine cancer, which is why birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy normally contain progesterone to counter estrogen's effects on the uterus. We don't know if natural breast enhancement pills stimulate the growth of uterine tissue.

There is also no evidence about whether natural breast enlargement pills interfere with fertility, menstruation, or the effectiveness of birth control pills.

Ethnobotanist James A. Duke, PhD, discusses breast enlargement herbs in his book, The Green Pharmacy (Rodale, 1997). Many of the herbs Duke talks about, such as fenugreek and fennel, have centuries-old folk reputations as breast enlargers. However, there is little discussion of safety, and Duke does not address the safety concerns of taking large quantities of these herbs in pill form.

What Herbs are Used in Natural Breast Enlargement Pills?

Here is a rundown of some of the most common ingredients in natural breast enhancement pills:

  • Blessed Thistle - The herb blessed thistle is approved by Germany's Commission E for the treatment of loss of appetite and indigestion. It was used historically by nursing women to increase the flow of milk.

    There have been no published clinical trials on blessed thistle for natural breast enlargement, so we don't know whether it is effective or safe for regular use in large doses.

    Blessed thistle is believed to stimulate the production of stomach acid, so it can cause mild irritation of the digestive tract lining. It should not be used by people with gastrointestinal reflux disease, ulcers, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.

    Blessed thistle should not be used by pregnant women, as it can increase the risk of birth defects and spontaneous abortion.

    People who are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, or daisies may be allergic to blessed thistle, because they belong to the same plant family.

  • Dong Quai - Dong quai is a Chinese herb used primarily to relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, reduce menstrual cramps, and regulate menstrual cycles.

    The only published study on dong quai and breast enlargement was a case report of a man who took a combination herbal pill and had temporary breast enlargement. The pill was thought to have been contaminated with synthetic estrogen. There are no other published clinical trials on dong quai for breast enhancement.

    One potential risk is that dong quai has been found to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells (estrogen receptor-positive and negative) in test tube studies.

    Dong quai can increase the sensitivity of skin to the sun's rays. Sunscreen should always be used before any exposure to the sun. Dong quai should not be used by pregnant women.

    Dong quai contains chemicals called coumarins, which slow blood clotting, so it should not be taken by people using the "blood-thinning" drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin), Plavix (clopidogrel), Ticlid (ticlopidine), Trental (pentoxifylline), or aspirin. For the same reason, dong quai should not be taken two weeks before or after surgery.

    More on Dong Quai.

  • Fennel Seed - Fennel has been used for centuries as both food and medicine. It was used traditionally to increase the flow of breast milk in nursing women, enhance libido, and increase menstrual flow. There are no published studies examining the use of fennel seed for breast enhancement in humans. In the 1930s, there was some interest in fennel in the development of synthetic estrogens, due to compounds called dianethole and photoanethole.

    One study found that after consuming fennel seed for 10 days, the weight of breast tissue in female rats increased. Higher doses increased the weight of the uterus, which suggests that fennel in high doses may stimulate the growth of uterine tissue. Fennel may decrease the effectiveness of the antibiotic Cipro (ciprofloxacin) and possibly other drugs in the ciprofloxacin family and should not be combined.

  • Fenugreek - Although there is an unsubstantiated claim that women in harems were fed fenugreek seeds to increase their breast size, no studies confirm fenugreek can result in breast enlargement.

    Fenugreek contains a compound called diosgenin. In laboratories, diosgenin can be converted to estrogen and progesterone but that same conversion doesn't occur naturally in the body.

    People who are allergic to peanuts or soybeans may also be allergic to fenugreek. Side effects from oral fenugreek supplements may include diarrhea and gas. Fenugreek, in large quantitites, may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It should not be combined with diabetes medication unless under a doctor's supervision.

    More breast enlargement herbs on the next page...
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