Trica and Liam: Photo by William Moon According to Bob Flaws in "A Handbook if TCM Pediatrics," breast milk is the single best food for infants. Children who are breast fed have better immune systems and gastrointestinal health than those who aren't. Breastfeeding induces the release of oxytocin, a hormone that causes uterine contractions and helps the mother's body recover from giving birth. Acupuncture is a beneficial way to treat the mother should any any problems arise, such as mastitis (the inflammation and infection of breast tissue).

Mastitis in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) terms is "Toxic Heat accumulation with Qi and Blood Stagnation," which is actually similar to the Western diagnosis of inflammation and infection. The TCM diagnosis is an interesting holistic view of the body, as the lower part, (mainly the uterus) is Cold and Deficient from giving birth, but the upper part of the body (the breasts) has Heat and Stagnation.

A TCM practitioner will use acupoints and prescribe herbs that can either be taken orally or as an herbal pack to place on the breast. Dandelion (Pu Gong Yin) and honeysuckle (Jin Yin Hua) are commonly used to treat mastitis, as their action is to clear heat and toxicity out of the affected area. TCM offers many formulas that a nursing mother can safely take, including Shen Hua Tang, (the formula recommended in the post on TCM and Postpartum care), and the use of acupuncture relaxes the mother and ensures the smooth flow of Qi, or energy throughout the body (note: acupuncture points used to treat mastitis are rarely directly on the breast).

Check out this acupuncture website for an in-depth view of eating habits during breastfeeding, and the La Leche League for more resources.