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Cabbage leaves: Fact or fiction?

Cabbage leaves: Fact or fiction?


If you have struggled with (or currently experiencing!) breast engorgement – we’re sure someone along the way has suggested you use cabbage leaves. This may sound like a crazy old wives’ tale to you, but does it actually work?

Is there research on using cabbage leaves for sore breasts?

In recent years there have been many literature reviews researching the use of cabbage leaves as treatment of breast inflammation.  These studies have found evidence which supports the use of cabbage leaves, as well as evidence against. However, despite inconclusive peer-reviewed results, cabbage leaves are still frequently recommended by lactation consultants and health practitioners for relief during breast engorgement, mastitis and weaning. It is a cost effective, non-medical intervention that is readily available and natural. In some cases, cabbage leaves are found by women to be effective that excessive usage is discouraged due to risks of diminishing breastmilk supply.

How do you use cabbage leaves for breast engorgement?

If you are suffering from breast engorgement, mastitis or trying to wean – you may find relief from using chilled cabbage leaves following breastfeeding or pumping.

To use:

  1. Remove the dry outer cabbage leaves and peel away a few soft inner leaves
  2. Wash cabbage leaves and pat them dry
  3. Cut away the hard stem in the middle
  4. Place the cabbage leaves around the breast tissue but not on the nipple itself
  5. Leave in place until cabbage leaves are warm

(Chilled leaves are soothing but room temperature leaves are also effective)

  1. Throw away warm/wilted leaves
  2. Repeat this twice a day as needed (be mindful, overuse may decrease your supply)

Written by Keryn Thompson RM & IBCLC (L-301766)


Akanksha Thomas, A., 2017. A Quasi-experimental Study to Assess the Effectiveness of Chilled Cabbage Leaves on Breast Engorgement among Postnatal Mothers Admitted in a Selected Hospital of Delhi. International Journal of Nursing & Midwifery Research, 4(1), pp.8-13.

Arora, S., Vatsa, M. and Dadhwal, V., 2008. A comparison of cabbage leaves <i> vs</i> . hot and cold compresses in the treatment of breast engorgement. Indian Journal of Community Medicine, 33(3), p.160.

Rajaveni, P., 2019. Cabbage Leaves: An Intervention for Breast Engorgement. Pondicherry Journal of Nursing, 12(2), pp.54-55.

Roberts, K., 1995. A Comparison of Chilled Cabbage Leaves and Chilled Gelpaks in Reducing Breast Engorgement. Journal of Human Lactation, 11(1), pp.17-20.

Sharma, R., 2018. Effectiveness of Chilled Cabbage Leaf Application on Breast Engorgement among Post Partum Women’s. Journal of Medical Science And clinical Research, 6(6).

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