Natural Breast Enlargement Pills: Use and Safety

Insecurity about breast size is common. This is especially true after childbirth, weight loss, or the removal of breast implants.

You may have seen ads for natural breast enlargement pills. These ads sometimes appear on the Internet, on TV, or in magazines. They may target a person's unhappiness with their breast size.

These pills may seem like a good alternative to surgery. There is little to no proof they are safe, though. Most websites that sell them do not talk about their risks.

This article discusses the safety of "natural breast enlargement" pills. It also looks at whether they work, and what herbs they contain.

Dong quai, a chinese herb, in dish

Linda Lewis / Getty Images

Could Natural Breast Enlargement Pills Work?

These pills might affect breast size. Some contain herbs that have known estrogen-like effects on the body.

These effects are similar to the effects of birth control pills. Birth control pills are thought to temporarily increase breast size in the same way. Estrogen causes the breasts to retain fluid. It also stimulates breast tissue to grow and causes fat to accumulate in the breasts.

Are Breast Enlargement Pills Safe?

There is no evidence that these herbs are safe. Many doctors discourage their use. This is because there is little proof that they work. It is also because there are concerns about their long-term safety.

If these pills do have estrogen-like effects, there are some health concerns. Estrogen given on its own can cause tissue growth in the uterus. This may promote uterine cancer.

This is why birth control pills and hormone replacement therapies usually contain progesterone alone or with estrogen. Progesterone is a hormone that plays a role in the menstrual cycle. It counters 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 they interfere with fertility, menstruation, or the effectiveness of birth control pills.

Herbs Used in Natural Breast Enlargement Pills

Here are some of the most common ingredients in natural breast enhancement pills:

Blessed Thistle

Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus) is approved by Germany's Commission E, a group that studied herbal remedies to determine if they are safe and effective. The commission found that it was potentially helpful for loss of appetite, indigestion, and liver damage, but didn't look at breast growth.

Traditionally, blessed thistle was used to increase the flow of breastmilk.

Dong Quai

Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is a Chinese herb. It is used to relieve symptoms of menopause like hot flashes. It is also used to relieve menstrual cramps and regulate the menstrual cycle.

Some research notes that breast enlargement has been reported as a side effect of dong quai, but no published studies have confirmed this effect.

Fennel Seed

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) has been used for centuries as both food and medicine. Its traditional uses include:

  • Increasing the flow of breast milk
  • Enhancing libido or sex drive
  • Increasing menstrual flow

Fennel contains dianethole and photoanethole. These compounds can affect estrogen in the body.

A 2014 animal study found that large amounts of dietary fennel increased breast size in rats. There are no published studies that look at fennel seed for breast enhancement in humans, however.

Fenugreek

There are stories that women in harems ate fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds to increase breast size. These stories have never been shown to be true.

Fenugreek contains diosgenin. Diosgenin is a naturally occurring steroid. In a laboratory, it can be converted into progesterone. There is no evidence, however, that diosgenin can become progesterone in the body.

There no studies that show fenugreek can increase breast size. Some research, though, notes that this herb has an effect on hormonal balance, which may lead to changes in breast size.

Hops

Hops (Humulus lupulus) are used in the brewing of beer. They contain a potent phytoestrogen called 8-prenylnaringenin (9-PN). A phytoestrogen is a plant compound that can mimic the effects of estrogen.

This compound has up to 20% the potency of estradiol, the main human estrogen.

Hops are sedating and can make you drowsy. They are sometimes used for anxiety and insomnia. People who are driving or need to stay alert should use hops with caution. Hops should not be used by people with depression.

Hops can affect how some drugs are processed by the liver. These drugs include:

No studies have looked at the breast-enhancing potential of hops or 8-PN. Some, however, have advised against its use by premenopausal women. This is because phytoestrogens may cause fertility problems.

Pueraria Mirifica

Pueraria mirifica is used by indigenous people in Thailand and Burma. It is also known as Kwao Krua.

This plant contains miroestrol and deoxymiroestrol. These compounds may have estrogen-like effects in the body.

There is some evidence that pueraria mirifica may have an effect on breast shape and firmness.

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is best known as a treatment for urinary symptoms caused by a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a cause of enlarged prostate.

In males, saw palmetto is thought to block the action of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This hormone can cause abnormal growth of the prostate.

Saw palmetto is also thought to help prevent the male hormone testosterone from becoming DHT.

In traditional medicine, saw palmetto has been used for breast enlargement. Research has noted its "probable estrogenic action," but there are no studies that confirm its effectiveness for breast enhancement.

Wild Yam

Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) contains a variety of plant-derived estrogens. Like fenugreek, it contains diosgenin. This compound is believed by some to enhance breast size.

Wild yam is used to treat menopausal symptoms. It has also been used to relieve premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Bovine Ovary Extract

There are no published studies of the safety or effectiveness of bovine ovary extract in humans.

Companies selling this product claim it stimulates the pituitary gland to increase levels of growth hormones and prolactin.

The pituitary gland is a small gland that helps regulate the production of hormones. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for breast growth and milk production.

Recap

Many of the ingredients used in breast enlargement supplements were used in traditional medicine. For the most part, they have not been proven to be effective or safe.

Using Natural Remedies

The FDA does not evaluate supplements for safety. This means the safety of many of these products has not been established.

Always ask a doctor before taking any kind of supplement or other form of alternative medicine. Be especially cautious if you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition, or are taking medication. Supplements may also be unsafe for children.

Summary

The is no evidence that herbal supplements for breast enlargement are safe. Some may have estrogen-like effects on the body. It is possible that their use could cause health problems.

Some of the ingredients in these supplements have been used for breast enlargement in traditional medicine. There is very little evidence that they work, though. 

Always consult your doctor before taking any kind of supplement. 

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