Recently my toddler granddaughter fell and cut her lip and my daughter had the presence of mind to give her some frozen breastmilk to suck on for relief and to reduce the swelling. This got me thinking of other medicinal uses for breastmilk. We all know of the health benefits of breastfeeding, but in countries such as Mexico, Russia, Africa, South America, and India, breastmilk is also commonly used as a topical medicine. This is because it is sterile and antibacterial and unique to each individual child.
Breastmilk can be expressed into a cup, bowl or saucer and then applied with a cotton ball or eyedropper or it can be squirt directly onto the area. Here are some of its uses:
- Eye infections
- Ear infections
- Minor skin injuries
- Sore or cracked nipples
- Diaper rash
- Sore throats
- Stuffy Nose (drizzle breastmilk in each nostril)
BREASTMILK AND DISEASE
Breastmilk has also been used by those with serious diseases. While uncommon, some adult cancer patients have used breastmilk from milk banks to help boost their immune systems and alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy. Researchers in Sweden showed that a protein in breastmlk can kill cancer cells as well as reduce virally infected warts by 75% This is significant because the same viruses that cause warts are also linked to cervical cancer, genital warts, and some types of skin cancer.
BREASTMILK IN FOOD
In addition to its use in medicine, breastmilk can also be an ingredient in cooking. As it’s only recommended that breastmilk be stored for six days in the refrigerator and six months in the freezer, food uses for breastmilk have been born of necessity.
One women found old frozen breastmlk in the back of her freezer and made sour dough starter out of it rather than throwing it away. Another wanted to do something with her slowly melting breastmllk when the electricity went out. Chef dad, Daniel Angerer, made chesse from his wife’s old breastmilk. And, yet another mom found baking with breastmilk helped her severely allergic child. Food uses for breastmilk include:
- Butter (shake vigorously in a jar)
- Ice Cream
- Popsicles for teething babies
- In Baking and Cooking in place of cow’s milk
- Bread Starter
While I’m very comfortable with medicinal uses for breastmilk, I’m not so sure about food use. I can see how it would make sense to use old breastmilk in food, but there’s something so personal about breastmilk that it’s hard to imagine consuming it in food. Plus I don’t want breastmilk to become a commodity, the next super food. How do you feel about It? Take my poll below,
Peggy O’Mara is the editor and publisher of peggyomara.com. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011 and founded Mothering.com in 1995. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four and grandmother of two.