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Is coffee bean extract - safe while breastfeeding?

My daughter is 3 months old and I breastfeed exclusively. Is it safe for me to take the pure green coffee bean extract?

Greg Severson | Pediatrician

Greg Severson

Green Coffee Bean Extract, a natural product made from unroasted coffee beans, is sold as an herbal Homeopathic product for lowering blood pressure and aiding weight loss. 

I cannot find studies that have looked at the safety of Green Coffee Bean Extract in breastfeeding women. The product information states: "the maximum safe dose for Green Coffee Bean Extract in nursing mothers has not been established." 

Caution regarding Green Coffee Bean Extract and caffeine

I would tell a lactating mother to consider the following issues before taking Green Coffee Bean Extract:

Amount of caffeine in the product

  • Green Coffee Bean Extract, which comes in 46 mg, 93 mg, or 185 mg dosage forms, contains caffeine. 
  • The higher the dosage the more effective it is at lowering blood pressure, and the more caffeine it contains.

Caffeine crosses through breast milk to an infant

  • An infant receives 0.06-1.5% of the maternal dose of caffeine through breast milk.
  • The half life (time it takes to decrease the blood level of a drug) of caffeine is:
    • 4.9 hours in an adult
    • 97.5 hours in newborns
    • 14 hours in a 3-5 month old infant
    • 2.6 hours in 6 month or older infants   

Caffeine can adversely affect an infant

  • Chronic coffee drinking may reduce the iron content of breast milk.
  • Infants exposed to caffeine often become irritable and may experience insomnia.

How much caffeine can a nursing mom have?

I would recommend a lactating mother drink no more than two cups of normal strength coffee per day.

185 mgs of Green Coffee Bean Extract contains about 20% of the caffeine content of a strong cup of coffee.

Does roasting the coffee bean offer some protection?

Manufactures of Green Coffee Bean Extract promote the healthful benefits of the antioxidants in their product. Roasting coffee beans (to produce commercial coffee) destroys the natural antioxidants found in the green coffee bean. 

The fact that roasting green coffee beans alters the antioxidant content raises some questions in my mind:

Are there chemicals, potentially harmful to an infant, present in a green coffee bean?  If yes:

  • Are these chemicals inactivated or destroyed by roasting?
  • Are these chemicals present in Green Coffee Bean Extract and can they pass from Mom to the baby through breast milk?

Dr. Severson offers more information about homeopathic products, their origins and how to be a savvy consumer of these products.

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