For those who don't read my blog regularly, Jasmine gave birth to a stillborn doeling on May 8th. In addition to it being a difficult labor, the right half of her udder became rock hard immediately after kidding. I could not express any milk from it, so I was very concerned about pressure buildup as she continued to produce milk. It would be not only painful for her, but the vet told me they'd seen ruptured udders in the past.
I decided I had no option but to dry her up as quickly as possible. Toward that end, I searched online for herbs to dry up milk supply. There was a lot of information for humans, but I figured they would work for Jasmine as well. One herb reputed to help is sage, which I grow in my herb garden. I started trying to feed her that.
As I continued my research, I ran across an article entitled "Herbs, Milking and Mastitis, Five Secrets." I had already give Jasmine's the vet's prescription antibiotics for mastitis, which hadn't helped at all. Having only a nominal faith in pharmaceuticals anyway, I was willing to give herbs a try.
Three of the four herbs mentioned to treat mastitis, were ones that I have growing here: poke root, comfrey leaves, and calendula flowers. It was easiest for me to make a salve, so I pulverized these in the blender with vegetable oil. I admit I didn't measure. I just dug a big chunk of poke root, grabbed a big handful of comfrey, and the few calendula flowers that I had in bloom.
Once I had a slimey green goop, I added melted beeswax, following the same procedure I showed you here. I ended up with a pint of salve, which I have been massaging this on her udder three times a day.
I noticed no difference for the first several days. It was also during this time that I realized that side of her udder wasn't swelling with milk. I was greatly relieved at this, and since she didn't care for the sage anyway, stopped giving her that and continued milking out the good side twice a day.
Within a few days the mass in her udder was noticeably smaller. It's been three weeks now, and we've gone from a rock hard melon sized mass, to a tangerine size softer (but still palpable) lump.
She absolutely loves have her udder massaged. In fact she'll bow our her legs and let me rub and massage for as long as I want. In addition to that, I've been feeding her about half a dozen stalks of comfrey daily. She'd eat more if I had it, but I have to ration according to the number of comfrey plants I have to keep a steady supply going.
Herbalists use poke root to treat problems with the lymphatic system, skin problems, tumors of the mammary glands, and specifically mastitis. Comfrey is used for skin conditions, sprains, bruises, ulcers, burns, and swelling. Calendula is applied to cuts, scrapes, rashes, and inflammation. The one recommended herb I don't have is red clover. It is traditionally used for cancers, skin conditions, and breast discomfort. We've had a few red clovers pop up here and there, but I really should plant some for future use, pasture and hay at the very least.
She's not cured yet, though I am obviously very hopeful. Until then, her future remains questionable, but for now, she is a good companion for Surprise. As with everything else in life, we're just taking it one day at a time.