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Z Lompo-Ouedraogo, D van der Heide, EM van der Beek, HJ Swarts, JA Mattheij, and L Sawadogo

In view of the traditional belief that Acacia nilotica ssp adansonii (AN) can stimulate milk production in lactating women, experiments were performed to determine the effect of an aqueous extract of AN on milk production in rats. Female rats that received oral doses of aqueous extract of this plant during their first lactation produced about 59% more milk than controls (P<0.01). Pup weight gain was also significantly higher than that in the control group. A lower dose, comparable to that used by women to improve their milk yield, led to about 33% more milk with the same growth rate for pups as that in the high-dose group. The extract of AN was found to stimulate the synthesis and release of prolactin (PRL) significantly (P<0.05). In addition, the mammary glands of oestrogen-primed rats treated with the extract showed clear lobuloalveolar development with milk secretion. This study demonstrates that the aqueous extract of AN can stimulate milk production and PRL release in the female rat and could consequently have the properties claimed for lactating women.