Breasts are the gatekeepers of our hearts and often reflect our emotional states, holding a very specific and particular type of energy called nurturance. Imbalances show up when this energy is out of balance, asking us to turn our love and attention inwards.
Whether women are dealing with cyclical breast pain, cysts, fibrocystic breasts, tumors, or cancer, there are many types of various herbs, practices, and supplements that support the body to stay balanced, and assist in healing when necessary.
The statistics regarding breast cancer have always been concerning. We hear about it a great deal. But, as tends to be the norm with these things, we hear very little about health maintenance, support, and prevention as regards lifestyle, nutrition, supplementation, etc. Breast care involves more then just preventing disease!
Treatment for recovery from breast cancer is intense. But the good news is that recovery rates are improving due to earlier detection and better treatments. This article will address overall prevention (and health) both in general, and for post-diagnosis/treatment. There is a great deal of overlap in these categories. And let us not be remiss by mentioning that men also can be affected by breast issues, and that there are other health challenges surrounding the breast other then cancer- cysts, mastitis, benign growths, etc. For more detailed information on breastfeeding issues, go here.
Strategies for breast health maintenance and care
What to Avoid
- Alcohol and tobacco use increase the risk of pathology
- Processed foods increase risk dramatically (especially processed meats)
- High consumption of simple carbohydrates- some breast tumors are related to insulin growth factor.
- Weight gain; especially postmenopausal
- Poor lymphatic circulation
- Hormonal imbalances
- Poor nutrition
- Tight fitting bras, especially those with underwires
- Challenges with normal bodily detoxification processes
- Exposure to exogenous hormones (BPA, environmental pollutants, hormones added to food supply, personal care products containing chemicals, etc.)
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- More vegetable and fruit consumption- antioxidants, fiber, phytonutrients, etc.
- Regular exercise. Movement prevents stagnation in lymph and blood.
- Eat a healthy whole food diet which includes good fats, is rich in antioxidants/polyphenols, and is anti-inflammatory. Dairy foods should be hormone free, organic, pastured.
- Regular breast massage to encourage circulation of lymph and blood. You can make your own breast massage oil (Rosemary Gladstar has a great one in her book, “Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health), or you can purchase one (like this salve which we can special order for you, or this is one I am familiar with and like to recommend).
- Maintain a healthy, balanced immune response. You can refer to any one of the several articles we have on our website regarding this topic!
- Focus on healthy stress reducing activity and behaviors. Cortisol dysregulation can contribute to challenges.
- Make it a priority to maintain healthy, well modulated hormone levels. Botanical medicine works very well in this category and can make a huge difference in overall health and balance for life.
- Support normal detoxification; liver health, healthy gut biome, etc. For further info on this topic, see our article.
- If you have sore/fibrocystic breasts, consider eliminating or lessening your coffee intake. A great supplement for this issue is Evening Primrose Oil.
- Should you happen to enjoy a good bath, then do it! A great place to relax, practice self massage, soak up Epsom salts which are full of relaxing and nourishing magnesium. If you are really inspired, you can add soothing, nourishing herbs to the bath (rosebuds, chamomile, lavender, to name a few).
- A regular, healthy sleep regime. Good sleep habits support healthy immunity, mood, and overall vitality.
Botanicals, Foods, and Supplements
- Vitamin D3 plays a big role in this category. Research suggests that women with low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of breast cancer. Vitamin D may play a role in controlling normal breast cell growth and may be able to stop breast cancer cells from growing.
- Medicinal Mushrooms, particularly Turkey Tail, and even organic (cooked) button mushrooms can be quite helpful. These fungi power houses contain large amounts of antioxidants, polysaccharides, and all the goodness that deeply supports immunity.
- Fish Oil consumption shows significant reduction in breast cancers in older women. Multiple trials demonstrated that fish oil supplementation can improve outcomes during or after cancer treatment; such as improved response rate, increased function, and improved quality of life.
- Adaptogens are being utilized more and more for not only stress management, but prevention of chronic disease and adjunct treatment for cancer. Read more on these amazing botanicals here.
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, and turnips) contain sulfur and activate agents that destroy cancer-causing chemicals. Within this context, DIM as a supplement can be very helpful in prevention. It promotes healthy cell cycle function and hormone metabolism to support the liver's natural detoxification process.
- Magnesium may play a role in the inhibition of tumor growth due to its involvement in reducing inflammation and oxidative damage within the cells. It is very important in multiple metabolic pathways in the body, and is a key mineral in numerous health mechanisms. Read more about magnesium.
- Nervines (a subset of herbs that calm and nourish the nerves), particularly combined with adaptogens (see above), allow the body to handle stress more effectively. Stress plays a very big role in contributing to chronic issues in the body, including cancer. Handling stress is imperative to overall vital health.
- Herbs such as dandelion, milk thistle, and burdock can be supportive and healing to breasts. They help to support liver health (and its ability to maintain healthy detoxification). A congested liver can often lead to an increase in excess estrogen by allowing hormones to circulate longer in the bloodstream. They work synergistically together in this process of functional detoxification.
- Iodine (from kelp) has a long history of being effective treatment for breast symptoms such as pain and cysts. It may also play a role in helping to reduce the risk of breast cancer and even to treat breast cancer. Since taking too much iodine can be harmful, the best source of iodine is (whole food source) kelp, rather then potassium iodide.
There is a great deal going on within this subject matter. We are here to assist you with any questions or challenges you may be facing. Please come in and talk to us, and it may be a good idea to schedule a consultation. This is a wonderful way to get down to what is going on specifically with YOU, and what would be helpful in your particular situation.