In recognition of women’s health month, the focus of this month’s content is on breast health. According to current data, breast cancer is the second most prevalent form of cancer among women today behind skin cancer. It’s also the second leading cause of cancer death among all women and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women. While not every woman will receive a breast cancer diagnosis in her lifetime, developing routines that support breast health is no less important.
The breasts are a dynamic part of the body, affected by many factors, including the health of systems like the endocrine and circulatory systems. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many women will experience pain or swelling in the breasts at some point in their lifetime; breast care specialists report that nearly half of patients indicate one or both of these symptoms. While these can be indicative of a serious health concern, they are also frequently symptomatic of imbalances impacting the breast tissue, though not always arising from the breasts. Just as routine dental care can reduce the incidence of tooth decay and periodontal disease, developing routines that care for the breast tissue, which includes the area between the armpits, can help mitigate swelling and discomfort and promote overall healthy function in the body.
Consider adopting the following as part of a routine for breast- and whole-body care:
- Dry-skin brushing: Dry-skin brushing promotes the movement of the lymph, a fluid that is found in the various tissues of the body, including the breasts. Lymph is critical to the function of the immune system and detoxification processes. Gently brushing the surface of the skin with a short-bristle brush or natural sponge in the direction of the clavicle helps stimulate the lymph to circulate towards major drainage ducts. Dry-skin brushing is best performed before bed at night to optimize the toxin-eliminating potential of the liver and kidneys.
- Breast massage: As noted, proper movement of the lymph around the breasts, including the chest and the armpits, is crucial to breast health. Lymph massage (much gentler than a conventional massage) performed by a specialist is one way to stimulate circulation of the lymphatic system in this region. Read this article to learn more about breast massage and how you can integrate self-massage into your daily at-home care.
- Castor oil packs: Castor oil has been proven to reduce pain and to stimulate the body’s natural immune system response to address infection and inflammation. Should part of the breast or surrounding tissues become inflamed, place a castor oil pack on the site of swelling for an hour several times per week until the swelling subsides.
- Modify your diet: Excess estrogen in the body has been shown to adversely impact the breast tissue, resulting in pain and cyst formation. To reduce excess estrogen in the body, limit intake of high-fat, high-cholesterol foods and increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce estrogen in the body. For a healthy dose of omega-3’s, dieticians frequently recommend a diet rich in coldwater fish, nuts, and seeds, including flax seed or flaxseed oil.
- Schedule an annual thermography appointment: Thermography is a dynamic temperature test that utilizes heat measure to reveal underlying patterns of regulation and dysregulation in the body. While thermography is not a cancer diagnostic, it can suggest how the body’s many systems may be contributing to imbalance in the breasts and inform recommendations for care. To learn more about thermography, read this article by Jillian VanNostrand, RN of SeaCoast Breast Health.
The body is a complex entity made up of a web of interconnected systems and processes. For that reason, diagnosing and treating dysregulation in the body is oftentimes a long-haul effort. To hear how others have persisted in gaining clarity with respect to their health concerns and a path forward, join us on March 31st, 2021 as we converse with the Director and star of the film “Lighting the Path”, Gabe Golden, as well as Dr. Dickson Thom, DDS, ND and Dr. Jeoff Drobot, ND, of the ACBM and BioMed Center New England. For more and to register for this FREE, virtual event, visit https://www.marioninstitute.org/programs/connector-series-events/.
Yours in health,
BioMed Programs Coordinator