3 essential tips to support your best breast health
Because breast tissue is a mix of milk-producing glands, fat, and connective tissue, normal and healthy breasts often have an irregular texture. Healthy breasts may have small lumps that increase and decrease in size — usually following the rhythm of the menstrual cycle.
Fibrocystic lumps in the breast may be a sign of an imbalance in your body. Liver-cleansing herbs found in LivAmend can help to release built-up estrogen that may change the texture of breast tissue.
Breast health alert: For many women, fibrous tissue raises a red flag
Fibrous breast tissue has a cobblestone texture. The lumps:
- Are small, round, and smooth.
- Have well-defined edges.
- Easily move within breast tissue.
- Usually show up near the armpit, in the upper, outer corner of the breast.
- Are unilateral, meaning they occur in one breast but not the other.
- May be tender or swollen before each period.
3 important breast health tips every woman needs to hear
Fibrocystic breast disease is a disorder marked by the appearance of fibrous tissue in the breast. While finding a fibrous, cobblestone lump may be alarming, only a small fraction of women with fibrocystic breasts tend to be at risk for breast cancer.
However, developing fibrocystic lumps is a sign of breast health imbalance. The imbalance may be related to the liver, a deficiency of the trace mineral iodine, or congestion in the lymph fluid under the armpit region.
To support better breast health, you can:
1. Aid in liver detoxification.
If you notice that your breasts are swollen and painful just before menstruation, this may be a sign that your reproductive hormones are out of whack.
Hormones fall out of balance when there are excess levels of estrogen, not enough progesterone, or sensitivity to estrogen. Don’t forget to factor in xenoestrogens, outside estrogens that act like true estrogens in the body. Xenoestrogens can easily throw hormones off because they are ubiquitous to our environment — from plastics and pesticides to meat and dairy products.
Because the liver is the primary organ responsible for the metabolism and clearance of estrogen:
- It’s imperative to support the liver if you have signs of a fibrocystic breast disorder.
- When the liver is overworked, stagnant, or diseased, estrogens may build up.1
- And excessive amounts of estrogen can change the texture and density of breast tissue.
Constipation often goes hand-in-hand with fibrocystic breasts because the liver empties into the colon, or large intestine. In order to fully support the liver, make sure that you’re eliminating more than three times a week — and preferably at least once a day.
If either the liver or the colon aren’t able to perform optimally, estrogens are not detoxified, and they go right back into the bloodstream.
For this reason, we recommend herbs that support both the liver and the colon. Donna designed LivAmend with milk thistle, wasabi, artichoke leaf, and sarsaparilla to support the antioxidant system in the liver and its ability to cleanse.
Artichoke leaf also promotes bile flow. You might recognize bile as the substance that helps the body digest fats and fat-soluble vitamins. Bile plays another role in the body: It stimulates peristalsis — or the wave-like motion of the colon. Bile keeps waste moving through the large intestine, warding off bouts of constipation.
“You have saved my family.” – Read more Body Ecology testimonials here.
2. Balance iodine levels, naturally.
The breasts store and secrete a trace mineral called iodine. In fact, some of the original research on iodine shows that breast milk contains four times the amount of ingested iodine than the amount taken up by the thyroid gland, which uses iodine to make thyroid hormone.2
When there’s not enough iodine in the body:
- The thyroid gland and the breasts compete for what little resources are available.
- And indeed, sometimes restoring thyroid function can improve fibrocystic breasts.3
Research shows us that breast health relies on healthy levels of iodine. For example, when iodine is given to women with fibrocystic breast disease, up to 74 percent of women report an improvement in symptoms.4
According to Dr. David Brownstein, Medical Director of the Center for Holistic Medicine, iodine deficiency causes estrogen production to increase, and it makes breast tissue more sensitive to estrogen. He also explains that, “Estrogen balance is impossible to maintain when there is iodine deficiency present.”5
Seaweed, like kombu or laminaria, is rich in iodine. Iodine not only supports the production of thyroid hormones — which has a relationship to fibrocystic breast disease — but it also helps regulate the balance of estrogen in the body.
Seaweed, an ocean vegetable, is a non-starchy vegetable and combines well with starchy vegetables, animal protein, or grain-like seeds on The Body Ecology Diet. Try placing a strip of kombu into your stockpot when making soup or sprinkle thin threads of hijiki seaweed into your next batch of homemade cultured vegetables.
Another way to support healthy levels of iodine is through a laminaria supplement like Ocean Plant Extract, which contains a full spectrum of ocean minerals — especially iodine and mineral co-factors like selenium.6
3. Move and massage.
Is your lymph moving? If you’re unsure, Katy Bowman, a bio-mechanist and director of the Restorative Exercise Institute, suggests the “egg-hole” test:
- Stand in front of a mirror that gives you a clear view of your armpit.
- Bring your elbow out to the side and lift it until it’s the same height as your shoulder.
- While gently pulling your shoulder blade downward, you should notice a hole about the size and shape of an egg.
If you notice a flat wall, or if your armpit bulges, this is a sign of lymph accumulation. Katy explains, “Our lymph system drains the cellular waste products removed from the cells. But… lymph has no big pumping mechanism of its own. Lymph movement depends on regular use of the muscles in the area.”7
While swelling in the armpit and around the bra may look like fatty tissue, Katy says it may often be accumulated waste.
You can encourage lymph flow and cellular health by allowing your body (and your breasts) to move freely.
Katy recommends full weight movement to support breast health, which includes activities you only did as a child — such as hanging and swinging. Another great way to move the lymph is through massage. Katy also suggests swinging your arms while you walk, normal breathing, sleeping without a bra, and breastfeeding.
- 1. Aviva Romm, Isla Burgess, David Winston, Suzanna M. Zick, Amanda McQuade Crawford, CHAPTER 7 – Conditions of the Reproductive Organs, Editor(s): Aviva Romm, Mary L. Hardy, Simon Mills, Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, Churchill Livingstone, 2010, Pages 211-255, ISBN 9780443072772, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-443-07277-2.00009-X.
- 2. Bretthauer, E. W., Mullen, A. L., & Moghissi, A. A. (1972). Milk transfer comparisons of different chemical forms of radioiodine. Health physics, 22(3), 257-260.
- 3. Anil C, Guney T, Gursoy A. The prevalence of benign breast diseases in patients with nodular goiter and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. J Endocrinol Invest. 2015 Sep;38(9):971-5. doi: 10.1007/s40618-015-0269-8. Epub 2015 Apr 1. PMID: 25827711.
- 4. Ghent, W. R., Eskin, B. A., Low, D. A., & Hill, L. P. (1993). Iodine replacement in fibrocystic disease of the breast. Canadian journal of surgery. Journal canadien de chirurgie, 36(5), 453-460.
- 5. Brownstein, D. (2012). Iodine: Why you need it, why you can’t live without it. OPTIMAL HEALTH, 64-84.
- 6. Cann, S. A., van Netten, J. P., & van Netten, C. (2000). Hypothesis: iodine, selenium and the development of breast cancer. Cancer Causes & Control, 11(2), 121-127.
- 7. Bowman, Katy. Restorative Exercise Institute. Retrieved 01-27-14.