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What Are Fibrocystic Breasts?
Also known as fibrocystic changes, mammary dysphasia and chronic cystic mastitis, fibrocystic breast disease is a common condition in which lumps form within breast tissue due to changes in hormone levels each menstrual cycle. These lumps or swellings are not cancerous, nor are they dangerous. They can however, cause discomfort, increased sensitivity and pain. They move easily within breast tissue and they may be firm or soft. They are relatively common amongst women of childbearing age; it is estimated that more than half of women between the ages of 30 and 50 are affected by fibrocystic breast disease every month.
While the exact cause of these cysts is unknown they appear to be linked to hormonal changes. When breast fluids are not properly drained via the lymphatic system they can fill small spaces within the breast. Fibrous tissue then surrounds the fluids, giving form. During the menstrual cycle changes in estrogen and progesterone cause milk glands to enlarge, which causes these benign cysts to swell, causing the lumpiness and pain of fibrocystic breasts each month.
It is of course important to see your doctor for a diagnosis and to discuss treatment options. Natural remedies for fibrocystic breasts can be very helpful for managing this condition and for relieving the pain and inflammation.
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Diet and Nutrition
Changing your diet and eliminating some foods may help or even eliminate fibrocystic breasts naturally. Make sure you are eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and yogurt. Foods that are high in germanium (garlic, onions, shiitake mushrooms) can be particularly beneficial as this mineral improves tissue oxygenation. Make sea greens and fish a regular part of your diet as well for the high mineral content — both iodine and magnesium can be very helpful for managing fibrocystic changes. Fish are also important for omega oils.
Avoid coffee, black tea, soda and chocolate as caffeine appears to be a factor in fibrocystic breasts. Also stay away from alcohol, fatty foods and processed foods.
Talk to your doctor about taking nutritional supplements to help treat breast fibroids naturally. The following are beneficial:
- Evening primrose oil
- B complex vitamins
- Coenzyme Q10
- Vitamin A
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Herbal medicine can also be used. Ideal herbs are those that act to balance hormones, normalizing the production of estrogen and progesterone. Not only can hormone balancing herbs help to treat fibrocystic breasts, but they will also reduce other unwanted symptoms of PMS. Vitex, also known as chasteberry, and dong quai are two of the most popular balancing herbs. While beneficial, make sure you talk to your doctor before taking herbs to treat your condition.
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Simple heat and ice can be used to bring natural pain relief. Try a cold pack, a hot pack or alternate between hot and cold to reduce inflammation and ease the pain. Use for fifteen minutes at a time, four times a day.
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Other natural methods for managing this condition include changing some of your lifestyle habits and exercising. Do not smoke and avoid second hand smoke as much as possible. Wear a comfortable, supportive bra when breasts start to change each month. Make regular exercise a part of your life, such as a twenty minute walk four of five days a week.
Fibrocystic breasts are not dangerous, but at the same time they can be very painful and troubling. They can also make it more difficult to detect other changes to breast tissue such as other benign lumps or even a developing cancerous tumor. Consider these natural remedies for fibrocystic breasts and see your doctor regularly to ensure your well-being.
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Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Page, Linda. "Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition" (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
Godino, Jessica. "Vitex Chasteberry: A supreme hormonal tonic for women." Susan Weed, http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Vitex_RedMoonHerbs.htm
photo by Jessica Spengler