In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I was inspired to write a quick article about some natural solutions for breast health. I think we’ve all been affected by breast cancer in some way, shape or form. We see celebrities who have struggled with it, like Olivia Newton John, Christina Applegate, Sheryl Crow, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Melissa Etheridge. My own mother had it, and a friend of mine too, who beat it twice (I will share more about them in this article).
It’s becoming an epidemic and so important that we are educated, aware and know how to prevent it as well as recognize the signs.
My Breast Journey
I used to look at my breasts in the mirror, pulling one up and comparing it to the other. I would wish so hard to have perky, stand-up-here breasts instead of pendulous, way down-there-puppies with sparkling, multicolored stretch marks.
Weight changes and overnutrition in my youth never gave me the opportunity to have perky, perfect breasts. Instead, I went from flat to fat and then stretched out to swinging and saggy.
Breasts define our femininity in many ways, we feel sexy because of them and un-sexy in spite of them.
I recall getting intimate with my husband and being so ashamed to get naked in front of him. I apologetically told him I needed to be honest with him and tell him that my tits sagged, instead of being heralds of fertility and proud of them with pomp and circumstance. I felt deflated because of them just like they were deflated.
Turns out he didn’t care. He actually knew, and had been staring down my top for a while and loved what he was seeing – without me knowing! Sly dog.
Why Are Breasts Such a Big Deal?
Breast are bold, they stick out from our bodies. They are the first thing that enters the room, the first thing in many cases that get noticed.
Men obsess about them, maybe because they have mother and latching issues, or maybe because they just adore the difference between male and female bodies.
Whether you think your breasts are too large or too small, they are a source of shame for many. It’s time to take this inappropriate thought pattern and shove it where the sun don’t shine. It’s our time to be proud of all of our shapes and sizes and stretch marks. Be proud of the pleasure they bring us, from foreplay to feeding our babies.
My first encounter with the dangers of judgments made on breasts wasn’t my own, but actually my mother’s. When she was a dashing young lady, she had gone to the doctor’s office to have her yearly check-up and breast exam.
Upon taking off her shirt to be examined, the doctor gasped at how large her breasts were (super inappropriate FYI, in this day and age but this was back in the 60s). My mother, being incredibly shy about her sexuality, was immediately embarrassed, turned red as a lobster and searched to get dressed immediately.
So shocked was she by this judgment that she never had another breast exam again, until it was too late.
Judgments can damage our psyche, we don’t know how our words will fall on the ears receiving them. Judgments serve no purpose either, except pain. After all, no one asks the doctor to comment on how large they are, but rather how healthy they are.
My Mother’s Breast Cancer
Forty years later, my mother waited until blood came out of her nipple and a mass so large it was hard to avoid, came cauli-flowering out of her breast. With two doctors as daughters, we couldn’t believe that she had let the shame of an event that happened so long ago, impact her life now.
The diagnosis – stage 4 breast cancer. Devastating, with little to no time to act.
Because of this experience, I got over my breast bullsh*t and got into owning one of the most beautiful, female, flourishing features of my health.
Importance of Breast Exams
For this reason alone, every single woman in my naturopathic practice gets a yearly breast exam, done by our skilled naturopath assessment hands.
But some of us don’t have access to a doctor who is experienced or willing to do a breast exam, especially since now the recommendation is to avoid breast exams.
In countries where breast cancer is diagnosed at advanced stages, it is valuable to have patients understand breast self-examination as well as to be examined1.
So this is extremely valuable. My mother was fortunate, even though she was at the extreme case, she survived with a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy as well as naturopathic medicine. Her cancer was so far advanced that it was an impossibility to only do the natural route.
Self-Examination Is Invaluable
The comment I get in clinic time and time again is that most women don’t know what normal feels like. They feel that their breasts are lumpy and bumpy (a sign of estrogen dominance, or low iodine).
But let me tell you, the first time I did a breast exam I thought exactly the same thing! How was I going to identify anything going wrong if I can’t notice anything different?
Do you know what changed it? Practice, my friends, practice the mother of all skills.
So I just love, love, love what my friend and colleague Dr. Véronique Desaulniers, two-time breast cancer survivor and preacher to the people, has done to make this easy.
She has created “My Breast Friend”, a breast self-examination tool. It’s basically a model of the breast so you can be your own best doctor.
And what if you find lots of lumps and bumps? Make your way to your doctor and get checked out. It never hurts to be extra cautious.
Prevention of Breast Cancer
There are many things you can do at home now to help reduce cystic and lumpy breasts. Most of these strategies deal with reducing the amount of estrogen in your body.
- Eat more broccoli family foods (cruciferous veggies)2
- Reduce your alcohol intake3
- Reduce your theophylline intake, in coffee, tea and chocolate
- Wear a sleep mask to bed – they naturally increase melatonin which is a powerful anti-cancer hormone in the body4
- Of course, do your castor oil pack daily, because it helps with cleansing and detox5, microbiome balance6 7 8, inflammation9, and stress reduction10 11, which all impact your hormonal balance.
So get to know your boobies! I know I’ve got saggy tits, and sometimes they really do look like sacks! But I love them because they are me 100% and I get to know them regularly so I can keep them a part of me for the long haul. They are my twins after all, and I can’t get another pair just like these (no judgment if you’ve had yours changed, just love!).
Do you know the difference between then and now? Now I love my breasts, I treat them better every single day because I have learned that they are an important part of who I am. They share my story.
So get My Breast Friend today, to help you get to know your lovely lady lumps on your chest.
I also want to share a quick recipe with castor oil for boob and lymphatic health. Castor oil has a long history of use for breast cancer. In fact, Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine was advocating it as a treatment in 460 BCE, as was another medicine man of the time, Galen in 200 BCE12.
Castor Oil for Breast Health and Lymphatic Health
- Mix organic castor oil from a GLASS bottle with baking soda until it becomes a paste
- Add 2-3 drops of organic rosemary essential oil
- Rub into your armpits and over your breasts
- Leave on for an hour or more then rinse off
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2 Kendra J. Royston, B.S.1 and Trygve O. Tollefsbol, D.O. Ph.D. The Epigenetic Impact of Cruciferous Vegetables on Cancer Prevention. Curr Pharmacol Rep. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2016 Feb 1. Published in final edited form as: Curr Pharmacol Rep. 2015 Feb 1; 1(1): 46–51. Published online 2015 Jan 25. doi: 10.1007/s40495-014-0003-9
3 Terryl J. Hartman,1 Julia S. Sisti,2,3 Susan E. Hankinson,2,3,4 Xia Xu,5 A. Heather Eliassen,2,3 and Regina Ziegler6 Alcohol Consumption and Urinary Estrogens and Estrogen Metabolites in Premenopausal Women. Horm Cancer. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2017 Feb 1. Published in final edited form as: Horm Cancer. 2016 Feb; 7(1): 65–74. Published online 2016 Jan 4. doi: 10.1007/s12672-015-0249-7
4 Giuseppe Di Bella,1,* Fabrizio Mascia,1 Luciano Gualano,2 and Luigi Di Bella Melatonin Anticancer Effects: Review Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Feb; 14(2): 2410–2430. Published online 2013 Jan 24. doi: 10.3390/ijms14022410
5 Holm T, Brøgger-Jensen MR, Johnson L, Kessel L.Glutathione preservation during storage of rat lenses in optisol-GS and castor oil. PLoS One. 2013 Nov 19;8(11):e79620. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079620. eCollection 2013.
6 Andrade IM1, Andrade KM2, Pisani MX1, Silva-Lovato CH1, de Souza RF1, Paranhos Hde F1.Trial of an experimental castor oil solution for cleaning dentures. Braz Dent J. 2014 Jan-Feb;25(1):43-7.
7 Badaró MM, Salles MM, Leite VMF, Arruda CNF, Oliveira VC, Nascimento CD, Souza RF, Paranhos HFO, Silva-Lovato CH. Clinical trial for evaluation of Ricinus communis and sodium hypochlorite as denture cleanser.J Appl Oral Sci. 2017 May-Jun; 25(3):324-334.
8 Salles MM, Badaró MM, Arruda CN, Leite VM, Silva CH, Watanabe E, Oliveira Vde C, Paranhos Hde F. Antimicrobial activity of complete denture cleanser solutions based on sodium hypochlorite and Ricinus communis – a randomized clinical study.J Appl Oral Sci. 2015 Nov-Dec; 23(6):637-42.
9 Vieira C et al. .Effect of ricinoleic acid in acute and subchronic experimental models of inflammation. Mediators Inflamm. 2000;9(5):223-8
10 Walker SC1, Trotter PD2, Swaney WT2, Marshall A3, Mcglone FP4. C-tactile afferents: Cutaneous mediators of oxytocin release during affiliative tactile interactions? Neuropeptides. 2017 Aug;64:27-38. doi: 10.1016/j.npep.2017.01.001. Epub 2017 Jan 19.
11 Rolls ET et all. Representations of pleasant and painful touch in the human orbitofrontal and cingulate cortices. Cereb Cortex. 2003 Mar;13(3):308-17.