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Herbs and Supplements for Breast Health

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By now, we all know that the best way to support overall well-being is through a proper diet – one that provides us with all of the vitamins and trace minerals that our bodies need. In an ideal world, we would eat organically and seasonally every day and take the time to experience and savor each meal. In reality, that’s hard for many women. We’re doing the best we can to juggle the demands of careers, family, volunteer commitments, and more. Sometimes we have to grab a bite as we’re running out the door and eat in the car, but we can still prioritize our health! Careful supplement choices can maximize breast health and minimize our risk of cancer. Please keep in mind that it’s essential to have a current physical and to work closely with your health care professional when beginning or altering any course of supplements.

Remember… none of this will take the place of a balanced, plant-based, organic diet. But if you want to make sure that you’re taking in as much goodness as you can to combat some of the toxins in your environment, supplements are a good place to start. Read on to learn more about the most common recommendations, and about some lesser-known, but very effective options.
Where Should I Start?

Supplement with a multivitamin daily! Take a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral supplement that is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, E, B-complex, D, beta-carotene is a must. Choose one that is organic, gluten-free and contains no GMO’s.

Antioxidants including vitamins A, C, D, and E help the cells in your breasts fight cellular inflammation, which can be a precursor to breast cancer.

Vitamin D is especially important for breast health. A study from the University of California reported that “Researchers estimate 250,000 cases of colon cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented worldwide by increasing intake of vitamin D.” Studies show that women with optimal levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of breast cancer. Your Vitamin D blood level should be at least 40 milligrams per milliliter. See your doctor and get a blood test to determine your level. If it’s low, talk with your doctor about the best strategy for to raise it. Sunlight spurs production of vitamin D in the skin, and people who don’t get much sun exposure tend to have lower levels of the vitamin. Get outside and be prepared to take supplements.

Omega-3 fatty acids have also been associated with a lower risk of breast problems. Populations in countries that consume high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from fish have lower incidences of breast, prostate and colon cancer than people in countries that consume less omega-3s. The theory is that Omega-3’s work to reduce risk in several ways, from reducing the effect of estrogen-like compounds to decreasing inflammation. Fermented Cod Liver Oil is a good source of Omega-3s as are wild caught fish and grass-fed meats.

 

I’m Getting All That Already! What Else Can I Add to my Supplement Regiment to Promote Breast Health?

Iodine and breast health are related, as discussed in Breast Cancer and Iodine by David M. Derry, MD, PhD. As iodine is also often tied to thyroid function, this is another reason that balancing hormones is so important for many women.

Alpha lipoic acid is a versatile antioxidant that is both fat- and water-soluble. It has the ability to neutralize the toxic effects of radiation and chemotherapy as well as recycle other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC), breaks down to glutathione in the body and promotes breast health. The same is true of whey protein.

Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone that decreases with age that may also support breast health.

Immunomodulators, such as coenzyme Q10, promote a healthy immune system, which is essential for long-term breast health.
What About Herbs?

Essiac tea contains herbs such as burdock root, sheep’s sorrel, slippery elm bark and others, and is regarded as a potent tonic and detoxifier that supports the body’s natural defenses. You can find it in most health-food stores.

Fenugreek contains mild plant estrogens that may increase healthy breast tissue. Legend has it that, centuries ago, harem women were fed these seeds to make them more buxom.

Curcumin, an extract from Turmeric, is a potent antioxidant that has also been found to help boost breast health. It is available in capsule form, or it can be obtained by adding turmeric to the diet in cooking or in a daily cup of Turmeric Tea.

Astragalus functions in your immune system both as a modulator and as an adaptogen. This means it has the capacity to tune your immune function up or down, as appropriate.

Saw Palmetto and Wild Yam are often also recommended by naturopathic physicians as natural breast enlargers.

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Diet and Breast Health: What’s the Connection?

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A Conversation with Leslie Cerier, “The Organic Gourmet”

(Leslie is featured in The Breast Archives documentary)

Thousands of years ago in ancient Greece, Hippocrates wrote, “Let food be thy medicine.” Those words are as true today as they were then. The choices that we make at the grocery store and the farmer’s market have a clear effect on the health of our breasts. Read on to learn more my recent interview with Leslie Cerier, one of the nine women who bravely bared her body and soul in The Breast Archives. Leslie is an internationally recognized, organic farm to table vegetarian chef, educator, cookbook author, recipe developer, consultant, and award-winning nature photographer. Every day, she cooks gourmet, seasonal, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free meals for health and pleasure as a way to inspire others to discover and embody delicious living. Leslie joyfully offers retreats and B&B stays in her beautiful passive solar home.

-Meagan

 

Q: What is the relationship between diet and breast health?

A: Our diet keeps our whole immune system strong, and of course that includes our breasts. You know, many people think of food scientifically, in terms of calories and molecular building blocks. As a woman with healthy breasts, who prepares delicious and nourishing food as medicine for myself and others, when I cook for women with breast cancer, I take a less cerebral approach. What you eat creates a connection for your whole health. I think that it’s all about having a good connection to Mother Nature as the source of your food, and to the organic farmers whose farming practices sustain the planet upon which it’s grown. Eating locally and seasonally is about going to the farmer’s market, joining a (CSA) Community Supported Agricultural farm, or planting a little garden of your own. It’s about the art of self care, which includes nourishment on every level and sustaining the circle of life on our plates.

 

Q: What is the relationship between diet and breast cancer?

A: Well, there are two: one is the link between what we eat and the development of breast cancer, and the other is the link between our diets and recovery from breast cancer.

If you eat fake or unnatural food that is toxic, your system can develop all kinds of ailments including breast cancer. We see cancer in women who eat a lot of processed junk food, in women who live near farms and orchards that are routinely sprayed with pesticides, and in women who get so caught up in physically and emotionally feeding others that they offer themselves only scraps.

As a private chef, I have done a lot of medicinal cooking for women with breast cancer. So many of the women that I’ve worked with have found healing in changing their diets to more whole, real, organic food.

 

Q: How has our understanding of the relationship between diet and breast health evolved over the past several years?

A: There is much more information out there now! When I began cooking for people with breast cancer in the late 1980’s, certain healing diets were popular — macrobiotic diets, the Gershon Diet, and the like. I offered my clients delicious food for healing and many had the same epiphany: “Oh my gosh, I’m now eating and serving real food!” People thought I was radical back then, but it’s much more mainstream thinking now because the public is so much more educated.

The bottom line is that cooking from the heart makes the tastiest meals and eating is a pleasure. I choose to focus on eating local, seasonal, organic foods that are not just good for you and me, but also pleasurable, delicious and good for the planet.

 

Q: What are some foods that promote breast health?

A: I especially love wild and organically certified sea vegetables such as nori, dulce, arame, and kelp. They contain every mineral! I like to use them in Miso Soup with Ramen Noodles. It’s a delicious recipe that extracts heavy metals and toxins from the body, and gives you vitamins and minerals back.

Naturally fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha are great choices. They encourage healthy gut flora and strengthen the immune system. Whole gluten free grains such as quinoa, millet, teff, and amaranth are high fiber and lower in acid than grains with gluten like wheat. They provide B vitamins, which reduce stress.

Superfoods such as cacao, maca, coconut, hemp and goji berries are also good for the breasts and promote overall health.

 

Q: What are some foods that are detrimental to breast health?

A: Junk food! Stay away from GMO’s, white sugar, and artificial foods with preservatives. Eat the rainbow of organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Eating foods that are alkalizing will help the body establish and maintain balance and will reduce inflammation. Good news: so is a glass of organic wine once in a while!

 

Q: What are different foods for breast health at different ages and stages of life?

A: I am post-menopausal, and I went through menopause with no hot flashes or discomfort. I eat a lot of organic beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. I also eat a ton of organic vegetables and fruits in season and grass raised organic local eggs and cheeses. I’m careful to choose organic healthy fats such as avocados, hemp seeds, and extra virgin coconut and olive oils. Toxins tend to reside in fats, so it’s especially important to select them carefully. Plus, when we choose local organic foods such as eggs, cheeses, veggies and fruits, we reduce our carbon footprint, which is good for the whole planet.

 

 Q: What else would you like readers to know?

A: Ultimately, things catch up with us. Unexpressed emotions, bad food choices, everything. We can’t run away from ourselves. Before I shop or cook, I ask myself questions:

  • What do I want to eat?
  • Am I nourishing myself with food, or using it as a weapon against myself?
  • Where am I getting my food?
  • Are my food choices enhancing my energy, stamina, and pleasure?
  • Am I building community by connecting with farmers?

Your relationship with the land is deeply nourishing. Remember to get outside in nature to de-stress!

Ultimately what I want women to hear is this: You must engage in the art of self care. Make sure that you are getting the most luscious possible experience preparing, eating and digesting your meals. You deserve it.

 

 

Breast Lymph Health Chinese Herbal Medicine

Touching Your Breasts with Love: The Art and Science of Personal Breast Care

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Women’s health expert Dr. Christiane Northrup says, “Our task as women is to learn, minute by minute, to respect ourselves and our bodies. Whether our breasts are small or large, perky or droopy, whether we have implants or lumps, or have had a mastectomy, all of ‘the girls’ are wonderful – and a source of nourishment and pleasure for both ourselves and others.”

I agree! Unfortunately, many women don’t feel so positively about their breasts. Even worse, most don’t offer themselves the regular breast care practices that can help them develop a loving bond with their bodies and manage the wellbeing of their breasts. The good news is that, with some contemplation and a little bit of education, we can all step forward on the physical and emotional path to deliberate breast health.

 

Breast Massage

Breast care is a hands-on affair! However, we must remember to be gentle with ourselves. Dr. Northrup suggests that when we touch our breasts, we remember to do so “with respect and caring.” We must begin with gratitude that our breasts are part of our bodies, and refrain from approaching our monthly exams with a “search-and-destroy mentality.”

We can massage our breasts as often as we like, even daily! We may not be in the habit of offering ourselves this kindness, but it’s a bit of gentle self-care that’s easy to add to our morning or evening routines. Here are three great benefits of breast massage:

  1. Promote Breast Health: According to the Texas Institute of Functional Medicine, breast massage is a viable way to release toxins from the body’s lymphatic system. Toxins can become trapped within the fat cells of breast tissue, increasing chances of cancer and restricting blood flow into the breast. Massaging the breasts gives the lymphatic system a boost and facilitates in the draining of breast tissue. Massaging also helps to break up benign cysts contained within breasts.

How to: After you’ve dried off from a bath or shower, lie down on your bed and massage the breasts right away. This will serve both as a self-exam and as a preventative procedure. Always pay special attention to the area under the armpit where the lymph nodes reside. “Massaging this area will assist in ridding your body of toxins, while increasing blood flow and life energy,” says Northrup. “Every cell in the breasts and other organs is bathed in lymph. Lymph carries nutrients and immune cells throughout the body and filters waste products through the lymph nodes, where they can be detoxified. Stimulating lymph circulation through regular massage of the breast and chest wall area can help maintain healthy breast tissue.”

  1. Reduce Tenderness: Breasts can become sore or swollen and cause discomfort at various points during the monthly cycle. Breast massage is an easy way to alleviate swelling and ease the soreness of the muscles underneath fatty tissues.

How to: Use small circular motions with all four fingers and press firmly to massage every part of the breasts for at least five minutes. You can do this with both hands on one breast at a time, or do them both at one if you’re in a hurry.

  1. Sexual Arousal: Did you know that many women can have orgasms from nothing more than breast and nipple stimulation? (Don’t worry if you can’t…it’s not a contest. All orgasms are good orgasms!) Breasts are an erogenous zone for many women and can bring about great sexual pleasure. In fact, breasts can swell up to 25 percent when a woman is aroused. Researchers from the Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that “women’s brains seem to process nipple and genital stimulation in the same way.”

How to: Use Breast Balm or a scented oil to massage the breasts simultaneously or individually. Use a variety of massage methods. Cup the breasts in the hands; use the fingers to knead. What happens if you focus on the nipples? Try different techniques! Remain in constant communication with your partner to know what feels right.

 

Breast Balm

“The nerves from the breasts are connected to all the major organs and glands of the body.”

Mantak Chia, Healing Love through the Tao – Cultivating Female Sexual Energy

Our breasts are an important part of our life journeys as women. Caring for our breasts in a loving and tender way deepens our relationships with them while bolstering their health and vitality. Many women will be challenged in some way by compromised breast health during their lives. That might be something as simple as diminished “consciousness” or cystic breasts, or as profound as treatment associated with breast cancer. Regardless, we are better prepared to withstand that moment when we are engaged in a language of love with our breasts. I enjoy all-natural Breast Balm as an important part of that relationship.

Our breasts undergo monthly changes each month, and may be tender or lumpy at different points in that cycle. Regularly massaging Breast Balm into our breasts enhances our awareness of normal and natural changes and sharpens our ability to notice differences and irregularities requiring professional attention. In addition to fostering a positive relationship with our breasts, Breast Balm firms and invigorates breast tissue, moisturizes and softens the skin, and gently cleanses our lymph systems.

 

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is a fantastic complement to Breast Massage. First practiced in ancient Greece, hydrotherapy uses the power of water to strengthen and detoxify the bodies’ immune system. Science has also found that a watery massage, especially with contrasting temperatures, increases blood circulation and the production of collagen and other skin proteins.

How to: Shower as us usual, and then allow your breasts to receive a steady stream of warm water for several minutes. Next, switch the shower to the coldest temperature you can manage and allow your breasts to respond to this contrast; 1-3 minutes. Repeat this action 3 times, always finishing with cold water. The key to the effectiveness of this therapy is the alternation of hot and cold water, which stimulates the immune and circulatory systems – to name a few!

 


 

In ancient traditions, the breasts of a woman were seen not only as holy but also as a physical extension of her heart. Take a few minutes today (and every day) to treat your body as the sacred temple it is…I do! Give your breasts this well-deserved attention. Massage them tenderly with a dedicated cream. Experiment with hydrotherapy. Look at your breasts in the mirror without judgment or criticism. Tell them that you love them…and mean it.

 

thermography

Thermography: A More Effective, Less Dangerous Way to Monitor Breast Health

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by Meagan Murphy

Since embarking on my journey as Director of The Breast Archives, I have talked to hundreds of women about their breasts. Sadly, one of the topics that comes up repeatedly is breast cancer. Every time I screen the film, women speak with me about their breast health. Some want to share their difficult journeys with me; others just want to talk about their fears. Last month, a woman told me about the discomfort and fear she experienced at her recent mammogram. She said, “My aunt had breast cancer. I worry that, because my doctor is concerned about my family history, I am exposing myself to radiation by getting mammograms year after year. I can’t decide which is the greater risk.” I suggested thermography as a safer alternative to an annual mammogram and, as if often the case, it was the first time they’d heard the term; “Thermography? What’s that? I’ve never heard of it.”

 

What Is Breast Thermography?

Breast thermography is a 15-minute infrared technology that visualizes and measures heat activity in the body. Early detection of disease is possible with absolutely no radiation and no body contact. The procedure can assess breast cancer risk, which is something mammography cannot do. Mammography is a test of anatomy. It can only detect mass. Thermography, on the other hand, can detect the inflammation that occurs before a mass is formed. Thus, one of the most promising aspects of thermography is its potential to spot anomalies years before mammography can, because it can detect changes at a cellular level.

Cancers, even in their earliest stages, need nutrients to maintain or accelerate their growth. This “feeding” activates blood vessels and increases surface temperature in the affected region, creating distinct heat patterns. These can be detected through thermography, which measures subtle differences in skin temperature. Through this imaging, thermography can detect abnormalities associated not only with cancer, but also with infection, fibrocystic disease, or other pathology. It can also detect lymphatic congestion—so important for women.

 

A Certified Clinical Thermographer’s View

According to Dale Thomas, CCT and owner of Healthy Body Thermography, “What our clients love most about getting a thermogram is that there is no compression. No cold glass, no pain. Just a specially designed camera on a tripod that takes infrared pictures of their body. Quick and easy.” Thomas is in business with her sister, Leslie Bowden, and together, they own and manage several thermography clinics in both Southern New Jersey and New England.

“Because it is a very safe space for women, where they have our full attention and care,” Thomas further revealed to me, “they share all kinds of personal things with us. And probably the most rewarding part of our work is how grateful they are to have found us. We have a broad range of clients, from breast cancer survivors who just refuse to get one more ounce of radiation, to women—younger and older, who want to monitor their breast or overall health on a yearly basis and be one step ahead of any risk. We get lots of hugs.”

 

The Benefits of Thermography

  • Thermography poses no risk of radiation or other injury to the body.
  • Studies show that a thermogram can identify precancerous or cancerous cells even earlier than a mammogram.
  • No referral is required. Medical doctors, called thermologists, who are specially trained to interpret the thermograms, create a report from the images, which goes directly to the person whose thermogram it is.
  • Thermography produces unambiguous results which cut down on additional testing.
  • Thermography is a tool of prevention. It shows inflammation anywhere in the body. And while not designed for self-interpretation, a woman can see where there is heat or coolness on the torso, affording the opportunity to work with a holistic practitioner to make lifestyle adjustments for maximum wellbeing before medical intervention is required.

 

The Risks of Mammography

Because current statistics indicate that 1 in 7 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, tracking the health of our breasts is more important now than ever.  Mammography may not be the best tool for the job. Mammography has its place; it can nail down the precise location of a tumor.  But as a regular monitoring tool, it is an unwise choice as the toxic effects of mammogram radiation is finally being acknowledged as a significant factor in the development of breast cancer.

  • 80 percent of breast lumps are non-cancerous.
  • 70 percent of breast cancers are found through breast self-exams, rather than mammography.
  • While family history is a factor in breast cancer risk, it is overemphasized. More than 75% of women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease and less than 10% have a known gene mutation that increases risk. (National Breast Cancer Coalition)
  • In 2010, the New England Journal of Medicine, published the first study in years on the efficacy of mammograms. It found that routine mammograms reduced cancer death rates by only 0.4 deaths per 1,000 women, an amount so small it might as well be zero.
  • Mammograms carry an unacceptably high rate of false positive results: up to six percent. These false positives then lead to repeat screenings, more radiation exposure, and often invasive and unnecessary procedures including biopsies and chemotherapy. According to the NEJM, 1.3 million women had unnecessary biopsies in 2010.
  • The more mammograms you have the more harm they do. Christine Northrup “guarantees” that, if you have a mammogram every year for 10 years you’ll also have a biopsy.
  • American women are increasingly undergoing bilateral mastectomies for Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), most commonly “detected” by mammograms. DCIS is a condition of abnormal and non-cancerous cells contained within the breast’s milk ducts that have not spread to tissues nearby. It is categorized as a “pre-cancerous” condition by conventional medicine – doctors who like to take the narrative an extra step by classifying it as a ticking time bomb. In fact, it is a called zero stage cancer and has emerged in part because high-resolution mammograms pick it up on breast cancer screening tests. These DCIS diagnoses have increased the number of women being diagnosed with cancer by over 60,000 annually. They now represent about 25% of screen detected breast cancer…and huge profits for the medical industrial complex. Christine Northrup says that the problem is that women have been trained to be so afraid of breast cancer that they’ll often willingly sacrifice their breasts just to relieve their anxiety—or what other doctors call “surveillance fatigue.”

 

Ask Your Health Care Professional About Thermography

Isn’t it ironic that the mammogram—the principle diagnostic test given to women to help detect and prevent breast cancer—is responsible for increasing women’s risk for developing it? Do some research of your own (more links are below) and then self-advocate. Talk to your nurse or doctor about thermography today. Make the switch from mammography to thermography. I did it years ago, and I’ve never looked back.

 

Read More

http://www.drnorthrup.com/best-breast-cancer-screening-tests/

http://www.thermologyonline.org/breast/breast_thermography_what.htm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christiane-northrup/the-best-breast-test-the-_b_752503.html

https://draxe.com/thermography/

 

 

 

girl in bra

The Truth About Bras

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by Meagan Murphy

For most of recorded history, societies throughout the world have required women to use some kind of bra-like garment to hide, restrain, and reshape their breasts. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of this at excavation sites near ancient India, Greece, and Rome. By the Renaissance, corsets were required attire for all women of means. Iron supports – the predecessors of today’s underwires – forced women’s shapes into an aesthetic ideal defined by men: narrow waist, flat torso, broad hips, and high, round breasts nearly spilling over the front of a dress. Sound familiar?

In the early 19th Century, the corset gave way to the bra. This new invention was sold to consumers as a modern and healthful improvement. Women were led to believe that the bra would offer greater mobility and lung function and that it would enhance their overall well-being.  But what’s the truth about bras?

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Body Language

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Have you ever noticed the not-so-subtle restrictions the English language imposes on women? Isn’t it bizarre that our Heroines have been linguistically hijacked by a drug? There are perplexingly few words with which to discuss our bodies that haven’t been co-opted by the language of sexual objectification. And because we don’t have an adequate vocabulary available to talk about our bodies, we have trouble talking about ourselves.

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Director

What spell are we under

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As women, we must reexamine the idea that we need bras and the idea that our breasts should be perfectly perky. Just because this the images we see on magazine covers are of incredibly thin, perky breasted women

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Art-by-Lori-Felix

Tending Your Garden

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How can we celebrate our breasts? Celebrate the breasts, you ask? We say YES!

The breasts are far more mysterious and complex than society has led us to believe. What we hear from the media is that our breasts’ are only special if they’re sexual.

The truth is, our breasts link us to our hearts. That makes them special.

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Gaston_Casimir_Saint-Pierre_-_Diana_the_Huntress-674x1024

Reclaiming Our Breasts

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The media, and our culture, want to define breasts very narrowly—as sexy, as sick, or as a source for milk.

The truth is our breasts are ours to define and they represent the promise of the wonderful experience of being a woman.

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