June 23, 2010
Healing Breast Pain: A Holistic Approach
If you have achy, sore breasts a week or more out of every month, you’re not alone. This is a frequent complaint heard by doctors. Many women have bothersome, persistent pain and heaviness daily. Often they suffer in silence, assuming it goes with territory of being a woman. Fluctuating estrogen levels, emotions, and stress contribute to breast pain as does food the body doesn’t process well such as chocolate, sugar, dairy products, and caffeine. Along with these contributing factors, breast pain is a signal to slow down, relax your lifestyle, and adopt a more supportive way of life for yourself.
I am certain you won’t find a woman with breast pain who lounges around making sure she is properly nourished and nurtured. No, those women would not have breast pain. This discomfort belongs to women who do too much. Nowadays, this seems to be every woman.
I, myself, had constant breast pain for several years. I wasn’t a coffee drinker or chocolate eater, but I did live on stress. In those days as soon as I woke up in the morning I was off and running. My days were filled with self-made busy work. I had an oh-so important endless to-do list. I was under the assumption that being busy was part of being successful.
Later, as I learned about the true causes of breast dis-ease and began to unravel this “busy addiction” I discovered that busy-ness wasn’t a factor in my success at all. It was a hindrance I call “the hamster wheel.” Like many of us, I had an overdeveloped sense of doing and a vague sense of anxiety when not occupied. As I pried my fingers (and ego) off the to-do list, I began reconciling doing with being. As I deepened a practice of cultivating inner quiet and slowness the anxiety around downshifting began to subside – along with the breast pain. I began to understand that this drive to go-go-go was not natural for me. In fact it bordered on self-abuse. My years of breast pain tried to get me to see this.
Breast pain - like all pain - is a holistic issue. It affects the physical body, emotions, mind, and spirit. Conversely, the body, emotions, mind, and spirit affect the pain. On a deeper level, it is a valuable clue that you aren’t paying attention to your needs. Are you running amok, taking care of everyone else? Then you are given an opportunity to harmonize your life before it’s too late and something more serious comes along with an even louder message.
According to ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine, pain indicates stagnation which can then lead to more serious disease. Stagnation can occur when the normal flow of fluid, including blood and lymph, slows down and becomes sluggish. Given our high rates of breast cancer, it makes sense to get plenty of movement through your breast tissue. Take steps to prevent your clothing or bras from cutting off your natural circulation while adding exercise, yoga, massage, qi gong, or even the application of castor oil packs to help bring movement to your breast tissue. All of these can help decrease breast pain.
The following steps will help you to reduce or eliminate breast pain. In some cases pain can indicate a deeper health issue, including cancer, so it is wise to see your health practitioner to be sure. While you take steps to heal the root cause of breast pain, you will be taking valuable steps toward cancer prevention.
• Experiment with different food and beverage choices to reduce caffeine.
• Be certain your hormones are balanced. Hormones gone wild can contribute to breast pain. See my article “Feel Better and Be Healthier by Balancing Your Hormones.”
• Wear properly fitted bras and avoid tight clothing that put pressure on your breasts. Go without a bra when you can. Ill-fitted bras and constrictive clothing can compress your lymphatic system and cut off healthy circulation. A poorly-fitted bra or top leaves marks on your skin, indicating poor circulation.
• Process your emotions in healthy ways. Research indicates a strong link between emotions and breast dis-ease.
• Become more self-nurturing. Look at your own “hamster wheel” and see what it would take to step off.