Bye-Bye Breast Tenderness: Natural Options for Fibrocystic Breasts
By Sarah Axtell, ND • December 21, 2018
Fibrocystic breast disease is a benign disorder of the breasts that results in lumpiness, nodules and pain. It is not associated with breast cancer risk. However, it can be quite painful and bothersome for many women.
Supplements for Breast Health
A recent randomized, double-blinded, controlled study showed a strong benefit of the combination of GLA (fatty acid found in evening primrose oil), selenium, and iodine in reducing breast nodules and cyclic breast pain. Women were randomized to receive a liquid formulation of 1 gram of GLA, 750 mcg iodine, and 70 mcg selenium. Or they received the liquid formula without the GLA, iodine and selenium. They were given 4 oz of the liquid formula daily for three menstrual cycles. Nodularity was reduced in the treatment group but not the control group; and the amount of pain medication was reduced in the treatment group relative to the control group.
In addition to GLA (evening primrose oil), iodine and selenium, other supplements I have found to be helpful for cyclic breast pain include chaste tree berry, vitamin E and DIM (extract from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage).
Eating for Breast Health
Include cruciferous vegetables in your diet to help your body clear excess estrogen, which can drive fibrocystic breasts. This family of vegetables include cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, collard greens, and bok choy. Aim for at least 2 cups/day.
Another intervention I have seen beneficial not only for fibrocystic breasts but also for regulating a woman’s menstrual cycle is seed and oil cycling. This involves rotating seeds and oils with your menstrual cycle. This consists of rotating seeds with either your cycle (if you are getting your period) or with the lunar cycle (if you are not currently cycling). Consume 2-4 tbsps of ground flax seeds AND fish oil for the first half of your cycle (days 1-14) or from the new moon to the full moon. Consume 2-4 tbsps of ground sunflower seeds AND evening primrose oil the second half of your cycle (days 15-30) or from the full moon to the new moon.
Iodine rich food sources can also be beneficial. This includes fish, sushi and seaweed. I like to break apart Nori sheets (seaweed wraps that are used to roll sushi; found at health food stores in ethnic food aisle) and add to salads or soups.
And don’t forget to eat your brazil nuts! As many of my patients know, I am nutty for brazil nuts! They are an excellent source of selenium, which is not only important for breast health but also for the health of your thyroid. See here for more info on brazil nuts.
Abstaining from your morning cup of joe make work wonders for your breast tissue! One study showed 97.5% clinical benefit from avoidance of caffeine. This is due to the methylxanthines found in caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea) and chocolate.
Discuss with your naturopathic doctor whether or not these interventions are appropriate for you. It is important to be cautious with iodine supplementation as too much can cause a goiter, hyperthyroidism, and/or contribute to a Hashimoto’s flare. We advise testing iodine levels prior to supplementing with it.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.