Every October the world turns its focus to breast cancer treatment and prevention, which has done amazing things for women's health - especially in bringing awareness to an often overlooked, but important, part of female anatomy. In the spirit of preventative health and self-care, I've put together a post on simple techniques that any woman can do at home to maintain healthy circulation and detoxification in breast tissue.
A favorite herb that has specific affinity for breast tissue is Lavender, which is easy to source and is most commonly used as an essential oil or in its dried flower form (pictured above). It smells heavenly and has minimal contraindications or side effects in adult women. Lavender can be used topically through the skin, directly access the nervous system through our sense of smell and internally circulate via the Liver Meridian - learn my three favorite ways to use lavender for therapeutic benefit below.
1) Breast Massage
Breast tissue is mostly made up of lymph tissue, which is a dynamic part of one of the bodies best detoxification systems. The lymphatic system is responsible for circulating lymphatic fluid throughout the body, cleaning up toxins and debris. Lymph nodes (located at various places around the body, including near the breasts in the axillary area) are responsible for actually sieving off the toxins and other harmful substances that the lymphatic fluid has picked up so they can be properly dealt with by the liver – truly a marvelous waste-management system for the body.
Therefore, lymphatic health and breast health are mutually dependent - we want the lymph tissue within the breasts and surrounding nodes circulating and excreting toxins effectively. Conversely, the breasts are an integral player in one of the most dynamic detoxification and immune systems in the body.
The most direct way to maintain healthy circulation in this area is through gentle pressure massage, known as lymphatic drainage (or in this case, breast massage), and also utilizing lavender essential oil as a detoxification enhancer. When used topically, lavender can enter the bloodstream via the skin – and is known to have a direct effect on cleansing lymphatic fluid and also provide anti-tumor, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects as well as regeneration to our system and tissues.
Dilute a few drops of lavender essential oil into your favorite carrier oil (like almond, coconut or jojoba) and gently massage the breast tissue and surrounding area of the chest and armpit in a circular motion. Repeat 1-2x per month, as needed, especially between ovulation and menstruation. This will promote general circulation and detoxification within breast tissue, support the lymphatic system and unblock any local stagnation such as benign breast cysts, tenderness or pain.
2) Stress Relief
Stress is pretty much ubiquitous with the modern lifestyle. It can integrate itself through every aspect of our lives – diet, work life, home environment, sleep patterns, relationships, activity, etc. Beyond disrupting our mood and experience of joy, excessive stress can have lasting effects on the body by disrupting cortisol levels and promoting inflammation – both precursors to stagnation, especially in the circulatory and lymphatic systems. Excessive stress often impacts the delicate female hormonal balance by affecting the Liver Energy system in the body (more on that Chinese Medicine aspect in the next section!)
Practicing regular relaxation techniques and harnessing thought patterns are cornerstones to a healthy stress response. But sometimes, stress can sneak its way in like a freight train – high jacking our attention, elevating our heart rate and overwhelming our emotions.
Enter our good friend, Lavender.
Known to promote a general sense of well-being (mitigating the fight/flight response), sedation (physically slowing the heart-rate) and elevating consciousness (to connect to inner/outer truth) – lavender is the perfect in-the-moment stress diffuser. By inhaling the essential oil, it passes through the olfactory nerve, which has direct access to the parts of the brain responsible for emotional balance, long-term memory, hormonal regulation, and the autonomic nervous system.
Simply inhale deeply over the open Lavender Essential Oil bottle, or swab a drop of the oil inside each nostril for immediate calming. If available, consider diffusing the oil in the air via an essential oil diffuser or aerosol spray.
3) Liver Qi Regulator
In Chinese Medicine, the Liver Qi (energy) is responsible for female hormonal balance and plays an intricate role in regulating menstruation. It also regulates emotional health, assists in detoxification and mitigates the stress response (making it an important player in the trifecta for breast health: lymphatic, stress and hormonal balance).
A common problem is the stagnation of Liver Qi, which can lead to all sorts of menstrual, systemic and emotional symptoms – one of which is the ever-common breast tenderness associated with a woman’s period. To keep the Liver Qi flowing, it needs a delicate balance of movement and nourishment. Over-moving under-nourished Liver Qi is as problematic as the Liver Qi stagnation itself – it’s all about finding your unique pattern and balancing it.
This is why Lavender is a perfect fit for the job as it enters the Liver channel and promotes gentle movement of Liver Qi, but it also nourishes it. As an equalizer, it has the capacity to work wherever the imbalance is – offering movement or nourishment in doses appropriate based on individual need.
Steep equal parts of dried lavender and chamomile flowers in boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy 1-2 cups daily, especially before sleep to promote healthy movement of Liver Qi.
Breast Health Awareness
I hope this brings more insight to the dynamic nature of breast tissue, the importance of breast health and how you can integrate self-care techniques into your regular routine. Taking a pro-active approach to our healthcare by cultivating an intimate awareness of the state of our own body at any given time in our life, is truly empowered health. Please pass along to other women in your life who might benefit!
Yours in health,