October is Breast cancer awareness month, I think we will all agree prevention is better than cure – so lets talk about what we can do to keep our breasts healthy in the first place.

I have listed my top 5 herbs for healthy breasts below – all with different qualities and for different stages of a woman’s life.

trifolium_pratense_clover_flower_red_clover1. Red clover Trifolium pratense

For inflammation and cancer prevention.

Inflammation of the breast can affect us as a newborn, during puberty, as a symptom of pre-menstrual syndrome, as full blown mastitis when breast-feeding and during menopause.  Red clover can be helpful when we are need to cleanse the tissues and support the mammary glands natural function, reducing inflammation and relieving the associated pain.  Research has demonstrated that is suitable for menopausal complaints, and might also be a powerful chemopreventive agent against chronic diseases e.g. which have a high incidence especially in elderly females.

milk_thistle2. Milk thistle Silybum marianum

For milk production and protection of the liver and kidneys during chemotherapy.

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is an herbal supplement used to treat liver and biliary disorders. Silymarin is the main component that has been studied scientifically.  Silmarin is a mixture of flavanoid complexes, and considered the active component that protects liver and kidney cells from toxic effects of drugs, including chemotherapy.

For overall health it is considered safe in standard doses – and we could probably all use a bit of it from time to time especially if we like to indulge in toxins such as alcohol or smoking from time to time.  It has the name milk thistle because it helps increase the flow of milk in nursing mothers.  I like to drink this as a decoction in the morning instead of a coffee to get the Chi flowing.

calendula3. Marigold Calendula officinalis

For inflammation and healing.

A very gentle healing herb with cleansing, vulnery (promotes tissue repair) and anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and cyto-toxic actions.  This herb could be used at any stage of a woman’s life or cycle in low doses as a tea to maintain breast health, or at higher doses if a more significant pharmacological action is required. This herb has been used traditionally for thousands of years but also has the backing of research studies to support the clinical application in cancer treatment.

epo4. Evening primrose Oenothera biennsis 

For inflammation and premenstrual breast swelling and pain.

The whole plant is edible, but preparations come in the form of an oil made from the seeds.  This oil contains essential fatty acids and if your diet is deficient in these then you may benefit from taking this supplement.  Although many women I have worked with report a difference, some report no differenc ata ll in breast tenderness and pain premenstrually.  There is evidence to suggest it is effective but not at a level that satisfies me as a Herbalist to use it categorically with every client.  I therefore suggest its worth a try if you are vegetarian, but not if you eat a diet rich in fish, and avoid it if you eat a lot of meat as I have found it can make things worse rather than better.

alpenhorn_clover_fenugreek_klee5. Fenugreek  Trigonella foenum-graecum

For bigger breasts?

This one is not scientific – sorry but the scientists haven’t given me anything to back up the claims that Fenugreek makes your breasts larger, I expect they would rather just give you implants.  There are many herbs that have been used over time to promote breast growth – hops, saw palmetto, and damiana included.  Saw palmetto has a definite hormonal action and is used to treat prostrate health in men, damiana is an aphrodisiac – so maybe it makes you feel sexier?  I cant say I have had any success with them, but it worth a mention for fun and interest.  Safety wise – you can buy Fenugreek as a tea or a spice to cook with so the EU haven’t got any issues with its safety either.  I have had more success with hypnotherapy – thinking your boobs bigger!

And one final note: please do talk a medical professional if you are not in perfect health or pregnant before using herbs.

 

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