Breast tenderness and the presence of cysts within the breast tissue, often manifesting just before and during the menstrual cycle. Eventually, the cysts remain in place, making the breasts nodular, with some cysts deep within the breast and others free moving near its surface.
What Is Fibrocystic Disease?
From Modern Western Medicine
Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that appear in the breast or milk glands within the breast that may become closed off and thick. One or both breasts become tender and lumpy one week or so before a menstrual period starts. Many women experience an increase in the number of cysts and tenderness until menopause, when estrogen levels fall and cysts disappear. Studies have shown that estrogen is a major factor in the onset of both cysts and malignant breast tumors. Recent evidence has also shown that foods and drinks containing methylxanthines (see the section below on Foods to Avoid) can aggravate the condition.
About 80% of breast lumps are benign; however, all possible breast lumps need assessment. There is a three- to sevenfold increase in the chance of cancer for women with fibrocystic disease.
From Traditional Medicine
The cause of fibrocystic breast disease is the standard high-fat Western diet, which increases the female hormone estrogen, a hormone that in turn deforms breast tissue and triggers the onset of cysts. Fat cells produce estrogen. In fact, in obese postmenopausal women, fat cells produce more estrogen than any other source. Estrogen acts like a growth hormone on breast tissue, deforming the tissues and preventing healthy circulation of blood and lymph and the elimination of waste products. Another cause of fibrocystic breast disease is food that is devoid of fiber. Fiber binds with estrogen in the intestines and brings it out of the body. Studies have shown that when estrogen levels are lowered in women with breast disease, the lumps often disappear.
Who Gets Fibrocystic Disease?
Women between the ages of 30 and 60 are the most prone to this condition.
- Significantly lower blood cholesterol levels (preferably to 170 mg or lower) by reducing foods that contain all forms of fat, especially saturated fats and cholesterol.
- Increase fiber, which binds with estrogen in the intestines and eliminates it form the body.
- Consider stopping birth control pills, which increase estrogen levels and raise the likelihood of breast disease.
- Have estrogen levels checked and reduce them.
Foods to Eat
- Whole grains
- Fresh, organic vegetables
- Vegetable protein such as beans, tofu, and tempeh
- Sea vegetables
- Carrot juice
Foods to Avoid
Significantly reduce or avoid all high-fat foods, including:
- Red meat
- Dairy products
- The fatty part of chicken, turkey, and other fowl
- Fried foods
The following foods contain methylxanthines:
Herbs to Treat Fibrocystic Disease
Dandelion cleanses the liver; drink as a tea.
Breast lumps are associated with stagnation and irregularity of liver qi. Bupleurum is used by the Chinese as a primary herb for moving the liver qi. It is the major herb in several harmonizing formulas that have been used for nearly 2,000 years.
The following formula may be used for regulating stagnant qi:
7 parts poria cocos
4 parts bupleurum root
4 parts atractylodes
4 parts chaste berries
4 parts dong quai
3 parts peony root
3 parts cyperus rhizome
3 parts black haw bark
3 parts wild yam
3 parts magnolia bark
3 parts ginger
3 parts licorice root
2 parts green, bitter orange peel
2 parts ligusticum wallichil
2 parts mint leaves
1 part gastrodia
- Beta-carotene: 15 – 30 mg per day
- Vitamin B1: 25 mg once daily
- Vitamin B6: 2 – 10 mg per day
- Vitamin C: 100 mg per day
- Vitamin E: 100 – 400 IU per day
- Calcium: 1000 mg per day
- Flaxseed oil: 1 -1½ tbsp. per day