Are you one of the 60% of American women that have fibrocystic breasts? If so, you may notice pain, tenderness, and/or lumps in one or both breasts, although it typically occurs in both breasts. The breast symptoms tend to be more problematic before menstruation. This is a non-cancerous condition that can be diagnosed with a breast exam and if needed, diagnostic imaging. It is most common in women between the ages of 30 and 50. One of the problems, though, is that lumpy breast tissue can mimic and mask breast cancer. This causes problems when women have their regular mammograms since the imaging is not clear and further testing such as breast ultrasound is required. Women are then subjected to additional imaging tests and sometimes biopsy due to the lumpy tissue.
A Sign of Hormone Imbalance
Many conventional doctors tell their patients that fibrocystic breast changes are normal. Dr. Angela (my wife) and I disagree. It is a sign of underlying imbalances, which I will discuss. We are proactive with our patients and recommend testing and effective natural solutions that not only help the signs and symptoms but the underlying causes for fibrocystic breast tissue.
Most women with fibrocystic breasts have estrogen dominance. This is a condition where there is a relative increase of estrogen to progesterone. I discuss this in detail in my article “Do you have Estrogen Dominance?” at www.americasnaturaldoctor.com in the Health Breakthroughs section. The cyclical nature of the problem occurs in the last half of the menstrual cycle when progesterone levels are not high enough, or estrogen levels are too high.
Other hormones can play a role as well, including prolactin, insulin, and thyroid hormones. These hormones, along with estrogen and progesterone, stimulate the growth of glandular breast tissue. They also enhance the activity of blood flow, cell metabolism, and stimulation of tissue in the surrounding area. When the monthly menstrual cycle is over, the breast cells are not stimulated by these hormones. The cells are broken down and discarded by the body. But women with fibrocystic breasts develop more inflammation and form fibrotic tissue that accumulates in the glandular tissue.
Tried and True Testing
At the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine, we find out at a deeper level what the triggers are for the hormone imbalance. A salivary hormone panel that includes estrogen, progesterone, and the ratio of the two is beneficial for identifying estrogen dominance. As well, it includes the stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels worsen estrogen dominance at the cell receptor level. We also test thyroid hormone levels, as low thyroid leads to increased estrogen levels. Additional lab testing that can be helpful is testing nutrient levels such as iodine, B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin D, and essential fatty acids that are involved in estrogen metabolism and inflammation.
Healing Foods For The Breast
A high-fiber diet is recommended because it promotes the elimination of excess estrogen. This can include the use of ground flaxseeds (1 to 2 tablespoons daily with 8 to 12 ounces of clean quality water per tablespoon). A diet focused on plant foods is most effective, including whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, and hormone-free animal products. Cruciferous vegetables (e.g., Arugula, Bok choy, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collard greens) are vital as they contain unique phytonutrients that aid in estrogen detoxification.
For some women, the avoidance of caffeine (coffee, soda, chocolate) makes a significant impact on the fibrocystic breasts. Try restricting caffeine for three months and see if you have a noticeable improvement in your symptoms.
More Help with Supplements
For our patients with moderate to severe fibrocystic breasts, we help them more effectively with specific supplements. While our recommendations can vary, this often includes our Estro Wellness, which contains Indole 3 carbinol and Diindolylmethane, which support the liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen. It also contains glutathione and milk thistle, which are well-studied liver supportive supplements. The use of iodine in multivitamins, or by itself if lab testing shows a deficiency, can also be helpful since it blocks estrogen receptors. As well, magnesium and B vitamins (folate, magnesium, B6, B12) found in a good multivitamin restore estrogen balance. In addition, essential fatty acids help reduce inflammation; fish oil and GLA (from evening primrose or black currant seed oil) are great long-term supplements. Additional natural vitamin E (mixed vitamin E) at 800 IU is also helpful for some women. For those with more severe cases, we use natural transdermal progesterone, usually 20 mg one to two times daily from mid-cycle to a day before menstruation.
Estro Wellness-2 capsules daily
Supreme Multi-2 to 3 capsules daily
Fish oil-1000 mg of EPA and DHA combined daily.
GLA-200 mg daily
Vitamin E-800 IU of mixed vitamin E daily
Farewell Fibrocystic Breasts
You do not have to put up with fibrocystic breasts. I have given you the general program we use with female patients to improve this condition significantly. For more severe cases, schedule a consult with me or Dr. Angela 1-855-DOC-MARK