“The breast health (and heart) health comes from living a life in which giving and receiving are equally balanced and in which you eat well & move your body joyfully, vigorously and regularly.”
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). A recent BioMed Central Cancer study conducted in Toronto reported that 47 percent of women with breast cancer seek complementary care in addition to their Western medical treatments.
Traditional Chinese medicine offers an array of options that can assist women with everything from chemotherapy side effects to insomnia and anxiety.
In addition to the many benefits alternative medicine can have for a woman with breast cancer, a number of natural preventative steps Chinese medicine health providers recommend for young women.
The breasts are located near the body’s major lymphatic system, which is in part why breast cancer can be so dangerous. If the disease reaches the lymphatic system, it can spread throughout the body.
To help prevent the development or growth of cancer in the breasts, it is paramount that the lymphatic system is healthy and moving. The more movement in the lymphs, the more toxins are flushed out. Movement can be achieved by exercise, but it’s also helpful to massage the breasts and lymph areas regularly to ensure there is no stagnation.
Lara Koljonen, L.Ac., is a PCOM San Diego graduate and practicing acupuncturist in San Diego. In addition to her acupuncture practice, Koljonen started Essentially Pink in 2006 - a movement to infuse the wisdom of Chinese medicine into mainstream culture and make breast health tips more accessible.
“Breast health is movement,” Koljonen said, describing self-massage for healthy breasts.
"Moving your lymph tissue; moving your body’s energy and blood flow. With stress and negative thinking we create energy stagnation and block lymph, energy, and blood flow. The lymphatic system is different than the circulatory system. It does not have a heart to pump it, so it only moves when you move it."
Koljonen recommends exercise and breast health techniques such as the Tulip Tap, a self-check technique she coined “the Tulip Tap”. This self-breast massage incorporates Chinese medicine, acupressure—the applied pressure on certain points of the body that enhance wellbeing.
“The Tulip Tap is an acupressure exercise that moves the energy and lymphatic flow in the acupuncture channels around the breast,” Koljonen said.
For information on how to perform your own Tulip Tap, check out her instructions here.
In addition to moving your lymphatic system and getting your exercise, specific dietary choices can improve women’s health and could help to prevent breast cancer.
“Nutrition is fundamental in breast heath,” said PCOM San Diego graduate, Wendy Sellens, L.Ac.
"Avoid all phytoestrogens, plant-derived estrogens, soy and flax. Also avoid hummus, garbanzo beans, sesame seeds, and multi grain bread due to their high phytoestrogen content."
Sellens, who practices Chinese medicine in Solana Beach, San Diego and specializes in Breast Thermology with Pink Image, said nutrition has a huge impact on health.
“Reduce risk of breast cancer by reducing use of processed food and sugar or anything that breaks down to sugar including grains, carbohydrates and alcohol,” Sellens said.
"Cancer requires a large amount of sugar to survive.”
Early detection of cancer has been credited for saving the lives of countless women. Breast Thermology is a non-invasive technology that can alert possible risk before the cancer has fully formed.
The technology of thermography detects abnormalities caused by growth of the blood vessels - or neoangiogenesis - in the breasts. Changes in an at-risk patient’s lifestyle can often correct an issue and lower the risk of cancer cells developing.
Pink Image and its practitioners - including Sellens - offers Breast Thermography in conjunction with acupuncture treatments and Chinese herbology to promote breast health. The inclusion of Chinese medicine assists in strengthening the body and promotes proper functionality, and customized treatment plans are tailored to the specific needs of each patient.
This article is an updated version of a post from last year. The original article can be found here.