October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we probably all know someone who has been personally affected by the disease.
A modern epidemic affecting one in seven women in the UK and one in eight women in the US, breast cancer has been on a sharp rise over the last four decades. It is however emerging as a more preventable disease than previously thought, thanks to the establishment of risk factors and the introduction of treatment options.
The Ayurvedic approach to breast health focuses on a holistic combination of diet, lifestyle and exercise, so read on for 7 tips that you can easily implement:
1. Massage your breasts daily
Not only can breast massage can alleviate discomfort, likely caused by stagnation of rasa dhatu (translated as the “primary waters of the body and includes plasma, blood, lymph and interstitial fluids”), it also supports the elimination of toxins from the body.
The breasts are an extension of the heart chakra, so work on releasing deep-seated emotions in your heart as you are massaging yourself. Regular self massage also allows you to know what your breasts feel like and take note of any changes or irregularities.
We recommending using a balm like the Banyan Botanical Breast Care Balm or 5Yina’s Guiying Decolletage Treatment for the massage, in circular motions from the nipple to the outside of the breast, and then the armpit and outermost part of the breast to the shoulder joint where the lymph nodes are concentrated.
2. Avoid underwire bras
While scientific evidence has not shown a direct correlation between wearing underwire bras and breast cancer risk, the path of the wire does run right along some important lymph nodes so it is not a bad idea to give yourself a break once in a while and opt for a more comfortable, wireless design.
It is also important to get properly fitted for your bra as a poor fit can affect breathing, cause headaches and impede the flow of lymph from the breasts and lymph nodes.
3. Break a sweat
Engaging in regular exercise or sitting in a steam room will help you break a sweat to release the toxins that have accumulated in your body. Ditch your deodorants and antiperspirants with toxic ingredients like aluminum, petrochemicals, parabens and fragrance etc and switch to a clean formula made from natural ingredients.
4. Perform a seasonal cleanse
An Ayurvedic cleanse helps to draw toxins and balance the dosha in the body, and it can last anywhere between 3 days to 3 weeks.
A study from Maharishi University in India showed that panchakarma, the traditional Ayurvedic cleansing therapy, reduces the level of many toxins in the body, specifically those in the breasts.
5. Up your iodine intake
Did you know that dietary iodine has been proposed to have a preventative role in breast cancer? This is because Japanese women have an exceptionally low incidence of the disease while having an increased consumption of iodine, and even in animal models, iodine has shown to be beneficial in fighting breast cancer and tumor growth.
Ayurvedic practitioner John Douillard advocates iodine as a natural lymph-mover, which means it helps the body to drain toxins away. You can either take supplements or find it in foods like enriched bread, seaweed, canned tuna, cow’s milk and yoghurt.
6. Stay hydrated
The suggestion is to drink half your body weight in ounces daily - for instance, if you are 150 pounds to drink 75 ounces of water every day. It is essential to keep your body sufficiently hydrated with adequate fluid intake to ensure the effective elimination of toxins and the health of your rasa dhatu.
Warm ginger tea is also recommended for its potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, with studies showing its anti-cancer ability.
7. Practice yoga
Yoga is a great way to incorporate movement and prevent stagnation in the body, and a well-rounded yoga practice can boost breast health, with poses that includes chest opening and backbend poses like the Seated Spinal Twist and Warrior II to improve circulation and energy through your heart and chest.
The mindfulness component of the practice also encourages you to be more in tune with your body and help in early detection of the disease.
“The great thing about Ayurveda is that its treatments always yield side benefits, not side effects.” - Shubhra Krishan