Breast pain is described as the feeling of discomfort, pain, or tenderness in one or both breasts. There are two types of breast pain: cyclical and non-cyclical. Cyclical breast pain is the most common type of breast pain in menopausal women, and is directly linked to hormonal changes. Cyclical breast pain is recurrent during times of hormone fluxes, like menopause, menstruation, and pregnancy. Many women choose herbal remedies that target hormonal changes in order to relieve breast pain.
Causes of Breast Pain
Cyclical breast pain is caused by hormonal changes. When estrogen and progesterone fluctuate during menopause, it often causes irritation of the breast tissue, which causes pain. Additional causes of breast pain include lifestyle factors like poor diet, excess stress, and lack of exercise. Non-cyclical causes include previous breast surgery, breast trauma, and certain prescription medications like antidepressants and oral contraceptives.
Types of Herbal Remedies
Herbal remedies can be divided into two categories: phytoestrogenic herbs and hormone-regulating herbs. Phytoestrogenic herbs treat hormonal imbalance because they contain phytoestrogens, which are thought to act like estrogen in the human body.
Hormone-regulating supplements do not contain phytoestrogens and are thought to help hormone levels in other ways.
The following herbs are the ones best known for their phytoestrogen content.
Soy. Soy has been a commonly used herb among menopausal women because it is known to help symptoms like breast pain and hot flashes thanks to its phytoestrogenic compounds, primarily genistein.
Black cohosh. Black cohosh also contains phytoestrogens. Black cohosh has been traditionally used to treat menopausal symptoms such as breast pain, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes.
Red clover. Red clover also has a high phytoestrogen content and is commonly used to treat menopause symptoms.
The way these supplements work in the body can vary. You should see a doctor before starting phytoestrogenic supplements for breast pain to see if they are suitable in your case.
These supplements have been historically and traditionally used to boost hormone levels. They do not contain phytoestrogens and therefore rely on other properties to treat menopause symptoms like breast pain.
Breast pain is a common problem for menopausal women. The main cause of breast pain in menopausal women is hormone fluctuations, so it is important to address this change. Along with herbal remedies, breast pain can also be managed by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. It is important to consult your doctor before starting any natural supplement regime. Even though herbs are natural they still have side effects and they can interfere with other medicine that you are taking. For more information about how to ease breast pain, visit the links below.
- Bruton-Seal, J. & Seal, M. Backyard Medicine. (2009). New York: Skyhorse Publishing.
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2012). Menopausal Symptoms and Complementary Health Practices. Retrieved August 20, 2014, from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/menopause/menopausesymptoms
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Breast pain. Retrieved August 20, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breastpaincyclical/pages/introduction.aspx
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2012). Breast pain. Retrieved August 20, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/breast-pain