Women describe breast pain during menopause as feelings of discomfort, pain, or tenderness in one or both breasts. Cyclical mastalgia is the most common type of breast pain, and is recurrent during menopause, menstruation, and pregnancy. Breast pain can range from mild to severe discomfort, and can include symptoms like sensitivity, burning, or swelling. Herbal remedies are an alternative option for easing breast pain. There are several herbal remedies that some women use to alleviate breast pain, such as chasteberry and soy.
Causes of Breast Pain
The leading cause of breast pain during menopause is hormone fluctuations. When estrogen and progesterone levels change during menopause, it often causes inflammation of the breast tissue, which results in pain. Other causes of breast pain include lifestyle factors, like poor diet, chronic stress, and lack of exercise.
There are several types of herbal remedies for breast pain. For example, phytoestrogenic herbs contain plant components that act similarly to estrogen in the human body. These herbs include:
Soy has been a popular food source among menopausal women because it is known to help alleviate menopause symptoms due to its phytoestrogenic compounds, especially genistein.
Black cohosh also contains phytoestrogens, and is one of the most popular herbs among menopausal women. Black cohosh is used to treat breast pain, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes.
Red clover also has a high phytoestrogen content. Red clover may help restore estrogen levels back to normal, and may also help with menopausal symptoms like breast pain, night sweats, and hot flashes.
Before taking phytoestrogenic herbs for breast pain, it's important to talk to your doctor or gynecologist about your options. The action of phytoestrogens in the body is complex, and they may not help in all cases depending on the woman's hormonal and medical profile.
Hormone-regulating herbal remedies are non-estrogenic herbs that may stimulate a woman's hormone production. This group of herbs offers more options for women looking for herbal remedies.
Additional Herbs for Breast Pain
Chasteberry helps suppress the production of prolactin, which is the hormone that stimulates milk production. These lowered levels may help relieve breast pain.
Evening primrose oil
Evening primrose has been traditionally used to treat a vast number of menopausal maladies like breast pain and hot flashes. However, not all women find it effective.
Passion flower is a plant that has been used to treat anxiety and its related symptoms, such as insomnia and mood swings. In the case of breast pain, it can be topically applied for a soothing effect.
Chasteberry, soy, and black cohosh are all herbal remedies that can help alleviate breast pain. In addition to these herbal remedies, it is important to make lifestyle changes that can help ease breast pain during menopause. Lifestyle changes include exercising regularly (at least three times a week), maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, and reducing stress as much as possible. It is also important to talk to your doctor before starting any herbal regiment. For more information on breast pain, visit the following links.
- Bruton-Seal, J. & Seal, M. (2009). Backyard Medicine. New York: Skyhorse Publishing.
- National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (n.d.). Menopausal Symptoms and Complementary Health Practices. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/menopause/menopausesymptoms
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Breast pain. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breastpaincyclical/pages/introduction.aspx
- National Institute on Aging. (2012). Hormones and Menopause. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/hormones-and-menopause