The World Health Organization (WHO) states, “Health is more that the absence of disease. Health is a state of optimal well-being.” When many of us think of health, we too often think of our aches and pains, our disorders and challenges. We think of what is lacking in our state of wellness. Look at the WHO definition again. “Optimal well-being.” What does that mean to you? To me, in this moment, it means feeling good – in mind, heart and spirit, even during physical suffering (be it my own, another’s, or the earth’s).
It means feeling good – in body, mind and spirit, even during times of emotional distress (again – my own or another’s). It means knowing that we own of how we feel, that we own our choices, even in the presence of dis-ease. This is why I encourage you to research and gather information from diverse sources to educate yourself so that you may make self-informed decisions about your life, your health and wellness. It means taking daily ownership of nurturing body, mind, ego, heart and spirit in ways that have meaning to you and that add value to your life. It means expressing yourself creatively in your community so that you may share the wisdom you gather throughout your life journey. This is a definition of health that is empowering, that is rooted in abundance, that nurtures. This is a definition of health that mirrors the energy of the breast itself.
Now, let’s look at a few simple herbs that nourish our well-being and promote breast health. When I say simple herbs, I mean herbs that are abundant and that grow in “our own backyard.” Herbs that are plentiful, easy to grow and cultivate. Herbs that are prepared for use with ease and simplicity. Herbs that nourish our whole bodies while tending to the health of our breasts and whole beings. Here are just a few. . .
Red Clover Tops – Trifolium pretense
As an infusion, this humble botanical is a simple and super nutritional food, rich in minerals and vitamins and just plain good for the whole body. In early summer, I snack on the fresh flowers to enjoy the sweetness of life it unselfishly shares. It has long been used for breast care and modern research demonstrates this affinity. Red clover is rich in polysaccharides which have demonstrated anti-tumor activity, reinforcing its long traditional use as a cancer preventative. It has been shown to help breast cells from absorbing cancer-promoting estrogens and is considered a mighty anti-cancer herb. Externally, as an infused oil, it makes a lovely salve for breast massage, a practice that allows us to nurture a healthy relationship with our bodies.
Nettle Leaf – Urtica dioica
Noble nettle is abundant in iron, calcium, and other minerals, and is considered the premier source of carotenes, chlorophyll as well as folic acid and selenium and it makes a delicious and rich green infusion that – yep – supports the whole body. All you have to do is see this plant growing in a cow field to know that it carries strength within it. It supports the body in flushing out urinary accumulations and helps to balance electrolyte levels – again, important to whole body health. Nettle is a powerful nutritional blood builder that supports the body’s ability to balance blood coagulation and flow. It also helps to balance the flow of lymph and energy through the breasts, helping to release excess fluid in tissues, aiding in cyst and lump-dissolving. It is a traditional Russian folk treatment for cancer.
Burdock Root – Arcticum lappa
Common burdock demonstrates “food as medicine and medicine as food” like few others! Tender leaves and stalks in spring and rich, delicious roots in most any season are a fine addition to any meal. Even the seeds are valuable. I love the roots simmered until tender then tossed in a bit of garlic, parsley and olive oil! Once again, a plant that offers solid nutrition for the whole body. The roots resonate liver support, and help the whole body process toxins and wastes in such a way that promotes whole body health. Burdock root shows up in herbal documentation as a cancer preventative and in classic anti-cancer formulas such as Essiac and Hoxsey. It is considered nourishing to the breast and supportive in resolving abnormal cellular activity and enhancing lymphatic flow.
Violet Leaf – Viola spp.
Unassuming violet, growing in our lawns, briefly flowering and blending in again. But look closer. The leaf, what does it remind you of? It is shaped like a heart! Turn it around and what does it look like? Breasts! Well, here we have another nutritive herb, that benefits the whole body and even gives us a mighty clue as to specific parts that it supports – heart, lungs, breasts. Violet leaf is rich in carotenes and so is protective against cancer, with an affinity for the breast and reproductive organs. Used internally or externally, it is silky and soothing and is recognized for dissolving breast lumps and slowing the growth of cancerous lumps. It is one of my favorite infused oils for general skin use, but also a favorite base for breast massage (alone, or with citrus or evergreen oils added). It makes a lovely cooling infusion that feeds the body and soothes the being.