Breast tenderness is generally accepted to be caused by an increased oestrogen to progesterone ratio (oestrogen excess/progesterone deficiency), and there are a number of factors that that need to be considered as to how this comes about.
It can be due to increased levels of the hormone Prolactin which is secreted by the pituitary gland and also has definite links with the Western diet and with bowel dysfunction. There is a strong association with a high intake of coffee, tea, cola and chocolate, all of which contain ‘methyl xanthine’ which can promote over production of fibrous tissue fluid. It is also associated with a high dietary fat intake.
Any intake of refined food and especially sugars will tend to aggravate the condition. Refined foods generally mean fewer bowel motions and increased bowel toxicity. This means an increase in production of prostaglandins (series 2) which are inflammatory and also of faecal organisms which can re-synthesize oestrogen from previously detoxified oestrogen. This further increases the oestrogen: progesterone ratio.
See page on ‘Bowel – improving action’.
As the liver is the main site oestrogen clearance from the body any factor that interferes with liver function may lead to oestrogen excess. In some cases taking a herbal liver tonic will help ease the condition and as will following a ‘liver cleansing’ type of diet, as this is obviously free of all additives, sugars and refined food products!
See page on ‘Liver’.
Breast tenderness also tends to be more common in women who do little exercise, than in those who do more exercise.
Ideally the oestrogen/progesterone ratio needs to be corrected. If all care is being taken with the diet and there still remains a problem, supplements may be needed to help do this. Some herbs are very effective. One of the best would be Chaste Tree (Vitex Agnus castus) which exerts an action on the pituitary gland and is effective in bringing about a balancing effect on the oestrogen/ progesterone ratio. This needs to be taken over a period of 3-6 months to bring about a lasting effect.
Evening Primrose Oil has the action of a mild anti-inflammatory so therefore if taken in 3000mg doses as needed (usually two or three times daily) can be very effective in relieving breast tenderness. Evening Primrose oil works by decreasing the synthesis of prostaglandins (series 2) and increasing the synthesis of series 1 which are antiinflammatory.
It is interesting to note that Bromelain (found in pineapple) also has this effect.
Also vitamin B6 taken 100-200mg daily and in some cases vitamin E at 200-400 IU daily. These last supplements need only be taken when the tenderness occurs, often just during the luteal phase (last ten days or so) of the menstrual cycle.
Echinacea is known to ease lymphatic congestion and may help in some cases.