Breast Health and Self Care

Breasts are the best! You have to give them some more love.

Whether you own them or not, you know that they are good – a symbol of nourishment, fertility, warmth and sexuality; breasts are synonymous with all things good and wholesome. Breasts are the ultimate expression of giving. Women offer up their beautiful breasts to nurse their babies until they can chew and swallow food on their own. We see breasts as a symbol of femininity and sexuality – in fact, the breast is flaunted about our media like giant sacks of wealth, our eyes glued to their every move as though at any moment, they might explode, showering us with nurturing, warmth and riches.

So, as with all things that we need, use, want and desire – we need to be aware of the constant flow of energy, and give back from where we have taken. This means giving some love back to the breasts in the form of nutrients, energy and nourishment. The breast needs to be nurtured as much as anything or anyone else. I’m going to give you a few ideas on how to feed your feeders, nourish your knockers, and make your jubbly’s feel lovely.

1. Nutrition – important nutrients for breast health include:

  • Iodine – this is found primarily in seaweed, seafood, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, asparagus and garlic. Iodine insufficiency can cause breast tissue hyperplasia and painful, lumpy breasts
  • Vitamin B6 – found in avocado, carrot, chicken, eggs, legumes, sunflower seeds and walnuts – vitamin B6 can help reduce premenstrual breast tenderness
  • Vitamin E – found in almonds, corn, eggs, hazel nuts, sunflowers and wheat germ. Vitamin E can reduce the painful condition of fibrocystic breast disease and quell premenstrual breast tenderness
  • Brassica family foods – these include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and radishes
  • Phyto-oestrogen foods such as linseeds compete with stronger oestrogens in the body for receptor sites, thereby reducing the proliferative effect of oestrogen on breast tissue
  • Foods to support the liver – herbs such as turmeric, rosemary and bitter greens are known to increase liver detoxification thereby promoting healthy oestrogen clearance in the body

Self-massage helps to identify any lumps or pain early on so you can get it checked out.

2. Massage – lymphatic drainage

  • Breast massage is not only a great way to perform a regular check for lumps or abnormalities, but is also necessary for good breast health. Breast tissue contains lots of lymphatic vessels, which are designed to drain wastes and toxins from the tissues into the circulation for eventual removal and excretion. By massaging the breast tissue regularly, you are helping this garbage collection system to do its job more efficiently resulting in tissue detoxification.
  • Start by using some nice massage oil – I suggest an almond or macadamia oil base, with the inclusion of essential oils to help lymphatic drainage (such as calendula oil). Start at the nipple and work in a circular sweeping motion outwards towards the armpit. Practice this massage technique twice weekly for best results.

3. Things to reduce

  • Caffeine – can add to the painful breast changes that occur with a menstrual cycle as well as the condition known as ‘fibrocystic breast disease’ where lumps of ropey tissue develop under the skin.
  • Alcohol is also known to have a negative impact on breast health
  • Saturated fats and trans fats – these are essentially inflammatory foods and can have a negative impact on all areas of health – breast included.

If you have specific breast issues or experience painful breasts leading up to your period you may have a hormonal imbalance that requires the advice of your naturopath. Breast pain is not normal and needs to be assessed – call us on 07 3367 0337 for help or see your doctor.

Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Traditional Chinese Approach to Period Pain

Amongst the multitude of treatment options for those experiencing primary dysmenorrhea (period pain which is not attributed to any other pathology such as: endometriosis, fibroids etc.), traditional Chinese medicine and the complimentary medicine approach excels in the management and treatment of symptoms.

From the western perspective, primary dysmenorrhea is one of the most prevalent and disabling gynecological disorders with no identifiable aetiology. It is a disorder which is said to incur an economic impact on a global scale, with an estimated 600 million work hours and 2 billion dollars lost annually in the USA alone. One study recorded as many as 50% of women were affected by primary dysmenorrhea and another 10% experiencing symptoms severe enough to render them incapacitated.

Despite this, other than ruling out secondary dysmenorrhea, the conventional medical approach can offer little insight to its origin. The level of understanding with regard to causative factors from a TCM point of view is more comprehensive in comparison.

In TCM gynecology, the Liver organ and Penetrating vessel, also known as the Chong Mai, are crucial in the free flow of Qi and Blood. Free flow = a painless existence.

The Chong Mai flows through the uterus and is also known as the sea of blood.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture reduces pain in women with dysmenorrhea

Acupuncture, Tui Na (Chinese remedial massage) and Chinese herbs work to harmonise the flow of Qi and Blood in the uterus by treating meridians on the body. There are however, plenty of things that we can do to ensure free flow without even getting to the point of disease! A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, an abundance of physical activity and relaxation exercises, nourishing sleep habits and an avoidance of drugs and alcohol will all benefit the Chong Mai and help to keep the menstrual cycle in balance. This also applies to the treatment of subfertility with Chinese medicine. A healthy cycle is a good way to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Many women are led to believe that it is quite normal to have a huge amount of pain during menstruation and that it is normal to pop a few pain killers or take oral contraceptives to avoid this. According to the old Chinese texts, this is only a modern pathology. Normal periods are pain free and regular in length.

Conventional medicine, although efficient in its pharmacotherapy, lacks the availability of a lasting solution for primary dysmenorrhea and a youth of periods spent fighting pain with prescription medication or pain killers, often leading to undiagnosed complications with fertility, is pretty common unfortunately.

There is a stack of research out there that shows the efficacy of acupuncture and Chinese herbs in dramatically improving the quality of life and level of pain that women are experiencing. Generally, studies show the best results are had over a 3 month treatment regime for chronic cases. The added benefit of an individualised diagnosis and treatment, is that the effects are seen on a more than symptomatic level. Accompanying symptoms such as referred lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, fatigue, anxiety, and dizziness were also alleviated from acupuncture. TCM treatment is also found to have lasting effects on pain relief of up to a 3-6 month follow up period.

Hugh Hayward – Chinese Medicine Doctor, Acupuncture & Chinese Herbalist, An Mo Tui Na and Qi Nei Tsang

Male Fertility

In two out of three cases, there is likely to be a male-related subfertility cause, either alone or in combination with a female factor.

In many cases, conventional reproductive medicine practice tends to ignore the issue of male fertility and it is the female partner who seeks treatment. Most men have semen analysis, although in many cases if the semen is found to be suboptimal, these couples are automatically referred for IVF, rather than the man undergoing further investigations and treatment. Furthermore, men are usually presumed to be fertile if their semen parameters are normal. However, male infertility may be present even when the semen analysis is normal.

Other functional factors which contribute to male infertility include:

  • Lowered or non-existent sperm production
  • Sperm blocked from or imperfectly being released
  • Sperm not functioning properly

Studies report that acupuncture treatment can improve ejaculatory dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, sperm motility, concentration, sperm vitality and total motile count. This is possibly due to the effect that acupuncture has in increasing testosterone levels.

Sperm take about 72 days to clear the production line, so an acupuncture treatment schedule of at least 3-4 months is preferable to ensure benefits are realized.

Semen parameters are not the only measure of male fertility. Delayed parenthood may contribute to low sperm count and higher rates of DNA damage. However, the ensuing lifestyle factors on both the male and female parts could also contribute to these findings, of which, acupuncture can be incorporated with positive results.

Weight and BMI
Paternal weight is also important in male fertility. A 2012 systematic review and meta-analysis of 21 studies concluded that being overweight or obese significantly increased the risk of azoospermia (no sperm) or oligozoospermia (low sperm concentration). The recommended BMI for optimum baby making is currently set between 19 – 24 kg/² for both males and females trying for pregnancy.

Exercise
Although there are mixed results regarding exercise and sperm count, one study showed that men who exercised for at least 15 hours per week had a 73% higher sperm concentration compared with men who exercised under 5 hours per week. The study also showed that men who spend more than 20 hours per wek week watching TV had 44% lower sperm counts compared with men who did not. In any case your general health will be better by being more active and maintaining a healthy weight. Creating offspring should not be the only motivation for exercise!

Alcohol
Consuming alcohol has been shown to affect sperm morphology and sperm production. This is exacerbated with increased intake. Binge drinking on the male part (more than 20 units/week) has shown to significantly increase the couple’s time to conception. There has also been a link with alcohol intake on both the male and female part with miscarriage and reduced IVF success.

Smoking
Smoking in males reduces fertilisation rates and success rates of IVF and ICSI, as studies have shown a link to poor semen parameters.

Drug Use
Recreational drug use is strongly associated with infertility in both males and females, and can contribute to as much as a 70% increase of risk factors.

Medications
Prescription and over the counter medication can also contribute to male infertility, so it is important to make a note of anything that you and your partner are taking and to be aware of which medications could potentially harm reproductive function.

Environment
Environmental factors such as air pollution and exposure to contaminants can affect male fertility. Increased temperatures can also alter sperm production and can include: sitting for long periods, hot baths, using a laptop placed on the lap and sauna use.
Mention any potential environmental predisposition which might be involved to your practitioner.

Occupation
Occupational factors have also been linked to reduced fertility so therefore it is important to disclose this information. Male occupations most strongly associated with subfertility include, welders, bakers, drivers (or others involving high scrotal temperature), radiotherapists, engine drivers, agricultural workers, chemists, laboratory workers and painters (due to solvent exposure).

Nutrition
Macronutrient intake and diet play a huge role in reproductive health. As an acupuncturist, it is important to work with a naturopath or dietician who can rule out any nutrient deficiencies leading to subfertility. Generally speaking, to ensure healthy sperm quality, men should:

  • Eat a diet rich in vegies, fruits, grains, poultry and seafood
  • Reduce intake of foods that have high amounts of carbohydrates and high sugar content, and also reduce intake of processed meats
  • Replace full-fat fairy with low-fat dairy

Generally speaking, conventional medicine perceptions are most often guilty of relinquishing the task of conception and pregnancy to our female counterpart and quick to assume a dysfunction in the female rather than the male. There is much more at play for the paternal role in the synergistic bond of creation. Men so easily forget, as the woman bares the child and experiences the birth, that she is not just a vessel for breeding.

Acupuncture in Brisbane

Experienced Brisbane Acupuncturists That Address Your Whole Health.

At Brisbane Natural Health our acupuncture team’s number one priority is to leave you feeling relaxed and in a better state than when you came in. With experience in fertility, gut health, anxiety, moods and pain, our acupuncturists will help your body get back to how it’s meant to be. 

If you haven’t tried acupuncture you don’t know what you’re missing. If you have then we guess that’s why you’re here!

So how exactly does acupuncture work? Well acupuncture is one of the oldest healing systems on earth, originating in China thousands of years ago. It works by stimulating your meridians and particular points on the body with fine needles to stimulate your innate healing response and supporting your body to come back into balance.

The techniques used aim to address the cause of your illness, alleviating symptoms and assisting your whole body to heal naturally.

What can acupuncture help with?

Because acupuncture works holistically on the body, it can help with a wide range of issues. At our clinic we commonly help patients that present with issues with their digestion, stress, sleep, hormones, skin, moods and fatigue. Acupuncture has been traditionally used for thousands of years to treat hundreds of different ailments.

The evidence behind the use of acupuncture is mounting. The Acupuncture Evidence Project, which was conducted in 2017, found that acupuncture had evidence of effectiveness in 117 conditions, with stronger evidence for some conditions over others. The review found there to be strong evidence for acupuncture in the treatment of allergic rhinitis (hayfever), chronic lower back pain, headaches, knee osteoarthritis, migraines and postoperative nausea and pain.

There was also moderate evidence for the use of acupuncture in many conditions, including acute lower back pain, anxiety, asthma, pelvic or back pain during pregnancy, constipation, depression (with meds), hypertension (with meds), insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), labour pain, menopausal hot flushes, neck pain, PTSD, restless leg syndrome, schizophrenia (with meds), sciatica, shoulder pain, smoking cessation, and TMJ (jaw) pain.

Another area well researched for acupuncture is it’s use in infertility and IVF. This study shows that acupuncture in conjunction with IVF can improve success rates for example. For more on acupuncture in fertility and IVF, click here.

If you’re curious as to whether we have experience in treating your specific issue at our Brisbane clinic, call us on 07 3367 0337 and ask. You can even book a complimentary call with our acupuncturist to chat about your specific issue and see what might be needed.

Does acupuncture hurt?

There are many different types of acupuncture – ranging from relaxing to ouchy-ouchy. At Brisbane Natural Health we want you to leave feeling like you’re walking on a cloud, so we choose to provide Japanese style acupuncture. Our acupuncturist Angela Marshall has advanced training in Kiiko Matsumoto Style (KMS) acupuncture. This type of acupuncture tends to get the same results as Chinese acupuncture using thinner needles and far less points.

KMS is very effective, yet gentle. Our patients leave the acupuncture room with what we endearingly call call ‘acupuncture face’ – that hazy blissed out look that shows they’ve just been taken to the relaxation zone. Learn more about our Japanese style of acupuncture here.

Discover

At your initial appointment, our acupuncturist Angela will use Traditional Japanese diagnostic techniques to assess your health. She may look at your tongue or feel your pulse and touch areas of your body to look for tightness and tenderness, which will guide her treatment. She is looking for dysfunction and blockages in your energy pathways or Qi (Chi), that may be causing illness.

Renew

The acupuncture treatment will help your body to balance, right there on the table but also for some time afterwards. It is very common for our clients to notice changes right away on the table, even before they have left the clinic. As you begin your treatment process the body begins to renew and regenerate, and your symptoms begin to reduce.

Arrive

Get back to where you want to be. Resolve or manage your issue so you can live a life that you love.

Our clients visit us from north, south and central Brisbane – so don’t be shy!

Our clinic is located in Milton, just a short drive from Paddington, Red Hill, Toowong, Indooroopilly, Brisbane city, Kelvin Grove and many other inner city Brisbane locations.  The Milton train station is right across the road and there is a bus stop right out front. Treat yourself to an hour of relaxation and renewal – book your initial appointment today.

Call our Milton clinic to find out more

Call us on 07 3367 0337 or click the online booking button to make an appointment with an acupuncturist at Brisbane Natural Health and start feeling great again!


Watch our client story video to see how 3 of our clients – Tessa, Tammy and Sam went through their wellness journey with us.