Breast Cysts

Midsagittal section of breast with cyst and chest wall. SOURCE: Original art

Breast cysts are among the top reasons for women to seek medical advice in North America.

A lump in the breast isn’t always cancer, it may very well be a cyst. A cyst is a fluid filled sac in the breast tissue. A simple ultrasound can determine whether the lump is solid or hollow and fluid filled. Cysts may also change size throughout the menstrual cycle.

Cysts do not turn into cancer and they do not increase the risk of cancer. The only exception would be if there are already other strong indicators of cancer risk such as a strong family history.

Fibrocystic breasts is a term used to describe when the breast tissue is quite dense and there are lumps that can be felt throughout.

Breast lumps can occur at any age, but are more common in middle age.

Acupuncture, massage, moxibustion and herbal remedies are extremely effective for the treatment of mammary gland hyperplasia. After three months of TCM care, the patients with mammary gland hyperplasia showed measurable signs of improvement including reductions in breast lump size and significant relief from breast pain.

Common Symptoms:

  • Pain in breast
  • Pressure
  • Distention

Causes of Breast Cysts In Chinese Medicine

Emotional Upset

The main cause for cysts in the breasts is a pattern called Liver Qi stagnation.

One of the main jobs of the liver (aside from storing blood) is to ensure that the energy is smoothly flowing throughout the whole body. Emotional upset, in particular anger, frustration and resentment impair the movement of the Liver Qi, making it “stuck” and not able to flow smoothly. Liver Qi stagnation often shows up affecting the breasts because the liver channel runs right through the breasts.

In Chinese medicine, the connection between the emotions and the function of the organs is central. Long standing emotional issues can damage the function of internal organs and impair the jobs that they perform in the body. Emotional stress is especially common in women, and in gynecology we put a strong emphasis on regulating the Liver Qi.

Diet

Secondary to emotions would be the diet. Excessive consumption of rich foods such as diary, fats, sweets lead to the accumulation of phlegm which will form lumps. This is common in the Western world where food is seldom restricted.

Overwork

Working long hours without enough rest which is often combined with irregular routine and irregular diet weaken the Liver and Kidney Yin, which is the root of Liver Qi. Weakness of Liver Blood or Qi can also lead to stagnation of the Liver Qi, leading to cysts in the breasts.

Treatment

If you have discovered a lump in your breast (painful or otherwise) it is important to see your medical practitioner to rule out (the highly unlikely) possibility of breast cancer.

Treatment involves a combination moxibustion, herbal medicine  dietary change, exercise, along with Traditional Chinese Acupuncture.

TCM understands breast lumps (either benign or malignant) as a manifestation of stuck or congealed qi and blood.

Moxibustion treatment may initially involve twice weekly sessions, decreasing to once a week, and then once a month until the condition is healed.

Improvement can be seen in as little as two weeks, or may take 4 to 6 weeks.

Breast Cyst Facts:

  • More severe for women in the Northern hemisphere between December and May-when the ovaries are the most active
  • Cysts affect the left breast more then the right
  • Most common in women from 40-50
  • Usually multiple and occur more frequently in the upper-outer quadrant
* Lydia has been training since the age of 8 in China and here in the United States. Her knowledge of traditional Chinese Healing and health promoting techniques and natural plant and herbal remedies, potions, teas and soups is extensive. Many of her remedies have been passed down to her through the generations of her family.

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