Best Treatment for Breast Tenderness
Breast tenderness is something that most women will experience at some point in their lives. I myself have had my fair share of breast tenderness. It is one of the most common symptoms of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) affecting approximately 50% of women between the ages 20 and 50.
Usually, breast tenderness is experienced in both breasts and will start mid cycle or one week before your period and go away once your period starts. This type of breast tenderness is considered “normal” and is directly related to cyclic hormone changes. Along with pain these hormonal breast symptoms can also include enlargement, warmth, nipple soreness, cysts and lumpiness, and sometimes nipple discharge.
The most common cause of cyclic breast symptoms is estrogen excess. This can include high estrogen or normal levels of estrogen with low levels of progesterone. There are many things that we do to treat the cause of estrogen excess including diet and lifestyle changes, supplements such as vitamins, minerals and herbs, as well as Bio-identical progesterone (in some cases), all of which we have discussed in other posts. However, when it comes to breast tenderness there is one mineral that is essential and that is Iodine.
WHAT DOES IODINE HAVE TO DO WITH ESTROGEN??
When people think of iodine they often think of the thyroid but there are actually iodine receptors on many tissues in our bodies, making it responsible for many functions beyond the thyroid. One of the important functions of iodine is decreasing the bodies response to estrogen. This is done by iodine’s effect on estrogen receptors, making them less sensitive to estrogen and also by its role in promoting estrogen detoxification. Breast tissue has a LOT of estrogen receptors making it increasingly sensitive to estrogen levels but also making it very sensitive to the effects of iodine. Iodine supplementation has been shown to significantly reduce fibrocystic breast changes and breast pain. In addition, iodine has also been shown to decrease risk of breast cancer (though breast cancer is not directly related to fibrocystic breast changes or breast pain.) Lastly, iodine is a natural diuretic so it can reduce pre-menstrual fluid retention and therefore prevent increases in breast size before menses.
Supplementing with Iodine for Breast Tenderness
Breast tenderness is actually a symptom of iodine deficiency and therefore, if you suffer from cyclic breast pain and you do not consume iodized salt then you should supplement. There is some information that suggests that improper supplementation with iodine can negatively affect the thyroid therefore it is important not to over supplement. Proper supplementation with iodine should be done with the addition of another mineral called Selenium, which is important for thyroid function and thyroid glad protection. As long as you are supplementing with a minimum of 100mcg of selenium you can safely take up to 500mcg of iodine. Some individuals may need higher doses of iodine, in which case it is important to work with a health care professional.**
Please note that some women may get breast tenderness that persists through the entire month and is localized to one area of the breast. This type of breast tenderness is much less common and is often not related to the hormonal fluctuations that I have discussed in this blog post.
– Dr, Lisa Maddalena, ND
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