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General characteristics

General characteristics

Mastitis is inflammation of the internal tissues of the breast. It can result from an infection in the breast, over-production of milk or from blocked milk ducts which then lead on to infection. It can occur in breastfeeding women or in those who have recently given birth but are, for whatever reason, not breastfeeding their baby. However, it can also occur in females that are not breast feeding or have not recently given birth and also, more rarely, in males.

Symptoms include swelling, redness, pain, heat, breast lumps, harness, feeling of engorged breasts, discharge form the nipple (which may contain blood) and often fever and flu like symptoms.

If you are producing milk when you develop mastitis, it is important to continue to feed your baby from the affected breast or to manually drain the milk form the breast to relieve the pressure in the breast and help prevent further complications such as abscess formation. When breast feeding, make sure that the baby is sucking well and empties the breasts equally. Feed little and often to encourage a more even production of milk.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and juices to restore vitality and provide nutrients. Watery homemade soups full of fresh vegetables, grains and herbs or fresh vegetable juices (carrot and apple for example) are a quick and easy way to get a boost of nutrients.

Avoid junk, sugary and processed foods as these foods tend to cause thick and morbid mucous secretions and build up and a general state of toxicity within the body.

Avoid excessive dairy consumption as this can also cause mucous conditions as stated above.

Drink plenty of water.

Eating fresh garlic and ginger can help ease the problem. Garlic helps to fight infection and thin body fluids whilst ginger encourages the diffusion and circulation of blood and eases congestion and swelling.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

If infection is present take a strong echinacea tincture, 1 teaspoon in a little water up to 5 times daily.

Soak some plantain leaves in hot water for 10 minutes or so and apply the wet leaves to the affected breast. The plantain will help to reduce any redness and hardness in the breasts and help prevent blood poisoning. Place a warm cloth over and lie down to rest for a while. Repeat as often as possible. Drink plantain leaf tea also.

Drink up to 3 cups daily of violet leaf tea.

Poke root tincture is invaluable for dispersing hard swellings in any tissue. Take 3 drops in water, up to 3 times daily or take the homoeopathic form.

Add a few drops of blue flag tincture and/or figwort tincture to any formula or use the homeopathic form if youb are worried about it passing through the breast milk.

Cabbage leaves have been traditionally used by women for centuries. Wilt or bruise the leaves and place over the breast, keep warm with a hot water bottle and leave on for as long as possible.

Many herbs can be used as a poultice to help relieve inflammation and tenderness. These include chamomile, comfrey leaf, thyme, marigold, marshmallow leaf and mullein leaf.

Sage tea will slow down milk production if overproduction is a problem. Use a teaspoon of dried herb per cup and start with one cup daily, working up to 3 cups daily if needed.

Agnus castus tincture can be used to balance hormones (in both men and women) which may help in some non-breastfeeding related cases of mastitis. Try about 10 drops of tincture 3 times daily for a month or so.

Cleavers tea can help soothe mastitis by clearing the lymph vessels around the breast and armpits.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Get plenty of rest, even regular 5-10 minute naps will help restore energy.
Many people find complete and speedy relief by taking up to a tablespoon of cider vinegar in water up to 3 times daily.
Two naturally occurring probiotics that are normally present in breast milk (Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus salivarius) have been shown to be effective against infective mastitis and reduce the likelihood of mastitis recurrence.
Take evening primrose capsules to help prevent recurrences.
Castor oil poultices placed on the breasts will help reduce swelling and disperse hardness and congestion. Dip a cloth in warmed castor oil and place over the breast while resting. Repeat each day if needed.

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