For Your Health: Herbs the promote breast health

Dandelion is not just for liver treatment

| November/December 1999

The dandelion is a significant herbal medicine in three of the world’s largest and oldest systems of herbal­ism—Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and European herbal medicine. In North America, it’s mainly considered a liver herb. But this stalwart little plant has another talent—it can help prevent and treat various breast disorders.

Treatment for cancer, cysts, inflammation

Ayurveda particularly reveres dandelion for its use in treating problems of the breast and mammary glands, according to David Frawley and Vasant Lad in their book The Yoga of Herbs (Lotus, 1986).

The root of the dandelion is commonly used, but the leaves have similar properties and are more diuretic. Generally bitter herbs such as dandelion are also cooling to the body; that is, they lower metabolic rate and body temperature, and they quell inflammation.

Dandelion is especially recommended for conditions involving heat, such as inflamed breast cysts. It promotes detoxification of the lymphatic system, the breast, and lymph tissues surrounding the breast. These qualities give dandelion the reputation in Ayurveda of being useful for sore breasts, breast tumors, cysts, suppressed lactation, and swollen breast lymph glands.

In TCM, dandelion has been used for at least 1,100 years in treating breast cancer, inflammation, and lack of milk flow. It’s also used for reducing abscesses and dissipating nodules (particularly of the breast), especially if they’re firm and hard. For these ailments, dandelion is both taken internally and applied as a poultice.

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