Friday, 24 August 2018
This week’s blog has been written by Sara Davenport, founder of Breast Cancer Haven and blogger of Reboot your Health. She discusses how to do breast massage and the importance of the lymph…
With cancer rates on the rise generally, and breast cancer levels increasing for those of us over the age of 50, it’s time to pay attention. And it’s definitely time to pay more attention to your own breasts. Time to pay more attention to yourself full stop.
Do you sometimes forget yourself in your concern for helping others? Are you overdoing it by ‘doing your bit’? Do you regularly donate money or run a marathon to raise funds? Do you volunteer at events and buy pink products that donate a percentage of the proceeds to one of the remarkable charities that do so much for the breast cancer cause?
It is people like you that really make a difference to those charities, and all the people that they so admirably help, but don’t forget to also look after yourself. Take the time during this month to focus on you. Think about what you can do to reduce your own risk and become more aware of your own body. Keep a close eye so that if anything out of the usual does appear, you are on it and can deal with it promptly. No-one ever thinks breast cancer will happen to them, but sometimes, out of the blue and often inexplicably, it just does.
Lymph | The secret of breast health
Awareness is the key here, and prevention. Being in touch with your own body. Help yourself stay healthy by keeping your breasts uncongested and your all important lymph flowing and keep the dangers of stagnation at bay.
Lymph is the answer to sorting congestion anywhere in your body, and getting it moving again is vital for breast health. Make your daily shower time for a lymphatic boost. Try dry skin brushing before you turn on the water, always moving the brush from your extremities towards your heart; or use a flannel and rub it clockwise round your breasts, and then again in the opposite direction, to really stimulate your lymph.
And whenever you notice a red mark on your body as you undress, whether it’s from a too tight bra, the top of your socks cutting into your ankles or the waistband of your trousers unforgivingly digging in, pay attention and don’t ignore it. It’s a sign that your lymph has been constricted and is probably no longer flowing as it should. Massage the area gently and get it moving again.
Remember to check your breasts
You have probably heard about checking your breasts, but do you have a clue how to go about it? It’s a simple and easy process and something you should get in the habit of doing each and every month. Like checking your bank statements, or paying your monthly bills. Something that niggles if you forget.
If you are pre-menopausal, the best time for a self-examination is about a week after your last period. If you are post-menopausal just choose a particular day - I check every first day of the month - and stick to it.
How to check your breasts
1. First, do a visual check
Stand naked in front of your bathroom mirror and look carefully at both your breasts. Notice their shape and their size, and don’t worry if they are not identical. Most people have one breast that’s bigger than the other. What you are looking for are things that don’t seem quite normal. Any puckers or dimples that weren’t there before? Any discharge from your nipples or patches of scaly skin? Has either breast changed shape recently, or grown bigger than the other?
When you have finished this first inspection, raise your arms up and over your head and double check it all again.
2. Next, do a touch test
Lift up your right arm and then, using the pads of the three fingers of your left hand, carefully and thoroughly press gently all round your right breast. Start on the outside and move inwards, pressing in small circles. Then change the movement and press in straight lines right across the breast from one side to another. Lastly, circle the nipple, moving from around its edge into ever widening circles until you reach the outside edge. Gently squeeze your nipple to check for any discharge and then do exactly the same on your other breast. To be thorough, do the same exercises lying down flat, with your arms behind your head. Any problems of any kind, please immediately make an appointment and check with your doctor.
Regular breast massage
I met a most remarkable lymphatic therapist in the States years ago called Lymph Lynda and was introduced to the concept a couple of decades ago. Today, Lynda's massage technique is an essential part of my health routine and one that I heartily recommend to you.
If you value your breasts don’t miss out on a weekly massage. No sniggers here... I am talking about self massage, rather than anyone else’s massage. Not husband, partner or therapist, but you yourself, checking your breasts in a focused sort of way.
As little as five minutes massaging can make a noticeable difference, and if you have those menopausal wide awake periods in the night, a bit of massage can happily pass the time. Likewise, if you regularly sit for hours in a traffic jam on your way back from work, do something useful on your journey home (hopefully without the car in front glued in amazement to their mirror).
The thing is that breasts get congested. You may not have particularly noticed, but they do. Stuck in bras day and night (you would be amazed how many people wear their bras 24/7, and how many wear entirely the wrong size) they are constrained and constricted. Under-wiring blocks blood circulation further and restricts the lymph’s ability to clear toxins and waste. It’s that toxic build up over time that allows lumps and bumps to get a hold and grow. They are usually benign, but who wants lumps and bumps? And I bet it never crossed your mind you could get rid of most of them!
It’s really all up to you. You know your breasts better than anyone. You know how dense they feel, and how that density changes according to your shifting hormones. If you massage them regularly, you will pick up any unusual changes as soon as they show up, and the earlier you find something out of the ordinary the easier it is to deal with it.
Breast massage needs to be incredibly gentle. In fact, the more gentle it is, the faster your congestion will clear. You are working with your lymph, and lymph responds better to a feather light touch than a stronger pressure. And the more you massage, the smoother your breast texture will be. Eventually, after just a few minutes on each side, your breasts will feel like a bag of jelly; soft, liquid and smooth. Many of those lumps and bumps that you may take for granted as ‘normal’ will disappear entirely.
How to massage your breasts
The first thing to do is find your sternum, the breast bone that runs down the centre of your body, under your collarbone, and which all your ribs are attached to. Find the gaps between your ribs and gently massage those gaps, all the way along till you reach your under-arm area. Work from the top, all the way down, and on both sides.
Then start on the breast of your choice. Make small rubbing circles, lifting and slightly pressing. Cover the whole surface, making sure your pressure is light but firm. You will find the surface gets softer, and as you continue, you will be able to penetrate deeper. If you find a bumpy area, just gently keep massaging. The tissue will get smoother and keep changing. Illogically, the softer you touch, the more the tissue lets you in.
To finish your massage, sweep both hands in a light brushing movement from the middle of your breast towards your armpit. That’s where your main lymph node ‘disposal centres’ sit and they will efficiently dispose of any congestion or unwanted ‘stuff’.
After a few days of regular massage, your breasts will be noticeably changed. Try it. And please let me know if you can tell the difference!
Written by health advocate Sara Davenport, who founded one of the UK's largest breast cancer charities, The Haven, twenty years ago. With Reboot Health, Sara aims to bring the best preventative and curative health solutions ranging from nutrition, alternative therapies, fitness and conventional medicine.
You can purchase Sara’s book, Reboot your Health, which is currently on special offer from Amazon here.
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Friday, 17 August 2018
This week’s blog has been written by Philip Booth, a Barnwood Trust Community Builder and blogger, who was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2017. He shares his experience attending the UK’s first Holistic Health and Cancer Awareness Festival, Trew Fields…
‘Cancer’ and ‘festival’ don’t seem to naturally go together? Indeed, eyebrows raised when I shared with friends that I was planning to join the weekend. And yet, this is exactly what the world needs. A festival of health that looks to change the way we treat cancer, think about cancer and speak about cancer. A festival about empowering people and sharing knowledge and connection. A festival that celebrates integrative medicine - in other words the very best of all medicines, orthodox, complementary, psycho-spiritual and self-help, for the treatment of illness and the prevention of illness. A festival that is full of hope and fun.
Here's my film of the weekend
When I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer last September I was uneasy with the language of battling cancer. Yet I was so engulfed in confusion and fear, even terror, and trying to unpick treatment options in those first weeks, that I found myself also adopting that language. 'I will beat this. I will win. I will conquer it'. The subtext of course, is that we are either cancer’s attackers or its victims. If you survive, you have 'beaten' cancer; if you die you have 'lost your battle' - however bravely you fought.
I thank Sophie Sabbage for helping me see it differently. In her wonderful, inspiring, life-changing book, ‘The Cancer Whisperer’ with the wonderful subtitle 'Finding Courage, Direction and the Unlikely Gifts of Cancer’, she wrote about how she had cancer, but cancer did not have her; how cancer brings us an invitation to look within ourselves and decide who we are and how we wish to live. So rather than seeing cancer as the enemy we can see it as a teacher or guide. To fight it, felt like going to war with myself. Cancer is in us - and rather than a war, it is a chance to work at putting things right.
Sophie asks: ‘What if cancer is the body’s last attempt to save its own life? What if its purpose is not to extinguish us but to heal?'
|The Ice Bath|
And wow, Trew Fields was all about that. This was the second festival and took place on a farm near Guildford (7/8th July). It was the brainchild of another Sophie - Sophie Trew who was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2014, She built her own integrative recovery plan and wanted to use her learning as a 'force for good’. Well the festival is certainly a force for good. It was so beautifully put together with camping in the next-door field, a number of stalls of clearly carefully selected organisations, a main cancer awareness stage with many talks and discussions with doctors, health and wellbeing practitioners and cancer ‘thrivers’. There was also a whole very varied programme of workshops from yoga, essential oils and chanting to a Wim Hoff ice bath (yes I did get in), breathing and fermentation.
|'Overcoming the Ice Bath' by Jo Lawrance|
And of course no festival would be complete without music, dance and food. The main music stage had a great line-up but there were also other experiences like the Sunday morning silent disco where we had guided dance via headphones. Best of all was the wonderful vegan food which included Buddha boxes, smoothies, juices, burgers, kefir cocktails, crafted beers, refined sugar-free cakes and the exceptionally good barista coffee from Four Fillies.
But actually the festival was so much more than the amazing talks, food and music - it was about a different conversation, about listening, living as well as possible, about fun, laughter and hope, about connection, sharing stories, learning, prevention, integrative medicine and so much more.
It was about reframing the aggressive mainstream narrative surrounding cancer into how we can nurture ourselves and bring more balance back into our lives. Indeed, I was blown away time and time again over the weekend; the generosity, welcome and warmth of those running the festival and those participating. Somehow people seemed to connect almost instantly; cancer opening doors but wonderfully, no judgements. Indeed, Sophie Trew described the atmosphere of the 2017 festival as 'like walking into a giant hug’; that’s also a great description of this year’s festival.
Thank you to all who made the festival possible - and so inspired me and many others on our journeys to wellness. I love Sophie Trew's dream of taking this life-changing festival to other countries - am sure it will happen - and I’ll certainly be putting next year’s festival dates (5th/7th July) in my diary.
|Four Fillies coffee; the best!|
Trew Fields are hoping to add to their website many of the talks by doctors and cancer thrivers; sign up for their newsletter on their website here. Hear more about the festival in this podcast on UK Health Radio.
You can follow Philip’s blog here.
Sunday, 12 August 2018
This week’s blog has been written by Tony Be, Natural Health Coach of The Ozone Spa in Torquay. He shares the top 10 medicinal herbs to grow in your garden, with the help of Fiona Shakeela Burns of Cancerucan…
A good friend of mine Fiona Shakeela Burns who is a qualified herbalist has recently been sharing with me some of her herbal knowledge, and oh my goodness what I have learnt is something I believe everyone should know about, and I am so grateful she has shared this with me.
Fiona has her own herb garden in Bristol and I asked her what do you consider to be the top 10 herbs to grow in your own garden? And this blog goes into those top 10 medicinal herbs. Some of these herbs can help clear a stubborn cold in days, soothes inflammation, ease anxiety help you sleep and much more, plus if you grow these yourself or collect them on a walk in nature they are FREE, or a gift. Plus, they come with hardly any side effects if any.
Yet please check with your doctor if you are on current medication to see if there are any contraindication with mixing pharmaceutical medicine with natural medicine.Elecampane
The root is used to make medicine. Elecampane is used for lung diseases including asthma, bronchitis, and whooping cough. It is also used to prevent coughing, especially coughing caused by tuberculosis; and it helps loosen phlegm, so it can be coughed up more easily. This can also be used to help clear a cold.
Plantain grows like a weed all over the place, I don’t like calling it a weed because it is so incredible. The leaves can also be made into a tea or tincture, and this is said to help with indigestion, heartburn, and ulcers when taking internally. Externally, Plantain has been used for a remedy for rashes and cuts.
Valerian Root can help improves Sleep. Reduce Anxiety. Helps you deal with stress. Helpful for Controlling Hyperactivity and ADHD and decreases Menopausal Symptoms.
Based on the available research, take 300 to 600 milligrams (mg) of valerian root 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime. This is best for insomnia or sleep trouble. To make the tea, soak 2 to 3 grams of dried herbal valerian root in 1 cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes
Lemon Balm grows very easily here in the UK and you can make it into a tea to help ease Stress, to calm anxiety, improve cognitive function, and to help with menstrual cramps. If you do have anxiety try a couple of large handfuls of Lemon Balm in your tea pot.
By far the most potent and effect type of chamomile is Roman Chamomile. Roman chamomile has the ability to reduce inflammation, relieve depression and anxiety, soothe muscle cramps and other PMS symptoms, treat skin conditions, and boost heart health. To make add the Chamomile flowers to strain in a teapot, and enjoy.
Most people know about Lavender to help reduce anxiety. it also helps improve brain function, heal burns and wounds, improve sleep, restores skin complexion, and helps relieve pain.
Artemisinin, or qinghaosu in Chinese medicine, is an extract derived from the sweet wormwood Artemisinin has been shown to decrease angiogenesis, which is the composition of new blood vessels. Artemisinin supplements have been used traditionally for joint pain and loss appetite, liver problems, menstrual and epilepsy conditions.
Wormwood is a bitter herb affecting the bitter sensing tastebuds that send signals to the brain to stimulate the entire digestive system, salivation, stomach acid production, intestinal tract movement. Anti-parasitic. Anti-inflammatory. Liver Health.
Dandelion Root is used for loss of appetite, upset stomach, intestinal gas, gallstones, joint pain, muscle aches, eczema, and bruises. Dandelion is also used to increase urine production and as a laxative to increase bowel movements. It is also used as a skin toner, blood tonic, and digestive tonic.
Calendula flower is used to prevent muscle spasms, start menstrual periods, and reduce fever. Calendula is applied to the skin to reduce pain and swelling (inflammation) and to treat poorly healing wounds and leg ulcers.
Rosemary soothes inflammation, improves digestion, enhances memory and concentration, and it prevents brain aging.
St John’s Wort
St John’s Wort is a popular herbal remedy for the treatment of mild anxiety, depression and sleep problems. It is thought to work in a similar manner to standard anti-depressants, with fewer side effects.
Shopping For Seeds and Tinctures
Whether you have a garden or just room for a few windowsill pot plants, and you are inspired by this blog to start growing some or all of these incredible medicinal herbs above, I’ve put some Amazon Links here for you, so you can get the seeds or tinctures easily.
I hope you found this useful and empowering
To Happy Gardening and To Connecting to Nature
Natural Health Coach