A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
An infection known as mastitis can affect the mammary glands; this infection often affects the breast glands of women who are in the process of breast-feeding a baby. The affected woman has several physical symptoms, some of which may be very evident, these include physical symptoms such as a hot sensation in the breast tissues, inflammation and sudden swellings in the breast, a reddening of the tissues and extreme tenderness in both breasts. Physical symptoms also include the presence of flu like symptoms in many patients, this may be accompanied by a fever and very extreme and persistent physical fatigue including tiredness and exhaustion. Swelling also very often develops in the lymph glands present in and around the region of the armpits. Movement can often be extremely difficult for women affected by mastitis as the attendant symptoms are often terribly painful. Lumpiness in the breast as well as a hardening of the mammary tissues also occurs. If the infection does not pass or abate within a few days, there exists every possibility of the development of abscesses within the tissues making up the breast. Symptoms similar to mastitis can often develop from a blocked milk-duct, though the resulting pain and swelling resembles those appearing during mastitis-they are not as severe and eventually recede or disappear when the blocked duct is cleared.
Small wounds in the nipples are the points through which bacteria gain entry into the tissues in the breast, these cause the infection resulting in the production of symptoms. The possibility of complications arising in the tissues of the breast increase whenever a lot of milk accumulates in the breast of a breast feeding woman. The best preventative action to ward off infection is to nurse a baby on a regular basis. Continual accumulation or retention of milk in the breast can also worsen pain and the inflammation if the woman is already affected by the infection. Nursing children breasting feeding from a mother affected by mastitis are not at risk for infection from the activity of nursing itself. A woman is more likely to develop infections in the breast if she is exposed to long episodes of stress; a physically fatigued and overworked woman is more likely to develop infection as the body's resistance is poor or impaired. The entry of bacteria occurs more easily in breast which have cracked, wounded nipples, infection from bacteria results as entry into the tissues is facilitated by the bruised skin. The possibility of a woman developing mastitis is thus for this very reason more likely in individuals who maintain a very poor nipple hygiene on a daily basis. The development of mastitis in women, who have not recently given birth, should be suspected to be a likely precursor to the development of cancer. Such women must consult a medical professional immediately to have themselves examined for possible signs of cancer.
Supplements and herbs
Women who breast feed their babies must use some or all of the given nutritional supplements on a regular basis to enhance and strengthen the immune system, thus aiding the body in its fight against the infection which is the underlying cause of the condition. Supplements of the vitamin C can be used to improve the body's resistance and help boost the body's production of white blood cells, which are the main agents in the fight against all manners of infection, the vitamin C is a great supplement for overall effectiveness of immune system function. The body is defended by the white blood cells; these cells impede the growth and multiplication of viruses and bacteria within the bloodstream. The effectiveness of the supplemental vitamin C can be enhanced by regularly taking plant based natural substances called bioflavonoids along with the vitamin C-these additional substances will improve the body's rate of absorption of the vitamin C during supplementation.
The production of free radicals within the body is stopped by supplements of the vitamin E, which is one of the most powerful antioxidants that can be taken in the diet. The functioning of the immune system is enhanced by the supplements' of vitamin E-this is achieved by the promotion of healthier cells within the body.
All of the herbal supplements listed below can be used to increase the rate of circulation, to bring about a reduction in the inflammation and to relieve the pain caused by the mastitis-these herbs are also excellent in that they do not produce any side effects whatsoever.
Inflammation in the nipples can be treated using topical applications of ground fenugreek seeds as a hot pack. Herbal teas of the fenugreek can also be used to great benefit for all patients. Fenugreek is good for the overall health of the patient, it also leads to an increase in the absorption of protein, it effectively promotes blood building and speeds the rate of convalescence in patients recovering from an illness. The herbal tea form of the fenugreek can be prepared by adding three tsp. of fenugreek seeds in a cup of boiling water, this can then be steeped and the patient must drink 1-3 cups on a daily basis. The anti-inflammatory actions and the antiseptic property of the calendula herb can also bring great benefit to the patient; the herb is also very soothing to dry skin and heals skin at a rapid rate. Immediately after a baby has been breast fed, direct applications of the cream to the sore nipples will alleviate the soreness. In addition to this direct treatment, warm compresses of the marigold herb can also be applied directly on to the nipples, a few times everyday as a further topical measure to treat sore and aching breast. Muscular tension and sluggish circulation of blood can be corrected by frequent applications of hot herbal compresses and packs for short periods of time. Five minutes duration is a good timeframe for the application of any topical treatment, these should be done at least five times every day. To prevent the recurrence of infection in the affected breast make sure to dispose off used brews and towels after each session of a topical treatment process. Also very effective in providing herbal relief besides the marigold, are the mallow and sanicle herbs used in a similar treatment methodology. Fever can be reduced by hourly consumption of about 20-30 drops of a tincture made from Echinacea which has been diluted with water-this solution will reduce the body temperature of the patient. In addition, patients can also drink sage herbal tea to bring about a reduction in the flow of milk in the breast. The oil of the St. John's wort herb can be rubbed directly on to cracked and dry nipples to heal them. The patient can also benefit by washing herself regularly from a sink filled with warm water throughout the day. To this warm water some root infusion of the marsh mallow can be added and the breast must be immersed and washed during the course of the day. To alleviate the pain in the breast, carefully massage the breasts from the chest in an outward direction to rid them of excess milk-this action will let milk flow out and prevent its accumulation. The infusion of the marsh mallow root can be prepared by using a qt. of boiling water, immerse about two tbsp. of the root and let it steep in the water over the course of the night-strain the solution. This herbal infusion can then be heated again the next day before use and the affected breasts can be soaked in the water to which the infusion has been added. Inflammation in the breast can also be healed by using a whole green cabbage leaf placed inside the bra cup lining the breast-this topical method is a traditional remedy to heal inflamed breast. The cabbage leaf can be left in the brassiere till the mastitis symptoms reduce in intensity or till they disappear.
Additional things you may do
Excess milk must not remain in the breast and they should be completely emptied from time to time to prevent the accumulation of milk. The condition can easily be aggravated by any build-up or accumulation of milk over any length of time. If the breast feeding child does not suckle properly a breast pump can be used to extract the milk and the child can then be fed using a bottle. The breast must be pump free of milk every hour or the baby must be nursed to empty them of milk. Topical application of a cold poultice made of grated raw potato used directly on the breasts will reduce the heat of inflammation and bring about a cleansing of the ducts and tubes in the breast; cover the breast with a clean towel after applying this poultice. Women who take too little rest are often affected by mastitis and the condition is a symptom of physical exhaustion. Women who are nursing must nap for sometime every day, and preferably must take an hourly ten minute rest break with the feet raised from the body. Before touching the breast, always make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly using soap and water. Infection of the nipples can also be prevented by rubbing them with some lemon juice on a regular basis. To soothe inflamed breast and to relieve the pain during a feverish condition in the body, resort to applications of a poultice made from a thick layer of cool quark. Topical remedies which will prove to be immensely beneficial also include calendula cream along with the oil of the flax seed, the tea tree oil and a gel made from the aloe vera.
Other beneficial herbs
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