Healing Breast Massage
The art of breast massage has been practiced for thousands of years and is an important aspect of self-care, wellness, and healing. Breasts are generally associated with sexuality and breastfeeding. Beyond this, breasts are an instantly recognizable symbol of femininity and a vital part of our beings.
Unfortunately, due to the fact that they’re made up mainly of fatty tissue (along with nerves, veins, arteries, and connective tissue), breasts can also be the site of dangerous toxin collection and storage. We’re exposed to many daily environmental pollutants and toxins, in our foods (via pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers), the air we breathe, our water supply, medications and vaccines, household cleaning products, beauty and personal care products, plastics, and more. These toxins tend to accumulate in our bodies in fatty tissue, which explains why breast cancer is sadly so prevalent today.
Breast massage is an essential tool to have in your holistic arsenal, as it supports and heals breast tissue, preventing this toxic build-up and helping to clear toxins from the breasts. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), breast massage increases circulation and the healthy flow of blood and “qi”, or energy, through the body. This stimulation can serve to break up stagnation, which can become cancerous, and to keep the breasts healthy. In Western medicine, breast massage is acknowledged as helping to promote lymphatic flow and drainage.
Breast massage is also thought to help open the heart. As we devote loving energy and attention to ourselves through the act of self-massage, our hearts often feel full and revitalized, giving balance to the naturally giving nature of women. This act of self-love is innately soothing and healing, and encourages the body to emit growth and anti-aging hormones such as prolactin, oxytocin, and estrogen. Furthermore, it helps us to be in touch our bodies, so that we will more readily notice changes and if anything is off. There are also many acupressure points around the breasts, so massaging them can stimulate other organs including the kidney, spleen, stomach, and liver.
As an additional bonus, regular breast massage promotes perky, full breasts and prevents sagging as it tightens and tones the tendons and muscles of the breasts.
Every woman should practice self-massage of the breasts - there are so many incredible benefits! Read on to learn the details and how to begin your own breast massage practice.
Benefits of Breast Massage:
Our lymphatic system is responsible for supporting our immune system, ridding the body of toxins and waste build-up. When the system is overrun, it can become sluggish or even blocked, preventing the elimination of these toxins. The breasts are a significant location for our lymphatic system, and through breast massage, we can stimulate the drainage and proper functioning of lymph. Breast engorgement, in particular, is associated with sluggish lymph nodes as well as fluid build-up and can be relieved through massage.
If there’s an infection present, such as a plugged milk duct or mastitis, massage can be an effective treatment in clearing the infection. This can be especially beneficial when done with the right oil (more info on this below!).
Mild depression and stress are linked to low oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is released during breastfeeding, childbirth, and sex, which contributes to feelings of happiness, euphoria, and connection after these events. Breast massage and stimulation also promotes the secretion of oxytocin and can have positive impacts on both instant and long-term mental health, stress reduction, and overall wellbeing.
Reducing Breast Pain/Cysts/Fibrocystic Breasts
Breast massage can be used as a tool to relieve pain and diminish breast cysts. Although often not cancerous or immediately harmful, breast cysts are a sign that there’s an imbalance in the body that should be addressed. They can occur as a single cyst or multiple cysts, and are small sacs filled with fluid, air, or organic debris that can cause pain and discomfort. They sometimes are more prevalent and painful during your menstrual cycle, and disappear once your menses has finished. Breast massage can help to break down the tissue holding the cysts together and to dissolve the lumps.
Breast Cancer Prevention, Treatment, and Pain Management
Breast cancer can occur when healthy cells mutate into abnormal cells and develop into cancerous growths. The use of breast massage as a preventative measure works by stimulating abnormal cells’ activity back into their healthy state. This reduces the possibility of cancerous growth. Massage also stimulates the production of serotonin, dopamine, lymphocytes, and NK cells, which actively decrease cortisol levels (our stress hormone) and help to fight cancerous cells. Massage can also be an effective treatment for pain management and postoperative edema and healing. This is closely tied to the lymphatic system. Often the system is compromised during any surgery associated with breast cancer treatment, but through massage, we can help to support its function and increase the release of toxins. Breast massage is also a gentle, nurturing, and relaxing treatment, which can be one of the most important aspects of cancer care.
*Note: If you’re currently in cancer treatment or post-op/remission, consult with your healthcare professional prior to administering breast massage to make sure it’s right for you or reach out to a Holistic Practioner for support.
Breast Tissue Care
Breast massage stimulates new cell production and maintains the health of breast tissue. This form of self-care decreases sagging associated with breastfeeding and age. Because prolactin is released and circulation is increased, breast massage can also help to increase breast size.
Best Oils to Use:
Sesame Oil (Untoasted)
Traditionally used in Ayurvedic massage, sesame is a wonderful well-rounded oil that’s suitable for everyone (or all doshas, in Ayurvedic practice). It’s high in essential fatty acids, providing deep moisturizing nourishment, and has anti-inflammatory properties. The linoleic acid provides anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits as well, and the oil is high in antioxidants which aid in detoxification and cancer prevention.
Almond oil is a wonderful all-around moisturizer. It’s high in vitamin E which can help to reduce stretch marks on the breasts and is a lighter oil so it’s easily absorbed. Almond oil is great to use in cases of clogged milk ducts or for any sort of infection because it works to release anything that may be clogging the pores.
Jojoba oil is high in EFAs (essential fatty acids) and is packed with various vitamins and nutrients, making it work wonderfully as a deeply nourishing anti-aging oil. It has a similar composition to the sebum in human skin, which contributes to its anti-allergenic properties, so it’s a great option for those with skin sensitivities or allergies.
Additional Oils & Herbal Extractions:
Castor oil is a powerful therapeutic oil. It helps to pull toxins from the lymphatic system, diminish cysts, and reduce pain and swelling.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose is used internally for many different female-related issues, and can also be used externally as a massage oil. It’s widely used as an anti-aging skin oil and can prevent sagging of the breasts. Its high levels of GLA promote the production of estrogen which can contribute to increasing breast size. Because of the high costs of this oil, it can be used mixed with another oil, like sesame or almond.
Fenugreek Essential Oil
Fenugreek can be found in an oil form and can be added to a carrier oil to stimulate breast milk production.
Clove Essential Oil
Clove oil is a heating spice and can be used to increase circulation in the breasts. It’s very potent, so make sure it’s diluted in a carrier oil and use only 1-2 drops per cup of oil.
Lavender and Calendula Essential Oil
Lavender is anti-microbial and can help treat infections, while calendula will soothe and reduce inflammation.
Violet Essential Oil
This floral oil helps to stimulate lymphatic drainage and reduces pain in the breasts.
A breast massage is best performed with your top half fully undressed, so that your skin can absorb and reap the benefits of the oil you use, and so that you can connect with your body. Find a private, warm, and quiet space in your home. Give yourself a few minutes to relax and find your breath. You want this to be a slow, calm, and enjoyable process.
Post-bath or shower is a wonderful time to do the massage, or you can warm your breast with a hot towel. Using your oil of choice (see below for recommendations), begin by gently massaging the oil into your skin to cover the entire surface of your breast, the skin under and above your breast, your neck, and your underarms. Begin outwards at your neck and underarm, moving inwards toward your breast to stimulate circulation and lymphatic flow.
Turning your head to the left and starting on the right side of your neck, use one or two fingers to slowly and gently stroke downwards, beginning at the space in front of the ear. Follow the same movement in the space behind the ears. Move down along your neck in short, sweeping movements, toward your collarbones. Repeat on the other side.
Moving along the top sides of the collarbones, use the same sweeping movements until you get to your shoulders, then move down to your armpits. Beginning with your right armpit, use the pointer and middle finger of your left hand to massage the hollowed area in a downward movement, toward the heart. Follow with 10 circular, clockwise motions along the same area, and repeat on the other side.
With your left palm faced open toward you, move it underneath your right underarm, with all four fingers in your armpit and your thumb resting toward your shoulder, and keeping your right arm by your side. Begin to do a gentle inwards and upwards pumping motion. You’ll likely feel some tenderness, which is related to congested lymph nodes. Continue pumping with more pressure, but not to the point of pain or serious discomfort. Start with about 10 pumps. The tenderness should diminish after a few minutes, as the lymphatic system clears. Repeat on the other side.
Moving back toward your breast, spread your hands along the top area of your breast, just beneath the collarbones. Gently apply pressure downwards, moving your hands to cover the right breast, with the left hand on top and the right-hand cupping from the bottom. Grasping the breast, use the same gentle pumping motion, moving your breast first toward your armpit then downwards toward your sternum, and back. After 10 pumps, do a similar motion but this time, move your breast upwards toward your collarbone and then back to its original place. Repeat this 10 times. Holding the breast, in the same way, now push it back toward the chest, slightly compressing the breast against the body. Repeat 10 times, and then repeat the whole sequence with the other breast.
Now, placing the right hand on the right breast and the left hand on the left breast, massage the area, moving from the outermost area in opposite circular motions (e.g. right side clockwise, and left side counter-clockwise). Move inwards toward the nipple. Begin the same sequence again, but move along the breast in the opposite circular motion as before, once again ending at the nipple.
Finish the massage by focusing on the areola and the nipple. Go slowly and gently and feel what works best for you during this step. Begin by placing your whole hand over the breast, focusing on the nipple and moving the hand in a circular motion. Once you feel comfortable, massage the areola in a circular rotation with your pointer, middle, and ring finger, then move toward the nipple. Use the thumb and pointer fingers to gently pull and kneed the nipple and areola between your fingers, and then use all 4 fingers and thumb in a pulling movement, stroking the areas from all sides. This is the most fragile and gentle area of the breasts, so listen to your body and take your time to ease into it and feel comfortable.
At Home Oil Recipe:
1 cup jojoba oil
3 oz. evening primrose oil
2 oz. castor oil
10-20 drops violet essential oil (or another essential oil of your choice)
Store your oil in an amber jar, protected from heat and light, to preserve its shelf-life. (It’s always a good idea to refrigerate oils to keep them fresh as well.) You can heat up a few ounces on the stovetop or in a candle-heated essential oil diffuser before the massage in order to have pleasant, warm massage oil.
Incorporating breast massage into your regular self-care practice has so many benefits. This ancient practice has been around for thousands of years for a reason. Give it a go today and you’ll likely be addicted in no time!