Mastitis is inflammation and/or infection of the breasts. For discussion of causes, symptoms, and potential complications of mastitis, see our Q&A called Mastitis.
If you think that you have mastitis, consult your integrative medical physician and gynecologist immediately for diagnosis. An examination and laboratory testing of discharge from the breasts can determine whether inflammation and/or infection is present.
To help manage and treat mastitis, many methods are available, including the following self-help, naturopathic, and homeopathic approaches:
• Eat a healthy"anti-inflammatory" diet, consisting of fresh organic vegetables and fruits, whole grains, freshly-caught fish, and organic sources of protein.
• Avoid eating types of fish that are high in mercury, such as swordfish, king mackeral, shark, and tilefish.
• Avoid eating foods containing white sugar and white flour, as these ingredients make the pH of the blood relatively acidic, which can contribute to inflammation in the body.
• Avoid eating foods (such as chocolate) containing the irritant, caffeine.
• Drink abundant amounts of water.
• Avoid drinking beverages (such as coffee, tea, and cola) containing the irritant, caffeine.
• Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
• To help stimulate circulation and promote healing, apply alternating warm, wet compresses to the breasts for 5 minutes, followed by applying cold, wet compresses to the breasts for 1 minute.
• To help encourage drainage of the lymphatic system, use massage techniques designed for this purpose.
• To treat mastitis, take a vitamin and mineral supplement, including 50,000 IU of beta-carotene daily, 1,000 mg of Vitamin C three times daily, and 30 mg of zinc daily. Consult your integrative medical physician and gynecologist for guidance on the dose that is appropriate for you.
• To stimulate your immune system and help treat mastitis, take supplements including a combination of extracts of the herbs, Echinacea and goldenseal. The usual dose for treatment of mastitis is either 6 capsules of a combination supplement taken daily or 2 dropperfuls of a combination tincture diluted in water and taken 3 times per day. Consult your integrative medical physician and gynecologist for guidance on the dose that is appropriate for you. If, however, the combination of Echinacea and goldenseal either does not help resolve the symptoms of mastitis in 3 days, or affects you negatively, or has negative effects on a nursing child, discontinue the supplement and contact your physician immediately.
• To treat mastitis, take a homeopathic remedy, such as Belladonna, Bryonia, Castor equi, Calcarea carbonica, Dulcamara, Hepar sulphuris, Phellandrium, Phytolacca, Pulsatilla, Silica, or Urtica urens. Consult a homeopath (a healthcare professional experienced in the use of homeopathic remedies) for guidance on the homeopathic remedy and dose that is appropriate for you.
If the self-help, naturopathic, and homeopathic approaches discussed previously do not resolve your symptoms of mastitis, consult your integrative medical physician and gynecologist for consideration of other therapies, including prescription antibiotics for treatment of mastitis caused by bacterial infection. Disadvantages of prescription antibiotics, however, include potential secondary yeast infections of:
• The nipples
• The mucous membranes of the oral cavity of a child who is being breastfed
For further information on mastitis in nursing mothers, you can contact the website (www.llli.org) of the La Leche League International.
1. J. Reichenberg-Ullman. Whole Woman Homeopathy. 2004. North Edmonds, WA: Picnic Point Press