Mastitis is a severely uncomfortable and potentially dangerous disease that can occur during breastfeeding. If bacteria invade the breast (usually within one month of delivery), it can cause a high fever, a painful mass in the breasts, redness, inflammation, an aversion to cold, unsmooth lactation, and even pus discharge. At best, this disorder is painful and inconvenient and, at its worst, if left untreated, the fever can spread and prove deadly. In Chinese medicine, this disease is considered related to the patient’s emotional state. If there is an emotional problem, there is generally a stagnation of liver qi, caused by an accumulation of heat due to improper food intake after delivery. This can lead to the obstruction of the collaterals in the breasts.
Acupuncture can be used to prevent mastitis, and can also be used to treat it. The term for mastitis in traditional Chinese medicine is “Toxic Heat Accumulation with Qi and Blood Stagnation,” and closely mirrors the Western diagnosis: inflammation and infection. The Oriental medicine diagnosis involves the whole body, and perceives that the lower part of the body (the uterus) is Cold and Deficient after giving birth, while the upper part of the body (the breasts) has Heat and Stagnation, causing an imbalance in harmony and qi, or energy.
Specific points on the body that correspond with the diagnosis, called acupoints, (these are not actually on the affected breast, but on points related to the affliction) will be used in an acupuncture session to harmonize the flow of qi and fight the infection. Herbs can also be prescribed. Dandelion and honeysuckle are thought to clear heat and toxicity out of affected areas. These methods are free of side-effects and completely natural. The mother will not have to worry about anything affecting the quality of her milk or the health of her baby. An acupuncture session will also serve to relax the mother and relieve pain. Acupuncture sessions will ensure the smooth flow of qi, throughout the mother’s body, providing a sense of well being and accelerating the healing process.
For more information on how TCM can help mastitis and breastfeeding, please contact Pacific College of Oriental Medicine at (800) 729-0941, or visit www.PacificCollege.edu