Fibrocystic Breast Disease

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-02-18 (EDT)

Fibrocystic breast disease (FCBD) is not really a disease but a benign condition that describes breasts that feel "lumpy" and often painful to touch. Fibrocystic breast changes commonly begin to affect women in their 30s until menopause.[1] Current consensus is that unopposed estrogen is responsible for fibrocystic changes to the breast.[2] This condition affects at least 50% of women of childbearing age.[3]

Fibrocystic Breast Disease
Fibrocystic breast.jpg

Fibrocystic Breast Disease
Causes Dietary Factors, Environmental Toxins, Hormone based medications
See Also Women's Health
Books Books on Women's Health
Articles Articles on Women's Health

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. With fibrocystic breast disease, the causes are variable and include lifestyle and environmental factors. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing to fibrocystic breast disease.



Medical Interventions

  • Pharmaceutical Medications
  • Exogenous sources of estrogen such as hormone replacement therapy are associated with FCBD.[7]

Common Questions

  • Do your breasts feel tender or painful?
  • Does the tenderness or pain change in severity throughout the cycle?
  • When is it most painful?
  • Are you currently taking any hormone therapy (oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy)?
  • Are you premenopausal?

Diagnostic Testing

  • Physical exam including a breast examination
  • Ultrasound may be recommended if the breast symptoms don't fluctuate with the menstrual cycle.

Related Symptoms and Conditions

FCBD may be associated with:

  • estrogen dominance
  • hyperprolactinemia


The theory that fibrocystic breast disease is linked to high levels of estrogen and progesterone has been known for many years. However it is unclear whether that indicates abnormal hormone production, abnormal balance, or an exaggerated response to normal hormone levels.[3]

  • Fibrocystic breast changes do not increase your risk of breast cancer. Symptoms typically improve after menopause.

Common Symptoms

FCBD can be asymptomatic or can be experienced as:

  • Breast pain and tenderness
  • Symptoms typically worsen right before the menstrual period and improve after menstruation initiates
  • Breasts may feel swollen and heavy, thick or lumpy or nodular
  • Individual cysts or lumps may be identified that become larger before the menstrual cycle and smaller afterwards
  • Lumps move if pushed
  • Breast discharge may be present (if discharge is clear, read or bloody see your healthcare provider)

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Fibrocystic breast disease is typically a chronic disease that persists until menopause.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

Home Care strategies include:

  • Avoid oral contraceptives.[8]
  • Wear a well-fitting bra. Avoid bras with under-wire.


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Exercises such as rebounding that move lymphatic fluid may be beneficial in the treatment of FCBD.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for fibrocystic breast disease include:

  • Hydrotherapy can be beneficial in decreasing the symptoms of FCBD.


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [1]

  1. Kumar R, Abbas A, DeLancey A, Malone E (2010) Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. Eighth Edition. Saunders Elsevier.
  2. Norwood SL (1990 Mar-Apr) Fibrocystic breast disease. An update and review. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs;19(2):116-21. PMID: 2181087.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Norwood SL (1990 Mar-Apr) Fibrocystic breast disease. An update and review. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs;19(2):116-21. PMID: 2181087.
  4. Lubin F, Wax Y, Ron E, Black M, Chetrit A, Rosen N, Alfandary E, Modan B (1989 Sep) Nutritional factors associated with benign breast disease etiology: a case-control study Am J Clin Nutr;50(3):551-6 PMID: 2773834.
  5. Rose DP, Boyar AP, Cohen C, Strong LE (1987 Apr) Effect of a low-fat diet on hormone levels in women with cystic breast disease. I. Serum steroids and gonadotropins J Natl Cancer Inst;78(4):623-6 PMID: 3104646.
  6. Boyd NF, McGuire V, Shannon P, Cousins M, Kriukov V, Mahoney L, Fish E, Lickley L, Lockwood G, Tritchler D (1988 Jul 16) Effect of a low-fat high-carbohydrate diet on symptoms of cyclical mastopathy Lancet;2(8603):128-32 PMID: 2899188.
  7. Ozdemir A, Konuş O, Nas T, Erbaş G, Coşar S, Işik S (1999 Oct) Mammographic and ultrasonographic study of changes in the breast related to HRT Int J Gynaecol Obstet;67(1):23-32 PMID: 10576236.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Pizzorno Joseph, Murray Micheal, Joiner-Bey Herb (2007) The Clinician's Handbook of Natural Medicine Churchill Livingstone.
  9. Dante G, Facchinetti F ( 2011 Mar) Herbal treatments for alleviating premenstrual symptoms: a systematic review. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol;32(1):42-51. PMID: 21171936.
  10. Wuttke W, Jarry H, Christoffel V, Spengler B, Seidlová-Wuttke D (2003 May) Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)--pharmacology and clinical indications. Phytomedicine;10(4):348-57. PMID: 12809367