Category Archives: Breast Health

How to Use a Castor Oil Pack

castor oil plantInformation about castor oil packs came from the intuitive readings of Edgar Cayce in the early part of the 20th century. In these readings, he recommended the application of castor oil for various ailments. For example, the packs are used on the liver to help with detoxification, the abdomen for digestive complaints, the uterus for fibroids, and on the breasts to help dissolve growths.

Castor oil is made up of a triglyceride of fatty acids, 90% of which is ricinoleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid. Ricinoleic acid has been shown to be effective in preventing the growth of various types of bacteria, yeast, molds, and viruses.

When I first learned of castor oil packs, I was told that the oil seeps into the skin and surrounding tissue creating a downward, outward movement. For example, a castor oil pack over the uterus can cause a delayed period to start because of its ability to start the downward flow.

In his book The Oil That Heals: A Physician’s Success with Castor Oil Treatments, William McGarey, M.D. says castor oil stimulates and removes adhesions and lesions. It helps dissolve lumps in the breasts and heal scar tissue. Using castor oil packs can enhance eliminations of all kinds, increase lymph flow, and relieve pain and inflammation.

How to Use a Castor Oil Pack

Cotton flannel is often recommended, but I prefer to use an unbleached pre-washed white t-shirt cut into wide strips and folded so there are at least three layers.

Place the folded cotton on plastic wrap, with the plastic just larger than the fabric piece.
Pour castor oil over the cotton to saturate it (but not dripping).
Place the pack on the location, oily side down, plastic on top.
Put a thin towel over the plastic and cover it with a hot water bottle or other heated pack. Avoid using electric heating pads if possible, as the electrical current can cause disturbances in your energy field. You can use a microwaveable heating pad.
Rest with the pack on for about 30 minutes.

Castor oil will stain fabric, so when you are finished with the pack, wipe the oil away completely. You might want to wear an old t-shirt or designate a couple of shirts specifically to wear right after you use the packs.

Be sure to drink plenty of water to help flush out toxins. You can reuse your pack at least 20 times by keeping it in the refrigerator between uses. Bring it to room temperature before using it. Some people use the packs for three days and take a break for three days, but you can use the packs for many consecutive days, occasionally taking a break for a week at a time and, for women, during your monthly cycle.

The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer Featured

BookCoverImageMy book The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer is the topic of an article published last week in the Santa Cruz Weekly. Of course I have to tell you about it.

Written by local wellness reporter Maria Grusauskas after a personal interview, the article forced me into another level of acceptance that it’s okay for people to hear about some personal business. I’m not totally comfortable with my brush with the other side being laid bare, but I wrote about a personal subject with the intention of sharing information that will help others. And, humans are curious about some of the less-than-pleasant details.

If it helps people see the options and gain a fresh perspective, I’m for it. It’s just taken some getting used to, and it continues to be humbling, so kudos to Maria for pushing the envelope. I’ve had feedback this past week that indicates people are thinking more as a result of what Maria chose to include in the article.

As for the book itself, I do weave my personal experience through the pages, but it wasn’t my preference. My first choice was to offer the numerous ways you can build your immune system, detoxify, build your strength and courage, heal on all levels, and even reverse tumors. All this without saying a word about me or how I knew anything about it! But my editor said no. “People want a human story. You need to tell them what yours is.” Ugh!

So I returned to the book and began to add personal detail. It wasn’t comfortable to do, as I’m not one to easily reveal my medical history or even my ideas about how we relinquish our power (and minds) to a system that isn’t working all that well on behalf of breast cancer. But in the end, telling the story was a good thing.

I’ve had much positive feedback about how the book helps others see things from a fresh perspective because I shared my own experiences. In fact, just the other day someone exclaimed, “And you look so healthy!” Yes indeed. The Big C isn’t a death sentence, folks. I’m here to tell you that there is health and vitality, even after having that unwanted date with the dreaded C.

Back to the point. I hope you’ll check out this feature article and spread the news to your friends and loved ones that cancer doesn’t have to be such a scary word. There are many, many options and choices that can strengthen each of us beyond it to greater health and wellbeing. I’m not the only example. There are many of us!

Kirkus Review for The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer

BookCoverImageAlthough I have many wonderful reviews of my book on Amazon.com, I’m pleased to present my first book review by Kirkus Reviews, a tough critic and trusted voice in the world of book reviews.

I waited for many weeks for this review to arrive, sometimes wondering what I would do if it were negative, perhaps reviewed by someone who “didn’t get it.” I figured I’d spend the first few days in seclusion, the next few weeks moping, and then get on with life. But, alas, it has arrived and I’m quite pleased with it. Here it is:

“In this debut memoir, a holistic healer shares her story of breast cancer and explores an array of approaches to physical and spiritual health.

Grant, a California-based holistic healer, found herself under the surgeon’s knife, facing breast cancer surgery, nearly a decade ago. In this wide-reaching guide, Grant details her personal struggle with her diagnosis, then touches on the variety of ways that she believes one can help combat breast cancer and most other “dis-eases.” “I simply couldn’t proceed blindly onward hoping surgery, caustic drugs, and radiation were enough to ‘get me back to my old life,’ ” writes Grant. “I had to give equal consideration to the importance of food, body movement, stress-reduction, immunity, environmental toxins, lifestyle, emotions, mind, and spirit.”

While it may be no surprise that a holistic healer would favor alternative approaches, Grant admits that she also had to overcome her own bias against traditional doctors in order to get better, with an acupuncturist friend telling her to “see them as healers, because they are. They are part of the world of healing and some of what they say is valid.” Thus, Grant acknowledges, “There is no right or wrong way. But there is a path that is best for you and I’m here to help you honor that.”

This accepting spirit infuses the narrative, which presents a host of holistic options in workbook style. Each chapter ends with a “Take a Moment for Yourself” section, featuring questions for self-reflection.

Grant’s book contains a wealth of information, from recipes to lists of inspirational music selections and health and healing reference works. Although this guide is largely well-organized, there is some repetition, and Grant’s personal story sometimes disappears within the larger topics she discusses. As a whole, however, this overview may be a welcome aid to those with breast cancer and helpful to anyone seeking to achieve a healthier life.

A personal, expansive tour into the world of holistic healing.”

Kirkus Reviews

By the way, my book is best in the paperback version so it can be easily used as a reference, but it’s a great deal for the Kindle currently at $4.99. It will be a valuable addition to your library, if I do say so myself.

Women of a Certain Age and the Holistic Approach

Cynthia Johnston, herbalist, MoonMaid Botanicals founder, and host of "Women of a Certain Age" on BlogTalkRadio.

Cynthia Johnston, herbalist, MoonMaid Botanicals founder, and host of “Women of a Certain Age” on BlogTalkRadio.

Tonight at 7pm Eastern (4pm Pacific) I’ll be the guest on “Women of A Certain Age” on BlogTalkRadio. Women of a Certain Age is hosted by Cynthia Johnston, founder and herbalist at MoonMaid Botanicals located in Cosby, Tennessee. Her radio program offers ideas, solutions, support, and encouragement for women of all ages as they go through various stages of life. As Cynthia says, “As our environment changes, our bodies change. I offer tools helpful for these changes.”

So tonight one of the tools she’s offering is… me! So be sure to tune in! We’ll discuss some of the important topics from my recent book, The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer: Every Woman’s Guide to Health, Vitality, & Wellbeing, which is also relevant and applicable to anyone who’d like to be in the driver’s seat of their own health and wellness.

Yes, there are drugs for every bodily issue under the sun, and these can stop the symptoms some of the time, but they’ll also cause undesirable side effects and don’t address the underlying cause. When our bodies are out of balance it’s not an isolated problem. It’s an issue affected by your body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Addressing symptoms from this perspective brings fuller, deeper healing and can prevent the ailment from recurring. Read a little more about the holistic approach to wellness in my recent blog post What Does “Holistic” Mean Anyway?

Breast Balm 1I’d like to mention that Cynthia Johnston’s company, MoonMaid Botanicals, is the maker of Breast Balm, a blend of St. John’s Wort, poke root, calendula, and thuja infused in organic olive oil. Designed to be used for breast massage, it is the balm I recommend in The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer.

Tune in tonight at 7pm EST (or 4pm PST) by going to Cynthia’s Women of a Certain Age site and listen to some fresh ideas to inspire you to greater wellness in body, mind, and spirit. Share this link with your friends and loved ones who you know will benefit from a more healthful approach to their own wellbeing!

What About Healing Stones and Crystals?

stonesTherapeutic stones and crystals form in the earth. Each carries its own vibration. They have been valued for their healing properties for as long as recorded history and have been used for every ailment and condition. In her book The Crystal Bible, Judy Hall says, “Crystals heal holistically. That is to say, they work on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. They realign subtle energies and dissolve dis-ease, getting to the root cause.”

In my nearly three decades of delving into the healing properties of crystals and gemstones, I’ve come across people who believe it just can’t be so. How can a little inanimate object be used for healing?! What hogwash and nonsense! How can you, an educated person, take yourself seriously? But… are they inanimate objects? Are their properties felt by people sensitive enough to detect energy?

Stones and crystals have their own life force and can help shift energies within and around you. I’ve been using them for nearly 30 years and have witnessed the shift they create in others. I’ve felt it in myself and in my surroundings over and over again.

With the wide variety of healing stones and crystals to choose from, any imbalance or situation can be assisted with their use. Two years ago when my beloved 16-year-old cat Calypso died, I buried him with a piece of rose quartz to strengthen the vibration of love around his body. When clients want to access their intuition, I surround them in amethyst. When I’m working with someone who needs to become grounded and centered, I use heavy black stones like hematite or dark smoky quartz.

In my book The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer, I added a short paragraph about stones. It’s not very “medical” or officially sanctioned, but as a holistic healer, I can’t ignore their usefulness even for serious ailments. For example, in the case of breast cancer, I’d begin with clear quartz and black tourmaline to clear old energy, and use my intuitive guidance to proceed from there. I would also consider rose quartz to help heal heart chakra issues, which helps heal old pain that might be a factor in the body’s dis-ease.

If you want to experiment with healing stones and crystals, you can first hold the stone in your hands while visualizing the outcome you desire. Then place the stone on the skin over the area of illness or imbalance, or in an area of your home or office where you want to make a shift. As I write this, I have several stones in front of me. Black tourmaline to absorb the EMFs from this computer, quartz crystal to raise the vibration, Connemara marble from Ireland (to keep the faeries happy), and a botswana agate, known for its ability to help one keep focused, organized, and pay attention to detail.

Many stones need to be cleared after being used for illness or after sitting around awhile. (Use your intuition to decide when its time to clear them. Once you’ve used the stones for a while, they’ll tell you if they need clearing.) Most can be cleared under running water, but some, such as Hematite, can absorb water so they are best cleared in moonlight or by being buried in the earth for a day or so.

Also in my book The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer (which is an excellent resource for holistic healing in general) there is a Resources section with “Books of Interest” for recommendations on how you can learn more about healing with stones and crystals, but if you’re a beginner, I’d start with The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall. Enjoy!

Your Body’s Cells Listen to What You Say

ripple effectImagine a rock dropping into a still body of water that causes ripples outward in all directions. The same thing happens in your body (which is made up of 70% water) but with a thought instead of a rock. Thoughts are forms of energy reverberating into the space around you, including deep within your cellular structure. Your cells listen to what you say or think and respond accordingly, like ripples across a lake. Your cells listen to thoughts and words of other people as well.

One day in the early 1990s I was asked by a friend to accompany her to a Mensa meeting where she was speaking on Parapsychology. I thought she’d give a standard lecture to the high-IQ crowd, but she began the talk by requesting a volunteer from the group. She then “tested” the volunteer’s arm strength by having him hold it firmly out to the side while she pressed on it to see how strongly he could resist her pressure. His arm remained strong and steady. The volunteer was then sent out of the room and out of earshot. The group was instructed to think negative thoughts about the volunteer, even if he was a friend. The volunteer was then brought back into the room. Once again he was asked to hold his arm firmly out to the side and resist the pressure placed on it by my friend. This time he had no strength whatsoever. His arm collapsed down to his side.

Another volunteer was called. After the same routine the volunteer was sent out. But this time, the group was instructed to think the highest, most positive, loving thoughts about the person, how very much she was loved. The volunteer was brought back into the room. What do you suppose happened to her arm as she held it out for testing? It was stronger than it was before.

In these situations, the conscious mind isn’t listening, but your deepest cellular structure is. And because your cells are paying attention, you can speak to them. We all can speak to them. We can speak directly to an area of stagnation or congestion. We can speak to tumors. You can say, “All of my cells work together in harmony for my highest health and longevity. All of my cells communicate effectively with each other for my optimal health and vitality. Any cells not for my highest wellbeing and health leave me now.” Others can say on your behalf, “All of your cells are completely whole, healthy, and working together for your highest health, longevity, and wellbeing.” Your cells are listening.

For more on cellular health and numerous other fascinating topics, read my recent book The Holistic Approach to Breast Cancer: Every Woman’s Guide to Health, Vitality, & Wellbeing.

Detoxify Simply with Dry Skin Brushing

drySince it’s Fall, the season of letting go and releasing, it’s the ideal time to think about a little cleanse before heading into the winter months. Likewise if you’re in Spring in the Southern Hemisphere, you’re also in a perfect situation for some clearing.

We’re always hearing about juice fasting or using certain products to help the body cleanse, but with a simple dry skin brush, you can help your body do what it’s designed to do in the first place: clear out toxins. And even if you do opt for a more complicated cleanse, dry skin brushing will help eliminate the waste and prevent you from feeling poorly as an initial cleansing side effect.

As the largest organ of your body, your skin helps release toxins. Healthy skin eliminates pounds of waste each day (which is another good reason to change your sheets regularly!) however, ingredients in products applied to skin — even chemicals from synthetic fabrics — get absorbed and can block your skin’s ability to keep you healthy.

Skin brushing removes the top layer of dead skin while stimulating your lymphatic system to clear toxins that collect in lymph glands. This is an easy, cost-free way to help your body remove toxins you’re exposed to in daily living. Also, your digestion will improve, the circulation near your skin will improve, and your immune system will be strengthened. As a side bonus, it can help remove cellulite.

Skin brushing requires a natural bristle brush (not synthetic, which can irritate your skin). Find brushes specifically for dry skin brushing at a natural foods store or online. Some brushes are handheld while others have long handles — use whichever you prefer. Begin gently on dry skin at least once per day just before bathing. (Wet skin brushing can pull on your skin and will not remove the dry outer layer of your skin effectively.)

dry brushing womanStarting at the soles of your feet where there are nerve endings, brush in upward strokes toward your heart. Brush your feet, all sides of your calves, thighs, backs of knees, and inner thigh areas. Brush your buttocks, stomach, and outer hip area, always toward your heart. Brush from the palms of your hands over your arms in the direction of your heart. Brush under your arms and gently over your upper chest to the center of your midsection. Brush your shoulders and back. You can gently brush the breasts outward from the nipple on both sides, upward on top, downward below.

Your skin might take some time to get used to being brushed, so be gentle at first. After a couple weeks, wash your skin brush and allow it to dry.

Mastectomy to Prevent Breast Cancer?

WomanI’ve been asked more than a few times what I think about Angelina Jolie’s choice to have her breasts removed as a method of preventing breast cancer. Although I’ve written a book about the many ways one can prevent and heal from breast cancer, I wasn’t sure how to be diplomatic about the news that a highly influential beautiful woman, that many women look up to, had made this decision. But here it goes. Is it after the fact? Yes. But it’s still timely because many women will find themselves faced with this same choice in their future.

First, I’m not in her head, so I hesitated to judge. I’m not someone who’s lost female relatives to breast cancer, although my father, grandma, and just two months ago, an aunt, died from cancer. I’m also not someone who gives my power away to men (or women) in white coats who have medical degrees. I think for myself, despite what others might believe. This isn’t always popular and it’s not always right, but there you have it. As a woman who lived through breast cancer, as a healer, and as a writer, I have an opinion.

That said, I believe the method of removing breasts to prevent something that might never happen is misguided. It brings to mind words like self-mutilation, self-hatred, ignorance, and misogyny. Yes, it does. Glorifying the mutilation of the female body gets me riled, and I’m afraid we’ve stepped closely to glorification in the case of Angelina Jolie. “Brave decision?” The braver decision would have been to take the path of the feminine and keep the breasts.

Let’s think about it for a moment. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, possibly thousands of things a woman can do to be pro-active and prevent breast dis-ease. I’ve written about many of them. I’ve used many of them. If the body is going to produce cancerous cells that proliferate, is it logical to remove the part of the body that this activity might show up in? Shall I now remove my brain, liver, lungs, and bones because breast cancer can recur in those places? Absurd! Cancer has a root cause, and this cause is not due to the fact that a woman has breast tissue. The causes are many, from viruses to stress to pollutants and toxins. And did I just read that Angelina has spent years of her life smoking cigarettes? Not much prevention going on there.

Breasts are hugely, might I say wildly, symbolic. They represent nurturance, nourishment, sustainment, sensuality, sexuality, and woman power. Female wisdom and power has been cut down through the ages. Cut off, removed, mutilated. So when I heard that one of our influential Hollywood beauties sold out to a culture that doesn’t want feminine power to become too much, or get too big, I was disappointed. I was dismayed. And at the same time, I understand that her decision was a human one born out of fear.

Before making a major life choice, it’s relevant to focus on creating balance in your mind and emotions first, then make your decisions based on your own inner truth and on higher wisdom that stems from a balanced perspective. I know from personal experience this isn’t easy to do when you have authority figures giving you advice. It isn’t easy to do when you are consumed with fear. But we must do it to save ourselves and halt the madness that is the degradation of the feminine.

To Meat or Not to Meat? That is the Question.

real foodNone of us has escaped the controversy over whether to eat meat or not. I’m frequently asked what I think, and I wish I could tell people to never touch it. Protect the animals and save yourselves. But I can’t. Not yet anyway. Here’s why.

I believe quality protein is necessary to help the body heal. This includes grass-fed hormone-free beef and lamb, chicken, organic chicken liver, eggs, salmon or any clean fish you can find, including sardines. This doesn’t include any conventionally-raised meats or eggs, those that come from filthy factory farms, including farm-raised fish.

I don’t think tofu or other soy-based foods are quality protein. Though they’re quite popular, they simply don’t have the oomph necessary to make a body strong. I’ve not once met a long-term vegetarian who was robust, healthy, energetic, mentally and emotionally balanced, with great skin and hair. ‘Tis true… I’m sorry.

Nonetheless, some of you will be interested in a macrobiotic diet, while others will try vegetarianism or all raw food. John Robbins is an eloquent advocate of vegetarianism and author of Diet for a New America. He makes me want to be vegetarian. (Indeed, I’ve given it a try but became dizzy and anemic with roller coaster blood sugar levels.) Robbins tells us that meat, dairy, and egg consumption raise cancer rates. As I researched this, I felt that additional studies are needed with a focus on organic, grass-fed and pastured animals, free from hormones and antibiotics. There are many pollutants and additives in meats that don’t belong in your body, and I believe they can raise rates of cancer. Excess hormones, toxins, and chemicals in meat and dairy products can contribute to cancer, so I completely avoid conventionally raised meats, dairy products, and eggs. This supports health and also humane practices (which is so important in this day of mass cruelty to animals raised for food).

If you are a vegetarian or are thinking about becoming one, be sure to eat what is found in nature. Avoid pasta, processed “health” foods, sugary snacks, and soy products such as soy cheese, soy milk, soy ice cream, and tofurkey style “meat.” Soy is safe in fermented form such as miso and tempeh. It’s been marketed heavily as a health food but soy phytoestrogens can disrupt endocrine function, increase your need for Vitamin D and B12, and it’s likely GMO unless it’s organic.

The Healing Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

mushMaitake, Reishi, Shiitake, Cordyceps, and Coriolus (Turkey Tail) are a few healthy and powerful mushrooms. Substances in these mushrooms have been found to increase immune function. They also stimulate “natural killer” immune cells that destroy cancer cells.

This group of medicinal mushrooms have been known to stop the spread of cancer, prevent kidney damage in the case of chemotherapy use, and many of them have natural antiviral, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Both cooked and raw, they contain ergothioneine, an antioxidant that helps heal free radical damage. Medicinal mushrooms can be added to many dishes such as soups, cooked greens, rice, and scrambled eggs. They can also be sautéed and served as a side dish. When I use them, I put them in any dish you might put ordinary mushrooms in.

I also order medicinal mushrooms individually in powdered form then mix them together to make my own tea powder. Currently, I’ve been using a blend of maitake, reishi, and coriolus. I buy each of these separately, then mix them together in equal parts. I add a teaspoon of the powder mix to hot water and drink it, just like tea. It has a healing, earthy flavor. It will support your body to halt or considerably lessen colds, sinus infections, bronchitis, and coughs.

You certainly can grow your own mushrooms. I haven’t gotten around to that adventure yet. If you’d like to order them or get the powdered form I use, you can find them online. I like to use www.mushroomharvest.com. You can also try www.invincibleherbs.com.

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