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Breast Enhancement

Risks of Herbal Breast Enhancers

Herbal breast enhancers seem attractive to many women considering breast augmentation surgery, particularly because the price tag on these herbal options seems easier. However, in my experience these so-called “natural” breast enhancement techniques are not effective, and they often carry hidden costs.

How They Work

There is no convincing evidence that herbal enhancers work, but the claims usually seem to have a scientific basis: it’s true that some herbs do have estrogen-like effects on the body, that could theoretically augment breast size. However, the human endocrine system is very delicately balanced, and different people respond very differently to the same stimuli. The supplements that do have any effects on estrogen levels may not impact different people the same way, and in many cases they can have unwanted side effects and negative interactions with certain medications. As just one example, estrogenic substances can often trigger the body to reduce how much estrogen it is producing – the reverse of the effect these products aim for!

Safety Considerations

In my opinion, the use of herbal breast enhancers in general should be strongly discouraged, as there isn’t any evidence of their safety. Unfortunately, many women assume that supplements sold over the counter are proven safe, or that any side effects would be too mild to cause concern, but often this is not the case.

Natural ingredients found in many herbal breast enhancement supplements and pills can have significant adverse impacts on your health. For example: fenugreek, dandelion, blessed thistle and chasteberry are some of the ingredients used in many natural breast enhancers that can cause gastrointestinal distress. Some others, such as black cohosh and kava, can even cause liver damage depending on how much you take. Sensitivity to sun, vomiting, headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, muscle spasms, and skin rash are just a few of the other possible side effects from herbs found in many over-the-counter herbal breast enhancers.

High Risk Warnings

Some women are at a greater risk than others from these side effects. Women with fibrocystic breasts, gall bladder disease, or endometriosis are at a higher risk of some side effects. And in some cases the estrogenic effects of some herbs create an extra risk for breast cancer for women who are pregnant, undergoing hormone replacement therapy, or taking birth control pills. Taking any natural herbal enhancer may lead to complications with a wide variety of medications, so this creates additional concerns for many women.

Of course, surgical breast augmentation carries its own risks, and I work carefully to evaluate whether each of my patients is a good candidate for surgery. If you have reservations or concerns about surgery, now is probably not the time to move forward with it. But I strongly encourage anyone considering breast enhancement supplements as an alternative to breast implants not to move forward with that option. In the absence of reliable evidence regarding the safety, consistency, and longevity of the results, why take the risk?

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September 10, 2013
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