About 10 to 15% of women between the ages of 20 and 45 suffer from endometriosis, and almost 50% of infertile women suffer from it.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is the abnormal presence of the endometrium outside the uterus. The endometrium is the lining that lines the inside of the uterus. The cells of the endometrium (or uterine lining) come to be grafted outside the uterus, on genital organs such as the body of the uterus or the ovaries, but also on non-genital organs such as the peritoneum, the membrane lining the abdominal wall.
These tissues, no matter where they are in the body, respond to the hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle. So, just like the uterine lining, it forms and then "bleeds" each month. However, when this tissue is outside the uterus, as is the case in women with endometriosis, the bleeding has no exit to the outside of the body. Blood and loose endometrial cells can irritate nearby organs and the peritoneum (the membrane that encloses the organs in the abdomen).
Over time, this leads to chronic inflammation and the formation of scar tissue, as well as adhesions that bind organs together and cause pain. Theendometrial cells cause abnormal immune responses in these tissues, leading to further chronic inflammation.
Nobody knows exactly why this happens, but there are many theories. The most important thing we know is that there is an inflammatory state with an abnormal immune response, and it is triggered by cyclical hormonal changes, hormonal environmental exposures, and other factors that cause inflammation..
Rates of endometriosis and associated suffering are surprisingly high. About 6.5 million people in the United States and Canada who suffer from this disease. About 10-15% of women between the ages of 20 and 45 suffer from endometriosis, and almost 50% of infertile women have been diagnosed with this.
The most common symptoms of endometriosis
- abdominal and pelvic pain;
- cramps at the time of menstruation, often with chronic and sometimes severe pain between periods;
- constipation due to adhesions or diarrhea;
- pain during sex;
- urinary problems;
- back pain;
- chronic fatigue;
- some women also report abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Chronic inflammation leads to a buildup of scar tissue that causes "adhesions" which congeals organs like the bowels and bladder, creatingfrequent pain with evacuation, urination and sexual intercourse.
The natural way to help endometriosis is to address the causes of this disease.
The Problem: Endometriosis is known to be an immune and inflammatory problem that is triggered by cyclical hormonal changes and aggravated by exposure to chronic environmental toxins. Exposure to chemicals called “endocrine disruptors” (xenoestrogens that mimic hormones), as well as other environmental toxins increase inflammation and disrupt the normal functioning of the immune system.
The Solution: Support an optimal immune response to reduce inflammation and pain, help detox environmental toxins, and help balance the hormonal system. This is a holistic approach that incorporates an anti-inflammatory diet along with supplements and patience. It takes about 6 to 12 months to see a reduction in endometrial tissue in your abdomen. Ideally, track your symptoms on a scale of 1 to 10, month by month.
Anti-inflammatory diet to help endometriosis
The first and most important step is to follow an anti-inflammatory diet low in toxins.
- Remove from your diet: dairy products, products containing gluten, corn, and sugars; all create inflammation.
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, especiallycrucifers: kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and berries.
- All meat should be organic to avoid chemicals and excess hormones. Preferably, choose organic food.
- Avoid using plastics. They are the main source that increases the load of estrogen (these are called xenoestrogens) which can wreak hormonal havoc and make endometriosis worse. Avoid foods that come in soft plastic wrap, plastic water bottles. Never use a plastic container in the microwave: with the heat, estrogen migrates from the plastic to your food.
- Caffeine may make endometriosis worse in some women; if you drink coffee every day, try a few months without it. Instead, opt for green tea which is an antioxidant and can be especially helpful if you have endometriosis.
- Keep your blood sugar - blood sugar level - stable, as this will help keep inflammation under control and prevent you from having "sugar cravings" or bread.
Know that being overweight increases the likelihood of having more estrogen and inflammation. The anti-inflammatory diet is a great way to lose weight without having to work too hard to try!
Herbs and supplements to help endometriosis
Here is my five-step plan with herbs and natural products to add to your dietanti-inflammatory. Please note that they should not be taken during pregnancy, but can be taken until conception.
1. Reduce inflammation
curcumin (turmeric), bromelain (from pineapple), quercetin(from apples, onions, and other plant sources), ginger root, Boswellia, and fish oil are all amazing anti-inflammatories. Not only will inflammation be reduced, but these herbs can also relieve pain over time.
2. Prevent and repair damage with antioxidants
Antioxidants help prevent and reverse local tissue damage from inflammation. Vitamins E, A and C are all antioxidants. A good multivitamin with antioxidants can be a good choice.
Resveratrol is made from red grapes, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), pine bark, green tea, and curcuminare also powerful antioxidants.
NAC is a powerful antioxidant with impressive data for endometriosis. At 600 mg of NAC three times daily, three consecutive days, weekly for three months obtained surprising results.
In another study of pycnogenol, pine bark, women took 30 mg twice daily for 48 weeks showed a 33% reduction in pain, including severe pain.
3. Balance Your Hormones
Estrogen stimulates endometrial cells, helping to increase the size and number of tissues that contribute to inflammation.
A simple trick to reduce excess estrogen and to have enough fiber in the diet: you must above all avoid constipation. Having a daily bowel movement is essential to reduce inflammation, decrease toxins, and eliminate excess estrogen. Take between 2 tablespoons and ¼ cup of ground flaxseeds daily in a smoothie or mixed into food. If constipation is a problem, do not hesitate to consult to find a solution, it is very important.
4. Avoid environmental toxins and support your detox
We are surrounded by environmental toxins in our food, air, water, homes, workplaces. All of this increases our hormone (xenoestrogen) load and causes inflammation.
Avoid these chemicals when you can, beware of food packaging, body and cosmetic products, and household cleaners.
If you have endometriosis, avoiding toxins is not enough - your body needs extra support to properly detoxify.
Indole-3-Carbinol, is excellent for supporting detoxification and the elimination of excess estrogen. milk thistle is also excellent for helping hormone metabolism, whilesupporting liver he alth.
5. Treat the pain
Ginger root powder has been shown to be equivalent in reducing pain to the effects of ibuprofen (500 mg 2-3 x daily). Other herbs are excellent for pain relief such as turmeric and devil's claw. If you combine turmeric and ginger, you will get better results.
Acupuncture helps endometriosis pain, as do alternating hot and cold sitz baths. These baths stimulate pelvic circulation: they help to obtain good blood and lymphatic circulation which reduces inflammation and toxins.
Castor oil compresses are excellent for relieving pain while helping circulation in the pelvic area. Cut 6 pieces of flannel soaked in castor oil (the cloth should be damp, but drained), cover the flannel with a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel, place it on the lower abdomen for 30 to 45 minutes, several times a day.
In addition to the recommendations above, you can work with an osteopath or massage therapist who is qualified in endometriosis pelvic pain. These therapies are important to help break up adhesions, physical manipulation helps break up scar tissue.
Remember that stress is involved in the onset of endometriosis, so incorporate a stress management technique intoyour daily life. Exercise helps blood circulation in the pelvic area; if you spend your days sitting, your abdomen is probably congested.
For a more personalized plan tailored to your needs, work with a licensed naturopath.