Endometriosis is a condition related to infertility that affects between 10 and 15% of women of reproductive age. It is represented by the growth of endometrial tissue (tissue that typically lines only the uterus) in areas of a woman’s body outside the uterus, specifically on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, ligaments that support the uterus, area between the vagina and rectum, outside of the uterus, and even the lining of the pelvic cavity. For women with this condition, they often suffer degrees of pain during menstruation, ovulation and during intercourse, as well as infertility.
Endometriosis can be mild, moderate or severe based on an evaluation of how much scarring has occurred. A gynecologist would determine this through physical examination, ultrasound and laparoscopy.
Holistic Treatments for Endometriosis
Traditional Chinese Medicine
While Western medicine can be effective at treating symptoms of endometriosis – removing scar tissue, repairing any structural damage, pain management usually using medications and surgery, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approaches treatment differently. TCM does help minimize the symptoms, but also attempts to treat the root causes that led to the development of endometriosis in the first place.
TCM uses acupuncture, herbal medicine, stress management techniques along with dietary and supplement recommendations to help patients with endometriosis manage their condition and sometimes reverse it. If the Western medical diagnosis is mild to moderate endometriosis, TCM on its own can be effective with 4 – 6 months of care. However, if the condition is considered severe endometriosis, typically the best response will be with Western and TCM therapies used together.
The main benefit of using TCM treatments is improvement of your overall health which ultimately improves your chances of pregnancy. Therapies are designed to help you decrease pain and inflammation throughout the body, eliminate some of the built up scar tissue, reduce stress levels, improve digestion, improve blood flow to the reproductive organs, and balance many of your hormones.
As with all TCM treatments at AcuPlus, the recommended treatment protocol will be based on your individual TCM diagnosis as not all patients diagnosed with endometriosis will be treated the same. But in general, endometriosis is seen as a damp condition leading to stagnation, with many other factors contributing to an individual’s diagnosis. The aim is to stop the creation of damp, remove it and any stagnation, and bring about a healthier balance between the organ systems.
Nutrition & Diet
Your nutrition and diet must not be neglected when working to decrease body inflammation and improve the hormone balance in your body. A great approach is to create an anti-inflammatory diet that helps your body heal itself.
General Endometriosis diet tips:
- Eat plenty of high fiber foods. Fiber increases movement of food through the intestines and helps promote an optimal balance of helpful bacteria.
- Increase liver friendly foods such as kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and spinach.
- Use more anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric, ginger, and garlic.
- Minimize or avoid sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
- Minimize or avoid dairy and gluten as they may contribute to inflammation and are considered damp promoting foods.
- Minimize or avoid red meat because it contains large amount of arachidonic acid, which promotes inflammatory prostaglandins, inflammation, and pain.
- Avoid soy products because they have an estrogenic effect.
*More detailed diet and supplement recommendations are given to you based on your individual TCM diagnosis.
Perhaps the most important lifestyle shift if you suffer with endometriosis is learning to manage your stress response. Poor management of chronic stressors can increase inflammation in your body. When you learn techniques to minimize the effects of those stressors, using tools such as yoga, qi gong (meditative exercise), breathing exercises and meditation, your body chemistry will change and become healthier.
Of course regular exercise can reduce your stress response as well, but it also will improve whole body circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid thereby helping your body feel and function more optimally. The general recommendation is to include at least 30 minutes a day of brisk walking or other aerobic exercise to help improve your health.