by Dr. Mecherl Lim
MD (MA) Naturopath (ND), Holistic Kinesiology
Endometriosis occurs when tissue comparable to the lining of the uterus is found in other areas of the body such as on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, bowel and vagina.
The misplaced tissue may grow and is occasionally found on the organs and other parts of the body. Endometriosis affects 10 percent of women of childbearing age.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS?
- Pain before and during menstruation, at ovulation (midway between periods) and during intercourse.
- Painful urination and pain in bowel movements during menstruation.
- Bladder discomfort and urinary frequency.
- Gastrointestinal upsets such as irregular bowel motions, flatulence and bloating.
- About 30 to 40 per cent of infertile women have endometriosis- commonly because the fallopian tubes are blocked. Sometimes infertility is the only symptom.
- Heavy or irregular bleeding, sometimes with large clots.
- A number of women have endometriosis but no symptoms and occasionally there may be unusual symptoms such as sciatica- caused by pressure of the endometrial growth. Some women may experience fatigue, especially if they are bleeding heavily and become iron deficient.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
Diagnosis is by laparoscopy; That is, under anesthetic a small telescopic instrument is inserted into the abdomen.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Basically, the misplaced tissue behaves like the lining of the uterus and each month it swells, breaks down and sheds. This may cause inflammation, pain, pressure, internal scar tissue formation and abdominal problems such as bowel congestion. In severe cases bands of scar tissue (adhesions) may develop. There are no known causes of the misplaced tissue and below are some of the suspected causes:
- Menstrual back flow, either via the uterine wall and blood circulation or via the fallopian tubes. Some suggest tampons may encourage back flow, so it may be wise to use external pads, at least during the night.
- Hormonal imbalances, especially high oestrogen levels or inappropriate oestrogen metabolism. It can recur or start when postmenopausal women go on hormone replacement.
- Other possibilities include genetic predisposition, immune imbalances, following abdominal surgery, or the body may reactivate some “embryonic ability” to make new tissue.
HOW THE DOCTORS TREAT IT?
These may include painkillers, progesterone, anti-progesterone, and testosterone derivatives such as Danazol. GnRH agonist (such as nafarelin) suppresses the body’s production of reproductive hormones and reduces symptoms, but has many potential adverse effects, including pseudo-menopause. Other analagesics may be used for pain relief. Hormone therapy that disrupts the secretion of estrogen and may be employed to limit growth is also used.
Currently, prescribed pharmaceuticals rarely help endometriosis.
The type of surgery now available varies from minor “day surgery” to cauterization of endometriosis spots, laser technology and extensive removal of scar tissue and microsurgery. If it is possible to remove all endometrial tissue, regrowth is unlikely to recur or cut out visible growths, and to reduce adhesions between pelvic organs.
THE HOLISTIC APPROACH
There is not one single remedy that will significantly improve the symptoms of endometriosis. You should find a practitioner experienced in treating the problem, that is, a herbalist, Naturopath, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner or Homeopath.
You can use chamomile and ginger, both of which help reduce inflammation. Simmer finely chopped ginger root in water for about 5 minutes. Use half to 2 teaspoons of ginger per cup of water, depending on your taste. Then add the chamomile and let it stand covered for a few minutes. For bloating, try combining peppermint and lemon balm tea.
OTHER HOLISTIC SUPPORT
Effective results in the treatment of endometriosis involve replacing saturated fats in membranes with EFA. This is a slow process and can take months to reverse the concentrations of fatty acids in the membranes. Because of this, it may be necessary to take GLA for about 6 months before reasonable effects are observed.
Fish Oils can also be used for their PGE3 anti-inflammatory effect. The activity of Delta-6- Desaturase Enzyme can be increased with nutrients such as: Zinc, B6, C, and Magnesium, whereas vitamin A and copper will inhibit Delta-5-Desaturase Enzyme thereby inhibiting PGE2 and arachidonic acid production.
Oestrogen receptor density may be increased in hypothyroidism. Therefore, women should be checked for hypothyrodism or decreased utilisation of thyroid hormones.
SUPPLEMENTATION such as DrMecherlHerbs SHE 18, (TCM herbs) Thyroid 17 (TCM) has been shown to decrease oestrogen effects and promote progesterone effects via anterior pituitary regulation which will regulate cell surface receptors that will benefit in these women. SHE 18 is also traditionally used in dysmenorrhoea, ovarian and uterine pain as an anti inflammatory and spasmolytic.
If you have high oestrogen levels, a diet rich in Phyto oestrogens may “crowd out” at least some of your stronger oestrogens- such as DrMecherlHerbs PhytoNutrients plus Soya food, linseed, sunflower seeds and an intake of whole grain food twice daily.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT IT?
According to a scientific survey, women with a higher consumption of green vegetables and fresh fruit have a 40 per cent relative reduction in the risk of endometriosis while those with a high intake of beef, other red meat and ham have an 80 to 100 per cent increase in risk.
- reduce your meat intake, have two fish meals weekly and some nuts and seeds, as these foods provide essential fatty acids and help reduce inflammation.
- Have a salad or soup with lunch, including green vegetables.
- Include cooked vegetables with your evening meal.
- Eat at least two pieces of fruit daily.
Endometriosis is a difficult and complex problem. Do your best to follow the dietary and lifestyle advice and get a practitioner ‘sadvice for specific treatment.
Image courtesy of local.com