It is estimated that this multi factorial condition affects one in ten Australian women, despite the large amount of scientific data available to date regarding this aetiology, there's still so much more to be learned, one thing we know is that lifestyle and nutrition positively impact on the management of this condition, if you are someone suffering from Endometriosis, please keep reading :)
What is Endometriosis?
In a nutshell, endometriosis is characterised by the growth of endometrial tissue growing in other parts of the body and not ONLY inside the uterine cavity (where it usually belongs to). This abnormal growth is commonly found in the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, bladder, bowel and in more severe cases, intestines, rectum, vagina, skin, lungs and brain. The lesions caused by the adherence of endometrial tissue to other parts of the body are the major cause of pain, number one complaint by most women suffering form endometriosis. When untreated, endometriosis can lead to several health complications, such as formation of cysts, increased pain with each menstrual cycle (but not only during the menstrual cycle), increased pain towards the end of the menstrual cycle, pain during intercourse, pain during defecation, increased pre-menstrual symptoms such as irritability, breast tenderness, increased bleeding and fertility problems.
Western Medicine Treatment Options
To date, Western Medicine offers two options of treatment, one is the pill, which is used with the intention of shutting down a normal women's monthly hormonal cascade and ovulation, and replace it with synthetic hormones, aiming to minimise the stimulation and growth of lesions caused by the hormone oestrogen. The second option is a surgical procedure done through laparoscopy, this option allows doctors to do a proper diagnosis as they can see the extend and location of lesions, and also perform their removal as necessary. Surgery can offer some relief in pain to many women, perhaps many report no difference and sometimes even an increase in pain.
Considering endometriosis is a multifaceted condition, neither of the options above fully treat the root cause of the problem, they offer a temporary relief to the symptoms. Nutritional Medicine in conjunction with Western Medicine can help on the relief of pain while also working in the cause of the problem, lifestyle and nutritional changes are essential for a successful treatment.
How Nutritional Medicine can help you!
Treatment for endometriosis will differ from patient to patient based on their case presentation, this is a common practice in Nutritional Holistic Medicine and is no different for endometriosis patients, everyone is unique, and so, treatment should also be! In a nut shell, there are three pillars to be treated in endometriosis sufferers:
The severity of pain in endometriosis correlates with the severity and progress of the condition, pain management will highly improve one's quality of life once under control. Pain in endometriosis = inflammation, so reducing inflammation is crucial here.
A big part of your treatment starts right in your kitchen, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon help prevent blood stagnation, minimising inflammation and reducing the pain, be creative, use in your cooking and hot drinks daily if possible. Adopting an Anti-inflammatory diet is essential, avoid sugar, gluten, dairy and vegetable oils as much as possible, working with a practitioner is essential to modulate your diet to your needs.
Nutritional supplementation of Evening Primrose Oil is also a important tool that can be used by practitioners to help on inflammation and pain reduction, dosage will depend from person to person.
2. Immune system modulation
Immune system support is essential in endometriosis in order to avoid further production of inflammatory cytokines, which can stimulate the growth of lesions. Avoiding sugar, which is an immune suppressant is crucial here, the use of nutritional supplements such as zinc and probiotics can be used successfully to help repair gut lining and improving gut health, please be aware that some very specific strains of probiotics are helpful, this is not a one size fits all, so again, please be aware to consult a practitioner.
3. Balance hormones and improve detoxification pathways
Supporting the body to properly detoxify and clear oestrogens effectively is key for endometriosis patients, as well as it is to optimise progesterone production and sensitivity. Support liver function via the consumption of cruciferous vegetables as well as nutritional co-factors supplementation, such as N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) can bring numerous benefits. Progesterone production in the other hand can be supported by the consumption of foods rich in Zinc, vitamin B6 and Magnesium, this trio is essential for hormonal synthesis, and please note that many times, supplementation of these compounds might be needed in order to maximise results. Again, consult a practitioner for the right advice about dosages.
If you suffer from painful periods, no matter how painful they are, please know it is not normal, there is so much that can be done naturally to improve your health and quality of life, look for the right practitioner to help and guide you to change your nutrition and lifestyle, I promise you won't regret, and your body will thank you forever. Being a woman does not have to be painful ladies!!! :)
Take care, love Thais xx