Endometriosis is when the cells that normally lines the inside of the uterus, the endometrium, also grow elsewhere in the abdominal cavity; such as the appendix, bladder and bowel, cervix, fallopian tubes and cervix.
The affected areas respond to the hormonal changes just as the regular lining of the uterus and may bleed in the same manner as well as begin hurting 2 weeks before the bleeding from menstruation begins. This bleeding causes pools of blood to form that are trapped and unable to leave the body.
Eventually, cysts or scar tissue, inflammation, and harm to tissues and organs can result. Many women fail to seek medical help because they simply mistake the symptoms of the disease for normal menstruation discomfort.
Symptoms include abdominal or back pain, pelvic pain, pain in the rectum or bleeding, painful intercourse, abnormal menstrual cycles, anxiety, bleeding between periods, chronic fatigue, hypoglycemia, depression, headaches, inability to become pregnant, blood in urine during menstruation, frequent urination, excessive flow during period, fever, nausea, vomiting and constipation.
There is debate in the medical community over the causes of endometriosis: whether endometriosis causes infertility or whether delaying childbearing results in endometriosis. However, it tends to run in families; often passed from mother to daughter.
Recommendations outlined below may help to keep endometriosis under control if it is diagnosed in the early stages.
As with all nutritional supplements, they should only be used in amounts typically recommended for nutritional purposes and you should always consult with a health professional first, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or taking prescription medications.
Vitamin B Complex. Each B vitamin has a different role that makes it useful for treating the symptoms of gynecologic problems. For instance – vitamin B6 is critical in the formation of hemoglobin and is useful in treating anemia that may follow heavy bleeding. Vitamin B2 is involved in hormone production. Together, the B vitamins maintain the health of the liver; which helps regulate estrogen. Take as directed on label.
Vitamin E supplements may reduce the production of certain prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that promote inflammation and aids in hormonal balance. Start with 400 IU daily and increase slowly to 1,000 IU daily.
Calcium. Some nutrition researchers have theorized that endometriosis is related to an inability to absorb calcium properly. Take 1,500 milligrams daily using chelate form.
Iron. A deficiency is common in those with this disorder. Use ferrous fumarate form. DO NOT take iron supplements unless anemia is diagnosed. Take as directed by physician.
Magnesium is one of the most important dietary minerals in the body and is present in large amounts in the liver, which helps regulate estrogen. Use chelate form. Take 1,000 milligrams daily at bedtime.
Flaxseed oil contains two essential fatty acids that reduce symptoms associated with endometriosis and menstrual problems. Take as directed on label.
Wild Yam. The root of this vine contains an alkaloid that relaxes the muscles of the abdomen. In addition, it contains anti-inflammatory saponins. It is also believed to have progesterone-like action, which may provide some mild pain relief.
Chaste berry (aka: Vitex) is an herb that fortifies a women’s reproductive system and can help control endometriosis and alleviate some of its side effects. It contains glycosides and flavonoids which are probably responsible for its stimulating effects on the pituitary gland, which in turn, signals the production of progesterone. Studies have shown that chaste berry helps to normalize the balance of female hormones, especially when too much estrogen is circulating.
Milk thistle is particularly effective for balancing the female menstrual cycle and supporting liver health.
Alfalfa is a good source of vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and healing. It is also a good source of needed minerals, including iron.
Kelp supplies needed dietary minerals.
Astragalus, garlic, goldenseal, myrrh gum, pau d’arco and red clover have antibiotic and anti-tumor actions.
Burdock root and red raspberry leaf help to balance hormones.
Siberian ginseng can be used to treat some cases of endometriosis. Use capsules, tablets or an extract according to the directions on the label. Be sure to get a diagnosis and discuss treatment with your doctor.
Stinging nettle is rich in iron.
Passion flower relaxes the smooth muscles that line the uterus making it helpful with controlling menstrual discomfort and back pain associated with endometriosis.
Black cohosh dried root and rhizome contain glycosides, isoflavones, isoferulic acid and tannins. This powerful combination promotes menstruation, relaxes uterine muscle spasms and relieves muscle related pain. Research indicates that black cohosh has an estrogen-like action, so its health benefits may also be related to a hormonal effect. DO NOT take if you are pregnant.
Dong quai has the abilities of maintaining healthy menstrual cycles, especially useful in maintaining regular periods and balanced estrogen levels.
Other herbs that may be helpful in relieving menstrual discomforts include balm, chamomile, dandelion, mint, rosemary, thyme, valerian and white willow.