Natural Remedies for Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a medical condition common to many women, especially during their childbearing years. This occurs when a special kind of tissue lining contained within the uterus also grows in areas outside of it.
What is Endometriosis?
The inside of the uterus is lined with what is called endometrium, a kind of tissue that thickens every month in preparation for the release of an egg cell from the ovaries. On this endometrium will attach the fertilized egg in the event of a pregnancy; otherwise, it will break down and bleed out of your uterus during a regular menstrual cycle.
In endometriosis, this tissue is no longer limited to inside the uterus, but also to the organs outside it, including the fallopian tubes, ovaries, intestines, and sometimes, even the belly. Tissues like these are called implants, and they thicken, break down, and bleed along with the endometrium during menstrual periods. However, these tissues are located outside of the uterus, leaving them trapped in the body with no means of flowing out. This can become painful and irritating, sometimes leading to the formation of scar tissues and/or cysts. In some instances, they also lessen the chances of conceiving successfully.
Although the exact causes of endometriosis are still unknown, experts have determined that high levels of estrogen present in childbearing years play a part in this condition. When menopause kicks in, levels of estrogen significantly decline, along with the symptoms of endometriosis.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
The most common symptoms of this condition are:
- Abnormal bleeding, such as in heavy menstruation
- Spotting in between regular cycles
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse or while passing urine or bowel movement.
- Pain in areas such as the lower belly, lower back, rectum, and vagina, depending on where the implants are located. Sensations may range from mild cramping to intense pain and take place in the event of menstruation, ovulation, bowel movement, and/or sexual intercourse.
Causes and Risk Factors
The precise causes of endometriosis have not yet been determined by medical experts; however, some theories as to its risk factors include the following:
- Being overweight.
- Abnormal immune functions, which alter the body’s ability to recognize endometrial tissues growing in the wrong places.
- Direct transfer of endometrial tissues from the uterus to outer organs, which occurs during surgeries, especially in Caesarean sections.
- Coelomic metaplasia, in which the lining of pelvic organs contain cells that eventually grow into other tissue forms, including endometrial cells.
- Retrograde menstruation, also known as reflux menstruation. This occurs when menstrual flow is reversed, traveling back up into the fallopian tubes.
- Hereditary factors. Women with relatives who are positive for endometriosis have as much as a tenfold risk of developing the condition themselves.
It is important to note that endometriosis may naturally resolve by itself during pregnancy, albeit only temporarily. Because of the nature of endometrium tissues and cells, the occurrences of endometriosis and its symptoms may lessen and even disappear after menopause takes place, although there is no guarantee of this. Women who have this condition also have a greater risk of developing cancer in their ovaries.
Symptoms of endometriosis can be treated with home remedies, which include the following:
- Increasing sexual activity to relieve backaches and cramps.
- Taking acupuncture therapy to balance out hormone levels and reduce pain.
- Exercising regularly to improve blood flow and release endorphins that reduce pain.
- Getting a therapeutic massage to resolve pelvic congestion and relieve pain in the area.
- Lying down at an elevated angle or bring the knees up to the chest in order to relieve pressure from the back area.
- Applying heat to the lower region of the belly with a hot water bottle, heating pad, or a warm bath to improve blood flow and ease the pain.
- Contrasting sitz baths. Sit in a hot water bath for three minutes, then in a cold water bath for one minute immediately afterwards. Do this two more times to complete a full set. For optimum results, do one to two sets in one day, for three to four days every week.
- Using a castor oil pack. Apply the oil to a clean soft piece of cloth, place it on your abdominal area, and cover the area with a plastic wrapper. Add a hot water bottle or another heat source over the area and leave it on for half an hour to a full hour. Do this for three consecutive days, but never take the castor oil internally.
Nutritional Remedies for Endometriosis
Changes in diet and nutritional supplement intake may also help alleviate the pain from endometriosis. Some diet tips include:
- Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Drinking six to eight glasses of water every day.
- Increasing intake of antioxidants like fruits and vegetables.
- Eating more lean meat and fewer red meat, as well as beans, tofu, and fish.
- Eliminating refined food and food that may potentially cause allergies. These include wheat, dairy, soy, corn, and preservatives.
- Using healthy cooking oils and avoiding sugar, salt, and trans fatty acids, such as those found in baked goods and processed food.
- Taking nutritional supplements to make up for any deficiencies persisting in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, probiotic supplements, coenzymes, alpha-lipoic acids, and other multivitamins can help balance out nutritional deficits that affect hormones and blood flow throughout the body.
- Taking herbal supplements for hormonal support and to improve blood flow. Some common herbs include evening primrose oil, chasteberry, cat’s claw, bromelain, and turmeric. Traditional Chinese medications, which contain numerous herbs, are also another alternative. It is important to consult with a doctor beforehand to figure out the proper and optimum dosage, as well as to ensure that no negative effects will come from taking these homeopathic supplements.
WebMD. Endometriosis. http://www.webmd.com/women/endometriosis/endometriosis-topic-overview
MedicineNet. Endometriosis. http://www.medicinenet.com/endometriosis/article.htm#endometriosis_facts