In my last column, I talked about the signs and possible causes of endometriosis. When the symptoms of endometriosis are minor no treatment is necessary. For more severe pain conventional medicine employs drugs and surgery.
If you missed part one of this article, please drop by the office to pick up a copy.
Today I want to talk about complementary treatments. Holistic therapy seeks to establish balance throughout the system. Endometriosis has taught me a great deal about medicine and about balancing the system to achieve health.
When I began practicing many years ago, one of my first cases was an 18-year-old woman who came in with endometriosis. By treating her whole system we were able to reduce the problem. The tissue was still there but it no longer caused her pain and the inflammation was gone. That was the first proof I saw that these methods work.
Let’s deal with prevention first. Avoid contact with known toxins and radiation. Keep the number of X-rays you receive to a minimum. Protect yourself from low-level radiation sources like computer screens. Reduce your exposure to chlorines and dioxins that can be found in PVC’s, plastic solvents, pesticides and pulp and paper mill effluent.
Centre your diet around whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts with soy and fish as your main sources of protein. Reduce your dairy and meat intake in order to reduce the various forms of estrogen in your diet. A good detoxification program is important. A one to three month regime of a cleansing diet or fasting if you tolerate it well aid in detoxification. Many herbs and supplements detoxify the liver, lymph system, blood and kidneys. Limit substances that impair the liver’s function such as excess sugar, alcohol and caffeine.
Vitamin E helps break down the excess estrogen in the body and can also limit the growth of adhesions and keep scar tissue soft. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) helps regulate the production of prostaglandin, which is released during times of stress and is associated with pain and inflammation. Good sources of GLA are flax oil and evening primrose oil. The Vitamin B complex helps promote the efficient metabolism of estrogen by the liver. Vitamin C is a potent anti-oxidant. It also decreases excessive bleeding and cramping.
Many herbs can help to tone the gynecological region and decrease symptoms. Herbs such as chasteberry, false unicorn root, cramp bark and black cohosh play various roles in relieving symptoms by treating the underlying causes. Herbs help increase circulation to the pelvis thus helping drainage in the area. They also rebalance the hormones and improve liver and digestive functions.
Progesterone can help by blocking the body’s monthly estrogen stimulus to the pelvic implants and thus limit the growth of the cells. Symptom reduction is gradual with progesterone treatment taking place over a period of four to six months.
Bike riding and sitz baths are two mechanical therapies I highly recommend. Both promote drainage of the pelvic cavity. Sitz baths consist of alternating hot and cold water immersions that open and close the blood vessels in the pelvis. This action helps drain away inflammatory agents while bringing healing nutrients to the pelvic cavity.
A regime of various holistic therapies can bring gentle, safe and effective relief from the pain of endometriosis.
Dr. Paulette Roscoe is a naturopathic physician who practices in Nanaimo. She welcomes your calls at 754-1733.