endometriosis

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a disease which affects a woman’s reproductive organ. The tissue starts growing outside the uterus is called endometrium(1). Usually the tissue growth will be on the ovaries, fallopian tubes(2), and the pelvic lines, but sometimes it can even spread outside the pelvic area.

The common symptoms of endometriosis

  • It can create painful periods and cramping during menstruation. The pain and cramp may begin before the periods and it continue for several after the onset of monthly periods.
  • It creates sharp, deep pain during ovulation, bowel movements(3), urination or sexual intercourse.
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding during monthly periods
  • Sometimes it develops nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and indigestion.
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Infertility(4)

Causes of endometriosis

  • The actual cause of endometrium is not scientifically found. Possible reasons are here.
  • Endometrium might be stimulated by the hormone estrogen(5).
  • Endometriosis can be a hereditary disease. Sometimes, it might have passed on from one generation to another generation through defective genes.
  • Endometrium cells can move during a process such as surgical removal of the uterus or cesarean delivery.
  • The blood during menstruation may wrongly enters the fallopian tubes and the pelvis instead of leaving from the body in the usual way.

It is important to see the doctor, if a woman experience pelvic pain or painful periods. Here are some of the home remedies to treat endometriosis.

Regular exercise

Regular light exercises can help manage endometriosis. Work out encourages the heart to pump blood to all organs, improves blood circulation, and help nutrients and oxygen to flow to all our systems. Daily exercise help release brain chemicals called endorphins(6) which can actually relieves pain. Yoga can be beneficial too, stretching the pelvic tissues and muscles can give pain relief and stress reduction. 

Pelvic massage

Pelvic massage before menstrual cycle help relax the muscles, reduces inflammation, and cramping. Use few drops of lavender essential oil(7) and gently massage the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes. Pelvic massage during menstrual time is not advisable.

Castor oil pack

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties present in castor oil is useful in soothing sore muscles. Spread few drops of castor oil on abdomen, do not use too much of oil. Place an old cloth on top of the oil. Place a heating pad on the cloth on low heat. Relax for 30 minutes.Remove and wipe off the remaining oil. It increases blood circulation,decreases pain, indigestion, relieves constipation and intestinal disorders(8).Castor oil pack helps shrink cysts, decreases inflammation and bloating.

Turmeric

Turmeric is known for its healing properties. In ayurvedic medicine it has been used for centuries to treat many ailments. The active compound called curcumin helps reduce inflammation. Studies show that curcumin has anti-inflammatory effect which is highly beneficial to people experiencing endometriosis symptoms. Take a teaspoon of turmeric boil in water.Strain the water, add lemon juice and honey. Mix and drink three times daily when experiencing pain and cramps. Studies have found that curcumin can suppress the production of endometrial cells and inhibit further growth.

Ginger tea

As like turmeric ginger has also been found to bean effective natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory, particularly woman who have affected with menstrual pain. People with endometriosis may experience nausea as a result of the condition. Ginger is considered as one of the best home remedies to overcome nausea. It is also safe, effective with no side effects. Take two slices of ginger root, one glass of boiling water, one teaspoon honey. Put ginger root in a mug, add boiling water and allow to steep for 5 to 7 minutes. Add honey, mix well and drink. This relieves nausea and cramps that can occur with endometriosis.

Flax seeds

They work as an excellent remedy to treat endometriosis. Flax seed is also called as linseed. It contains protein, fibre,omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties. Flax seeds are rich in fibre and lignans(9), these two nutrients have been found to be beneficial for estrogen related conditions. Also, omega-3 fatty acids are considered as a valued source when dealing with endometriosis. Take few teaspoons of flax seeds, grind and sprinkle it on cereals.

Stress reduction

Stress is one of the reasons for hormone imbalance. A hormone called cortisol mainly involved in stress response. A study conducted with 49 women found that the cortisol levels were particularly high in women with advanced endometriosis problem when compared with women who did not have this condition. Include foods which contain high amount vitamin B,vitamin C, zinc and magnesium. Nutrient rich foods can help reduce the stress level. Also, it is advisable to practice belly breathing, light exercises, mindful meditation and relaxation response. Regular practice helps relax muscles and joints and overall body.

Hydrotherapy(10)

A contrast sitz bath is recommended today for women with endometrium issue. Apart from water therapies including full bath sand wet compresses, a sitz bath is highly beneficial to manage the condition. Amanika Kumar, MD, a gynecologic oncologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester,Minnesota recommends patients to use sits bath as it helps reduce aches and be relaxing for a woman with endometriosis pain. It is not scientifically proved but some naturopaths and physician find that sitz bath is often helpful for this condition. Nowadays sitz baths are recommended for conditions like anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and postpartum tears.

Reduce chemical consumption

The environmental chemicals called dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are more connected with an increased prevalence and severity of endometriosis. The best way to reduce chemical consumption is to cut back on animal fat especially high fat dairy, fish and red meat. Animal fat contains more of dioxin and PCBs and it is main route of exposure. One Italian study proved with the data, 504 women with endometrium and found an increased risk with a high intake of red meat and ham. So, taking animal food and always prefer fresh vegetables and fruits.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to be beneficial for people with endometriosis. These EFAs are found in fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel. Fish oil capsules are highly preferable because good brands of capsules contain minimal amounts of dioxins and PCBs. An animal study conducted by the University of Western Ontario found that the specific compounds called EPA and DHA presence in fish oil can relieve pain by decreasing the levels of an inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandin E2. Researchers have also found that fish oil has the ability to slow down the growth of endometrial tissue.

Prefer anti-inflammatory foods

Taking anti-inflammatory food may not give instant relief, but it could help manage the endometriosis condition in the long term.Avoiding foods that cause inflammation and including anti-inflammatory foods in the regular diet can reduce the symptoms in the future. Take green leafy vegetables, chia seeds, celery, ginger, bone broth, salmon, blue berries,parsley. Also include broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, bok choy, and brussels sprouts which contains a compound called indoles, this appears to improve estrogen metabolism.

Other methods to treat endometriosis

Heat is another common treatment to relax pelvic muscles and menstrual cramps. Using heating pad with warm waterworks as effective as ibuprofen for pain relief.

Acupuncture, Ayurveda, and herbal medicines are an alternative natural therapy to suppress the symptoms of endometriosis. Consult the doctor before taking over-the-counter supplements.Also, never exceed the recommended dosage as it may have some side effects.

Kalaivani Selvaraj, MBA, got her Master’s degree in Human Resources. Due to her interest in natural healing, she pursued studies in the field of alternative medicine and is certified in Aromatherapy by Isla Verde Spa Training Academy. Ms. Kalaivani Selvaraj is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.