Home remedies for endometriosis and infertility
This is a disease in which tissue from the endometrium the lining of the uterus which should have sloughed off during a menstrual period instead migrates and implants on the ovaries, tubes, uterine ligaments, bladder, intestines and even distant areas such as the lungs
Under the hormonal influence, as the tissue bleeds in conjunction with the menstrual period each month, it causes pain and scarring. The disease can also impair fertility. Endometriosis is a condition that affects the reproductive system and pelvic area of a woman’s body. The onset of the disease is subtle and often goes unnoticed, but gradually the symptoms begin to appear.
Endometriosis is associated with the menstrual cycle and the hormones that trigger menstruation. The disease begins when tiny particles that resemble the lining of the uterus make their way towards the pelvic cavity. These particles start functioning like the uterine lining which is also known as the endometrium. The endometrium responds to the hormones in the body and prepares for possible pregnancy every month by accumulating blood cells and other important chemicals.
If pregnancy does not take place, the blood is shed through the menstrual period. The particles that travel to the pelvic cavity also function in the same manner and start reacting to hormones. However, the blood that is shed from these growths cannot leave the body and this leads to internal bleeding and inflammation. This can continue for months and even years before symptoms of pain and discomfort start to surface.
Many women only begin to suspect that something is wrong when they experience worsening pain during menstruation.
Naturopathic physicians consider this disease to be a result of a hyperestrogenic state. Either the body is overproducing estrogen, underproducing progesterone or, most likely, there is a delayed breakdown of active estrogen by the liver. (The liver has many jobs—processing and storage of nutrients, breakdown of internal and external toxins, manufacture of important compounds, etc.)
If the liver is overburdened, the estrogen in the body may not get broken down. Also, if you're a dedicated meat and dairy eater, the prevalence of estrogens used in the food industry to stimulate animal growth adds, even more, estrogen to your body.
Causes of Endometriosis
The exact cause of endometriosis has not been determined till now. However, there are some theories that aim to throw light on why this condition develops.
- One theory speculates that a small quantity of menstrual fluid flows back towards the pelvic cavity from the uterus during menstruation. This fluid contains endometrium cells. This occurrence is called retrograde menstruation. However many studies have shown that women who experience retrograde menstruation do not necessarily go on to develop endometriosis. This theory also does not explain why the disease sometimes develops in the breasts, lungs and other areas of the body.
- Endometriosis may spread through the circulatory and lymphatic network
- It was earlier thought that the disease may be transmitted during surgical procedures. However, this is not likely in recent times due to the improvements in surgical management.
- Treatment such as estrogen replacement therapy may stimulate certain cells which then undergo a transformation and resemble other types of cells.
- Endometriosis may run in families. There is also a genetic link to the tendency to have migrant endometrial cells in the pelvic cavity right from birth.
- There may be a higher risk of endometriosis in women who are exposed to environmental toxins. Certain chemicals and compounds present in the environment can react adversely in the body and lead to imbalances.
- Estrogen levels are balanced by the liver. The liver is also responsible for removing estrogen from the body. Diseases that affect the liver can increase the risk of endometriosis.
- The most credible theory regarding the cause of endometriosis is that of an association with auto-immune disorders. These disorders can occur due to various genetic and environmental risk factors.
The indication that you may have this disease is premenstrual and menstrual pain that worsens each month. You may also have pain during intercourse or during defecation. This pain may radiate to the thighs and is not usually relieved by rest or analgesics. And finally, you may be experiencing difficulty getting pregnant.
Although allopathic physicians treat the condition with surgery and powerful hormones such as birth control pills, progestogens or Danazol (a pituitary hormone suppressor), naturopathic physicians' approach is quite different. We have good results from supporting the liver and digestive system through diet, herbs and nutrient supplementation, improving pelvic circulation with local treatments and slowing down the hyperestrogenic state with herbs. The thyroid function should also be evaluated since the thyroid affects other glandular secretions throughout the body.
The process of pregnancy itself offers a respite from the menstrual cycle since there is no ebb and flow of the hormones that cause the endometrial patches to bleed. If you can achieve conception, your body gets nine full months to rest, and even more, time if you choose to breastfeed. Many women have found that their endometriosis does not recur after the birth of their first child.
- Follow the basic preventive nutrition program in Chapter 3, page 46.
- In addition, decrease or eliminate your consumption of meat and dairy, or use only hormone-free varieties.
- Eliminate all refined foods, coffee and other caffeinated beverages as well as all sources of hydrogenated fats.
- Eat regular meals, but consume more of your calories at breakfast and noon, and have only a light supper in the evening.
- It's a good idea to have your health care provider or a licensed nutritionist do a blood chemistry analysis to look at your individual nutritional needs.
Some herbal preparations are excellent for supporting your liver and digestive system. They are goldenseal, dandelion (fresh leaves can be used in salad), artichoke, Silybum (milk thistle), and burdock (the variety known as gobo root can be eaten).
- Take these herbs singly or in combination twice daily (2 tsp. extract, 2-3 capsules, or 1 cup infusion).
- To improve pelvic circulation, use xanthoxylon, ocotillo, goldenseal, or witch hazel. Take these herbs twice daily (1 tsp. extract, 1-2 capsules or 1/2 cup infusion).
- To balance estrogen production in your body you should take chaste-tree berry (Vitex). Take this once or twice daily (2 tsp., 2-3 capsules or 1 cup infusion).
- To calm the pain, you can use crampbark, black haw, valerian, and wild yam. Take these herbs every two to three hours as needed (1 tsp., 1-2 capsules or 1/2 cup infusion).
- You can use any of the herbs listed above as a tea, infusion, decoction, capsules or liquid extract.
Endometriosis Home Remedies
- Perform Kegel exercises, 50-100 daily in sets of 10 at a time.
- Sitz baths, alternating hot and cold water, can be a complementary addition to endometriosis care. Sit in hot water covering your hips for four minutes, then cold water for one minute; alternate four or five times, ending with cold. Do this once or twice daily for at least 15 days.
- Castor oil packs will warm the area and encourage blood flow and also may assist in the treatment of infertility caused by endometrial scarring. Apply castor oil to the lower abdomen, cover with a woolen cloth, apply the heating pad or hot water bottle for 30 to 45 minutes daily for at least 15 days. Do not use this treatment during menses.
- Clay applications will also create heat. Mix clay with water to make a thick paste, apply to the abdomen 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, cover with a towel, allow to dry, then wash off. Do this once a day for 15 days. Do not use this treatment during menses.
- HOMEOPATHY: Although homeopathy can be helpful in the treatment of endometriosis, a simple suggestion of possible remedies is not helpful.
- Regular exercise helps to balance estrogen levels in the body and also boosts the immune system. Exercise also helps to ease pain and discomfort during the menstrual cycle.
- Supplements such as rosemary and dandelion extracts are believed to be beneficial in alleviating symptoms of endometriosis. They help to regulate hormonal levels. It is advisable to consult your doctor before using these supplements.
- The herb, motherwort, helps to enhance blood volume in the reproductive system and also stimulates better functioning. It thus helps in combating menstrual problems such as blood clots or poor flow. To prepare motherwort tea, add a teaspoon of the dried herb to a cup of hot water and allow it to steep for about 15 minutes. Drink about three cups of the tea daily.
- Chamomile helps to alleviate severe cramping and pain during menstruation which is often associated with endometriosis. It also helps to relieve stomach troubles. The herb may be used in the form of capsules, tincture or tea.
Stress is a culprit in many diseases, and although it does not cause the disease, it certainly plays a part in endometriosis. It is a wise idea to engage in some form of regular stress reduction, such as a course in yoga or tai chi chuan, Feldenkrais or Alexander technique, and/or meditation.