Endometriosis is an extremely distressing yet under diagnosed condition which can severely compromise quality of life.

Endometriosis affects women of reproductive age and occurs when endometrial (womb) tissue implants itself and grows in other areas of the body. Often this occurs in the pelvic cavity but it can affect any part of the body including the bowel, kidneys, bladder and even the nose, resulting in nosebleeds during periods. This out of place tissue is influenced by oestrogen and progesterone, growing and bleeding in a similar way to the uterine (womb) tissue. This causes problems because, whereas the lining of the womb is shed during period, the blood from the misplaced endometrial tissue gets trapped in the body forming scar tissue, inflammation and blood filled cysts.

Symptoms vary from woman to woman and can include:

  • severe period pain which may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting or fainting
  • bowel or bladder symptoms which are exacerbated during periods
  • chronic pelvic and lower back pain
  • heavy or irregular periods
  • pain during sex
  • infertility

How can diet, homeopathy, herbs and supplements help women with endometriosis?

Women suffering from endometriosis have imbalanced oestrogen and progesterone levels with a tendency towards too much oestrogen. Endometriosis is also associated with increased inflammation and immune dysfunction as a healthy immune system would detect and destroy the out of place cells. To date, there are few effective conventional treatments for endometriosis, but fortunately, the natural approach has a lot of offer as diet, homeopathy, herbs and nutritional supplements have the potential to balance hormone levels, regulate immune function and reduce pain and inflammation.

Nutrition:

These are some nutritional recommendations that I have found to be helpful for my clients with endometriosis:

Eat organic as much as you can to avoid hormone disrupting pesticides.

Include ground flaxeeds to help increase sex binding globulin and facilitate the removal of excess oestrogen from the body. 1-2 tablespoons daily can be helpful.

Take advantage of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels, kale, cabbage and bok choy to help the liver detoxify excess oestrogen.

Eat wild caught oily fish including wild caught sardines, mackerel, salmon and trout which contain the powerful anti inflammatory omega 3 fats. Plant sources of omega 3 found in walnuts and seeds such as flax, hemp and chia can also be helpful.

Enjoy fibre rich foods such as chickpeas, beans, lentils and a variety of colourful vegetables which help to bind excess oestrogen and excrete it from the body via the bowel. Vegetables also contain a powerful array of antioxidant phytonutrients which are anti inflammatory.

Avoid non organic dairy and meat produce as meat and dairy contain residues of growth hormones and antibiotics which are routinely administered to the animals. Consuming organic dairy helps to reduce exposure to these but even organic milk contains naturally occurring oestrogens.

Go easy on sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, caffeine and alcohol as they can deplete nutrients, interfere with the natural balance of hormones, impair detoxification and promote inflammation.

Avoid eating or drinking from plastic bottles or containers as they contain harmful, hormone disrupting chemicals including Bisphenol A (BPA) and phytalates.

Avoid toxic cosmetics and personal care products¬†which to be honest includes most products that are available from supermarkets and chemists, even many of those that are advertised as containing “natural ingedients.” Many of these products contain a cocktail of toxic, hormone disrupting chemicals such as parabens and phytalates.

When I started using natural cosmetics and personal care products about 10 years ago the choice was quite limited but we are now lucky to have a fantastic choice of health and earth friendly, effective, divinely scented products to choose from. Green People’s mascara could certainly give some of the leading brands a run for thier money and, unlike most mascaras, on the market it is natural and non toxic.

These are some of my favourite natural brands:

Earthzest Organics  for 15% off quote code TANYA10

Green People also available from The Natural Dispensary with 15% off using code TA015

The Natural Dispensary

Neals Yard

Supplements:

Whilst there are many supplements that may be helpful for women with endometriosis, these are the ones that I have found to be the most effective. For the best result, most of these supplements should be taken daily for 3-6 months rather than just during periods. If you are taking prescribed medication it is always best to check with your GP, Pharmacist, Nutritional Therapist or Homeopath before taking supplements.

Vitex Agnus Castus is a really important hormone balancing herb which acts on the pituitary gland to increase progesterone in the second phase of the cycle thereby balancing excess oestrogen. It is best taken for at least 3-6 months and can also regulate the menstrual cycle when periods are irregular. Vitex Agnus Castus is not suitable if you are taking the contraceptive pill, if you have a Mirena coil or if you are pregnant.

Omega 3 fish oils have a powerful anti inflammatory and immune balancing effects. Ideally choose a fish oil in the more biologically compatible triglyceride form. Nordic Naturals offer one of the purest, high quality, sustainable fish oils.

Magnesium is an effective muscle relaxant which may help to relieve pain. Magnesium citrate is a well utilised form and a typical dose would be 150mg twice daily. If you experience loose stools whilst taking magnesium you may need to reduce the dose.

Vitamin B Complex as the B group of vitamins are required by the body neutralise excess oestrogen and vitamin B6 can significantly help to reduce period pain. Another option is to take a good quality multivitamin & mineral which includes therapeutic levels of B Vitamins and other supportive nutrients. I often recommend Thorne Research Basic Nutrients, Viridian Multi Phytonutrient, Lamberts Premtesse or the new Biocare Methy Multinutrient.

Other supplements to consider include:

Probiotics assist with the detoxification of oestrogen and help balance the immune system. They are particularly worth taking if you suffer from bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, digestive discomfort and wind. One of the probiotics that I often recommend is Biocare Bioacidophilus.

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) is a liver protective herb which supports the detoxification of oestrogen and other hormone disrupting chemicals.

Vitamin D levels have been shown to be low in people with painful periods and Vitamin D is essential for keeping the immune system balanced. A typical dose would be 2000iu daily, however, it is best to test your Vitamin D levels to ascertain how much you need. Optimum Vitamin D levels should be between 75nmol/L and 150nmol/L.

Test kits can be ordered from City Assays for £28.

City Assays Vitamin D

Serraenzyme is a proteolytic enzyme which may help to break down scar tissue, cysts and inflammatory tissue. It needs to be taken on an empty stomach e.g 40 minutes before food or at least 2 hours after eating. Some people find it easiest to take it at bedtime.

Cramp bark (viburnum opulus) is a herb which, as its name suggests, may help to alleviate painful cramps, including menstrual cramping. This herb can be used just during periods to help alleviate acute pain. Cramp bark is contrindicated if you are taking blood thinning medication.

For 15% off supplements from The Natural Dispensary quote code TA015 when you order or enter the code in the PROMO box if ordering online.

Homeopathic remedies:

Homeopathic remedies are a safe, natural and effective way of supporting women with endometriosis. They act as catalysts which activate the body’s own healing mechanism, helping to alleviate symptoms, but they also have the potential to resolve the root causes of the disease and offer a more permanent solution.

There are many homeopathic remedies for women with endometriosis and it is best to consult a professional Homeopath. However, I have included a few remedies which I have found to be particularly helpful so if one of these remedies suits your symptoms it is well worth giving it a try.

Lachesis is an excellent remedy for women who experience extremely painful periods with shooting pains upward, particularly in the region of the left ovary or the left side generally. The pain may be accompanied by gagging and retching. The symptoms are aggravated by the pressure of clothes but relieved by hard pressure. One lady who benefited enormously from this remedy told me that she used to press her left ovary into the corner of a table for relief as only really hard pressure would help. Pain may also radiate from the uterus and abdomen toward the chest. Women needing Lachesis may also experience nosebleeds during periods.

Other notable indications for Lachesis are the amelioration of pain as the blood flow gets heavier and a marked emotional release as soon as the period starts.

Pulsatilla can be helpful for women or young girls with extremely painful periods which may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The greater the flow of blood the more intense the pain tends to be. There can be severe cramping, cutting and bearing down pains which may be alleviated by lying down. Periods can be irregular, changeable and clotted or too late and very light.

Women needing this remedy may also experience disturbed sleep, throbbing headaches, restlessness and chilliness during periods and may look very pale. Other indications for Pulsatilla include emotional sensitivity with changeable moods with tearfulness. Emotional tension is often relived by having a good cry and a cuddle with loved ones.

Sepia is a wonderful remedy for women who experience bearing down pains during periods, as if everything would escape through the vulva. There can also be sharp clutching pains with nausea, violent stitches upwards from the uterus towards the belly button, pain and heaviness in the ovarian region which radiates to the back. Sepia may be indicated for women whose periods flow more profusely at night than during the day. Faintness, chilliness and shuddering during periods may also occur.

Sepia is also a restorative remedy for women who feel totally drained and dragged down and yet the Sepia woman’s symptoms may be eased by intense physical exercise. Emotionally women needing Sepia women can feel tearful, depressed, irritable and critical, especially before periods.

How to take the remedies:

If one of the above remedies resonates with you I would recommend trying 1 pillule of the 200c potency twice daily for 3 days. This can be taken at any time of the month and you may need to repeat the remedies after a month or two. In addition, I would recommend the following remedies which can help to naturally balance oestrogen and progesterone levels.

Folliculinum 30c twice daily for 3 days and then two doses once a week for about 6 weeks to help to balance oestrogen levels.

Progesterone 200c once a day taken from ovulation until the start of your period to help balance progesterone levels. If you don’t know when you are ovulating you can start taking it about 10 days before the date that your period is due.

Buying and taking Homeopathic Remedies:

When taking a homeopathic remedy, just pop it under your tongue and suck it. They need to be taken at least 15 minutes away from eating or drinking (except water), and cleaning your teeth as they can be antidoted by strong tastes.

The remedies can be obtained from Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy:

Helios

Tanya Artus BSc. is a Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath registered with BANT, CNHC, ARH. She can be contacted on 07932 535829, tanya@inspiringhealth.co.uk, www.inspiringhealth.co.uk