Endometriosis is no small disorder occurring in women of reproductive age.
It is a problem that is a cause or cofactor in many fertility issues with an estimate of 20-30% of women testing positive for endometriosis.
Furthermore, many women with endometriosis experience debilitating pain on onset of period. Sometimes this pain is so sever, that it may cause vomiting or feinting.
Endometriosis occurs when the endometrial tissue breaches the uterine cavity and lodges in the abdominal cavity. The endometrial tissue is highly sensitive to oestrogen, and so tends to build up and dissolve as the menstrual cycle comes and goes.
The endometrial lesions can create adhesions and scar tissue where it lodges. If the lesions are around the fallopian tubes, or the ovaries, it may cause issues with fertility, as there may be issues with transportation of the egg or sperm, or issues with fertilization.
There is increasing evidence of immunological changes which leads to localized inflammation around the area of the endometrial lesions. Inflammatory cytokines and autoantibodies are often seen at the sights of lesions.
For this reason, endometriosis is starting to be linked with auto-immunity.
Chinese Medicine view on the mechanism of endometriosis
From the time that I first started to learn about chinese medicine, the following adage was drummed into me :-
“Where there is stagnation, there is pain.”
Endometriosis is also considered a long-term stagnation of qi, blood and phlegm, that leads to blood stagnation and masses in the abdominal cavity. Blood stagnation blocks the flow of meridians and channels leading to extreme pain.
The root conditions for why there was stagnation need to be addressed. It is more than likely due to an imbalance within the person, that brought about the conditions.
What you can do to assist your own healing of Endo?
What can I do to alleviate the symptoms of endometriosis?
Previously, we have talked about the role of the immune system, and the inflammatory cytokines produced causing severe abdominal pain. Here lies the key to reducing or eliminating the symptoms: reducing inflammation.
There are several lifestyle and dietary modifications that can be incorporated to improve inflammation in the body.
Firstly consider removing inflammatory foods.
Most animal products including meat, fish, dairy and eggs are ultimately inflammatory for the body. You may simply understand it as follows. Each time we choose to consume different types of foods, we feed our microbiome in our guts. The microbiome that assists to break down animal products produce a lot of endotoxins as a by product.
These endotoxins are extremely inflammatory, and cause the bowels to become permeable. This leads to endotoxins entering our bloodstream within hours of our animal based meals (https://nutritionfacts.org/2012/09/20/why-meat-causes-inflammation/).
Eating a whole food plant based diet is one very important way to start reducing inflammation in the body.
In Chinese Medicine, animal products are yang and hot by nature. That is to say that the consumption of these foods tends to create heat in the body. While a certain amount of heat is required for the normal operation of the body, too much causes agitation and inflammation.
The nature of fruit and vegetables is yin in nature. The consumption of these foods create an environment of moisture and coolness. This is perfect to counteract an inflammatory body.
Further, the bacteria that digests the fibre from fruit and vegetables, create short-chained fatty acids. Short-chained fatty acids are anti-inflammatory for the body (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/short-chain-fatty-acids-101)(https://res.mdpi.com/d_attachment/nutrients/nutrients-03-00858/article_deploy/nutrients-03-00858.pdf) in general.
Promoting qi and blood movement:
The liver is the primary organ associated with the regulated movement of qi and blood in Chinese Medicine, and hence the focus of correction in organ theory. As endometriosis is stagnation and accumulation in the lower abdomen, herbs and acupuncture is usually prescribed to regulate qi and blood.
Improving the function of the liver is also a choice option and goes beyond just detoxing the liver. Reducing the fat content of your diet eases the load on the liver, as does the elimination of other intoxicants such as excessive drinking, pesticides and herbicides.
Nourishing the liver is just as important as cleaning it. In a nutshell, it usually involves giving the liver the nutrients required for smooth operation. The colour “green” is associated with the liver, and Chinese medicine believes that green foods have a special association with nurturing the liver. Be sure to fill your diet with green leafy vegetable, and seaweeds such as nori and wakame, which are loaded with phytonutrients, and minerals.
Moving the body
In a system:
Due to our sedentary lifestyles, where we spend long hours sitting, we tend to be quite flaccid in the abdominal region. Unless you are specifically training, people don’t tend to engage their lower abdominal muscles as much as probably preferable. The pelvic muscles don’t tend to be activated, leading to the pooling of qi and blood.
Moderate exercise of all sorts encourages circulation. Especially good is learning to use lower abdominal muscles, to flush fresh qi and blood into that part of the body.
There are many herbs and supplements that may assist with endometriosis, but you are best to talk to a health care professional to see if it is suitable for you.
One which has been researched is Cucurmin. or the active component of tumeric.
Turmeric – Tumeric has been shown to reduce the lesion size and activity of endometriosis, as it is highly anti-inflammatory and immune modulating. A study performed in 2013 suggested that curcurmin may help with ostrodial production (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3941414/).