Endometriosis is a women’s health issue that comes about when the lining of the uterus come out and flourish outside of the uterine cavity, usually on the ovaries. Since the female hormones have an influence on the endometrial cells when they live outside the uterine lining, they can cause severe symptoms at certain points during a women’s period.
Pelvic pain is usually the troubling symptom. Endometriosis lesions respond to hormonal stimulants and may “bleed” at the onset of menstruation. The blood gathers locally, causes swelling, and generates inflammatory responses, including the awakening cytokines which causes extreme pain.
Causes and risk factors
The ruling theory of the cause of endometriosis is that during menstruation, blood flows backwards and inserts endometrial cells in the pelvic cavity. The issue found with this hypothesis is that more than 80% of women who don’t have endometriosis have this reversed flow. Usually their immune system is able to block implantation and growth of the endometrial cells outside the uterus, so problems in immune function may be accountable for the development of endometriosis. Women who have endometriosis usually show change in immune function, specifically in those factors that are accountable for proper observation in the pelvic area. Other studies suggest that being exposed to toxins (household cleaners, certain plastics, heavy metals, lead, pesticides, PCBs) or radiations increases your risk for endometriosis. Other risk factors for endometriosis involve family history, sedentary lifestyle from an early age, high-fat diet, use of intrauterine devices, and too much or not balanced estrogen levels. Those who have a mother o sister with endometriosis are also at high risk.
In the majority of cases, endometriosis usually stops after menopause. For those women in their fertile years, endometriosis is merely managed. The most destructive treatment is surgery. For young women desiring to get pregnant in the near future, surgical treatment tries to remove the stray endometrial tissue and preserve the ovaries. The superior non-surgical treatment is the use of hormonal medication that restrains the natural menstrual cycle, in addition to pain medication to manage the unpleasantness. Occasionally, naturopathic physicians will use natural progesterone therapy to help alleviate the symptoms of endometriosis. Although there are progesterone creams available over-the-counter, being monitored by a physician is advised.
Treating endometriosis naturally is designed to achieve the following goals:
- Decrease inflammation
- Improve detoxification mechanism
- Reduce painful symptoms
Trans-fatty acids in the diet appears to increase your risk of having endometriosis, while adding long-chained omega-3 fatty acids appear to be beneficial. More than ten years of prospective data from the Nurse Health Study, which began in the late 1980s, were examined for the association between dietary fat and many health problems which included endometriosis. Those women whose diets were high trans-fatty acids were 50% more likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis. In comparison, the women who consumed omega-3 fatty acids were 25% less likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis.
The significance of a high-fiber diet in improving detoxification cannot be exaggerated enough. Foods that are rich in fiber are associated with the growth of friendly pathogens within the large intestine. Research show that a high-fiber diet and a largely vegetarian diet lead to a decrease of biologically active free estrogens in blood plasma. Increasing the consumption of high-fiber foods, chiefly vegetables, also helps to clear excess estrogen from the body. Foods that are specifically helpful in this regards are broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflowers. Other food that helps with cleaning out the liver includes beets, carrots, artichokes, lemons, dandelion greens, and watercress. Onion, garlic, and leeks contain compounds that improve the immune system and boost the production of liver enzymes that plays a role in detoxification.
Lastly, an important approach to the treatment of endometriosis may be the isoflavones in soy products and the lignans in flaxseeds. These foods reverse the effects of excess estrogen. A study done in Japan showed that moderate consumption of soy products was associated with a decrease risk of premenopausal hysterectomy. Sine a few of the surgeries were due to endometriosis, these outcomes led the researchers to conclude that moderate intake of soy may lower your risk for endometriosis. Foods to avoid include dairy products, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. The Environmental Protection Agency guesses that over 80% of human pesticide exposure happens through the foods that we consume, mainly meat and dairy products.
Dietary remedy can be very beneficial in endometriosis. In a two month study of 49 women with endometriosis, a huge reduction in symptoms occurred when refined carbohydrates and caffeine were dropped and the consumption of omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids were increased. Caffeine is a major source of the problem for women with endometriosis. In one study done, women who consume an average of more than 160 to 230 mg of caffeine per day (one to one and a half cup) had a 25% increased risk of endometriosis, while those drinking more had a 60% increase.