Endometriosis, defined by the presence of viable endometrial tissue outside the uterine cavity, is among the most common gynecologic disorders affecting women of reproductive age.
6-7% of all females suffer from endometriosis, 30-40% of whom are struggling with fertility. A quarter of women undergoing IVF have endometriosis.
In this article, we will go over what it is and what Chinese medicine can do
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that forms the lining of your uterus (called endometrium) grows outside of your uterine cavity where it belongs.
This tissue then colonizes nearby organs, like the ovaries, or bowels, and even in some rare cases further outside the abdominal cavity.
The normal fluctuations in the hormones that occur during your menstrual cycle affect the parasite endometrial tissue, causing the victim area to become inflamed and painful. This means the extra tissue will grow, thicken, and break down. Over time, the tissue that has broken down has nowhere to go and becomes trapped in your pelvis.
Common symptoms of endometriosis
Pelvic pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis. You may also have the following symptoms:
extremely painful periods
Dark red or brown menstrual blood with lots of clots (read more here)
pain in the lower abdomen before and during menstruation
cramps one or two weeks around menstruation
heavy menstrual bleeding
bleeding between periods
pain following sexual intercourse
pain with bowel movements
lower back pain
Fertility & endometriosis – the greatest impact endometriosis has on one’s fertility is by decreasing the blood flow to the ovaries. This can lead to a premature aging of the ovaries and make it difficult for them to perform their function of producing good quality eggs.
Western medicine's approach: the pill or surgery
Whereas TCM would follow the phases of a cycle to address the fluctuations, Western medicine just stops the cycle all together.
Chinese medicine's perspective
Endometriosis is usually a combination of:
Blood stasis: Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang
Damp heat: Lian Qiao, Hong Teng
Kidney Deficiency: Xu Duan, Yin Yang Huo, Tai Zi Shen
Chinese herbs for endometriosis
Chinese herbs prescribed by a board-certified herbalist have been shown in clinical trials to reduce the pain associated with endometriosis.
In 1980 researchers at the Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Shanghai First Medical College conducted a clinical trial. 156 endometriosis patients were divided into 3 groups based on their diagnosis then given a herbal formula.
According to the report, 82% of the women saw their symptoms mostly or entirely alleviated.
We will prescribe herbs based on your unique presentation, and add herbs to control pain from menstrual cramps (read)
In 2002, The Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine published a study of 67 women who were suffering from painful periods from endometriosis. Half of them received ear acupuncture while the other half did not have treatment.
81% of the women had less painful periods after receiving the acupuncture treatments.
Other tips for women with endometriosis
Read our article about diet recommendations for endometriosis.
Supplements for endometriosis
Fish oil– known for its anti-inflammatory properties, fish oil can be a valuable supplement to treat the pain associated with inflammation.Fish oil will also contribute to improved blood circulation.
Turmeric – used for centuries, this is both a natural anti-inflammatory and a blood mover.
Folic acid– folic acid is needed to insure proper blood flow, and folic acid deficiency may contribute to blood clotting
Castor oil and heat packs
A warm castor oil pack on the lower abdomen brings relief for many of our Taproot patients. If you don't want to get sticky and messy, a simple hot water bottle or heat pack usually also reduces painful cramps.
The back flow of menstrual blood is often named as one of the main causes of endometriosis. IT may not be the whole story, but might as well avoid the counter flow of menstrual blood wherever possible.
We recommend our patients to avoid yoga inversions during their period.
Exercise promotes healthy blood flow. Here at Taproot, we notice that our endometriosis patients who exercise frequently have a better response to acupuncture treatment.
Reduce estrogen dominance
The liver is responsible for metabolizing excess estrogen. Supporting good liver function is an important part of a holistic strategy to treat endometriosis.
Because of this, we advise our Taproot patients with endometriosis to
limit their alcohol consumption
use liver tonics like dandelion, milk thistle, and burdock root
adopt a low-fat, high-fiber, mostly plant-based diet
Read more about estrogen dominance and what to do about it.
Whether or not your are trying to conceive, acupuncture and herbs can help. Talk to your women's health specialist today !
No matter where you are in your
woman's health, fertility, pregnancy & mothering journey,
if you need support, we can help.
In addition to our own team of fertility & women's health acupuncturists, we are well-connected within the Los Angeles- Pasadena area community to help you find the right integrative and holistic care for you.
If you have more questions please call our front desk, at 626-841-2991, or email us.