From our previous article “Diagnosing and Treating Endometriosis- Part Three”, we’ve become acquainted with medical options used today to treat this debilitating disease. Now let’s explore alternative therapies you can do all on your own by simply incorporating lifestyle changes into your daily routine.
As you well know, early diagnosis and treatment is key in limiting Endometriosis’ impact on your life. Take control of your own treatment, where practical. Natural therapies have both palliative and curative properties to help soothe and restore a sense of normalcy in your life. They include a variety of treatment modalities:
Natural Therapies and Lifestyle Changes
- Warm castor oil packs for pain – Apply pack to ovaries/abdomen to help reduce pain. With regular castor oil packs may reduce Endometriotic cysts. Method: buy good quality castor oil from your health store. Use a soft, absorbent cloth, big enough to fit the circumference of your abdomen. Have on hand: a jar, heat pack and protective pouch/material. Pour castor oil in a jar, dip in absorbent cloth; apply cloth on the area you need to soothe. Place heating source over the pack. Leave on for 30 – 60 minutes. Note: do not perform during menstrual flow.
- Engage in moderate exercise – Regular exercise, such as brisk walks, swimming and dancing will help improve blood flow to organs, lower estrogen in the body and increase endorphins (your body’s natural painkiller!). It also helps you maintain a healthy weight, improve your sense of wellbeing and boosts energy.
- Avoid tampons – Early use of tampons is associated with increased risks of Endometriosis. A silicone menstrual cup is an eco-friendly, comfortable alternative, recommended by Endometriosis sufferers. What is a menstrual cup? Surprisingly, it’s been around since the 1930’s but has just, in the last couple of years, had a resurgence in popularity. Described as “a reusable, bell-shaped menstrual cup that is worn internally and sits low in the vaginal canal, collecting rather than absorbing your menstrual flow….Perfect for all activities (on air, land or sea), its easy care and use make for a better period experience. Wear for up to 12 hours without leaks or worry.” Not sure where to purchase one? Check out our Shop section to see our Top recommendations.
- No intercourse during the menstrual cycle – This is a highly individualized, subjective decision; the menstrual cycle is a vulnerable time for a woman with painful Endometriosis; sexual activity is best avoided during this time. For more medical reasons, Eastern medicine warns that sexual intercourse during a woman’s menstrual cycle can cause blood blockages and clotting issues by causing stagnation in the uterus which can exacerbate Endometriosis (along with other issues like those with blood clotting disorders) and cause heavy menstrual bleeding as a result. Yeah, more cuddle time instead!
- Organic food diet – Avoid any additional estrogen exposure from your diet. An organic diet not only helps Endometriosis symptoms by balancing hormones, it also improves the function of your digestive system where 80% of your immune function occurs.
Eliminate dairy or foods containing casein, whey, soy or milk protein. Eat hormone-free meat and be guided by an anti-inflammatory or allergen-free diet. Avoid gluten (wheat), corn and trans fat (cookies, crackers, French fries, donuts, cakes, etc.) as much as possible. Why? Read our articles on following gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free diets…
Limit excessive intake of foods with arachidonic acid, a common cause of internal inflammation. Arachidonic acid is a type of polyunsaturated fat or omega-6 fatty acid; it is healthy in balanced doses combined with omega-3s but quickly becomes unhealthy in larger amounts. The American diet of high animal fats is a typical example of excessive amounts.
- Almost vegan – Start by replacing one food at a time with healthier substitutes; your body will respond very quickly to what you eat and if it’s wholesome, you stand to be generously rewarded. Try experimenting with a 90% plant-based diet, limiting your intake of soy while consuming fatty fish.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – Are essential in decreasing inflammation and improving immunity. Most plant-based, cold pressed oils such as olive oil, canola and evening primrose oil are healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Evening primrose and fish oil supplements can be taken daily. Dosage: evening primrose – 500 to 1000 mg for hormonal imbalance and stress; fish oil 1 – 2 tablespoons for general health. Check out our Recommendations for Supplements and our Shop to purchase our Top recommendations.
- Multi-vitamin supplements – Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E, the B vitamins and trace minerals like selenium, calcium and magnesium, and co-enzyme Q10 (take 200 mg at bedtime) will improve immune system function.
- Super-antioxidant foods – Brightly colored foods are rich in health-preserving chemicals. Cherries, berries, pomegranate, plums, kale, egg plant and bell peppers work wonders for the digestive tract and cardiovascular system.
Include potent food extracts, such as pycogenol (pine bark extract), grape seed extract and bilberry extract to combat autoimmune diseases, reduce blood clots and inflammation. Pycogenol supplement is recommended in complementary medicine in the relief of Endometriosis symptoms. Take 50 milligrams, three times daily for poor circulation, blood clots and hormone imbalances. Find these and other recommended supplements in our Shop.
- Homeopathy – A professional homeopath takes into account your constitutional type– your physical, emotional and psychological makeup–before determining the most appropriate treatment for you. Some of the most common plant remedies used for Endometriosis are listed:
- Belladonna for heavy menstruation with heat sensation.
- Cimicifuga racemosa for unbearable pain radiating from hip to hip; has varying health promoting actions on the ovaries and uterus.
- Chamomilla for heavy periods with clotted blood and pain.
- Calcarea phosphoricum for prolonged periods with backache.
Early, Accurate Diagnosis
Misdiagnosis may be the single biggest barrier to fertility other than Endometriosis, itself. Early treatment can remove a lot of the anguish and isolation women experience with this condition.
Knowing your body is one of the first steps to getting prompt treatment. Many women suffering from Endometriosis can’t explain what it is—oftentimes they don’t understand it themselves. If you can’t explain it, you leave the door open to inaccurate assessments. Today, more people are aware of this disease than ever before, but Endometriosis continues to pose formidable diagnostic and surgical challenges for doctors.
Take an “activist” role in your fertility. No one else knows your body better than yourself. Act on what it’s telling you, educate yourself about the disease through various networks–find a specialist who will listen–and guide him or her toward the right diagnosis.