What is Endometriosis?
It is a non-malignant disorder in which functioning uterine lining (endometrial tissue) is present outside of the uterus. This tissue then varies in size in response to fluctuations in estrogen which then creates pressure on nerves and surrounding tissue causing pain.
What are the symptoms of Endometriosis?
- Pelvic pain
- Pelvic mass
- Change in menses
- Painful menses, menstrual cramping, back pain
What Causes Endometriosis?
This is a very good question and one without a simple answer. There are a number of factors that may contribute to the development of this disease:
- Hormone imbalance, particularly estrogen dominance
- Sluggish liver detoxification of estrogen or pollutants that mimic estrogen such as BPA from plastics
- Xenoestrogens, chemicals and pollutants that mimic estrogen
- Dioxin exposure
- Overly active telomerase enzyme
What is the natural treatment for Endometriosis?
- Resolve estrogen dominance. Most cases of endometriosis are thought to be due to some combination of either too much estrogen or too little progesterone. In rare cases, excessive progesterone can also contribute. Our naturopathic doctors assess these hormones and moderate them as needed.
- Balance hormones. Since hormone imbalance will aggravate the symptoms of endometriosis, and contribute to its cause, our primary approach is to get your hormones better balanced. There are multiple ways to achieve this through diet modifications, vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other natural substances.
- Help your liver to detoxify xenoestrogens like pollutants, pesticides, dioxin and chemicals. To fully process estrogen, and chemicals that may be acting like estrogen, your body needs certain vitamins, minerals, and other natural substances. Supplying these helps your liver to remove excess estrogen and xenoestrogens.
- Acupuncture to relieve pain and stimulate your body to resolve endometriomas. Acupuncture offers significant pain relief. Research on acupuncture suggests that it helps your body make its own natural painkillers, known as enkephalins.
- Normalize the activity of cells lining your uterus to reduce the escape of tissue out of it. There are different theories as to why this is happening. Some newer research is suggesting that it may not be uterine lining cells that are escaping from your uterus and creating endometriosis implants. But rather, it may be that the abdominal lining cells are converting themselves into uterine lining cells under the influence of excess estrogen. This is a phenomena known as Coelomic Metaplasia. All of the above-mentioned approaches will help if this is the case.
- Modulate telomerase activity.
How Can Registered Massage Therapy help?
Massage therapy can be very helpful in treating pelvic pain associated with endometriosis. Gentle massage to the lower back, abdomen, glutes, hips, and legs can reduce muscle tension, relieve pain and address any postural changes that result from a chronic pain situation. Massage can also help to increase relaxation and a general feeling of well being which is helpful when dealing with pain.
Authored by Dr. Pamela Frank, Naturopathic Doctor, updated Jan. 1, 2020
Natural Medicine Treatment for Endometriosis: Research
Our naturopathic doctors will take the most appropriate, evidence-based natural medicines to craft an effective, individualized treatment program.
Supplementation with resveratrol may improve the effect of oral contraceptives in the treatment of endometriosis-associated dysmenorrhoea. Source: Int J Womens Health 2012; 4: 543-549.
Supplementation with resveratrol as well as an oral contraceptive was found to significantly improve and even resolve dysmenorrhea and pelvic pain in endometriosis patients. Source: Int J Womens Health. 2012;4:543-9. Epub 2012 Oct 10
Excess p40 in the peritoneal fluid of endometriosis patients may be related to the natural killer cell defect that is associated with the condition. Source: J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Mar;83(3):911-6.
Inadequate immune and neuroendocrine responses are thought to play a part in the pathophysiology of endometriosis, particularly adhesion molecules, protein-glycan interactions and pro-angiogenic mediators. Source: Semin Immunopathol. 2007 June; 29(2): 193–210.
Development of endometriosis is facilitated by quantity and quality of endometrial cells in peritoneal fluid (PF), increase inflammatory activity in PF, increased endometrial-peritoneal adhesion and angiogenesis, and increased production of autoantibodies against endometrial cells. Source: Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2003; 1: 123.
Exposure to environmental pollutants, particularly dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls, were found to increase the risk of endometriosis in women. Source: Environ Health Perspect. 2009 July; 117(7): 1070–1075.
In women aged 20-40, the sum of all polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners were 1.6 times higher in the 40 women diagnosed with endometriosis than in controls. Source: Environ Health Perspect. 2006 July; 114(7): A404.
Dioxin, a contaminant of industrial combustion processes, is largely thought to play a part in the etiology of endometriosis. However, this study found that serum levels of 100 ppt or higher did not have significant risk. Source: Environ Health Perspect. 2002 July; 110(7): 629–634.
Level of exposure to polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) was found to not increase risk. But, higher levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) exposure did increase risk. Source: Ann Epidemiol. 2007 July; 17(7): 503–510.
In a study of infertile women with endometriosis, 8 individuals were found to be dioxin positive compared to 1 woman in the control, suggesting a link between dioxin exposure and endometriosis. Source: Hum Reprod. 1997 Feb;12(2):373-5.
Exposure to environmental toxicants induces an inflammatory-like endometrial response that may advance the development of endometriosis. Source: Fertil Steril. 2008 May; 89(5 Suppl): 1287–1298.
Summed and estrogenic polychlorinated biphenyls were found to not be associated with endometriosis risk. Source: Environ Health Perspect. 2010 September; 118(9): 1280–1285.
Loss of progesterone signaling in the endometrium may be part of the development of endometriosis, and progesterone resistance is commonly observed in these patients. Source: Semin Reprod Med. 2010 Jan;28(1):36-43. Epub 2010 Jan 26.
Iron overload has been observed in the peritoneal fluid, endometriotic lesions, peritoneum and macrophages of endometriosis patients, suggesting it may a contributing factor in the development of this disease. Source: Mol Hum Reprod. 2008 Jul;14(7):377-85. Epub 2008 May 28.
No correlation was observed between Mg concentration in the peritoneal fluid and HAMA score in endometriosis patients, suggesting a systemic disorder that might affect Mg transport through the cell membrane. Source: Psychiatr Danub. 2010 Mar;22(1):64-7.
The phytochemicals Diindolylmethane (DIM), its precursor Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), and cogener, 2-(Indol-3-ylmethyl)-3,3’diindolylmethane (LTR-1) were found to prevent or reduce symptoms of mastalgia and endometriosis. Source: United States Patent 7,384,972; June 10, 2008
Supplementation with N-acetylcysteine was found to decrease cyst mean diameter, compared to a significant increase in untreated patients. Source: Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:240702.