Here is some general information that we give our endometriosis patients. We hope that you find it useful!
Definition of Endometriosis
Often defined simply as the presence of endometrial (or uterine) tissue in abnormal locations, endometriosis can affect fertility. The tissue (ordinarily expelled from the body through menstruation) travels outside the uterus and implants itself. After implanting, a lesion forms as the endometrial cells proliferate and act as though they are still in the uterus – responding to hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle by thickening, enlarging and bleeding just as in the uterus. There is no way for this blood to leave the body, so it stagnates at the site. The lesion can inflame and may adhere to surrounding tissues; if it's situated in close proximity to any nerve endings, these lesions can create pain. Additionally, the immune system may detect the abnormal placement of endometrial cells and initiate an inflammatory reaction to protect the rest of the body from this perceived ‘invader.'
When the immune system is unable to eradicate the misplaced tissue, it reacts to all endometrial tissue, creating a toxic environment for an implanting embryo. Typically, the menstrual flow of a women suffering from endometriosis is silty with dark, brown, clotted blood that has been allowed to oxidize. The immune system responds to this sediment-like, old blood, recognizing its toxic state and thereby mounting chemicals to clean up the debris.
How Acupuncture Can Help with Endometriosis
- Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) views endometriosis primarily as stagnant or static Blood and Qi, in other words the Qi and Blood are not flowing freely. If there is an overactive immunological response, TCM categorizes it with Qi and Blood stasis with either excess heat or damp-heat. Acupuncture can move Blood and Qi, clear heat and help resolve damp. Since Acupuncture has been shown to increase the levels of ß-endorphins in the cerebrospinal fluid, it can relieve pain. The presence of these neurochemicals also allows for vessel dilation, thereby increasing the blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. This is necessary to help with follicular development and embryo implantation.
- Given time and the proper treatment, the blood flow will improve, the sediment will clear and the body will overcome its immunological protective mechanisms. The psychoneuroendocrine system will settle down, and the body can relax so conception can take place. Within a few months, pregnancy usually will occur naturally. Sometimes the body responds immediately; other times it takes up to eight months for some patients to conceive after beginning treatments.
- Consider implementing a diet free of dairy, wheat, and most animal products, as it can help calm the immune system. Supplement with flaxseed, evening primrose or fish oil, and bioflavoinoids like pycnogenol, a superantioxidant derived from grapeseeds. It is helpful in muting immune responses. Take 60mg for 60lbs of body weight for the first two weekds. After that adjust to 60mg for each 100 to 120 lbs of body weight.
- Supplement your diet with B vitamins and antioxidants like vitamins C (500 mg), E (200 IU), beta-carotene (50,000 IU), selenium (200 mcg) and zinc (15mg). Include OPC superoxidants (grape seed extract, pine bark extract, red wine extract, bilberry extract), which contain procyandins and caffeic and ferulic acid. These substances have demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antispastic effects. (*Note:* Don’t overwhelm your body with massive doses of vitamin C, however, as too mach acid can lower the cervical pH. Use 500 mg or less.)
- Avoid all foods that have been treated hormonally.
- Consume soy and soy products like tofu.
- Eat only organic fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid refined and hydrogenated oils.
- Use only unprocessed plant sources of essential fatty acids. Endometriosis benefits from the use of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. Good sources include fish oils and linseed oil. Fish oil prevents abnormal blood clotting. If you menstrual blood contains clotty tissue, supplement with fish oil, linseed oil, and evening primrose oil.
- Use oils rich in both linoleic and alpha-linolenic fatty acids such as flaxseed, pumpkin-seed, and chia-seed oils, but only if they are recently cold-pressed and refined.
- Include dietary spirulina and oil of black currant and borage seeds.
- Avoid sources of arachidonic acid, which comes from animal meats, dairy products, eggs and peanuts. These substances increase blood clotting.
- Avoid all animal products, except fish. If you must consume meat, make sure it is organic and not hormonally treated.
- Eat dark greens, saffron, and cold-climate root vegetables like squash, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, brussel sprouts, and turnips.
- Foods especially good for resolving Blood stasis include kelp, vinegar, lemons, limes, onions, Irish moss and bladder wrack (the last two are seaweeds).
- Avoid cold foods or foods right out of the freezer or refrigerator.
- Do not put ice in your drinks.
- Avoid coffee, caffeine, natural or artificial stimulants, and of course, tobacco.
- Use feminine hygiene pads rather than tampons. Tampons do not allow adequate expulsion of blood and may aggravate endometriosis backflow.
- Do not swim in cold water or have intercourse during menstruation.
- Rest and wear loose, comfortable clothing.
- Perform deep-breathing exercises and meditative practices.
- Take warm baths (with aromatherapy if you wish)
- Use essential oils like frankinscense, myrrh, clary sage, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, juniper and thyme.
- Use a heating pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen during and after menstruation.
- Apply warm castor-oil packs on you abdomen to invigorate Blood, assist the lymphatic system, and balance hormone levels. Apply warm castor oil to the lower abdomen and cover with plasic wrap two to three times per day during the premenstrual and menstrual period. (If you are actively trying to conceive, only use during menstruation.)
- Regular, moderate exercises help improve circulation and ease symptoms. Meditation, Qi Gong, and yoga are also helpful. However, you should NOT perform inversion techniques during menstruation, especially if you have endometriosis. The energetic flow must always be descending.
- Chinese herbs will be prescribed if we determine it is appropriate for your situation.
The internal pelvic organs (ovaries, tubes, and uterus) are related to second-chakra issues. Their health depends upon a woman’s feeling able competent, or powerful to create financial and emotional abundance and stability, and to express her creativity fully. She must be able to feel good about herself and about her relationships with other people in her life. Relationships that she finds stressful and limiting, on the other hand, may adversely affect her internal pelvic organs. (Northrup)
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