What is Endometriosis?
And 5 Ways to Manage It Naturally
Chances are you probably know some one who has endometriosis and have only stumbled upon it due to horrible painful periods, heavy bleeding, IBS like symptoms or sadly, difficulty trying to conceive. As mentioned, it is NOT a nice disease and unfortunately there is no cure, however there are ways to manage it naturally, help prevent disease progression and improve your over all quality of life.
Endometriosis or endo is a common disease that involves the growth of endometrial tissue in abnormal places other than the uterus – where it supposed to be belong! The tissue can grow in places such as your ovaries, fallopian tubes, your bladder and in some rare cases on your elbow or face. Weird right!
The medical worlds management of endo involves anti-inflammatory drugs for pain management, hormone modulating drugs and the doctor’s most favourite commonly prescribed drug: the good old oral contraceptive pill! While the Pill does have a strong place in the management of endo, recent studies have found that long-term use can cause deficiencies of B vitamins, folate and zinc. Not exactly what you want when you’re already feeling terrible. Therefore supplementation of these nutrients is something you should strongly consider if you’re taking the Pill.
The symptoms Endo presents with include:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Pain in the abdomen, legs or lower back during your periods
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Chronic thrush due to constant changing tissue
- Pain while trying to pass a stool
- Sore breasts
- IBS related symptoms – alternating diahhorea and constipation, bloating, gas and nausea
So what can I do to stay on top of managing endometriosis naturally?
Get fishy with Omega 3 fatty acids
Studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids from both regularly eating fish and also supplementation can decrease and regulate inflammation
associated with menstrual pain. So aim for at least 3 serves of oily fish a week or find a good quality fish oil.
Tip: the smaller the fish the better as they contains more anti-inflammatory components e.g. Salmon, Sardines, mackerel and Herring.
Stain your kitchen bench with Turmeric
What isn’t Turmeric good for? Besides staining everything it touches in your kitchen. Turmeric is best known for its potent anti-inflammatory qualities, which also goes for decreasing menstrual pain, assists I preventing the growth of endometrial tissue and improving the microflora in your gut. Aim for 100g of fresh Turmeric or 2tbs of powder in juices or stir-frys.
Tip: The absorption of Turmeric is notoriously poor, however can be enhanced through fats (oil) and black pepper, so eat your turmeric with a fat containing meal and some black pepper to get the most bang for your buck!
Give the cows a rest and go Dairy Free
From a naturopathic perspective, Dairy can often cause or exacerbate inflammatory conditions such as endo. Whilst there are no strong studies to support this yet, a dairy free diet can dramatically help improve the IBS related symptoms which commonly exist within the whole endo picture.
Tip: Substitute cows milk with coconut or almond milk – it tastes great and are both high in trace minerals. Worried about your calcium intake? Have no fear, Almonds are abundantly rich in calcium.
Worship the sun – vitamin D
I bet you didn’t realise that endo is actually considered an autoimmune condition. Vitamin D is crucial for optimal immune function, thus can assist with preventing the overdrive of endometrial scar tissue and adhesions.
Include at least 2 vitamin D rich foods such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, mushrooms, eggs and make sure your getting at least 20 minutes of sun exposure on your skin each day.
Tip: Put your mushrooms on the windowsill or somewhere they can be exposed to sunlight. Just like us mushrooms can actually absorb vitamin D from the sun and boost their own levels. Cool huh!
Get creative with your Cruciferous vegetables
Yes, I know, your probably thinking but I hate broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts. Cruciferous veges contain an absolute powerhouse of nutrients as they help clear excess oestrogen from the liver – trust me, you don’t want too much oestrogen if you have endo.
Tip: Use condiments such as Hummus, Tahini, Tamari or fresh herbs to flavour your veges and make them so exciting you’ll want them everyday.
If you or someone you know is silently suffering from Endometriosis, both Claire and Steph can personally tailor a management plan through dietary nutritional and herbal interventions to take control and get your life back on track!
Stephanie Carey BHSc (Naturopathy)
Stephanie is a Naturopath and Nutritionist who has a special interest in female reproductive health. She is available for consultations Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.