5 Natural Treatments For Endometriosis - And Could They Work For You?
If you or anyone you know suffers from endometriosis, then you know that the road to a diagnosis can often be long and painful. If you are one of the people on this journey, you may be looking for some natural ways to treat endometriosis. So here we have provided a few ways to support yourself with specific plants, nutrition and everyday practices.
A reminder, however, that we have taken care to not over promise with these natural treatments for endometriosis. While natural treatments have their place, and some of these suggestions are a great place to start, they may only work for some. Many others will need surgery, medications and possibly a hysterectomy. Whatever path you choose, this overview will provide some good resources as well as different places you can find support.
What Is Endometriosis?
Before we discuss some of the natural treatments for endometriosis, let's talk first about what this condition is and it's common symptoms. Endometriosis is a condition where tissue (the endometrium) that is similar to the lining of the uterus starts growing in other parts outside the uterus.
The endometrium (Kiri kōpū) is the lining of the uterus. It thickens during the menstrual cycle in preparation for the possible implantation of an embryo. When there is no implantation, the endometrium tissue breaks down, and this bleeds during a period. With endometriosis, the endometrium grows in other parts of the body and also sheds and bleeds through the period causing pain, among other symptoms.
Historically there have been reports of pelvic pain, infertility and adhesions (symptoms of endometriosis) going as far back as 1855. Still, even now, many women do not know they have the condition, while others struggle for up to a decade get a diagnosis. Over 200 million people worldwide have endometriosis - which equates to about 1 in 10 people.
What are the symptoms?
Whether you want to treat endometriosis naturally or are struggling with symptoms you can’t yet attribute to a cause, these are some of the things to look out for.
People who have endometriosis often struggle with;
- Low mood, depression
- Low energy
- Pain that stops you from doing usual daily activities
- Lower back pain throughout your menstrual cycle
- Pain with sex
- Heavy bleeding
- Pain with smear tests
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Pain with ovulation
- Pain with bowel motions and with urination
- Pain in rectum
It is not just a ‘bad period’. These symptoms can be debilitating and life-altering, with many people unable to work or participate actively in their lives. Endometriosis is an estrogen dependent condition which means the hormone estrogen aggravates endometriosis - causing a lot of pain. In a normal menstrual cycle, there are normal changes to estrogen levels, but for those with endometriosis, these changes have profound effects.
What Can You Do To Help?
Endometriosis has varying degrees of severity. For some cases small changes to lifestyle and nutrition can result in symptoms decreasing however, for others, surgical and medical intervention is required.
5 natural treatments for endometriosis
1 Plants For Helping Endometriosis
These plants have traditionally been used to support the menstrual cycle and, in some cases, endometriosis.
- Chaste tree for supporting hormone balancing - working on estrogen levels
- Crampbark for pain
- Ginger for inflammation
- Lady’s mantle and Dong quai to support irregular periods, inflammation, heavy bleeding
- Paeony to support the uterus as well as irregular periods
- Chamomile for cramps plus nervous system support
We recommend working with a practitioner one-on-one if you wish to try herbal treatments for endometriosis.
2 Getting A Good Night's Sleep
As with all tips for good health, good sleep is essential. Sleep is where the body rests and recovers, which is an important thing to consider when looking at natural treatments for endometriosis.
Sleep can be tricky as many things can affect how you sleep; particularly pain. When you are in pain, you can not get comfortable or get to sleep.
Things you can try:
- A regular routine
- Less caffeine or stimulants
- Potentially increased magnesium (as an amino acid chelate or citrate) to support relaxation and muscle relaxation
- Sleep-supportive plants; chamomile, Californian poppy, zizyphus, lemon balm
3 Complementary Therapies
Some people have found some relief with acupuncture, massage and working with a specialised women’s physio that can help with pain relief, adhesion management and pelvic pain management. So, these are some natural treatments for endometriosis that you can try.
Naturopaths, herbalists and other natural health practitioners will have their way of looking at this condition. Before booking with someone, have a discovery call to see if they have experience with endometriosis and any testimonials they could share. Also, remember that natural health and hormones take at least three months for changes to start working.
Some supplements that have been recommended and utilised in endometriosis management are:
Holistic doctors or naturopaths often prescribe these supplements, it is best you speak with a practitioner before you start with them.
4 Can Exercise Help With Endometriosis?
Movement is great for your health, and for those suffering from endometrosis, it can help relieve pain (slow and gentle stretching). Regular movement can help reduce stiffness and joint pain. Still, it can be tough to do anything if you are in pain. So we would advise gentle movement over anything strenuous.
5 How To Use Nutrition To Naturally Treat Endometriosis
There are varying suggestions around food for endometriosis - we think the best approach is trying to eat seasonal fresh foods.
- Vegetables and fruit
- Good sources of protein
If possible - try to limit processed things high in sugar (which can lead to blood sugar crashes which will not help moods or energy levels) and alcohol, so the liver is not overloaded.
People who go to the doctor about endometriosis are often first diagnosed with IBS as they often suffer from diarrhea and painful and irregular bowel motions. This is often caused by hormonal fluctuations and the endometrium found outside the uterus and in the bowel.
Some nutritional recommendations suggest a FODMAPs diet - which can reduce the amount of IBS symptoms.
There is also research to show that endometriosis has a link to the gut and histamine, so some practitioners focus on this. An interesting podcast with Leah Hechtman (leading practitioner in reproductive health) talks about it here.
Start a food diary to see what foods upset you and try to avoid them or at least reduce the amount of that food you have; this might help you manage the digestive upsets.