Endometriosis - Herbal Health

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Saturday, 5 April 2014

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a complex and debilitating disease that can affect any woman. It is a chronic and progressive condition characterised by acute episodes. It is one of the commonest benign gynaecological conditions in which tissue that would normally grow only in the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus), is found elsewhere in the abdominal and pelvic cavities, accompanied by cyclical bleeding of these tissues and the formation of painful cysts. Subsequent rupture of cysts and the resultant inflammatory process often leads to the formation of multiple adhesions. In more severe cases, endometrial tissue can migrate to other parts of the body and this presents a complicated clinical picture, particularly if there are other systems involved.

Summary of herbs commonly indicated in the symptomatic approach to endometriosis:

Symptom
Phytochemical properties/ Pharmacological actions
Herbs of Choice
Chronic abdominal or pelvic pain
  • pelvic tonic & astringent
  • anti-inflammatory
  • analgesic
  • antispasmodic
life root
cramp bark
chamomile
Jamaica dogwood
Ovulation pain
(pain mid-cycle)
  • hormone balancer
  • ovarian tonic
pulsatilla
false unicorn root
chaste berry
Painful periods
  • antispasmodic
  • analgesic
  • anti-inflammatory
cramp bark
black cohosh
pulsatilla
Heavy periods
  • anti-haemorrhagic
  • astringent
yarrow
beth root
squaw vine
Menstrual irregularities
  • hormone balancer
(oestrogenic or progesteronal)
chaste berry
wild yam
sarsaparilla
Pain on intercourse
  • anti-inflammatory
  • analgesic
pulsatilla
Pain on passing urine
  • astringent
  • demulcent
  • anti-inflammatory
shepherd’s purse slippery elm
cornsilk
Pain on bowel movement
  • anti-inflammatory
  • astringent
yarrow
witch hazel
Aggravated PMS
  • hormone balancer
(oestrogenic or progesteronal)
chaste berry
milk thistle
Chinese angelica
Pelvic congestion
  • decongestants
  • circulatory stimulants
  • uterine tonics
ginger
false unicorn root
yarrow

By far the most important adjunct in the management of endometriosis is addressing nutrition, since dietary factors have been shown on many occasions to be very closely linked to health. Hormonal imbalances in endometriosis can be addressed on a nutritional level and controlling oestrogen is essentially a nutritional process.

Infertility and pain are two major symptoms that can be effectively addressed through diet; certain nutrients possess pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties which correspond to conventional medicines without the side effects. Essential fatty acids such as fish oils, evening primrose oil (EPO), starflower oil, borage oil and linseed oils are important as is Vitamin B6 which encourages the production of progesterone and this helps re-balance the 2 main sex hormones. Other supplementary nutrients that are suggested have been summarised below.

Selected nutrients of value and relevance in addressing manifestations of endometriosis:

NUTRIENT/FOOD ADDITIVE
COMMENT
 Vitamin C
  • reduces inflammation
B complex

  • anti-inflammatory, analgesic and hormone balancer
Magnesium deficiency
  • causes muscle cramping in abdomen & joint pains
(Magnesium acts on nerves that influence the relaxation of muscles & reduce the cramping pains during menstruation)
Dioxin (pesticide)
  • thought to cause immune system damage and endometriosis through its build up in fat cells
Phytooestrogens
  • weak oestrogenic effect (good at reducing symptoms)
  • broccoli, French beans, pomegranates & fish oils encourages production of oestrogens in the body

The psychological well-being has equal emphasis in herbal management as is dealing with the physical symptoms. Effective herbal treatments using a range of nervines to address the psychological and emotional aspects of endometriosis remains an essential component of the management approach. Herbs such as skullcap, vervain and wood betony are all considered. A consultation with a herbalist is highly recommended in order to work out the best prescription options for each case.

Endometriosis UK, a leading charity dedicated to providing information, support and sadvice to sufferers of endometriosis are taking part in a charity . For more information, see http://endometriosis-uk.org/news/achieve-something-wonderful-pink-pants-snowdon-horseshoe-challenge-37170# and see their website at www.endometriosis-uk.org

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