Self-help for Endometriosis
Age is a factor for women with endometriosis, as is time that you have been trying to conceive. If you have endometriosis, you should seek help earlier than someone without. If circumstances allow, start trying for a family by age 30.
The following summarises the naturopathic approach to endometriosis.
Estrogen and progesterone work in synchronisation with each other to achieve hormonal harmony. In women with endometriosis there is a relative dominance of estrogen that contributes to the growth and inflammation of the endometrial implants.
Certain lifestyle choices and conditions can contribute to this estrogen dominance syndrome, especially a low- fibre diet, overloading the liver with internal toxins and absorbing toxins from the environment (referred to as xenoestrogens or endocrine disruptors).
High Fibre Diet
A low-fiber diet causes estrogen levels to be higher, while a diet high in fiber results in decreased estrogen levels in the bloodstream. Why? Excess estrogen is excreted in the bowel. When stool remains in the bowel for a longer time, as in constipation, the estrogen is reabsorbed. Studies have shown that women on a high fiber diet have lower levels of circulating estrogen.
Overloading the Liver
The liver detoxifies our body, protecting us from the harmful effects of chemicals, elements in food, environmental toxins, and even natural products of our metabolism, including excess estrogen. Anything that impairs liver function or ties up the detoxifying function will result in excess estrogen levels, whether it has a physical basis, as in liver disease, or an external cause, as with exposure to environmental toxins, drugs, or dietary substances. Estrogen is produced not only internally but also produced in reaction to chemicals and other substances in our food. When it is not broken down adequately, higher levels of estrogen build up.
The estrogen dominance syndrome can be evoked in women by too much alcohol, drugs, or environmental toxins, all of which limit the liver's capacity to cleanse the blood of estrogen. It has been found that circulating estrogen levels increase significantly in women who drink. In one study, blood and urine estrogen levels increased up to thirty-two percent in women who drank just two drinks a day.
Healthy Hormone Foods (choose at least one from each group daily)
Herbs and Spices - ginger, rosemary, turmeric, dill fennel, parsley
Nuts and Seeds - pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts
Grains and Legumes - chickpeas, quinoa, millet, bulgur, buckwheat, brown rice
Fruits – blueberries, strawberries, oranges, grapes, avocados, bananas, figs, blackberries
Meat, poultry, fish, dairy – yoghurt and deep sea fish
Vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, cabbage, celery, onion, alfalfa sprouts
Beverages - water, green tea, dandelion tea, chamomile tea
Lifestyle - regular aerobic and weight bearing exercise, time out, relaxation techniques. Limit alcohol to <1 drink daily
It is beneficial to reduce the exposure to the chemicals in our environment that mimic estrogen. Below is a list of the more common forms.
BPA (Bisphenol A) – used to harden polycarbonate plastics, found in plastic containers, canned food, white fillings
Phthalates– plasticizers, used in the production of plastics. Found in cosmetics, perfumes, aerosols, paints, air freshners, shampoos, skin moisturizers, nail polishes, shower curtains, plastic toys, ‘fragrances’
PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls)- fat soluble, accumulate in our body fat and in animal fats we consume. Found in fluorescent lighting, electrical equipment, hydraulic fluids
Parabens – chemical additives widely used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food production as preservatives, antibacterial and antifungal agents
Volatile Solvents – inhaled as fumes or vapours. Found in gas, exhaust, paints, polyurethanes, dry cleaning chemicals
PFAs (perfluorinated compounds) – these are persistent organic pollutants that make products stain, grease and water repellent. Found in paper food containers, fast food wrappers, Teflon, Scotchguard
PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) – flame retardants found in home and building materials, insulation, cars, furnishing, bedding, textiles e.g pyjamas
Pesticides and Insecticides – used in the home, garden and sprayed on our fruit and vegetables