Endometriosis Epidemic

The Endometriosis Association states it is extremely rare that a woman in this day and age should ever need a hysterectomy for endometriosis, no matter how severe. Yet, three out of four gynecologists I saw said, ‘You have already had your children, so if we find that you have extensive endometriosis, the best option is to perform a hysterectomy.’ This was in response to yet undiagnosed severe pelvic pain. The thought of a hysterectomy in my mid thirties sent me searching for the cause for the intense pain I was experiencing. All my symptoms seemed to point to endometriosis. Finally, the fourth doctor I visited discussed diagnosis and treatment options with me without mentioning hysterectomy as a “cure.” That was years ago and now I am still free of endometriosis.

Careful Diagnosis
Pelvic examinations by a highly skilled gynecologist may disclose nodules or lesions on the ovaries but ultrasound tests rarely confirm endometriosis. The only way to know for certain is through a procedure called laparoscopy. This surgery, performed under general anesthetic, involves inserting a light-containing telescope through a small incision in your navel and another one or two small incisions along the bikini line for the instruments.

Remember, a laparoscopy is only as good as the surgeon who performs the exam. To remove all the endometriosis tissue requires a physician who is committed to biopsying and getting rid of all suspicious abnormalities. Endometrial tissue can look like tiny blueberries or black spots, white, yellow or red-like cysts varying from tiny bluish or dark brown blisters to large chocolate cysts up to 20 centimeters in diameter. Only biopsy can confirm which tissue is truly endometriosis.

It is not uncommon for endometrial cells to grow on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the pelvic ligaments, the outer surface of the uterus, bladder, the large intestine and the covering of the abdominal cavity. Women are often misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, bladder infections, appendix attack, ‘just’ PMS or painful cramps. But you know your body better than anyone. If you feel bad, something is wrong!

Seven Early Warning Symptoms of Endometriosis

 – Menstrual cramps that increase in severity
 – Intermenstrual pain, usually at mid-month
 – Painful intercourse or dyspareunia
 – Infertility of unknown origin
 – You feel like you have bladder infections but the test results are always negative
 – Pelvic pain that is all-encompassing
 – History of ovarian cysts
What Causes Endometriosis?
Until recently, the most widely accepted theory to explain the cause of endometriosis was that of retrograde menstruation. Supposedly, tiny fragments of normal endometrial tissue (from the lining of the uterus) travel up the fallopian tubes and take residence in the abdominal or pelvic cavity. Here this tissue acts as it would in the uterus in accordance with the monthly menstrual cycle. The blood often cannot escape, however, and causes the formation of deposits.

Our Immune System is the Key
New research points to a glitch in the immune system. Dr David Redwine, world renowned expert and director of the Endometriosis Institute of Bend, Oregon, believes that some women are born with abnormally located endometrial cells and that something goes astray with the immune system, causing the cells to become active. This theory seems more plausible as endometrial lesions are often found far from the pelvic cavity in other areas of the body.

Environmental Pollutants Linked to Endometriosis
Convincing evidence has linked organochlorine exposure to the development of endometriosis. Carolyn De Marco, in her book Take Charge of Your Body, states that dioxins are a group of 75 chemicals used to make PVC plastics (our drinking water runs through pipes made from PVC in our homes), solvents, pesticides, refrigerants and in the pulp and paper industry. These same chemicals also persist in the fats of meat and dairy products a major source of dioxins. These environmental pollutants mimic the action of estrogen in the body and increase our carcinogenic estrogens. Women should refuse to use bleached paper products. This includes toilet paper, sanitary napkins and especially tampons. (Natracare sanitary products, sold in the health food store, are unbleached and do not contain these estrogen mimickers). Do not use plastic containers to store food and do not microwave your foods in plastic either. Emphasize whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet. Cut down on fats from milk and meat products. Buy organic foods whenever possible. Use a nutritional supplement that includes Indole-3-carbinol, sulphoraphane, lycopene, calcium D-glucarate, milk thistle, curcumin and green tea (discussed below). These nutrients have been extensively studied for their ability to protect us from cancer-causing estrogens while detoxifying environmental pollutants in the body.

The Hormone Connection
Because of the hormone connection, medical therapy for endometriosis has concentrated on altering a woman¹s hormonal chemistry with drugs. These drugs include Danazol and gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRH) such as Nafarelin and birth control pills. Sometimes these drugs are successful in controlling the symptoms of endometriosis but not without side effects. Oily skin, acne, decreased breast size, growth of facial hair, weight gain and depression are symptoms. Some cause menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, decreased bone density, vaginal dryness and decreased libido. None of the drugs cures the disease. After the drug is stopped, the endometriosis symptoms return. Many women are also prescribed estrogen containing birth control pills yet endometriosis is an estrogen-dominant condition and we should be using treatments that control estrogen and balance hormones. A holistic approach to treatment wherein the body heals itself is more effective and safer.

The mainstay of any endometriosis treatment is a diet that decreases the amount of circulating estrogens in the bloodstream to the point where the endometriosis symptoms subside but not so far as to cause pseudo-menopause. A vegetarian diet containing no more than 20 to 25 grams of fat a day and eliminating all dairy products works well. The fat you do eat should come from organically grown nuts and seeds and their oils. Look in the refrigerator at your health food store. Many women get relief by simply removing dairy products. I was one of those people. I had to eliminate all dairy products to obtain maximum relief.

Supplementing the diet with vitamins and minerals is essential. A high potency B-complex supplement will help ease symptoms of PMS and balance hormonal states, elevate mood and control fluid retention. Cold-pressed oils containing gamma-linoleic acid or GLA are important both as a possible pain inhibitor and immune strengthener. GLA may offset the symptoms of prostaglandin production. Prostaglandins are involved with uterine contractions producing menstrual cramps. Look for a multi-nutrient supplement formulated especially for women that contains at least 2,600mg of organic flax and evening primrose oil along with magnesium, iodine, phosphorous, selenium, zinc, chromium and copper, along with all the B-vitamins. Calcium is a muscle relaxant and calms nerves, look for formulas with at least 1,000mg along with at least 1000 IU of vitamin D.

Of all the vitamins, vitamin C is the most important. Vitamin C is known to help the body fight off the effects of environmental toxins, especially dioxins. Beta-carotene will strengthen your immune system which is especially important when dealing with endometriosis. Take 15,000 units per day.

Herbs Help Too
Herbalist Rosemary Slick developed a special endometriosis tea formula to strengthen the liver, which plays an essential role in hormonal regulation. She recommends that women with endometriosis drink three to four cups per day of this tea for four to six months. The most effective herbal treatment for endometriosis act to reduce estrogen levels and regulate hormonal activity. They work by affecting the liver, which is largely responsible for converting the active ovarian estrogen (estradiol) into a safer form (estriol). I also used the tincture Vitex (commonly known as Chaste Tree berry) as directed on the bottle to eliminate my endometriosis along with Indole-3-carbinol, sulphoraphane, lycopene, milk thistle, calcium D-glucarate, curcumin, rosemary and green tea. These nutrients found in EstroSense are essential to balancing your hormones and detoxifying excess cancer-causing and endometriosis promoting estrogens:

 – Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is an anti-cancer phytonutrient found in cruciferous vegetables. Research has shown that I3C helps to breakdown cancer-causing estrogens to non-toxic forms.
 – Calcium D-glucarate is a powerful detoxifier of excess estrogens from the liver.
 – Green Tea extract contains polyphenols, catechins and flavonoids shown to be protective against estrogen-related cancers. Substitute green tea for coffee if you have cystic breasts and what the cysts disappear.
 – Curcumin is the yellow pigment of turmeric – the chief ingredient in curry. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and it works to inhibit all steps of cancer formation: initiation, promotion, and progression. Curcumin also protects against inflammatory calcium loss from our bones preventing osteoporosis.
Milk thistle enhances detoxification from the liver, inhibits breast cancer cells from replicating and reduces the toxic effects of chemotherapy.
 – Rosemary extract, a potent antioxidant, inhibits mammary cancer development and it helps to detoxify carcinogenic estrogens.
Lycopene found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, papaya, guava and watermelon, was recently shown to reduce a women’s risk of breast cancer by 36 percent when those women took 6.5 mg per day.
 – Sulfurophane, from broccoli extract, has been shown to stimulate the body’s production of detoxification enzymes that eliminate harmful xenoestrogens. Sulfurophane is also a powerful antioxidant slowing the aging process
 – 3 parts dandelion root
 – 3 parts wild yam root
 – 2 parts burdock root
 – 2 parts pau d¹arco bark
 – 1 part vitex berries
 – 1 part Oregon grape root
 – 1/2 parts dong quai root
 – Sassafras, cinnamon, orange peel and ginger to taste
Combine herbs. Fill a large pot with four cups of cold water. Add four to six tablespoons of the herb mixture. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.


Be Good to Yourself
Reducing stress in your life, especially the self-inflicted type, is essential. Working women are the most vulnerable to endometriosis. If you have a laparoscopy to remove endometriosis but do nothing to change your lifestyle, the endometriosis will be back. Rest, relaxation and knowing when to say ‘no’ are important to your health.

Pain Relief
Castor oil packs are excellent at controlling pain. Take six pieces of flannel soaked in castor oil (damp but not dripping) about the size of the area you want to treat. Cover these flannel pieces with a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to the lower abdomen for 30 to 45 minutes several times a day. This will not only relieve pain but also improves immune function in the pelvic area. Endometriosis is an insidious disorder but it can be cured forever if you examine your stress level, the types of environmental toxins you are exposed to and improve your nutrition. I cured my endometriosis and you can too.

Recommended Reading

Take Charge of Your Body by Carolyn DeMarco
No More HRT: Menopause Treat the Cause by Dr. Karen Jensen, ND and Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe
Healthy Immunity, Scientifically Proven Natural Treatments for Conditions from A-Z by Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe


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