Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus – the endometrium - grows outside the uterus. This straying tissue can be found in the ovaries, fallopian tubes or the tissue lining the pelvis, all of which may cause fertility problems.
How does this happen? During a period, menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity, instead of out of the body. These displaced endometrial cells stick to the pelvic walls and surfaces of the pelvic organs, where they grow and continue to thicken and bleed over the course of each menstrual cycle. Although the exact cause of endometriosis is not certain, it is thought that embryonic cell transformation when hormones such as estrogen may be out of balance, perhaps during puberty. Another possible reason could be transformation of peritoneal cells, when hormones or immune factors promote transformation of peritoneal cells into endometrial cells. Surgical scars from operations such as hysterectomies or C-section can result in endometrial cells attaching to the scar. Blood or tissue fluid can be responsible for transporting these cells to other parts of the body. And some immune disorders may make the body unable to recognize and destroy endometrial tissue that is growing outside the uterus.
There are some potential higher risk factors that may encourage this disorder.
- Starting the period at an early age
- Going through menopause at an older age
- Short menstrual cycles – less than 27 days
- Having higher levels of estrogen in the body, or a greater lifetime exposure to estrogen
- Low body mass index; alcohol consumption
- Family history of endometriosis
- Medical condition which prevents normal passage of menstrual flow out of the body
Common signs and symptoms of this condition may include painful periods, known as dysmenorrhea, with pelvic pain and cramping starting before the actual period and extending into the actual period. Lower back pain and abdominal pain may also be an issue. Pain during sex is also common with endometriosis. Bowel movements and urination can be painful and excessive bleeding during periods and some spotting or menometrorrhagia, between periods. Endometriosis can cause problems when trying to become pregnant. Other signs can include diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, as well as feeling extra tired. Periods have some of the above, however, when the pain is extreme or heavy, it is not necessarily normal and should be talked about with a medical doctor to check that there is no possibility of endometriosis, early diagnosis may help to prevent any complications like infertility or ovarian cancer.
- Cut down or stop alcohol consumption
- Take anti-oxidants
- Take a good-quality multi-vitamin
- Reduce strong painkillers or oral contraceptives
- Increase exercise, especially the week before a period is to start
- Avoid processed foods, especially meats, sugar, white flour and white rice products
- Avoid soy products
Take Vitamin B complex supplements, Dandelion herbal tinctures to strengthen the liver and kidneys, Milk Thistle supplements to strengthen the liver, Selenium supplements and Vitamin E have shown to help to strengthen the uterus – but do not take during periods since they will increase bleeding, take chlorophyll as a cleanse to remove dioxins, and Folate or Folic Acid, which helps to make heme the iron-containing blood cells.
Castor Oil Transdermal Packs can help to soothe some of the cramping symptoms. The castor oil can be applied by soaking a wash cloth or wool cloth, and placed on to the bare skin in the lower abdomen area, covered with a plastic item like a grocery bag or wrap, and then followed with a hot water bottle, and left on for at least 30 minutes. Repeat as necessary.
Use only dioxin-free, unchlorinated feminine products, especially tampons, since dioxins have been shown to cause endometriosis.
Please talk to one of our practitioners about the risk of endometriosis and how it can create fertility issues and make it difficult to become pregnant.
We carry all the above items at Metro Integrative Pharmacy and our qualified practitioners can help by offering advice on what would be best for each individual.
WebMD, emedicineHealth, Prevention, Healthwyze.org
By Sally Warren, Ph.D, ND, DN Psy, NC MH
Metro Integrative Pharmacy
Individual Practitioners advice from their expertise:
Kelly Johnson, Nutritionist
Nutrition and Endometriosis
Good nutrition can play a key role in managing the inflammation associated with endometriosis. This decrease in inflammation can have a direct impact on enhancing the quality of life and energy levels of the individual and to decrease certain side effects of the condition.
Increase Plant-Based Foods
An anti-inflammatory diet involves increasing your consumption of plant-based foods. In general, the more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and dried beans that you eat, the better. These foods are high in fiber and antioxidants which both play a dynamic role in reducing inflammation in the body. Consuming as many as five servings of fruits and vegetables a day are recommended for most individuals.
Dark chocolate, fresh herbs, and tea also are high in antioxidants and should be included in the diet regularly. If unable to consume enough of these nutrients through food, dietary supplements can aid in helping you reach the recommended intake for various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Our pharmacy offers an abundance of multivitamins and antioxidant supplements that can support your needs.
Add Omega-3 Fats
Known for their well-researched anti-inflammatory effects, increasing omega-3 fats in the diet is an essential part of helping to regulate and reduce inflammation in the body. You can increase omega-3 fats in your diet by incorporating more cold-water fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna), walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, or consider a high quality fish oil supplementation. Additionally, choosing omega-3 rich oils such as cold pressed organic flax, hemp, chia, walnut or pumpkin seed oils instead of refined oils such as canola, corn, peanut, sunflower oil can help aid in reducing inflammation. At Metro Integrative Pharmacy, we offer a wide variety of fish oil supplements, flax oils and chia seeds and our practitioners can help you find one that is best suited for your needs.
Limit Processed Foods
Aside from adding anti-inflammatory foods to the diet, it is just as important to remove pro-inflammatory foods. The foods that trigger an inflammatory response include processed, refined and packaged foods in addition to soft drinks, fried foods, smoked meats, breakfast cereals, baked goods, white flour and refined grains, sugar, artificial sweeteners and a variety of additives, colors and chemicals. These unnatural products and ingredients all contribute to the inflammatory and toxic load on the body, which can further exacerbate conditions such as endometriosis. Avoiding these foods whenever possible and sticking with fresh, unprocessed ingredients forms the backbone of any anti-inflammatory diet.
Karen Wright, CNS, MSHNFM, Naturopath, FNLP, CNHP, CHC, LE, DD
Certified Nutrition Specialist, Metro Integrative Pharmacy
Environmental toxins can play a role in endometriosis. Xenoestrogens are disruptive chemicals that are found in food, soil and air. They interfere with the body’s natural circulating estrogen disrupting hormonal balance, menstrual cycle and can contribute to endometriosis. Dioxins, PCB’s, DDT, pesticides, fertilizers are known xenoestrogens.
One xenoestrogen, dioxin is a byproduct of chlorine bleaching. It is a carcinogen that bioaccumulates in the body even at low doses. For a woman, this can be a problem since but only is chlorine found in public drinking water but it is in commercial feminine hygiene products. Luckily, Seventh Generation and Natracare brands offer safer alternatives.
● Anti-Candida diet
● Avoid sugar, wheat, dairy, caffeine, alcohol
● Increase dietary fiber
● Flax seeds
● eat a plant based diet
● especially vegetables that enhance liver function
● cabbage family vegetables
● dandelion leaves
● burdock root
● eat organic vegetables as much as possible to reduce levels of xenoestrogens.
● increase omega-3 fatty acids
● salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, mackrel
● reduce trans fat
● decrease animal protein consumption especially red meat.
● Season with turmeric and seaweed
● Consume 1 tablespoon of soaked and ground milk thistles seeds daily or take a standardized extract supplement.
● Avoid sugar, caffeine and alcohol
● Vitamin C - 6 to 10 grams in divided doses daily
● Beta- Carotene – 50,000 – 150,000 IU daily
● Vitamin E – 400 – 800 IU daily
● Pycnogenol – 60 – 150 mg daily
● Essential Fatty Acids
● Fish oil with EPA + DHA 1000 mg daily
● B Complex – 50 – 100 mg daily
● Selenium – 200 – 400 mcg daily
● Lipotropics: Combination of 1000 mg Choline and 1000 mg methionine 3 times a day.
• Bruner-Tran KL, Yeaman GR, Crispens MA, Igarashi TM, Osteen KG. Dioxin may promote inflammation-related development of endometriosis. Fertil Steril. 2008 May;89 (5 Suppl):1287–98.
• Gaby, Alan R. MD. Nutritional Medicine. New Hampshire: Fritz Perlberg. 2011, pages 816-7.
• Pizzorno and Murray. Textbook of Natural Medicine, 3rd Edition, 2 Volume Set. Publisher:
• Churchill Livingstone Elsevier / 2006 ISBN# 0-443-07300-7, pages 1350-1354
• Thornton, Joseph. Pandora's Poison: Chlorine, Health, and a New Environmental Strategy. MIT Press; April 2001.
Homeopathy for Endometriosis
Homeopathy can be a very effective treatment for women with endometriosis. Since homeopathic remedies are selected by matching one to a woman’s unique symptoms, here are some helpful guidelines to help you choose the right remedy for you. There are over forty homeopathic remedies know to successfully treat endometriosis. The following is a sampling of some of the most commonly prescribed ones. Chronic conditions are best treated with the help of a qualified homeopath; nevertheless, it is perfectly safe to try one of the following on your own if it is a good match:
Apis For stinging pain in the ovary region and much swelling/fullness of the abdomen, women who are busy and restless, and tend to have water retention and puffiness around the eyes..
Pulsatilla For women who are of a mild temperament, yielding and gentle with a tendency to changeable moods and crying easily. Periods are very irregular and painful. Such women crave fresh air and feel suffocated in a warm room.
Nux vomica For women who are organize and efficient and often feel impatient or irritated when others are slow or fall short. There can be nausea and vomiting with the menstrual pain, severe cramps, and either diarrhea or constipation – though with frequent urging.
Sepia For women who crave exercise/dancing and can be irritable toward family, feeling care-worn, put-upon, and wanting to be left alone. Typically either thin flat-chested women who must exercise a lot to feel emotionally well or heavier women who have low tone in the uterus, often with a sensation of bearing-down in the uterus or genital area.
Thuja For women with uterine fibroids who also have moles and skin tags, extra facial or body hair, a tendency to oily skin, and low self-confidence in social settings.
Folliculinum For women with a history of taking oral contraceptives, with a tendency for breast swelling/tenderness and monthly migraines with the period, with very painful heavy bleeding with clots and a short cycle.
Yeva Pisarevsky, r.ph.
Metro Integrative Pharmacy has a great selection of products women can take to prevent and treat endometriosis.
There is a number of multivitamins with antioxidants we recommend, such as:
● Nutri-Fem by Thorne Research
● Every Woman’s by New Chapter
● Women’s One Daily by Mega Food
Or antioxidants formula such as:
● Poly-Reseveratrol-SR by Thorne Research
● Selenium-Plus Vitamin E by Metagenics
To balance your hormones and to reduce estrogen to progesterone ratio, we recommend to use:
● DIM Detox by Pure Encapsulations which will provide you with DIM (diindolylmethane complex), as well as Calcium D-Glucarate, antioxidants and liver-supporting ingredients.
Additional liver support products include:
● Liver Cleanse by Thorne Research
● Liver Gallbladder Drops by BioForces, etc.,
We also carry Castor Oil and the wool cloths for Castor Oil Transdermal Packs and a number of homeopathic and aromatherapy products for symptomatic relief of pain, inflammation and cramping related to endometriosis.
It’s hard to overestimate the importance of taking probiotics in general, particularly, in the treatment of endometriosis
You can use Florastor or Sacro-B if you tend to suffer from diarrhea, or Primadophilus Optima For Women by Nature’s Way to prevent urinary tract inflammation. Every woman and every situation is different, and our practitioners will approach it considering the specifics of each case, so don’t hesitate to ask for advice: we are here to help!
Metro Integrative Pharmacy
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. The information in this article is for educational purposes only.