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Endometriosis is a condition in which the normal menstrual tissue lining the uterus known as the endometrium grows outside of the uterus on other organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and bladder. Each month during your menstrual cycle, the hormones that trigger menstruation, will also trigger the shedding of the endometrial tissue that lie in these areas. According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, endometriosis affects 176 million women worldwide, and 1 in 10 girls and women in the US.

Endometriosis can lead to remarkable scarring and cyclical debilitating pain. Scientists are not sure what causes endometriosis, however it is understood to be an inflammatory condition regulated by your hormones, in particular estrogen. From a pharmaceutical standpoint, endometriosis is usually treated with pain medications or by using hormonal birth control as a means of suppressing the symptoms. Laparoscopic surgery to remove the endometrial tissue is another treatment of choice. It is possible to control and minimize the symptoms of endometriosis through natural means. Let us explore some natural treatment options here.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a safe, well tolerated therapy in which thin needles are placed beneath the skin along specific meridians to remain for a period of time for the purpose of treating symptoms such as pain. A 2008 Harvard Medical School study on women who suffer from endometriosis demonstrated a 62% decrease in pain symptoms after 4 weeks of treatment with acupuncture compared to the group of women who received a sham acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture is usually performed by a trained therapist such an acupuncturist or a naturopathic doctor.

Fiber

One of the symptoms of endometriosis is constipation and pain with bowel movements. Increasing your fiber intake can help prevent constipation which may worsen the pain experienced with this condition. Fiber will also help to reduce the amount of circulating estrogens in your body. Foods high in fiber include organic fruit and vegetables such as squash, apples and berries and whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa. A well balanced diet should include approximately 30 grams of fiber each day. Remember to increase your water intake along with your fiber intake to prevent the worsening of constipation.

Magnesium

Back pain and debilitating menstrual cramps are common symptoms of endometriosis. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer that may be helpful to reduce the pain associated with your monthly cycle. Foods high in magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables, avocado and brown rice. You can also consider taking a mineral supplement.

Castor Oil Packs

Ricinus Communis or castor bean oil has been known for centuries as a therapeutic oil with anti-inflammatory and immune enhancing effects. A castor oil pack can be applied to the abdomen with a warm compress and left for 30 minutes to an hour for a minimum of 2 days per week. Avoid using heat during your period as this may increase your blood flow. When used regularly, topical castor oil packs may reduce pelvic pain and constipation.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage are all part of the cruciferous family of vegetables. These vegetables contain potent chemicals such as indol-3-carbinol which help to reduce the presence of estrogens in the body by way of the liver’s detoxification process. Estrogen-like compounds in our environment from plastics, pesticides and fuel may disrupt your hormones and add to the burden of estrogen in your body. Aim for 2 servings of cruciferous vegetables each day.

There is currently no known cure for endometriosis, however applying some simple lifestyle, dietary changes may help to reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any drastic changes to your diet or before adding supplements to your daily routine in order to avoid any side effects and to reduce possible interactions.

Elaine Brisebois
About the Author

Elaine is a Certified Nutritionist and Women’s Health Coach. She works with clients across the globe to help them improve their health and relationship with food. Elaine believes in a real food approach to health that is rooted in optimizing digestion and includes ongoing and intelligent cleansing. You can download her FREE Hip, Healthy & Holistic Makeover Guide to learn 5 simple things you can do every day to lose weight, increase energy, kick cravings, and feel beautiful inside & out.