Endometriosis is a condition which affects up to 10% of women. The most common symptoms are pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, digestive difficulty and infertility. The most common treatments for Endometriosis include the birth control pill, and surgery known as a laparoscopy.
This sounds like a whole pile of yuck!
Many natural remedies exist to help balance and reduce endometriosis without the harmful side effects of medication and surgery.
One of the main aspects (besides your sex hormones, of course!) to focus on when balancing endometriosis naturally is to have a good immune system. And I don’t just mean fewer colds and flus, or less allergies. I mean a rocking immune system that can rid your body of more serious problems, like having endometrial tissue outside of the uterus!
What Does My Immune System Have to do with Endometriosis?
So many ways!
Firstly, endometriosis is associated with other immune-modulated chronic diseases like cancer, autoimmune disease, asthma and cardiovascular disease. After years of poor immune response and rampant endometrial tissue, you are more at risk for these diseases later on.
Secondly, inflammation in the body is a sign of immune participation. While short-term inflammation is a good thing- meaning your body is ‘cleaning up’ the mess of pathogens like viruses and bacteria, being chronically inflamed is bad news for your immune system. The sucky pain and super heavy flow often seen in endometriosis cause you stress. I totally get it! The problem with elevated stress is that it creates even more (unnecessary) inflammation. This could lead to other issues like inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, lupus and multiple sclerosis.
Solution? R.E.L.A.X. (more on that below)
With chronic stress and inflammation from an immune response comes elevated prostaglandins (hormone-like substances that assist in contraction of smooth muscle aka your uterus). These guys gather for a party in your peritoneal fluid (aka liquid in your abdominal cavity) and increase your levels of pain.
Lastly, having endometriosis lesions or cysts means your immune system is chronically activated, as it tries to fight tissue in the wrong place at the wrong time. So, more inflammatory chemicals and growth-factors for the misplaced tissue abound.
Conquering Your Endometriosis with a Good Immune System
Now for the juicy stuff!
Beyond a nutrient-dense diet loaded with veggies, protein and healthy fat and an active lifestyle, here are some ideas for supporting your immune system to balance endometriosis:
Pau D’arco + Astragalus
Two of my favourite medicinal herbs for endometriosis, they both work on the immune system.
Pau D’arco is the inner bark of a tree from Central and South America. It has a very mild flavour, and so lends itself well to tea. Pau D’arco is fantastic for endometriosis for a few reasons. It modulates the immune system, it a potent liver detoxifier and is very anti-microbial.
Astragalus on the other hand is a root that is both energizing and toning to the system. One of the best immune-helper herbs, it is generally taken for 3 to 6 months to build the immune system. Astragalus works very well in tincture form.
Vitamin D isn’t truly a vitamin, but acts very much like a hormone. We all know it because we get it from sunshine, but most of us don’t get enough time in strong sunlight to have enough. It has been suggested that having adequate levels of vitamin D can prevent hormonal issues like endometriosis. Not only this, it boosts mood and overall supports our immune system. A general dose of 2,000IU is helpful for most. Higher doses are even more useful, but I recommend either getting your blood levels checked or asking your natural healthcare practitioner for advice before taking more.
A rat study has shown the benefits of high vitamin C intake for endometriosis. What they found was a significant reduction in the volume and weight of endometrial cysts with the use of vitamin C. Beyond this, vitamin C is generally extremely useful for reducing inflammation and the duration of colds and flus. A dose of 2000mg-5000mg per day is fine for most people. If this gives you loose stools, back off 1000mg each day until it stops. This is your maintenance dose.
As we talked about at the beginning of this post, stress increases symptoms of endometriosis because is exacerbates inflammation and the immune response to endo tissue. Anything and everything you can do to reduce stress will be helpful for your endometriosis. Put YOU first! Here are a few examples: