Endometriosis Treatment: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Acupuncture, and Herbs
Endometriosis refers to a gynecological disease in which the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus (endometrium) is present outside of it. It commonly occurs in the lower abdomen or pelvis, but it can appear anywhere in the body. It is usually followed by lower abdominal pain, painful menstrual cycles and intercourses, or even an impossibility to get pregnant.
Although the most common endometriosis treatment options include hormone therapies and surgery, alternative methods such as acupuncture and herbs can significantly help you mitigate the endometriosis symptoms and alleviate the pain provoked by this issue.
If not treated on time, endometriosis can cause severe health issues such as cancer or infertility. Still, adequate therapies can prevent further inconveniences and resolve all the problems associated with endometriosis. Let’s see how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) promote healing and deliver excellent results in treating this condition.
Mike Woodworth from Makari Wellness: Meet an Endometriosis Specialist from San Diego
Makari Wellness specializes in treating gynecological conditions with a high success rate. We combine the best traditional and conventional medicine methods, delivering long-term results to our patients, who leave our office with smiles on their faces.
Book your appointment at (888) 871-8889 and let our endometriosis specialist in San Diego craft a unique and personalized treatment plan for you.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful disorder where the tissue that usually grows inside the uterus grows outside of it. It commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, it can develop beyond pelvic organs.
In women with endometriosis, the endometrial-like tissue thickens, breaks down, and bleeds with each period. However, it doesn’t have a way to exit the body, so it becomes trapped inside. It may cause many complications, especially if it involves the ovaries. That way, it may lead to the formation of cysts called endometriomas.
Signs of Endometriosis
Endometriosis often causes pain, which can be quite severe during menstrual periods. Although cramps are common during menstrual cycles, women with this disorder claim that endometriosis pain is far worse than usual. Note that the pain may increase over time.
Other endometriosis symptoms include:
- Dysmenorrhea (painful periods): Pelvic pain and cramps may start before and extend several days into a period. Pain is mainly present in the lower back and abdomen.
- Painful intercourse: Women with endometriosis often feel pain during or after sexual intercourse.
- Pain during bowel movements or urination: These symptoms are common during a menstrual cycle.
- Excessive bleeding: You may have heavy menstrual periods or notice bleeding between periods.
- Infertility: Endometriosis is often one of the leading causes of infertility in women.
Other symptoms include fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, which are especially prominent during periods.
Bear in mind that pain doesn’t always imply endometriosis. It is often confused with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can accompany endometriosis, complicating the diagnosis.
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The Most Common Endometriosis Causes
Even though the exact cause of endometriosis remains unknown, the following factors could be potential triggers:
- Immune system disorder: A problem with the immune system usually makes the body unable to identify and destroy endometrial-like tissue growing outside the uterus.
- Surgical scar: After surgery, especially hysterectomy or C-section, endometrial cells may attach to a surgical incision.
- Endometrial cell transport: The blood vessels or lymphatic system may transport endometrial cells to other body areas.
Potential Risk Factors and Complications
Certain groups of women are at a higher risk of developing endometriosis, and the following factors may trigger its onset:
- Never giving birth
- The period that has started at an early age
- Experiencing menopause at an older age
- Short menstrual cycles (less than 27 days, for example)
- Menstrual periods lasting longer than 7 days
- Higher levels of estrogen
- Low body mass index
- Relatives (mother, sister, aunts) with endometriosis
- Medical conditions that prevent the typical passage of menstrual flow
- Abnormalities with the reproductive tract.
Best Endometriosis Treatment Solutions
Very often, endometriosis treatment options include medication and surgery. However, your doctor or a licensed practitioner can determine the right therapy based on the severity of your condition and your general health.
Since endometriosis pain can be unbearable, the first thing your doctor may recommend is over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, to help alleviate menstrual cramps. Another commonly suggested treatment for endometriosis is hormone therapy. It is also efficient in easing the signs of pain and discomfort. However, neither of them is a permanent solution to this problem.
More complex approaches may include surgeries to remove the uterus (hysterectomy) and ovaries (oophorectomy), but healthcare experts tend to avoid them and focus on careful removal of the endometriosis tissue.
Traditional Chinese Medicine for Endometriosis
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used for thousands of years to address various conditions Western medicine considers incurable. Unlike most modern approaches, which focus on eliminating particular symptoms, Eastern medicine pays attention to a woman’s overall health, looking for the root of their condition.
A woman’s menstrual cycle often reflects her general well-being. An endometriosis specialist claims that women’s periods should be painless and followed by minimal pre and postmenstrual symptoms. It should be of sufficient volume and free from clots, indicating free flow that comes with no pain.
According to TCM, there is a strong connection between the uterus and the liver. The liver is responsible for maintaining the free flow of vital energy (qi), which runs through the liver, spleen, and kidney channels. If any of these channels is blocked or deficient, it may result in a menstrual problem.
Qi stagnation leads to many issues that affect one’s general health, and it is often provoked by long-term excessive stress. Untreated qi deficiency manifests as dull, colicky, or crampy pain, worsening during menstrual cycles.
Professional TCM practitioners suggest acupuncture, herbs, diet, and lifestyle changes lower stress, increase vital energy levels and encourage blood flow.
Acupuncture for Endometriosis
According to recent studies, acupuncture is more effective than hormone therapy for treating endometriosis. Acupuncture therapy alleviates menstrual pain, reduces pelvic masses’ size, decreases the recurrence rate of endometriosis, and brings long-term improvements to a woman’s overall health.
Acupuncture involves using small stainless-steel needles a practitioner places into the specific acupoints throughout the patient’s body. The stimulation of these acupoints encourages the qi balance, reducing the signs of endometriosis and promoting the body’s healing mechanisms.
The connection between acupuncture and endometriosis is quite prominent. Since acupuncture is based on a holistic approach that addresses the root of the particular condition, women who undergo this therapy will feel improvements in virtually every aspect of their health. By restoring the qi and blood flow, acupuncture alleviates pain, regulates menstrual cycles, and brings emotional relief to any woman.
Endometriosis acupuncture is quite a safe and natural treatment with fewer side effects than the drugs or hormone therapies conventional medicine recommends. After identifying your unique symptoms, a certified acupuncture practitioner will develop an individualized acupuncture treatment plan, which often consists of addressing the following deficiencies:
- Blood stasis
- Qi stagnation
- Kidney yang deficiency
- Spleen qi deficiency
- Damp heat stagnation.
Acupuncture for endometriosis treatment often lasts from six to eight weeks, with one or two visits a week. Still, the therapy course will depend on many factors.
Acupuncture is often combined with other TCM treatments, including herbal formulas, diet, and lifestyle changes, to deliver much better and more long-lasting results.
Chinese Herbs for Endometriosis
Herbal therapies have been widely used to treat an array of conditions provoked by inflammations or certain deficiencies in the body. Many women opt for herbs since they are entirely safe, natural, versatile, and free of severe side effects. Chinese herbs support and enhance one’s overall health, and their efficiency is even more prominent when used in combination with other TCM therapies.
A licensed Chinse herbalist focuses on strengthening the foundation of your health, not only bringing instant relief. This concept is vital when it comes to treating endometriosis. As endometriosis causes inflammation, which later leads to unbearable pain, it is essential to focus on the root of inflammation rather than treating pain with analgesics.
When used skillfully, herbs eliminate the underlying cause alongside its byproducts. The following benefits of Chinese herbal medicine for endometriosis prove the efficiency of this natural, plant-based therapy:
- Relieves chronic pain
- Alleviates the PMS symptoms
- Reduces menstrual cramps
- Helps with infertility treatments.
Here are the best herbs for endometriosis that reduce pain and inflammation:
- Ashwagandha: This herb is excellent for reducing stress and lowering cortisol levels, present in women with endometriosis and adrenal fatigue.
- Curcumin: Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin suppresses tissue migration of the uterus’ lining, which is vital for treating endometriosis.
- Chamomile: Drinking chamomile tea helps with endometriosis symptoms while reducing the signs of PMS.
- Peppermint: Studies have confirmed that peppermint has potent anti-inflammatory properties that reduce pelvic pain and menstrual cramps’ severity.
- Lavender: Lavender oil in aromatherapy massages helps with severe menstrual cramps provoked by endometriosis. Besides, it helps in reducing pain during periods.
Endometriosis Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid?
A healthy diet plays a significant role in treating endometriosis. Since this particular condition results from inflammation, you’re advised to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet that will reduce the signs of pain and promote estrogen balance.
An adequate endometriosis diet includes the higher consumption of fruits and green vegetables and foods rich in fibers since their regular intake reduces inflammation and endometriosis-related signs.
Your practitioner may recommend the following changes regarding your regular diet:
- Boost the omega-3 fatty acids intake: Regular intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fats reduces inflammation and byproducts of endometriosis.
- Reduce trans fats: Trans fats increase the risk of developing endometriosis, especially if taken in large amounts.
- Eat more antioxidants: Antioxidant supplements significantly reduce pelvic pain. You should also eat more berries, kale, spinach, pecans, beans, and even dark chocolate (over 80% cacao).
- Avoid sugar and processed carbs: Processed foods (candy bars, junk food, white bread, etc.) are full of sugars that affect overall health, and you should avoid them. Go for whole-grain bread, fatty fish, chicken, fruits, and vegetables instead, and you’ll notice significant improvements.
Endometriosis and Infertility: What’s the Connection?
Women with endometriosis often have no problems getting pregnant. However, a third of women with this condition face fertility troubles. This usually happens in females with a severe stage of endometriosis, where abnormal cells can provoke the following issues:
- Blocking the ovary releasing eggs
- Blocking the tubes
- Preventing the tubes from working properly.
Solve your infertility issues with the best fertility acupuncture in San Diego
Other women may get pregnant naturally, without any troubles. There are many concerns regarding endometriosis and pregnancy, especially when it comes to symptoms and condition progression.
Pregnancy can have either positive or negative effects on endometriosis. Some women may notice improvements, especially since the lack of painful periods. Besides, the increased levels of progesterone during pregnancy may shrink endometrial growths.
On the other hand, women with severe endometriosis may feel no improvements during pregnancy. In fact, as the womb expands to accommodate the fetus, it can stretch misplaced tissue, causing discomfort.
Bear in mind that even if you feel improvements during pregnancy, the symptoms will resume after giving birth.