For those who want to use a more natural approach for their treatment of endometriosis, you can give your body lots of support with supplements, herbs and specific vitamins.
The power of nature and natural remedies are available to help us heal. Some of these remedies have been scientifically studied
You can include these natural treatments along with conventional treatments. In fact many of these supplements will help to boost your immune system which in turn will help you to deal with endometriosis.
Herbs can help to balance your hormone levels while vitamins can support your immune system and support your nutritional needs. Also, certain supplements can address the symptoms of pain and inflammation with endometriosis.
The following is a list of herbs, vitamins, and natural supplements that can provide health benefits and help with your symptoms. Many of these supplements are used regularly by those dealing with endometriosis and they are seeing the benefits with reduced symptoms.
Supplements and herbs for endometriosis
Vitamin A aids in the functioning in normal cell growth and development. Deficiency causes roughening and hardening of the skin, night blindness and deterioration of mucous membranes in the lungs.
A study published in Pubmed suggested that natural antioxidants such as vitamin E and C at low doses, are an effective alternative therapy to relieve chronic pelvic pain in women with endometriosis.
Sometimes those suffering endometriosis suffer from nausea and just feel too ill to eat properly and this can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
For this reason Aloe vera juice is a great supplement to use on a daily basis. Aloe vera contains a huge range of vitamins, minerals and amino acids to support nutritional needs. It also has great healing properties for the gut.
Apple Cider Vinegar
An effective natural bacteria fighting agent that contains vital minerals and trace elements such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, chlorine, sodium, sulphur, copper, iron, silicon and fluorine. It helps to strengthen the immune system
Amino acids effect many functions and processes in the body and they are the building blocks of protein. They are essential for healing wounds and repairing tissue, especially in the muscles, bones, skin and hair as well as for the removal of all kinds of waste deposits produced in connection with the metabolism.
Amino acids are found in food sources but sometimes these can be low in vital nutrients due to modern food processes. Protein is broken down in the intestinal tract and turned into individual aminos. The body needs to be supplied with amino acids throughout the day and is supported by diet or by taking supplements.
Certain amino acids have a calming effect on the body which can help with insomnia. These include glycine, taurine, theanine, gaba, tryptophan. These are all available as individual supplements and can also be found in various sleep remedies in combination.
Supplementing with a good quality amino acid complex can support the wound healing properties of aminos, and may help the body support healing from the damage caused by endometriosis.
These are important for the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the body. B vitamins are reported to improve the emotional symptoms of endometriosis, and have proved helpful in dealing with PMT.
An excess of estrogen can be re-balanced by taking B6 which can help to boost you natural progesterone production. B6 supports the development of the corpus luteum (The corpus luteum is a temporary endocrine structure in female ovaries and is involved in the production of relatively high levels of progesterone).
Additionally some progesterone is made in the adrenal glands so you need to support the healthy function of your adrenals with b complex vitamins and vitamin C.
B6 also specifically works with liver enzymes to remove excess estrogen from the body and boosts the immune system to prevent autoimmune response.
Vitamin C is well known for helping to boost the immune system and help provide resistance to disease. It is also used in the body to build and maintain collagen within the body.
Vitamin C tops the list of immune boosters for many reasons. There has been more research about the immune-boosting effects of Vitamin C than perhaps any other nutrient. Vitamin C supplements are inexpensive to produce, and it's available naturally in many fruits and vegetables.
Levels of calcium in menstruating women decrease 10 to 14 days before the onset of menstruation. Deficiency may lead to muscle cramps, headache or pelvic pain.
Not exactly a supplement, but worth mentioning here. It is reported that coconut oil helps with stress relief, increased immunity, proper digestion and improved metabolism. Its properties include antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-microbial and it helps in the healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzyme systems.
Taken as a dietary supplement and plays an important part in the production of chemical energy in the mitochondria. It serves as a powerful antioxidant. CoQ10 is gaining evidence that it has a role in the treatment of mitochondrial disorders and counteracting some of the damage caused by free radicals and it is said to significantly enhance the immune function of the body. Aids the heart muscle in its uptake of oxygen.
As the plant name suggests, it can be used exactly for just that purpose! The bark contains methyl salicylate which is a weak acting precursor to the salicylic acid that is used in aspirin, but much less irritating to the gastric mucosa.
Cramp bark is traditionally used for pain, inflammation, and menstrual cramps. Cramp bark is also said to reduce fluid retention.( 1 )
D - vitamin
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin belonging to the steroid hormone family.
A study comparing 1385 cases of Endometriosis (proven by laparoscopy) to over 69, 000 disease-free women (The Nurse Health Study) showed that women with the highest levels of vitamin D have 24% lower risk of endometriosis than those in the lower levels. These results, without proving the relevance between vitamin D levels and endometriosis, showed a strong association between low levels of Vitamin D and the occurrence of endometriosis. ( 2 )
Enzymes are biological catalysts: this means that they speed up the chemical reactions in living things. Without enzymes, our gut would take weeks to digest our food, our muscles, nerves and bones would not work properly.
Without enzymes human health would be impossible - every metabolic function of the body requires them. Inadequate production of digestive enzymes due to illness negatively affects the breakdown of foods into the nutrients that the body needs.
Several digestive enzymes can be quite useful in relieving the pain associated with endometriosis. They can also help to reduce scarring and inflammation of the implants that occur with this disease.
These enzymes include: bromelain, a digestive enzyme extracted from the stem of the pineapple (500 to 1000 mg. four times a day taken apart from meals); papain, an enzyme derived from papaya (200 to 300 mg. four times a day apart from meals).
There are various reports from endometriosis sufferers saying they have found these digestive enzymes to be quite helpful with reducing their symptoms.
DIM (diindolylmethane) supports the body in eliminating excess estrogen. DIM is derived from cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli. It metabolizes estrogen into components easily assimilated and removed by the body, and avoids the development of estrogen dominance. DIM is also able to reduce the effects of xeno-estrogens from the environment. It is available in supplement form in varying strengths.
DL-Phenylealanine (DLPA) does not actually block the symptoms. It works instead by protecting the body’s naturally produced pain killing endorphins (the body’s morphine), effectively extending their life span in the nervous system.
DLPA can also relieve symptoms of PMS and has had great success in dealing with the pain of endometriosis
Vitamin E stimulates the production of natural killer cells, those that seek out and destroy germs and cancer cells. Vitamin E enhances the production of B-cells, the immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria. Vitamin E supplementation may also reverse some of the decline in immune response commonly seen in ageing.
Evening primrose oil (EPO)
An essential fatty acid in Evening Primrose Oil called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is anti-inflammatory and acts to inhibit tumour growth in those with endometriosis. ( 3 )
Gamma linoleic acid (GLA) is the precursor to anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. A useful addition to the diet with conditions such as endometriosis, arthritis, asthma, PMS, eczema and heart disease. stops blood becoming sticky.
This B vitamin is essential for preventing foetal abnormalities and is an important vitamin to have in your diet for healthy pregnancy. It is reduced by the pill and by stress. It is also readily excreted from the body as it is a water soluble vitamin and is not stored in the body for very long.
Many foods contain folic acid, including vegetables such as spinach, sprouts, broccoli, green beans, and potatoes. Some bread and breakfast cereals are fortified with folic acid. However, the intake for each individual can vary.
Women with endometriosis tend to have very heavy periods which can lead to iron deficiency. This can lead to anaemia which is characterised by extreme fatigue and weakness. Iron supplements are readily available in various strengths.
Iron is a mineral that is used by the body to make haemoglobin, the part of the red blood cell that transports oxygen. Iron-containing foods include red meat, poultry, legumes, green leafy vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals.
Carnitine is useful in helping our bodies to convert fat to energy.
L-carnitine is an amino acid that that benefits energy levels by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria where they can be burned up and used as fuel. It boosts energy, improves brain and cognitive function and can regulate blood sugar.
Carnitine is found mainly in dairy and red meats, so if you are reducing your intake of these foods for the diet for endometriosis, then supplementing with carnitine will help.
Magnesium has many benefits for endometriosis, depending on which type of magnesium is used. It can help with muscle pain, insomnia, bowel problems, provide a calming effect, support brain function and is involved in many biochemical processes in the body.
Magnesium supports detoxification - it is crucial for the removal of toxic substances and heavy metals such as mercury, aluminium, and lead from the body.
Food sources of magnesium are dark green , leafy vegetables. Also found in almonds, cashews and nut butters, pulses, lentils and brown rice.
This herb contains the antioxidant silymarin, repairs the cells in your liver and protects cells from damage (thereby regenerating the strength of the liver to detox the body of excess estrogen), and it is anti-inflammatory. So, this is a powerful herb for endometriosis.
Be careful with your intake of milk thistle as it can leach iron from your system. For this reason milk thistle is used to treat iron over-load in the body.
NAC: Short for N-acetyl-cysteine
N-acetyl-cysteine is a powerful supplement that increases glutathione, one of the most important detoxifiers naturally produced in our bodies.
NAC is a also powerful antioxidant with some interesting data behind it specific to endometriosis. In a 2013 study of ninety-two women in Italy, forty-seven took NAC and forty-two took a placebo. Of those who took 600 mg of NAC three times a day, twenty-four patients cancelled their scheduled laparoscopy due to a decrease or disappearance of endometriosis, improved pain reduction, or because they had become pregnant! ( 4 )
Omega 3 oils
These are key oils to help with endometriosis.
Omega 3 oils help to produce the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, which in turn will help to reduce the symptoms of pain and inflammation with endometriosis.
Some of the best sources of omega-3 oils are found in marine and plant oils and include: oily fish, walnut oil, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds. Can also be found as a dietary supplement.
Peruvian Maca Root
Maca Root contains significant amounts of amino acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamins B1, B2, B12, C and E and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium and iron.
This herb has been traditionally used to increase energy, vitality, stamina and endurance in athletes, promote mental clarity, address menstrual irregularities and female hormone imbalances, including menopause.
Some women have obtained good benefits from Maca, while for others it has upset their hormonal balance. Therefore it is advisable to experiment and start with a low dose.
Potassium is essential for muscle contraction, regulation of heart rate, conduction of nerve impulses and fluid balance in the body. Many women may become deficient in potassium due to bouts of diarrhoea during the menstrual cycle, and have bloating, weakness and fatigue. Some good sources of potassium are bananas, apricots, oranges, potatoes and dark green leafy vegetables.
Probiotics are bacteria that help replenish the beneficial bacteria in the intestine. Common foods that contain probiotics are yogurt and fermented milk drinks. Maintaining a balance of healthy bacteria in the intestine is beneficial for a healthy digestive system.
The good bacteria in your gut can be destroyed by drugs including birth control, anti-biotics, pain meds and hormone meds to treat endometriosis.
It is a good idea to supplement with a full spectrum probiotic supplement which will support your gut health and also help your immune system.
Pycnogenol is an extract from the French maritime pine bark whose main ingredient is procyanidin. Procyanidin is a powerful antioxidant also found in food such as grapes, berries, pomegranates, red wine and various nuts.
Pycnogenol is used for treating circulation problems, allergies, asthma, ringing in the ears, high blood pressure, muscle soreness, pain, osteoarthritis, diabetes, endometriosis, menopausal symptoms, and painful menstrual periods. ( 5 ) ( 6 )
This supplement is being used by sufferers of endometriosis and obtaining some really good results. It helps to reduce pain and the benefits can be felt within a couple of months.
Raspberry tea is recommended for easing menstrual cramps and helps relax the uterus. Researcher do not know the active compound of Raspberry, but they speculate that it might be Pycnogenol (OPC). Pycnogenol is a compound of natural chemicals found in the bark of the European pine tree (see Pynogenol above)
Serrapeptase is a proteolytic enzyme (Proteolysis is the breakdown of proteins into smaller polypeptides or amino acids.) This enzyme is naturally processed and was discovered in the silkworm intestine. Studies reveal it has very powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Serrapeptase digests non-living tissue, blood clots, cysts, arterial plaque and inflammation in all forms. There are reports of many with endometriosis using this supplement to great effect for pain and inflammation. You can purchase serrapeptase as a dietary supplement.
Sulphur (Methyl Sulphonyl Methane - MSM)
One of the most significant uses of MSM as a supplement is its ability to relieve pain and inflammation. MSM is an anti-oxidant that helps to clean the blood stream and flush toxins trapped in our cells.
MSM can help relieve symptoms in a variety of ways. It blocks pain messages that travel to the brain along non myelinated nerve fibres called C fibres. This results in relief of the deep aching sensation that is characteristic of chronic conditions like endometriosis. Read more about MSM here
When selenium is taken together with vitamin E it has been reported to decrease inflammation associated with endometriosis, as well as immune system booster.
Interestingly it has been found that in cattle, endometriosis can be due to selenium deficiency. So farmers supplement their cattle with selenium along with other vital nutrients in the form of a salt lick.
Selenium can be easily supplemented and the benefits are enhanced when taken together with vitamin E. For women with endometriosis which causes inflammatory, this nutrient duo may aid healing of the skin and help protect the heart, blood vessels, skin, joints, and other parts of the body prone to inflammation.
Zinc is essential for enzyme activity, helping cells to reproduce which will help with healing. Zinc is also reported to boost the immune system and helping to create an emotional sense of well-being
This valuable mineral increases the production of white blood cells that fight infection and helps them fight more aggressively. It also increases killer cells that fight against cancer and helps white cells release more antibodies. Zinc supplements have been shown to slow the growth of cancer.
If you wish to use herbs to address hormone imbalances and help with you symptoms of endometriosis it would be advisable to get advice from a trained herbalist.
Herbs can be very strong and you need advice of the dosage and to ensure there are no contraindications with any medications you are taking.
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( 1 ) Crampbark
( 2 ) Vitamin D
( 3 ) Evening Primrose
( 4 ) NAC
( 5 ) Pynogenol