What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis (also known as “endo”) is a complex disease that affects more than 11% of Australian women. Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the uterine lining (the endometrium – the womb lining that sheds every month) grows in other parts of the body. This is often in the pelvis (uterus, ovaries, vaginal wall, peritoneal cavity etc.) but has also been found in other random places such as the lungs, eyes and even the brain.
Whilst endometriosis is not considered a fatal disease, it can ruin a woman’s life by leaving them stuck in constant cycles of severe pain, heavy and prolonged periods, fatigue and, at times, infertility.
Modern medicine offers some solutions that may help ease symptoms for some and help increase the chances of conception. However, they can sometimes fall short of providing sustainable long-term management strategies with minimal side effects. This is where the multidisciplinary support of a naturopath or naturopathic nutritionist can be of real value.
How can naturopathic practitioners help women with endometriosis?
- Accredited naturopathic practitioners approach health issues like endo holistically to tailor an individual approach to the symptoms presented.
Naturopathic practitioners can help women living with endometriosis by addressing potential contributors to the disease. They do so by:
- Managing chronic inflammation
- Balancing hormones
- Creating a healthy microbiome (gut flora)
- Supporting the immune system
- Supporting liver function
- Encouraging lifestyle changes to minimise environmental substance exposures
- Identifying ways to manage chronic stress
Naturopathic practitioners also help women relieve endo symptoms using their expertise in clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, environmental assessments and lifestyle counselling.
- Naturopathic practitioners help women with endo get symptom relief through diet modification.
Did you know that certain food groups may exacerbate endo symptoms for some people? Anyone that has used diet to manage their endo symptoms knows it can be an effective way to help get some quality of life back.
When you work with a naturopathic practitioner, you are informed about what potential foods may be triggering symptoms and how to cook and shop around them. Some of these foods may include:
- Dairy products created with A1 cows’ milk – such as cows’ milk, yogurts, cheeses, creams and ice-creams.
- Gluten is a family of proteins derived from wheat in wheat-based bread, pasta, cereals, and baked goods.
- Caffeine – including drinks such as coffee, black/green/white tea and any sort of colas.
Naturopathic practitioners also educate people with endo around which foods can help reduce their symptoms. Some of these may include:
- Antioxidant-rich foods and colourful fruits and vegetables.
- Polyphenol foods are found in pomegranates, red-fleshed dragon fruit, cranberries (fresh, not dried), red and black rice and quinoa, and any type of berry.
- Foods that assist in supporting the liver such as high fibre foods & vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbages.
- Anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, ginger, nuts, seeds and wild oily fish.
- Resistant starch, found in cooked and cooled potatoes, rice, pasta (preferably GF), legumes, cashews, soaked (not cooked) oats.
- Naturopathic practitioners may also prescribe natural medicines that may help give symptom relief.
Naturopathic practitioners are trained to prescribe natural medicines, such as nutritional supplements and herbal medications that may help with endometriosis symptom relief.
Some of these natural medicines include:
- Curcumin (Turmeric)
- Vitamins such as vitamin A, C, D, E, & all B vitamins.
Naturopathic practitioners are also trained in pharmacology. They will always check and prescribe natural medicines that are complementary and safe to use with other medications.
- Naturopathic medicine is complementary to other types of treatments for endo.
Naturopathic practitioners work positively in conjunction with other health specialists to get the best possible results for their clients with endo.
Some of the practitioners that people with endo can benefit from seeing include:
- Doctors – such as GPs, gynaecologists
- Chinese medicine practitioners, including acupuncturists
- Pelvic floor physiotherapists
- Counsellors/ psychologists
- Massage therapists
Naturopaths collate a wealth of practical knowledge throughout their years of practice that they can share with you. The latest research tells us that no one diet is reported to give more symptomatic relief from endometriosis over another. This is why it is important to work with a qualified naturopathic practitioner or nutritionist to get an individualised plan tailored to your experience with endometriosis.
We only have a small quantity of research in many areas of endometriosis, including Complementary Medicine; more research funding is needed to unravel the enigma that is endometriosis.
To find a qualified and accredited natural medicine practitioner, visit ATMS’ Find a Practitioner search tool.