Periods are certainly no picnic for any of us. However, they can be particularly painful if you suffer from endometriosis. Endometriosis is a female reproduction system disorder that affects more than five million women in the United States.
Cause & cure of Endometriosis
Endometriosis occurs when cells that normally comprise the uterus’s lining begin to grow in other parts of the body. Therefore, this can lead to excruciating periods, severe menstrual cramps, and even pain during sex. However, a definitive cause and cure have yet to be discovered for this medical condition. These five natural approaches have proven helpful for managing symptoms and alleviating pain.
1. Intake of fruits & veggies helps with Endometriosis
Studies show a connection between the body’s inflammatory response and the pain caused by endometriosis. Therefore, filling up on inflammation-fighting fruits and vegetables can provide some relief. Dr. Shelley Wroth, MD, an integrative physician at Duke Integrative Medicine and assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine says:
“The goal here is to limit the body’s inflammatory response and one way of doing that is through diet”
Pile your plate high with foods such as blueberries and broccoli. And stick with organic produce whenever possible since pesticides have been linked to endometriosis. Can’t go organic all the time? Check out this list to find out which fruits and veggies are sold in the U.S. These fruits and vegetables contain the highest and lowest concentration of pesticides.
2. Load up on Omega-3 fatty acids
Supplementing your diet with Omega-3 fatty acids will give your body an additional anti-inflammatory boost and can even reduce period pain. Dr. Elise Schroeder, ND, lead naturopathic physician of the Women in Balance Institute at the National College of Natural Medicine says:
One thing I’ll do with endometriosis patients to help with pain has them take fish oil to reduce inflammation.
She recommends taking a 2,000-milligram, high-quality fish oil supplement daily. For added Omega-3, Dr. Schroeder advises sprinkling fresh ground flaxseed on salads and other foods, getting about one-third of a cup daily in your diet. In addition to its anti-inflammation properties, ground flaxseed helps regulate hormones and promotes bowel regularity.
3. Decrease dairy and red meat
Cutting down on your consumption of dairy and red meat can also help manage symptoms related to endometriosis. Studies show these foods can trigger an immune response that leads to chronic inflammation. If you’re craving a juicy burger or steak, just steer clear of hormone-treated meat. Since studies show hormone imbalances are a key factor in endometriosis. As for dairy products, try to avoid them altogether. Dr. Schroeder explains:
Even if you’re getting dairy from a cow that isn’t treated with hormones, there are natural hormones in milk that can affect our hormone balance.
4. Toss toxic household products
Getting rid of household products that contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals can also make a difference when it comes to symptom management. Exposure to these everyday items, such as cleaning products, makeup, and plastics, has an effect on hormone balance in the body. Studies have found that women with endometriosis tend to have higher levels of these chemicals–including bisphenol A (BPA)–in their blood. Dr. Marianne Marchese, ND, a naturopathic physician, and author of “8 Weeks to Women’s Wellness says:
Women don’t realize that they’re exposing themselves to these chemicals.
The Detoxification Plan for Breast Cancer, Endometriosis, Infertility, and other Women’s Health Conditions. Getting the chemicals out of their environment and out of their life is a huge part of the treatment and prevention of endometriosis. To find out just how safe your current household products are, check out these guides to cleaners and cosmetics. As for plastics, steer clear of products with the #3 and #7 recycling codes on them, as they may contain BPAs or phthalates.
5. Try acupuncture
Research shows that acupuncture can be effective in easing painful periods. Acupuncture is also helpful for having a specific therapeutic effect on endometriosis symptoms. A series of randomized controlled trials over the last 20 years have shown beneficial effects of acupuncture in decreasing period pains. According to Dr. Wroth:
I’ve certainly recommended it as being part of the approach that I’ve used and people have found it very beneficial.
She advises trying at least three or four sessions of acupuncture before assessing whether or not the treatment is working to alleviate your symptoms.
The key to all of these natural approaches is to give them enough time to gauge their effect on your pain. Most doctors will have you continue whatever pain relief you’ve been using (like ibuprofen or naproxen). When they first start treating you likewise it generally takes a few months before you can get a good hormone balance, detox, and really see significant results.
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