Endometriosis – The Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach
Endometriosis is defined as the presence of endometrial tissue outside the uterus and is diagnosed by laparoscopy and is commonly found on the back of the uterus, on the Fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder, cyst inside the ovaries (chocolate cyst) or around the ovaries.
Some common symptoms include:
- Menstrual cramps
- Pelvic pain
- Painful intercourse
- Heavy menstruation
- Blood clotting with menstruation
- Painful urination
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
*When charting basal body temperature you may find that the temperature doesn’t drop very much with menstruation or if the temperature does drop it will rise after day 2 or 3.
Although these are the common symptoms, some women have absolutely no symptoms of endometriosis and the diagnosis is made through laparoscopy. Other times severe pain and clotting may be associated with only a small amount of endometriosis.
In traditional Chinese medicine, endometriosis is known as blood stasis. It is also important to treat the underlying cause of the endometriosis, the reason for the blood stasis.
Some of these include:
- Liver qi stagnation: Where emotional issues and stress cause the energy and blood in the body to stagnate. Often accompanying symptoms would be irritability, PMS, breast distention, menstrual headaches.
- Spleen qi deficiency: May also be involved in causing the formation of blood stasis or phlegm. Symptoms of spleen deficiency include heavy bearing down sensation in the abdomen, premenstrual spotting, heavy bleeding, abdominal bloating, sweet cravings, loose stools, fatigue, and hemorrhoids.
- Kidney yang deficiency: May also be a factor in endometriosis, causing cysts and dampness to accumulate in the body. Symptoms of the kidney yang deficiency include frequent clear urination, nighttime urination, lower back pain, tinnitus, copious clear cervical fluid, cold hands and feet, feeling colder than those around you.
Treatment Using TCM & Acupuncture:
In traditional Chinese medicine a treatment plan is formed to help reduce the symptoms of endometriosis and prevent new disease from forming, often including acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary and lifestyle suggestions to promote blood flow to the reproductive organs and regulate hormone levels.
A personalized formula is prescribed depending on the individual diagnosis as well as the time of the menstrual cycle. Different formulas may be given at different times of the month throughout a woman’s cycle, this is especially important of a woman is trying to conceive.
These personalized herbal formulas regulate hormone levels and help remove any obstructions from the reproductive organs.
- Castor oil packs can be used to stimulate blood flow before or during menstruation
- Deep breathing and relaxation techniques to promote blood flow through the reproductive system
- Abdominal massage, rubbing the abdomen in a clockwise motion for a few minutes daily from menstruation to ovulation.
- Hot water bottle or heating pad applied to abdomen daily
- Refrain from intercourse during menstruation as this blocks blood flow
- Use a pad rather than tampon while menstruating to promote blood flow
Chinese Dietary Therapy:
Foods to promote blood flow and prevent blood stagnation:
- Chestnuts, walnuts
- Crab, white fish
- Chives, scallions, onions, mustard leaf, eggplant, dark green leafy vegetables, Brussel sprouts, beets, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, carrots
- Hawthorn berries, peaches, lemons, limes, grapes, raspberries
- Seaweed, spirulina
Foods to Avoid:
- Limit greasy, fatty foods
- Limit stimulants such as sugar coffee, alcohol
- Eat organically whenever possible
- Do not overeat or eat late at night
- Avoid cold food and drink, better to have room temperature beverages and lightly cooked foods.
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