Endometriosis is a gynecological condition affecting approximately 176 million women and girls worldwide. Endometriosis happens when the endometrium, the tissue that makes up the inside surface of the uterus, grows outside the uterine cavity. It can grow on the ovaries, bowel and tissues lining the pelvis.
The misplaced endometrial tissue follows the menstrual cycle (grows, thickens and breaks down) due to hormonal changes in the body. As it has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped and causes irritation and formation of scars and adhesions. This in turn causes severe pain during periods and possible fertility problems, both of which can have a massive impact on a woman’s quality of life.
Women of all ages are at risk for endometriosis. Typically, it affects women from age 25 to 40. The exact cause of endometriosis is not known. However it has been found that retrograde menstruation, or backflow of menstrual fluid, may play a key role.
Other contributing factors are genetics, a weak immune system and environmental toxins like dioxins that affect the body, the immune system and the reproductive system.
Some of the common symptoms of endometriosis are pelvic pain and cramping during menstruation, sharp pain during ovulation, pain during sexual intercourse, painful bowel movements, heavy or irregular bleeding during menstrual periods, fatigue, infertility, swollen abdomen and digestive problems like indigestion, diarrhea, constipation and nausea. The symptoms may vary from one person to another. In most cases, women with endometriosis have no symptoms.
The condition tends to get better when menopause begins. However, to control the severity of the disease and alleviate the main symptoms of pain and infertility, you can try some natural remedies.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for endometriosis.
1. Castor Oil
An age-old effective remedy for endometriosis is castor oil. Castor oil helps the body get rid of excess tissues and toxins. It should be used at the beginning of the menstrual cycle, when cramping is first noticed. This will help reduce the severity of symptoms throughout the cycle.
- Mix eight drops of lavender essential oil and one-fourth cup of castor oil.
- Soak a washcloth in this mixture, fold it and heat it in the microwave until it is comfortably warm. Place the warm cloth directly on your lower stomach.
- Put a piece of plastic on top of the cloth and place a hot water bottle on top of that.
- Use the pack once a day for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Rinse off the oil with lukewarm water after each application.
Note: Do not use this remedy during menstrual flow.
2. Sitz Bath
A contrast hot and cold sitz bath is often recommended by naturopathy practitioners for reducing symptoms of endometriosis. The hot bath will help relax the pelvic muscles, in turn reducing cramping and pain. The cold bath will help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
- Fill two large bathtubs, one with warm water and another with cold water.
- Add 10 drops of rosemary essential oil or lavender essential oil to each bath and stir well.
- Sit in the tub with hot water up to your waist for three to five minutes.
- Then sit in the tub of cold water up to your waist for one minute.
- Repeat for two to five rounds.
- Do this three to four times a week.
Note: Avoid this remedy during menstruation.
3. Pelvic Massage
Massaging the pelvic area and lower abdomen with an essential oil like lavender or sandalwood will help a lot to relax and soothe minor pain associated with endometriosis.
- Lie on the bed and stretch out your body.
- Rub some essential oil on your stomach.
- Gently massage in a rotating pattern for five to 10 minutes.
- Do this once daily.
Note: Do not do this massage during your menstrual cycle.
Flaxseeds are also very beneficial in the treatment of endometriosis. The antioxidant and omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds help slow the growth of abnormal endometrial tissue. Plus, flaxseeds help the body eliminate harmful toxins.
- Soak three to four tablespoons of flaxseeds in one cup of water overnight. Strain and drink the water the next morning. Follow this remedy daily until your symptoms subside.
- You can also add ground flaxseeds to yogurt, smoothies, soups and salads.
This amazing spice has a natural component known as curcumin that has strong anti-inflammatory benefits and hence can be used to treat endometriosis. It has also been shown to have anti-endometriotic property.
- Bring two cups of water to a boil and add one teaspoon each of turmeric powder and ginger powder and one tablespoon each of honey and lemon juice. Drink this solution once daily until you get rid of the problem.
- You can also take turmeric capsules (300 mg) three times a day.
Note: Avoid turmeric remedies if you are taking blood-thinning medications.
6. Wild Asparagus
Wild asparagus or shatavari in Ayurveda, which is rich in folic acid, can help treat anemia as well as endometriosis caused by a deficiency of folic acid. Plus, it has vitamin E that helps alleviate pain, particularly cramps.
- Mix one teaspoon of wild asparagus powder in a glass of warm milk.
- Drink it two times daily until you feel better.
Ginger is a strong anti-inflammatory herb that reduces inflammation and relieves menstrual cramps. It also relieves the nausea that can occur with endometriosis. Plus, it plays a major role in clearing the liver of excess toxins.
- Boil one tablespoon of grated ginger root in two cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain, add honey and drink two or three cups of this herbal tea daily.
- You can even chew fresh ginger pieces several times a day to recover quickly.
Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation as well as swelling often associated with endometriosis. It also acts as a natural diuretic to help flush out the bladder.
- Steep two teaspoons of dried chamomile in a cup of hot water for five minutes. Strain, add a little honey and drink the tea. Drink two to three cups of chamomile tea daily until you feel better.
- You can also take chamomile in the form of capsules or tincture, but only after consulting a doctor.
Many herbalists highly recommend dandelion for alleviating symptoms of endometriosis. Dandelion strengthens the liver and kidneys and also helps regulate hormonal levels.
- Put one teaspoon of dried dandelion root in a cup.
- Pour hot water in the cup, cover and let it steep for 10 minutes.
- Strain and add honey for taste.
- Drink this tea two or three times daily until you get better.
The herb motherwort is also an effective home remedy for endometriosis. There are several components in motherwort that help enhance blood volume in the reproductive system, which is essential for its proper functioning. This in turn helps combat menstrual problems like blood clots or poor flow.
- Steep one teaspoon of the dried motherwort in a cup of hot water for about 15 minutes. Drink this herbal tea at least twice daily until your condition improves.
- You can also take motherwort in a tincture or in capsule form, but only after consulting an herbalist.
Note: Avoid this herb if you are taking any kind of sedating medications.
In addition to the above remedies, several lifestyle changes are highly beneficial in the treatment of endometriosis. Some of these changes include:
- Try to maintain a healthy weight and avoid fatty foods.
- Take all the necessary steps to reduce stress.
- Exercise can also be beneficial. Aim for low-impact exercises like walking, swimming and yoga.
- Aromatherapy can also be practiced. Effective oils for endometriosis are sage, cypress, fennel, bergamot and geranium.
- Avoid processed and factory-farmed meat along with refined white sugar, white flour, white rice and all kinds of soy products.
- Do not drink homogenized milk.
- Try to drink spring water or filtered water.
- Alcohol should be avoided.
- Do not smoke.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Dr. Masahide Kanayama, MD (Gynecologist)
Are omega-3 rich foods helpful during endometriosis?
Diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) is associated with reduced incidences of endometriosis. Omega 3 fatty acids have potent anti-inflammatory effect and are known to enhance the immune functions.
Can endometriosis disappear without any medication?
Endometriosis never disappears by any medications. Medications, including hormonal ones, reduce some of the symptoms of endometriosis, but do not remove any endometriosis lesions from the body.
Ablation (burning) surgery also does not remove any endometriosis. Only, effective deep excision surgery removes endometriosis from its root!
What is the best course of action to treat endometriosis?
The best course of action is to find a right endometriosis specialist to detect and diagnose endometriosis early on and remove all visible endometriosis lesions by laparoscopy excision. And diet and lifestyle changes are very important after excision.
Does endometriosis increase the chances of developing ovarian cancer?
The chance of endometriosis cyst (chocolate cyst of ovary) to develop into ovarian cancer is less than 1%.
Which vitamins and minerals help in the management of endometriosis?
Daily multivitamins containing antioxidants vitamin A, C, D, E, B complexes, and minerals including magnesium, zinc, and selenium are recommended.
It is said that endometriosis can heal by itself or it goes away after pregnancy. Is it true?
It is completely wrong information. Endometriosis never heals by itself nor does it go away after pregnancy. However during pregnancy, some symptoms of endometriosis may decrease because of hormonal changes during pregnancy.
Can endometriosis recur after surgery?
Yes endometriosis can come back after surgery. But, if you have ablation (burning) surgery, the chance of recurrence is much higher than excision. Excision surgery has the lowest rate of recurrence in endometriosis patients.
For example, in my own statistics of over 6,000 excision cases, the recurrence rate 5 years after my excision is about 2% for stage 1-2, 8% for stage 3, and 18% for stage 4 of endometriosis.
Should women suffering from endometriosis avoid milk?
In general dairy products including milk should be avoided by endometriosis patients. Other foods to avoid are red meat, gluten, fried food, processed food, alcohol and caffeine. Organic diet with vegetables, fish, fruits is encouraged.
Can endometriosis increase one’s chances of suffering from arthritis?
Incidences of rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, and fibromyalgia increase in patients with endometriosis. Common factor in all of the above diseases is that they are all autoimmune disease and may be linked to autoimmune components of endometriosis.
Please provide some important tips on how to prevent and treat endometriosis for the benefit of our readers.
Unfortunately, endometriosis is a terribly misunderstood disease even by Gynecology and Obstetrics doctors. It is very important for potential endometriosis patients and general public alike to be well educated in all areas of endometriosis including facts and knowledge. Spreading correct awareness is a very important key.
Average delay in diagnosing endometriosis is well over 7-8 years in US. It is important to get an early diagnosis and precise treatment by a specialist so that your endometriosis is properly treated before it spreads and goes to an advanced 3-4 stage disease. More importantly the diet and lifestyle need to be changed after excision.
About Dr Masahide Kanayama, MD: Dr. Kanayama is the director of New York Endometriosis Center located in Manhattan New York USA. He has successfully treated over 6,000 endometriosis laparoscopic excisions in his center and he has developed his own novel surgical technique to excise deep endometriosis effectively and successfully.
He completed his MD from Medical College of Wisconsin and Internship and residency in Gynecology and Gynecology surgery, from Mayo Clinic and Mayo graduate school of Medicine, Rochester, MN.