Endometriosis is a condition where the cells that normally grow and shed in a woman’s uterus start to grow in other areas in the body. Most commonly, it affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue that lines the pelvis. This tissue can become inflamed, bleed, and cause scar tissue, irritating surrounding organs and often causing severe pain.
Unfortunately, endometriosis affects 10% of women of childbearing age in the US and is one of the main causes of infertility.
Symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods (dysmenorrhea), pain during intercourse, pain with urination or bowel movements, excessive bleeding, and infertility. Fatigue, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, and constipation are also common, particularly during menstrual periods.
Underlying Causes of Endometriosis
No exact cause for endometriosis currently exists, but there are some possible explanations and risk factors to consider.
Some experts believe that endometriosis is caused by retrograde menstruation. This occurs when menstrual blood containing endometrial cells doesn’t exit the body. Rather, it flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity. Here, the endometrial cells stick to the pelvic organs and wall, grow, and continue to thicken and bleed.
Some experts believe that hormones or immune factors promote the transformation of peritoneal cells (which line the inner side of the abdomen) into endometrial-like cells. Others believe hormones may transform embryonic cells into endometrial-like cell implants during puberty.
Another possible explanation is that endometrial cells may attach to the surgical incision during some types of surgery, like a C-section or a hysterectomy. Endometrial cell transport is another theory, that states that tissue fluid or blood vessels may transport endometrial cells to other parts of the body. An immune system disorder may also be the cause of endometriosis, where the body doesn’t recognize and destroy endometrial tissue that grows outside the uterus abnormally.
While the exact cause of this painful condition is unknown, there are certain risk factors that may increase the risk of developing endometriosis:
- Obesity during late childhood
- Genetics (having a close relative with endometriosis may double your risk)
- Never giving birth
- Starting your period at an early age
- Going through menopause later in life
- Having shorter menstrual cycles
- Having heavier periods that last for more than seven days
- Having higher estrogen levels
- Having a low body mass index (BMI)
- Abnormalities in the reproductive tract
Natural Treatments and Remedies for Endometriosis
Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis. Treatments are designed to manage symptoms and may include pharmaceuticals (NSAIDs, oral contraceptives, hormone-suppressing drugs), surgery to shrink lesions, and natural remedies to ease the pain.
1. Use CBD and Cannabis to Reduce Symptoms of Endometriosis
Research suggests CBD and THC can be used as natural remedies for endometriosis. These cannabinoids are known to reduce pain and inflammation by calming an overactive immune system and desensitizing some pain receptors. Research suggests cannabis may also inhibit endometriosis tissue from proliferating and stop endometrial cells from migrating.
In some states, painful periods (dysmenorrhea) are a qualifying medical condition for medical cannabis. Heally can connect you with a cannabis-friendly doctor in your state to discuss your options and help you get a medical cannabis card for dysmenorrhea.
Recommended CBD Products for Endometriosis
Papa & Barkley CBD Hemp Drops – 450mg (15ml)
Try Papa & Barkley’s potent CBD tincture to help reduce cramps and relax from the everyday stress that can exacerbate pain and inflammation.
Foria Wellness Basics Suppositories (Menstrual CBD) – 100mg (8pc)
Delivering 100mg of CBD to the area that needs it most, these suppositories are specifically formulated to provide pain relief, inflammation relief, and relaxation during your period.
2. Nutritional Tips
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can help keep your immune system strong, reduce inflammation naturally, and reduce symptoms of endometriosis. Start by testing for food sensitivities and eliminating potential food allergens that could be worsening symptoms.
Try to eat more fiber and antioxidant-rich foods (fruits and veggies). Avoid refined foods (like white bread and sugar) and additives (like MSG), eat less red meat and reduce trans-fatty acids found in commercially baked goods to help reduce inflammation.
Research suggests some supplements can help reduce symptoms
- Omega-3 fatty acids may help boost immunity and reduce inflammation.
- Take a Vitamin C supplement for immune support and antioxidant effects.
- Probiotics can improve gastrointestinal and immune health.
- Calcium d-glucarate can help your body eliminate toxins and excess estrogen.
- Diindolylmethane (DIM) supplements can help you better metabolize estrogen.
Discuss supplements as natural remedies for endometriosis with your doctor before taking them.
The following herbs are known to have hormonal activity, so it’s important to get the all-clear from your doctor before starting any treatment, particularly if you’re on hormonal medications or any other medication.
- Evening primrose oil
5. Acupuncture and Massage Therapy
Acupuncture can potentially help balance hormone levels and reduce the pain associated with endometriosis while massage therapy could help improve pelvic congestion.