Today I am talking about Endometriosis, with March being Endometriosis Awareness Month.
Endometriosis is defined as the abnormal growth of endometrial tissue in areas other than the uterus wall. Excessive oestrogens may promote the production of endometrial tissue, combined with a decrease in excretion of circulating oestrogen. Environmental toxins can mimic hormones in the body which exacerbate symptoms.
Other factors can be immune dysregulation which is inflammatory in nature, hormonal dysregulation and a genetic predisposition. Lack of exercise has been shown to increase
levels of oestrogen and inflammatory mediators while decreasing oestrogen excretion. Strenuous exercise during menstruation may increase the risk of adhesions.
It is a complex condition with often many interconnecting systems. Due to it being multifactorial in nature there are different treatment approaches required.
From a naturopathic perspective endometriosis may have numerous underlying factors and therefore possible treatment approaches. Many of these factors can have an underlying nutritional or lifestyle aetiology. For some client’s, simple dietary modifications can provide significant improvements in symptomology and deliver positive outcomes.
Endometriosis shares many similarities with other autoimmune conditions and exhibits very similar symptoms with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Sometimes one can often be misdiagnosed for the other.
In naturopathic treatment of endometriosis, it is often considered a hormonal imbalance disorder (normally related to oestrogen) or an inflammatory disorder with several underlying factors. We aim to modulate oestrogen levels and decrease inflammation by addressing diet and lifestyle issues that affect this condition.
Aromatase is an enzyme whose function it is to aromatise androgens to produce oestrogens. Aromatase is normally found in the ovaries and to a lesser extent in the skin and adipose tissue. It is not present in normal endometrium but is abnormally expressed in endometriosis. The activity of aromatase may be decreased by increasing dietary phytoestrogens in the diet such as fermented soybeans, tofu, tempeh, flaxseeds, apples, carrots, fennel, celery, parsley and legumes.
The main route of elimination of excess oestrogens is the liver, predominantly Phase II liver pathways, therefore supporting these is recommended. This can be done by increasing sulphurous vegetables like brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and garlic. Increasing filtered water and fibre in the diet help reduce the likelihood of oestrogens being recirculated.
If you have endometriosis or are experiencing any of the symptoms I have touched on, I would love to work alongside you on your pathway to improved health and wellbeing.