Updated: Mar 4
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month
That’s how many American women suffer from endometriosis…and the rate continues to rise.
According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, women with endometriosis suffer from symptoms for at least 10 years before receiving the correct diagnosis.
Scientists still don’t completely understand how endometriosis develops. The most widely accepted view is that it’s caused by retrograde (backwards) flow of blood during menses…up and out the Fallopian tubes and into the abdomen and pelvis (instead of flowing out of the uterus into the vagina).
What happens when the cells that normally line the uterus end up in the abdomen? They turn into “rogue” cells.
Endometriosis cells are NOT normal cells. Unlike the normal cells that line the uterus, endometriosis cells don’t play by the rules. They:
Grow their own blood vessels
Create their own blood supply
Make their own estrogen
Evade normal immune system surveillance
This means that endometriosis can be very difficult to control…so a comprehensive approach to treatment is essential.
There are TWO main factors that fuel the growth of endometriosis cells: Estrogen and inflammation.
Conventional medical treatment mainly focuses on getting the estrogen under control…usually with some type of oral hormone, like birth control pills. However, it never addresses the inflammatory component of endometriosis which is just as big of a problem.
So, unless estrogen dominance and inflammation are corrected, women will continue to have problems. In fact, even birth control pills will eventually quit working. The next conventional medical treatment? A complete hysterectomy.
But…a complete hysterectomy, especially if done in women 40 years of age or younger, has it’s own laundry list of associated health risks, including an increased risk of heart disease.
Furthermore, surgery doesn't always fix endometriosis. In fact,
20% and 40% of women will experience recurrent endometriosis within five years of their initial surgery
Up to 15% of women who’ve had a complete hysterectomy suffer from recurrent endometriosis.
There is good news is there are other ways to control endometriosis. Here are just some of the other things a woman can do:
Maintain a healthy weight. Fat cells not only produce extra estrogen, they also produce at least 32 different types of chemicals that increase inflammation.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Foods that contain sugar, artificial sweeteners (like high fructose corn syrup), and trans fats generate significant amounts of inflammation. Additionally, all meat, except wild caught fish and lamb, have high levels of arachidonic acid which is a very potent inflammatory chemical. Elimination of alcohol and caffeine are also important in reducing inflammation.
Consider adding bio-identical progesterone. Unlike the progestins found in all forms of birth control and in the Mirena IUD, progesterone is the natural biochemical equivalent. Progestins and Progesterone are NOT the same. Most conventional doctors are unfamiliar with how to prescribe bio-identical progesterone for women with endometriosis. It is very important that women work only with someone who has a thorough knowledge and understanding of the complexity of endometriosis and the proper use of progesterone in this condition.
Consider adding natural supplements. Research has shown that Omega 3, Quercetin, Curcumin, and Vitamin D are just a few of the supplements found to be useful in controlling endometriosis. You can find these and other pharmaceutical grade nutritional supplements HERE.
Maintain optimal gut health. Much of the estrogen produced by the body is eliminated through stool. Therefore, constipation can indirectly create estrogen dominance. The bacteria living in the colon are also important for the proper metabolism and disposal of estrogen. The ideal frequency of bowel movements is at least one, formed bowel movement per day. Taking a probiotic daily is also important.
Need Help Building a Supplement Routine?
Whether you’re already taking nutritional supplements or are considering jumping on the band wagon, you may find yourself overwhelmed with where to start and what to take.
There’s so much misinformation out there…it’s tough to know who and what to believe. This can be even more complicated when your conventional medical doctor tells you vitamins just create “expensive pee”. It’s no wonder patients are frustrated and completely confused!
Here’s some great news…you don’t have to try and figure this out on your own anymore. Each month, we’ll discuss nutritional supplements and where it makes sense for you to take them depending on your underlying health challenges and on what your health goals are.
The bottom line is that nutritional supplements are an important part of your daily health regimen, especially if you are older, take prescription medications, and suffer from one or more adult illnesses (like diabetes or high blood pressure).
This month, we’ll help you get started by recommending some basic foundational supplements which should part of your general health maintenance routine. If you choose to take nothing else, these supplements are ones you should absolutely consider taking (even if you eat a healthy diet):
The “Standard American Diet” is loaded with meat, dairy, and other inflammatory foods and very few anti-inflammatory foods, like wild caught fish. This means most of us are inflamed all the time. This not only affects our weight, energy levels, and mood, it increases our risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Omega 3 is a natural anti-inflammatory, and supplementation has been shown to reduce the risk of developing many adult illnesses, especially heart disease and stroke. It has also been shown to improve mood, gut health, and immune system function. The list of health benefits includes many other things as well.
Pharmaceutical Grade Omega 3 supplements are produced from different types of wild caught fish, such as anchovy, sardines, and mackerel. You can also be supplement Omega 3 in the form of Krill Oil (the capsules are smaller and sometimes easier to swallow). Good quality fish oil should not cause any gastrointestinal side effects, and you should not ‘burp up’ a fishy taste. If you are sensitive to the taste, store it in the freezer.
This infographic provides a great summary of the health benefits of probiotics.
There are a lot to choose from…but we HERE are some of the ones we like the best.
It’s best to take a probiotic with ample amounts of Lactobacillis spp. And bifidobacter spp. In doses of at least 10 BCFU daily.
Taking a good quality multivitamin is a great way to cover your bases to prevent vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Here’s a key point to understand about multivitamins:
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals is the amount necessary to maintain LIFE, NOT optimal HEALTH!
So…it’s not enough to take a One A Day over the counter vitamin…even if the label claims it provides “100% of the RDA” of a nutrient.
The goal here is optimal health. Look for a comprehensive formula with ample amounts of multiple vitamins and minerals. One way to reduce the number of supplement bottles in your cabinet is to look for multivitamin packets which include other things, like fish oil, in them. HERE are some great multivitamin options.
Another Important Point: Make sure the nutritional supplements you take are Pharmaceutical Grade. HERE is an excellent article on what that means and why it’s important.
Are You Taking Time to Do Regular Tune Ups?
You’ve only got one body, and how you take care of it will determine how well and how long you live. Just like your car needs regular maintenance checks to keep running optimally, your body needs regular tune ups to keep you healthy and disease free.
The U.S. Preventative Health Task Force provides physicians with up to date recommendations on all health maintenance testing that should be discussed with patients. This data base is updated frequently and reflects all the cutting edge scientifically based recommendations.
Stay one step ahead of your yearly doctor’s appointments by making sure you’re doing what you should be doing to stay healthy!
Here’s the Detailed Listing of Recommendations for Adult Health Maintenance Preventative Testing