Endometriosis is a hormonal and immune system disease in which cells similar to the endometrium or uterine lining, grow outside the uterine cavity, often on the peritoneum or surrounding abdominal organs. Common symptoms include pain and infertility, with pain often worse during menstruation and often with excess clotting. It may also be present around ovulation and during sex (dysparerunia). The pain is so bad in some cases that women will miss work and social engagements as they manage their discomfort using a variety of strategies, including pain medication, heat, rest, or other remedies.
Chinese medicine defines menstrual pain, heavy clotting and bleeding (common symptoms of endometriosis) as Qi and Blood stasis. In general women with endometriosis can always be seen with blood stasis (as seen in the endometrial lesions and inflammation caused by an autoimmune reaction) which is also combined with other patterns such as Kidney deficiency or Spleen deficiency. Bleeding can also be caused by excess Heat or Damp-Heat in the lower abdomen, as too much heat quickens the blood causing it to spill out. Spleen deficiency can also cause excess bleeding; when weak, the Spleen fails to hold the blood resulting in excess bleeding. In clinic it is often a combination of several patterns that presents, forcing a multi-pronged approach to treatment.
How can acupuncture and Chinese medicine help?
1. Acupuncture and TCM can be very effective at addressing symptoms associated with endometriosis. 2. Our primary goal is to reduce pain with secondary goals being to improve fertility, balance hormone levels and reduce inflammation surrounding the ovaries and uterus. In some cases symptoms are worse around ovulation and increase until menstruation, warranting more treatments.
3. Chinese herbal medicine can help to reduce heavy bleeding and regulate menstrual flow.
4. Depending on the situation, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help to resolve Blood Stasis, clear Heat or nourish the Spleen thereby reducing bleeding and minimizing pain.
Acupressure for at home Application:
Acupressure is a useful and accessible way to treat yourself at home or on the go. Apply firm pressure on the point with your middle finger or thumbs, at a 90 degree angle from the surface of the skin for about 3 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day on both sides. If you find that your fingers are getting weak or sore, you can substitute a golf ball, pencil eraser or other appropriate object.
Spleen 8 – SP8 – DiJi – “Earth Pivot”
This point is commonly used for acute period pain and irregular menstruation and can be massaged both as a preventative measure and to relieve immediate pain.
Take home tips:
1. Visceral massage by a properly trained therapist can help to heal and break up possible adhesions.
2. Use acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for menstrual pain management and to reduce inflammation.
3. Focus on diet to improve liver health, to properly convert and eliminate proliferative estrogen from the system. Include cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, cauliflower, kale and turnips.
4. Avoid toxins and inflammation with a reduction in beef, alcohol, sugar and caffeine, and complete elimination of dairy.
5. Castor oil packs administered daily in the evening before bed.