Recent study validates the use of N-Acetylcysteine in treating Endometriosis: a close parallel to the Chinese medicine approach for this same condition

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Endometriosis is a condition that affects 8%–10% of women of reproductive age. Women with endometriosis can experience a range of little to no symptoms at all to extreme pain and infertility. It is estimated that between 30 and 50% of women with endometriosis have troubles with fertility. The disease is caused by the growth of endometrial cells outside of the uterus. These cells form growths or plaques which adhere to tissues inside the abdomen (commonly the fallopian tubes, peritoneal lining, and intestines) and continue to respond to hormonal signals to grow and shed just as the endometrial lining does inside the uterus. The most common symptoms associated with endometriosis include chronic lower abdominal and pelvic pain, painful menstruation, discomfort during intercourse, abnormal uterine bleeding, and infertility. Symptoms typically have a relationship to the menstrual cycle and are worse around menstruation.

Common treatments for endometriosis are aimed at reducing pain and inflammation such as analgesics (ibuprofen – Advil, Motrin), suppressing hormonal fluctuations such as oral contraceptives, surgical removal of the endometriotic growths, or if more severe, complete removal of the reproductive organs (hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy). A recent study on the actions of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) proposes a new option for treatment that addresses the reduction of the inflammation as well as the size of the endometriotic growths.

The results of the study were quite promising. The researchers observed better results in the NAC group than the hormone therapy group and reported that 24 of the women in the NAC treatment group experienced significant decrease in the size of their growths and no longer required surgery. The effects of NAC are two fold. Its first effect is as a high potency antioxidant and therefore reduces inflammation which is key in treating endometriosis. Secondly, NAC reduces cell proliferation which is beneficial in shrinking the size of endometriotic growths. The added benefit is that it is safe for those wanting to become pregnant.

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The Chinese medicine treatment of endometriosis works in a similar way to NAC and can be customized to address the individual and their unique set of symptoms. The actions of NAC as described above are the same as a class of Chinese herbs that address blood circulation and decrease stasis or tissue build up. One very common Chinese herbal medicine formula for the treatment of endometriosis is Cinnamon and Poria pill (Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan). The function of this formula is to promote circulation of blood and remove masses to stop abnormal bleeding and reduce pain. This formula addresses the common symptoms of endometriosis and can also safely be used for women wanting to become pregnant or during pregnancy.

Getting to the root of the disorder in this way is the best approach to achieve long term results. For more information about Chinese medicine and treatment of endometriosis please visit or call 604-873-9355 to set up a free consultation with Dr. Fisher.

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