If you or a loved one suffers from endometriosis, you don’t need me to tell you how painful and debilitating the condition can be.
You also probably don’t need me to tell you that conventional medical interventions for endometriosis are limited—and far from ideal. There are some things science knows for sure about endometriosis—for example, that the condition involves inflammation, estrogen excess, and an abnormal immune response—but one of the things science doesn’t know about endometriosis is the best way to treat it. To date, Western medicine’s best tools for dealing with endometriosis are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or surgery. Both strategies are for pain control; neither one addresses root causes of the condition.
But no woman with endometriosis needs to live without hope. Lifestyle strategies for reducing inflammation, strengthening the immune system, supporting the liver, and balancing hormones can make a huge difference in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.
What is Endometriosis?
It is a painful, sometimes debilitating, condition that affects as many as one in 15 percent of women ages 15 to 44 in the United States. Endometriosis happens when endometrial tissue, which is normally found in the uterus, grows in places outside the uterus—places where it shouldn’t be.
Most of the time this misplaced endometrial tissue lands on the ovaries or fallopian tubes or, painfully, on the abdomen. Because endometrial tissue responds to the same hormonal shifts that trigger the menstrual cycle, the pain associated with endometriosis will follow the same 28-day cycle as your period.
Astonishingly, and sadly, many women with endometriosis aren’t diagnosed right away. The average delay in diagnosis is almost seven years. Seven years! This means many women suffer with terrible, sometimes crippling, endometriosis-related pain for the better part of a decade, thinking that it is just severe period problems.
Endometriosis can happen to any menstruating women. But why the condition strikes some women and not others is not entirely clear. Some women may be genetically predisposed. Two other factors are: (1) a faulty immune system response—in women with endometriosis, the immune system fails to destroy the endometrial tissue that lands outside the uterus—and (2) excess estrogen in the body. Unfortunately, and simply by virtue of the world we live in today, excess estrogen in women (and many men) is more the norm than the exception.
Inflammation also plays a role. And inflammation, like estrogen excess, is driven by lifestyle. What we eat and the toxins we are exposed to (and how well our bodies can detox them) drive inflammation and hormone imbalances.
Your 14-Step Guide to Addressing Endometriosis with Lifestyle & Diet
You can work to reduce inflammation, balance hormones, and support your immune system with food and lifestyle. Here’s what I recommend for helping ease endometriosis symptoms.
- Start by limiting—and eventually eliminating—exposure to toxic forms of estrogen found in household cleaners, cosmetics, and bathroom products. Go through your house with a fine tooth comb and:
- Replace cosmetic and body care products with natural alternatives, this includes, soap, shampoo, hair styling products, deodorant, lotions, cosmetics, and perfumes
- Replace standard laundry soap with green alternatives. You can now find many clean alternatives on the shelves of big box stores, sitting side by side with the old (toxic) standbys. Clean alternatives are comparable in price and work just as well. You can opt for unscented products or products that have been scented with natural fragrance.
- Replace household cleaning products with clean alternatives. You can buy effective products at almost all big box stores or you can make your own, which is cheaper and healthier. The main ingredients in most DIY cleaning products are vinegar and baking soda.
- Take off your shoes at the door (and ask your guests to do the same). A lot of pesticides and other hormone-disrupting chemicals are tracked in on the bottom of shoes. Stopping those chemicals in their tracks is a great way to protect yourself!
- Just say no to pesticides and other chemicals in your food. Shop organic exclusively if you can. If you are on a budget, avoid the dirty dozen (or buy them organic) and feel okay about buying the clean 15 even when not organic.
- Emphasize dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, low-glycemic fruits like berries and other high-fiber foods to support gut health and help your liver carry out important detox functions. The liver is responsible for breaking down and eliminating excess estrogen, and cruciferous vegetables directly support that detox process.
- Eat more healthy fats like those found in olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados. Healthy fats help support healthy hormone ratios in the body.
- Emphasize lean animal protein over other kinds of meat. They are less inflammatory.
- Limit red meat. Studies have linked red meat consumption with increased risk for endometriosis.
- Help kick your immune system into high gear with immune-supportive foods like carrots, kale, cabbage, broccoli, beets, artichokes, lemons, onions, garlic, and leeks.
- Limit sugar. Sugar fuels inflammation.
- Use targeted herbal support to further support liver detox and speed up estrogen metabolism. Think milk thistle, flax seeds, and dandelion root.
- Take evening primrose oil to decrease inflammation.
- Reduce or eliminate dairy, wheat, alcohol, and caffeine to improve your immune response.
- Take a probiotic to rebalance gut flora and support estrogen metabolism.
- Use Vitex and a B6 supplement daily to balance out excess estrogen.
- If you consult a doctor for your endometriosis, ask some key questions.
If you’re reading this article because your friend, sister, or family member is struggling with this condition, share this article with her!
Too many women believe the myth that endometriosis has to ruin your life every month.
And always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
to your FLO,
BALANCE by FLO Living Hormone Supplement Kit
Because you’ve asked for hormone-friendly supplement recommendations, I created a solution that I am so thrilled to be able to offer to you on your hormonal balancing journey:
Balance by FLO Living Supplements are a complete package that work together to keep your hormone levels healthy. They include a 2 month (2 cycle) supply of the following formulations so you’re never caught short in any phase of your cycle.
When you take these 5 supplements daily, you’ll be giving your body excellent micronutrients to support healthier hormone levels. Which means that you’ll start to see your worst period symptoms get better… and even disappear after a while.