Contrary to their name, ﬁbroids are not ﬁbrous at all. Rather, they are growths of smooth muscle and connective tissue that most often appear on the walls of the uterus. Although it can be frightening to hear that you have a growth of any kind, rest assured that ﬁbroids are noncancerous and usually harmless. They are also quite common: Fibroids affect more than 50 percent of women overall and are the most common rea- son for major surgery. For reasons that we don’t yet understand, they appear much more often in women of African or Caribbean descent than in any other group. Most women with the condition tend to have several ﬁbroids at once.
Many women who have ﬁbroids experience no symptoms at all; the growths are usu- ally discovered in the course of a routine exam or an ultrasound. In some cases, how- ever, ﬁbroids inside the uterus wear away the organ’s lining, resulting in heavy or prolonged menstrual periods, bleeding between periods, or pain and bleeding during sexual intercourse. Persistent blood loss can cause anemia. A ﬁbroid may also grow so large that it distends the abdomen as it presses on the bladder or the intestines. A woman with a large ﬁbroid may feel pain in her back or lower abdomen; if the growth distorts the bladder, she may feel a frequent urge to urinate. Sometimes the ﬁbroid doesn’t cause any pain but simply gives the abdomen a distended appearance. Women may also feel pressure, heaviness, and pain with sexual intercourse, as well as increased urinary fre-
quency. Occasionally, a ﬁbroid will block the fallopian tubes and lead to infertility or compress the ureters (the urinary tract from the kidneys to the bladder), causing impaired kidney function. In some instances the ﬁbroids become calciﬁed.
Fibroids are thought to be dependent upon estrogen; they tend to grow during the reproductive years and pregnancy, and they shrink with menopause, when estrogen levels recede. Fibroids often increase in size during perimenopause, when women do not ovulate regularly and thus have relatively higher estrogen levels (as ovulation increases progesterone). Thus hormone balance is the key factor with this condition.
Although estrogen is obviously an important factor in the development of ﬁbroids, doctors do not know why the growths appear in some women and not in others. A ten- dency toward ﬁbroids may run in families; the disorder is also more common in women who are obese or who have an underactive thyroid (which contributes to estro- gen excess).
It is important that liver function be optimized in women with ﬁbroids. The liver is responsible for breaking down estrogen (and other hormones) and secreting the metabolites into the large intestine for elimination. If the liver does not metabolize estrogen and its metabolites properly, then it is recycled throughout the body.
While the liver is the dominant player in estrogen metabolism, the ﬂora or “friendly bacteria” in the large intestine are also important in estrogen metabolism. They pre- vent the reactivation and recycling of these unwanted estrogens. Conversely, “unfriendly bacteria” secrete an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase that causes estro- gen to be recycled back through the body via the large intestine. A low-ﬁber and high- fat intake increases the activity of this enzyme.
Conventional medical treatment for ﬁbroids has long been surgical removal of the uterus, a drastic option that should be considered only in those few cases in which ﬁbroids cause severe pain or bleeding or pose a signiﬁcant health threat. For mild to moderate cases, it is usually far wiser to follow a treatment program of conservative, noninvasive therapies until menopause is reached and the ﬁbroids abate on their own.
In most women with ﬁbroids, the condition is asymptomatic, especially in the early stages when the ﬁbroids are small. If symptoms do appear, they usually take the fol- lowing forms:
• Heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding
• Bleeding or unusual discharge between periods
• Pain and bleeding during intercourse
• Swelling in the lower abdomen
• A frequent urge to urinate
• Back or abdominal pain
• Relatively high levels of estrogen and low levels of progesterone, due to:
—Low-ﬁber, high-fat diet Caution: If you bleed so much that you need to change tampons or sani- tary pads more than once every hour, see your doctor.
The following tests help assess possible reasons for ﬁbroids:
Hormone testing (especially for estrogen and progesterone)—saliva, blood, or urine Detoxiﬁcation proﬁle—urine
Digestive function (particularly, ﬂora balance and beta-glucuronidase activity)—stool analysis
It is important to eat certiﬁed organic foods as much as possible, due to the estrogenic
effects of pesticides, herbicides, and hormone-laden meats.
Since diet affects hormone balance, it’s wise to give your body good general support with wholesome, freshly prepared meals. Base your diet around whole grains, vegeta- bles, fruits, ﬁsh, beans, and soy products. To limit your exposure to pesticides, buy organic food wherever possible, and always wash your produce thoroughly.
Soy products and ﬂaxseeds are good sources of phytoestrogens, substances that reg- ulate the body’s estrogen production.
Vitamin K will encourage proper blood clotting and may reduce an excessive ﬂow of menstrual blood. Green vegetables are high in this nutrient.
Include sea vegetables like kelp (Ascophyllum nodosum) in your diet. These foods are high in iodine, a mineral that’s necessary for a healthy thyroid.
If you have heavy or prolonged periods, you need extra iron to ward off anemia. Take a spoonful of unsulfured blackstrap molasses every day. For more suggestions, see Anemia.
For additional EFAs, add 2 tablespoons of ﬂaxseeds to your daily protocol, along with 10 ounces of water. Flaxseeds have been shown to help balance estrogen levels.
Eat fruits and vegetables such as apples, cherries, broccoli, cauliﬂower, and brus- sels sprouts. They contain the phytochemical indole-3-carbinol, which supports the liver’s detoxiﬁcation of estrogen.
Regularly consume beets, carrots, artichokes, dandelion greens, onions, and gar- lic, as these foods stimulate liver detoxiﬁcation.
Eat organic cultured yogurt to increase the levels of friendly ﬂora in the large intestine.
Once a day, have a green drink to support detoxiﬁcation.
Drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours. Water will help ﬂush impu- rities from your body and reduce pain.
Food to Avoid
Avoid red meat and dairy products, all of which contain high levels of dioxins, which act as environmental estrogens.
To keep pain under control, stay away from inﬂammatory substances like sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
Don’t eat anything that depresses your immune system. Processed foods, fried food, reﬁned sugar, and alcohol all limit your body’s ability to ﬁght your disorder.
Many ﬁbroid sufferers have found that regular fasting results in signiﬁcant relief of pain. Plan a three-day juice fast every three months; be sure to drink a wide variety of vegetable juices and green drinks during the three-day period.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Fibroid
Super Prescription #1 Natural progesterone
This balances out estrogen, regulates the menses, and relieves pain. Apply 1⁄4 tea- spoon (20 mg) to your skin twice daily from days 6 to 26 of your cycle (stopping during the week of your menstrual ﬂow. It is best used under the guidance of a health-care professional.
Super Prescription #2 Vitex (chasteberry)
This balances the estrogen/progesterone ratio. Take 160 to 240 mg of a 0.6 percent aucubin standardized extract or 80 drops daily. Do not use Vitex if you are currently taking the birth control pill.
Super Prescription #3 Indole-3-carbinol
Take 300 mg daily. It assists the liver in estrogen detoxiﬁcation.
Super Prescription #4 Dandelion root (Taraxacum ofﬁcinale)
Take 300 to 500 mg of the capsule form or 1 ml of the tincture with each meal
(three times daily). It improves liver detoxiﬁcation.
Super Prescription #5 Vitamin E
Take 400 IU twice daily. It helps with estrogen metabolism and inﬂammation.
Super Prescription #6 Essential fatty acids
Take a daily combination of ﬂaxseed (1 to 2 tablespoons) or ﬁsh oil (3,000 to 5,000 mg), along with gamma linoleic acid (GLA) from evening primrose oil or borage oil at a dose of 300 mg. These essential fatty acids decrease inﬂammation.
Super Prescription #7 D-glucarate
Take 500 mg daily. This phytochemical assists the liver in estrogen breakdown.
• B-complex vitamins are involved in estrogen metabolism. Take a 50 mg com- plex twice daily.
• A high-potency multivitamin supplies many of the nutrients required for hor- mone metabolism. Take as directed on the container.
• Red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is an astringent herb that may help uterine inﬂammation and pain. Drink it as a tea, three cups daily.
• If you have heavy menstrual bleeding, take nettle, a blood-building herb, to prevent anemia. Begin using the herb after the last day of your menstrual cycle, and take 500 mg two or three times daily for two weeks.
Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. Take a 6x, 12x, 6C,
12C, or 30C potency twice daily for three weeks to see if there are any positive results.
After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Con- sultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.
Calcarea Carbonica is for overweight women who get chilly and fatigued easily. They crave sweets and eggs. They have a tendency to get overwhelmed easily and struggle with anxiety. It is used for uterine ﬁbroids that are sometimes characterized by uterine hemorrhage.
Fraxinus Americanus is a speciﬁc lesional remedy for uterine ﬁbroids.
Lachesis is for women who experience surges of heat and aggravation from heat. They experience abdominal and uterine pain that improves once menstrual ﬂow begins. They feel anger and suspiciousness.
Phosphorous is for women who have heavy bleeding from ﬁbroids, characterized by bright red blood and clotting. They crave ice-cold drinks.
Pulsatilla is a good choice when there is ﬁbroid pain and menstrual ﬂow that changes. These women feel better having someone around, comforting them. There is a craving for sweets. Symptoms are worse in a warm room and better in the fresh air.
Sabina is for ﬁbroids that cause pain in the lower back and sacrum that extends to the pubic bones. There is heavy uterine bleeding, with clots.
Sepia is for women with ﬁbroids when their uterus feels like it is bearing down and will fall out. They feel irritable and want to be left alone. There is a strong craving for sweets and salty and sour foods.
Sulphur is for ﬁbroids in women who get overheated easily. They desire a cool envi- ronment. There is a strong craving for ice-cold drinks.
See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.
• To stop ﬁbroid pain, work Large Intestine 4.
Acupuncture is highly recommended to help reduce the bleeding associated with ﬁbroids. In addition, Chinese herbal therapy from a qualiﬁed practitioner can be very helpful.
See pages 686–687 for information about reﬂexology areas and how to work them.
• Work the areas that correspond to the uterus, the fallopian tubes, and the ovaries.
Regular sitz baths in hot water will improve circulation to the pelvic region and will soothe pain in the abdomen and the lower back.
Constitutional hydrotherapy is helpful to reduce congestion in the area containing the ﬁbroid.
Warming oils like rosemary, marjoram, and black pepper increase blood ﬂow and relieve pain. If you’re constipated, black pepper will also stimulate digestion. You can use these oils separately or in combination. Add a few drops to a sitz bath, or use them in a hot compress.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
For overall hormone balance, utilize techniques such as exercise, yoga, and prayer.
Bach Flower Remedies
Select the appropriate remedy, and place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
If you are panicked and very upset, take Rescue Remedy to induce a sense of calm. Aspen is for people who have intense, unexplained feelings of dread or fear.
• If you have ﬁbroids, you should not take estrogen-replacement therapy.
• Moderate exercise like walking will stimulate blood ﬂow to the pelvic region and will help relieve pain.