Fibroids, Uterine

Fibroids, Uterine

 

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 dont 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 organs 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 doesnt 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.

 

 

SYMPTOMS

 

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

Anemia

Swelling in the lower abdomen

A frequent urge to urinate

Back or abdominal pain

Constipation

 

 



ROOT CAUSES

 

Relatively high levels of estrogen and low levels of progesterone, due to:

—Environmental estrogens

—Obesity

—Underactive thyroid

—Ovulatory dysfunction 

Perimenopause

—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.



 

Testing Techniques

 

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

 

 

 

TREATMENT Diet

It is important to eat certified organic foods as much as possible, due to the estrogenic

effects of pesticides, herbicides, and hormone-laden meats.

 

Recommended Food

Since diet affects hormone balance, its 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 bodys estrogen production.

Vitamin K will encourage proper blood clotting and may reduce an excessive ow 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 thats 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 livers 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.



Dont eat anything that depresses your immune system. Processed foods, fried food, refined sugar, and alcohol all limit your bodys ability to fight your disorder.

 

Detoxification

 

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 14 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.

 

 

General Recommendations

 

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.

 

Homeopathy

 

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 ow 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.

 

 

Acupressure

 

See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.

To stop fibroid pain, work Large Intestine 4.

 

Bodywork

 

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.

 

Reflexology

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.

 

Hydrotherapy

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.

 

Aromatherapy

Warming oils like rosemary, marjoram, and black pepper increase blood flow and relieve pain. If youre 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.



Stress Reduction

 

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.

 

 

Other Recommendations

 

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.

 

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