Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrial stroma and glands, which should only be located inside the uterus) is found elsewhere in the body.
Endometriosis lesions can be found anywhere in the pelvic cavity - on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and on the pelvic wall. Other common sites include the uterosacral ligaments, the cul-de-sac, the Pouch of Douglas, and in the rectal-vaginal septum.
In addition, it can be found in caesarian-section scars, laparoscopy or laparotomy scars, and on the bladder, bowel, intestines, colon, appendix, and rectum.
In rare cases, endometriosis has been found inside the vagina, inside the bladder, on the skin, even in the lung, spine, and brain.
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain. The pain is often correlated to the menstrual cycle, but a woman with endometriosis may also experience pain that doesn't correlate to her cycle. For many women, the pain of endometriosis is so severe and debilitating that it impacts their lives in significant ways.
Endometriosis can also cause scar tissue and adhesions to develop that can distort a woman's internal anatomy. In advanced stages, internal organs may fuse together, causing a condition known as a "frozen pelvis."
Chinese medicine treats the western disease diagnosis of 'endometriosis' by reframing the signs and symptoms displayed by the client into traditional Chinese medical disease categories. The most common symptom associated with endometriosis is pain surrounding menstruation. The traditional Chinese medical disease category for pain during menstruation would be 'Painful Periods'. Another common symptom of endometriosis is the inability to conceive. This becomes reframed into the traditional Chinese medical disease category of 'Infertility'. There can also be erratic bleeding cycles, i.e. bleeding outside of the cycles, early spotting, spotting mid cycle, or spotting after the end of the cycle for several days. The traditional Chinese Medical disease category in these instances would be 'Erratic Menses'. There may also be profuse bleeding during the period (the bleeding is very heavy), this would fall under the category of 'Profuse Menstruation'. Therefore, the western medical diagnosis of 'endometriosis' can be reframed into at least 1-5 different traditional Chinese medical disease categories depending on the signs and symptoms displayed by the woman, mainly painful periods, infertility, and profuse menstruation. This is representative of how traditional Chinese medicine treats the individual person, not the disease.
The success of TCM treatment for those with Endometriosis is really dependant on the degree of compliance and commitment the client displays toward the requirements necessary for success. One must be willing to invest in themselves, make room for some lifestyle changes, modify their diet (sometimes drastically), undergo regular acupuncture treatment, religiously take the prescribed herbal formulas, and practice the intention required by the body mind and spirit to overcome a severe health condition. With time and diligence, 70-80% of women being treated with traditional Chinese medicine can expect to see significant reductions in their symptoms. 20% of women will get minimal to no results (as in every type of disease, there is always a small group of people who will not respond to the treatments, there is no explanation for this). Some women see results within just a few treatments, although, it should be noted that it is not unrealistic to expect six months to one-and-a-half years of treatment with traditional Chinese medicine to see results with lasting effect.
During treatment with traditional Chinese medicine, the woman's menstrual cycle can change, sometimes drastically. Some months it may look like things are heading in the right direction, and some months it may seem as though things are going backwards. The more severe the condition, the longer the body must take to heal. Many women that find no relief with traditional Chinese medicine have set unrealistic expectations, and quit before changes can occur. Treatment with traditional Chinese medicine is, in most cases, a more permanent fix, but, it must be remembered that it takes time for traditional Chinese medicine to make the adjustments and changes that must occur within the reproductive body tissue.
Diet Recomendations for Endometriosis
Women with Endometriosis should be particularly vigilant about increasing their consumption of kelp and wheat germ.
Endometriosis has been linked to thyroid dysfunction and kelp is particularly good for thyroid problems. The vitamin E in wheat germ improves the healing of scar tissue caused by internal endometrial bleeding. Women who suspect endometriosis should cut down on their yeast consumption, as yeast overgrowth has been recently implicated in endometriosis. Also, since yeast thrives on sugar, strictly avoid sugar, as well as any artificial sweeteners and dairy, though yogurt can be helpful for this problem.
In general, women with endometriosis should stick to a high-fibre, vegetarian based diet. Particularly, the elimination of fats from animal sources such as meat and dairy products is beneficial. Women with endometriosis should also particularly avoid caffeine and salt and should indulge in antioxidants such as sweet potatoes, yams, apricots, cantaloupes, carrots, spinach and broccoli, whole grains and beans for necessary B vitamins, and citrus fruits for bioflavonoids and natural vitamin C.