Endometriosis. A painful problem that we hear about far too often at Your Tea. It’s quite a contentious topic and one that we feel needs to be delved into further.
So we asked Nat Kringoudis, Doctor of Chinese Medicine, creator of our herbal blends at Your Tea. She also specialises in the space of fertility, aiding many women gain relief and change using Chinese medicine and eastern remedies.
It’s over to Nat as she launches into an in-depth, concise and much needed overview on Endometriosis.
“Endometriosis is a pesky condition that affects around 10% of women of reproductive age. It can be stubborn, completely debilitating and whilst it may sound like a death sentence there is good news on the horizon for many reasons – we’ll get into that in a bit.
Modern medicine now considers endometriosis as an autoimmune condition. It is not a disease as some might suggest but rather, a disorder where cells that ordinarily belong in the uterus migrate to other areas of the body, totally uninvited (of course) typically outside but nearby the uterus. However, as endometriosis goes unmanaged or untreated it can spread as far as the nose (hence why some women get nosebleeds at the period time). Each month when we menstruate, our uterine lining easily makes its way through the cervix and vagina and leaves the body, but those same cells that have set up camp outside your uterus want to do the same – the only difference being they don’t have an easy exit route and the result can be severe cramping and pain. Over time this may lead to scarring linked to fertility issues also. Often a laparoscopy is the option provided to remove the endometriosis, which can offer some much needed relief, but sadly it doesn’t go to work on the root of the condition but rather the obvious evidence of the problem to treat the symptoms only. Simply removing evidence of the problem without working out what in your ‘world’ is triggering it to grow isn’t necessarily sustainable.
Do nothing, nothing changes.
From a TCM view point, there are two main patterns of endometriosis. There is what we categorise as a ‘full’ type which is marked with typical symptoms of heavy bleeding, pain which is worse for pressure, a heavy down bearing sensation, possible other symptoms may include headaches that are sharp and stabbing as well as possible nausea and vomiting. This is the kind that under observation of a laparoscopy, would see a substantial amount of endometriosis growing. The other main pattern is an ‘empty’ type where we see quite the opposite, marked by terrible pain (often worse than the full type) which improves with pressure accompanied with very light bleeding. These patients when examined via a laparoscopy whilst they show endometriosis, it is somewhat scanty in comparison. So why is it that this type is more painful? This is because those with this ‘full’ type have more ‘drive’ or energy to propel the blood from the body compared with the empty or deficient condition where there is far less energy to do so. This is a beautiful example of how TCM is very intricate and whilst we in the west categorise or diagnose endometriosis, in the east we drill down further to be able to even more specifically treat the issue from the root cause. No matter what, all endometriosis stems from a level of blood stagnation, where blood can not move out of the body freely.
Chinese Medicine will always come back to the Spleen/Stomach (aka the gut) being the core of all health. We are quickly cottoning onto this in the west as we now understand that the gut is the epicenter of our health and for conditions that especially have an autoimmune element, address the gut and you quickly begin to make inroads to your condition. Endometriosis is no exception.
We’ve had outstanding feedback with the use of Fertility Tea in assisting in managing, and for some overcoming endometriosis. It’s important to be clear that endometriosis is a treatable condition, like most disorders but of course there are varying degrees and elements that need to be factored in and we must reside in the fact that some cases are easier to treat than others. It depends on a multitude of factors including genetics, diet, lifestyle, environment, stress, emotional health and detoxification being the most common. It can be difficult to work out the root cause of illness and whilst fertility tea alone may not be your night in shining armor, starting with just one new thing to your health regime may well be enough to kick start your body toward better health. At the end of the day we cannot change our genes, (that is what dictates the conditions we may be predisposed to) but we can manipulate the environment to encourage our genes to behave better, which is where treatment of health is at.
The ingredients in Fertility Tea work in a specific way to address several layers of health which contributes to making inroads into your overall hormone health. Chinese Medicine appreciates the synergy of herbal ingredients, not just the actions of each individual herb alone, adding another level to its ability to lead the body to better health.
Consider Wu Wei Zi (Schisandra chinensis or schisandra fruit) the star of the show. This herb is said in TCM terms to ‘shine a light on the uterus’ and helps to support Kidney energy which is tightly related to healthy hormones from a TCM view also. It also helps to calm the heart and may support healthy ovulation as it benefits both the heart and the kidneys; the cornerstone of ovulation due to TCM. Now from a western view we know that the heart and kidney play no role in ovulation and when translated would be likened to the trigger from the pituitary that is signaled to instigate ovulation. This is an example of how we can translate eastern ideas to western theory.
Man Jin Zi, commonly known to many as vitex is another excellent inclusion that helps to support healthy progesterone (most often hormone imbalance like PCOS or Endometriosis have an underlying excess oestrogen factor).
Pu Gong Yin is another wonderful inclusion which aids in liver detoxification – this is extremely important in hormone balance. The liver is responsible for converting healthy oestrogen and testosterone and can be a problematic factor in reproductive issues. The other two final herbal components include Go Ji Berry and Mint which nicely help to tie the formula together to support healthy blood production and move qi and blood as well as support healthy liver function too and are indicated for gynecological problems.
To date, no substantial research has tested the efficacy of herbal medicines including vitex on women with endometriosis and similarly no other botanical medicines have been scientifically researched for treating the condition, this unfortunately means that whilst we can’t provide hard scientific evidence that these ingredients target hormone imbalance, the ancient art of TCM and the intricacy of its diagnosis and treatment has stood the test of time. This also doesn’t mean that these herbal ingredients aren’t effective, it’s simply that nobody has yet researched them thoroughly.
You might wonder how long you need to take fertility tea to reap the rewards. This will differ for everybody, however as with all of our teas, you should start to notice small changes like improvements in mood, skin and energy fairly quickly and especially from one menstrual cycle to the next.
Since your digestive system is that cornerstone of health as we’ve outlined, diet becomes a huge factor in managing endometriosis too. Foods will either support your health or lead you in the other direction. Consider following diet and lifestyle changes to really help take your health to the next level.
- Add up the fat and protein. Your hormones are made of fat and protein so including both these macronutrients at each meal is key.
- Minimise inflammatory foods (gluten, dairy and sugar). Endometriosis is inflammation personified. By keeping these foods on the low, there will be less load on the body and you will hopefully notice far less pain as a result.
- Build blood. We want to keep things moving, especially qi and blood around the body for better health. Include plenty of green leafy vegetables like spinach and silverbeet, red vegetables like beetroot as well all assist.
- Increase dietary fiber. It will help to regulate healthier oestrogen levels to assist in better hormone balance.
Whilst endometriosis can be debilitating, it’s what you do each and every day that counts most; that is your diet and lifestyle that can really help most. Whilst a pending laparoscopy may give you the relief your body is begging you for, it’s also important to address the factors that may be ‘driving’ your endometriosis and try and set your body up for less stress to prevent it’s return. We love the wonderful feedback you provide us with, with fertility tea and your endometriosis and are delighted that it can be one piece of the puzzle in managing your health better”.
Yours in health,