Acupuncture for Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it, attaching to other structures like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic ligaments, vagina, rectum, bladder and tissues lining the pelvis. Endometriosis is typically characterized by painful menstruation, usually starting 1-2 days before the onset of the period and lasting throughout it. Other symptoms associated with endometriosis include rectal pressure, pain on defecation, and lower backache radiating to the thighs. Acupuncture for endometriosis can be the solution to treat this condition. Endometriosis is different than PMS or PCOS in that it is not a condition caused by hormones. While hormones are affected by endometriosis, it is ultimately an inflammatory disease and may well be an auto-immune disease. Endometriosis can affect fertility and therefore early treatment and prevention are important for women who wish to have children.
One of the most important therapeutic approaches for endometriosis is down-regulating inflammation. By getting inflammation under control, the associated pain of endometriosis will decrease.
When treating endometriosis or any inflammatory condition, it is crucial that the patient manage her diet and eliminate foods that create an additional stressful burden and promote an inflammatory state.
Foods that are made with industrial nut and seed oils are particularly problematic because they are high in Omega 6 fatty acids. Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory and Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory. Taking a quality fish oil will reduce the inflammation associated with endometriosis.
Foods that irritate the lining of the gut, such as gluten, also need to be eliminated from the diet. Other grains may also irritate the gut so eliminating all grains for a period of 30 days may be necessary.
Sugar and alcohol intake should be minimal as well. Excess sugar and alcohol consumption tax the pancreas and increase the demand for insulin production. If the pancreas cannot meet the demand on insulin quickly enough, pro-inflammatory cytokines are released.
Acupuncture for endometriosis is an effective therapy at reducing the pain and inflammation associated with endometriosis. Acupuncture points on the hands, arms, abdomen, lower back, legs and feet are chosen by the practitioner to regulate blood flow, stop pain, decrease inflammation and relax the tissues of the lower abdomen and back.
Acupuncture for endometriosis works by regulating the autonomic nervous system
Changes to circulation, blood pressure, and gastric motility are all observed with acupuncture, as well as an increase in serotonin (mood enhancing, pain inhibiting) an increase in oxytocin (pain reducing, sedative). Studies have found acupuncture releases the anti-inflammatory adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) as well as enhancing natural opioid production.
Endometriosis is diagnosed in Traditional Chinese Medicine based on the accompanying signs and symptoms. In almost every case of endometriosis, there exists a condition of qi and/or blood stagnation. Stagnation indicates that the circulation of blood to the tissues in and around the uterus is inhibited and the treatment protocol includes stimulating and promoting the healthy circulation of blood. Pain always indicates a circulation issue.
Diagnosis is made based on the quality and intensity of associated pain symptoms, the color and quality of the menstruation, pulse diagnosis, tongue diagnosis, observation of local and distal tissues and palpation of relevant tissues and structures.
In addition to acupuncture, moxibustion may also be indicated to promote circulation and alleviate pain.
Traditional Chinese medicine always takes into account both physical and mental emotional well-being. Endometriosis and painful periods that are not due to endometriosis may be caused by emotional imbalances, and likewise may cause emotional problems. Anger, frustration, resentment and hatred all lead to stagnation of blood and qi. Physical overwork as well as intense mental activity can deplete the body of nutrients and leave inflammation un-checked.
Managing stress is an important aspect of healing endometriosis. Many women find their life is completely disrupted at the onset of menstruation. Endometriosis can interfere with her job, relationships and financial wellbeing which is why treatment is important for both physical and emotional health.
Treatment of endometriosis can take between 6 months and 1 year to achieve normal, pain-free cycles. Results are dependent upon patient compliance and appropriate changes to lifestyle and behaviors.
Some patients may need surgery to remove excessive endometrial tissue growth. If after three months of acupuncture there is minimal improvement to the patients symptoms and quality of life, more aggressive action may need to be taken.
If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis or suffer from painful periods that disrupt your quality of life, acupuncture, nutrition and herbal therapy can help you get out of pain and get on with your life.
You shouldn’t have to miss out on life because of your period! To learn more about how acupuncture can help you, schedule a free consultation today!