While there are many effective medical treatments available for endometriosis, not all women want to take them. Some women do not care for the side effects associated with hormonal treatments while others are concerned about having surgery or feel that their endometriosis isn’t severe enough to warrant a surgical procedure. Women who are looking for other options to treat their endometriosis, or would like to complement their medical treatment with other forms of treatment, may benefit from alternative treatments.
Why Go Alternative?
There are many different reasons why some one might choose to turn to complementary medicine to deal with a health issue. Some like the idea of using a treatment that is more natural or organic than conventional medicine while others prefer alternative medicine treatments because of the lack of side effects. Another big draw for many people is the fact that alternative medicine looks to treat the whole person including mind, body and spirit ann not as just a physical symptom.
Alternative medicine views itself as patient centred care that looks to use the least harmful and least invasive methods to treat you. While this type of medicine is effective, it can take longer for results to become apparent. This is why alternative medicine typically involves a more long-term commitment. There are many different types of alternative treatments that have developed out of various cultures and have been used for centuries. Among the better-known treatments are acupuncture, herbal remedies, and homeopathy.
In recent years, acupuncture has gained widespread popularity in the West to treat a variety of ailments, from stress to infertility to PCOS. Said to originate in China more than 3000 years ago, there is evidence to suggest that Europeans may have used acupuncture as much as 2000 years before the Chinese. Despite its longevity, it is not exactly clear precisely how acupuncture works.
Acupuncture operates on the belief that the body is comprised of many different pathways or meridians. Along these acupuncture meridians runs an energy force known as “Qi.” If qi becomes blocked or stagnate anywhere along a pathway, it will cause your body to become imbalanced and produce physical symptoms, such as pain or illness. By stimulating the energy through various Acupuncture Points found along the meridians, qi can flow freely again, helping your body regain its balance. This is done by inserting long, thin, sterile acupuncture needles along specific pathways associated with an individualï¿½s symptoms. The needles are left in place for 20 to 45 minutes per session.
In the case of endometriosis, it is thought the acupuncture helps ease the symptoms by improving circulation and stabilizing your hormones. It is also thought that acupuncture may contribute to reducing pain by helping your body release more endorphins, your bodyï¿½s natural defense against pain.
So, just how effective is acupuncture for endometriosis? In one study, that involved 67 women suffering from dysmenorrheal (severe menstrual pain) caused by their endometriosis, half of the women received acupuncture. From this group, 81% of the women reported having less painful periods after the acupuncture.
If you are considering using acupuncture, be aware that it can take several sessions before you benefit from this treatmentï¿½s full effects. You and your acupuncturist will decide upon just how many sessions you require. When making an appointment, be sure to look for a fully qualified professional that has received proper training and is certified through the appropriate regulating boards.
Although herbal medicine is often scoffed at by modern science, herbal medicines were actually the first type of medicine people used. In fact, herbal medications have typically served as the basis for the drugs prescribed by doctors today. If you are considering herbal supplements, know that they can be used both internally and externally and are administered in the form of pills, tinctures, salves, teas, and creams.
For women with endometriosis, herbs are used to rebalance hormones as well as heal tissue. In some cases, an herbal remedy may also help to strengthen the immune system. While an herbal supplement can be very potent, it may also take a few months before the full effects are noticed. Never use alternative herbal medicine without first consulting with a qualified herbalist. Also, be aware that herbs can interfere with other types of medications, so always tell your herbalist about any medications you are taking. Likewise, inform your doctor about any herbs you are using before starting a new prescription.
A variety of herbs can be used to help your endometriosis and may include:
- Evening primrose oil
- Black cohosh
- Wild Yam
- Cramp Bark
Just which herbs are used to help you will depend on the type and severity of symptoms you are experiencing.
Another alternative treatment that has been around for some time is homeopathic medicine. With this therapy, a homeopathic specialist attempts to stimulate your immune system in order to encourage your body to heal itself. In some cases, homeopathic remedies may include the use of herbs to alleviate pain symptoms.
When meeting with a practitioner of homeopathy medicine, you will be asked about your medical history and the symptoms you are experiencing. Based on this information, a treatment plan will be formulated to deal specifically with the issues bothering you. There is no one standard form of treatment for endometriosis with homeopathy, as every woman experiences endometriosis differently.
Nutrition and Exercise
An important part of all women’s health is nutrition along with exercise. Dietary changes can minimize many of the symptoms you are experiencing. Getting regular exercise has been shown to reduce the severity of menstrual cramps as well as help improve circulation. This is especially important for women with endometriosis as better circulation means that your blood is receiving more oxygen, which helps to relax the uterus thereby easing cramps.
Aim to exercise daily at a moderate level for at least 30 minutes. Even just a daily walk after dinner can make a big difference to your endometriosis symptoms.