Women with endometriosis already know just how painful it can be. Uterine-like (endometrial) tissue has developed outside the uterine wall, and just as uterine tissue grows and then sheds during menstruation, this extraneous tissue does the same. Some of the symptoms of endometriosis are heavy bleeding during the period, excruciating cramps, pain during intercourse and even digestive upset around the time of your period.
There are different stages of endometriosis, based on the amount of tissue growth outside of the uterus. In some cases, a surgical procedure may be an effective treatment, but unless preventative measures are taken, the tissue can grow back. Unfortunately, in Western Medicine, there are ineffective preventative measures, as the cause is relatively unknown. Some medications, including the oral contraceptive, can slow the rate of endometrial-type tissue growth by blocking hormones, but unfortunately, once a woman wants to conceive, this solution is no longer an option.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, endometriosis is considered one of the three major causes of female infertility, and can be found in 24-50 percent of the women who experience infertility.
In my Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture & Fertility practice, I’ve had a lot of success treating endometriosis, relieving the pain it inflicts, reducing inflammation and often slowing the development of new extraneous tissue growth. Many of my patients with endometriosis are now mothers.
While it’s best to begin to treat endometriosis as soon as the symptoms of pain or heavy bleeding begins, this is unfortunately when many women (or teenage girls) are put on birth control to block their symptoms. Unfortunately, this doesn’t do anything to unravel the pattern of stagnation, and because hormonal contraceptives have to be processed by the liver, they can actually exacerbate the imbalance of stagnation that contributes to endometriosis in the first place.
So when many women get off the pill, they find their endometriosis quickly becomes unbearable.
In terms of the Eastern Medicine that I practice, rather than just looking at the tissue that’s growing where it shouldn’t be, we look at the overall energetic of what’s happening in your body. Because we are a micro-system of the Earth, in this post, I will try to explain this in terms of nature as well as give solutions for treatment.
Picture a stream or a brook and imagine that the water is the blood contained within your body. If you were to throw in a few branches, some bits of trash, leaves, etc., eventually this will start to accumulate over time. In these areas, the water will get “stuck” around this pile of debris, and the stream will not move as easily. The flow of water/ blood will slow.
When this happens in your body and your blood begins to stagnate, you might experience some cramping around your period. It’s not necessarily endometriosis yet, just blood stasis.
Endometriosis takes years to build up to the point of actually having endo. If you think back to when you were first getting your period, you may have had immediate horrible pain, but many women say that it built up over time, after a year or two or three of having their period.
Left unresolved and untreated, this area of “stuckness” continues to gather more and more debris.This will cause the flow of both qi and blood to stop moving. Women often want to understand why this “debris” accumulates in our body, and it’s important to note that while there are causes, we should never feel guilt or blame about how we hold energy in our bodies. Some women just have a tendency to hold more in that area — more emotion, more stress, more tension. Cold is one factor that can contribute to this. The uterus is a muscle, so imagine being outside on a cold day. Our muscles tense up, and energy can get stuck.
Because the digestive organs lay so close to the reproductive organs, excessive cold and raw foods can do this as well.
Trauma (physical, sexual, emotional and even spiritual) can be held by our wombs. While this might sound a little far-fetched to many of you, I do believe that we hold the trauma of our ancestors in our wombs and I work with many of my patients to release this trauma of our lineage.
Eventually, over years of build up, it’s almost as if a dam has been built across this stream. Occasionally, if there’s a serious trauma, this can happen in one “fell swoop,” almost as if a huge tree falls across the stream blocking the flow of water. However, the more gradual build-up is more common.
In either case, the stream is blocked, the water starts pushing up against this build-up and has nowhere to go except up and out, and it overflows the banks of the river. This is exactly what’s happening when your endometrial tissue is moving out of your uterus — because the pathways in the uterus are so blocked that they’re no longer available.
Clearing this extraneous tissue is helpful in reducing the pain, which is why it is so often surgically removed. But unfortunately, Western Medicine hasn’t proven effective in both clearing and preventing the initial build-up, and this is where more energetic medicine like acupuncture, plant medicine and energy medicine is so effective.
Unless we remove the tendency to hold onto stress and tension in the womb-space, the likelihood is that endometrial tissue will return.
When I work with women with endometriosis, we focus on warming and moving, to unravel the conglomeration of stagnation.
1. Manual Manipulation
An effective way to begin this unravelling process is to physically move the energy. We do this by touch and movement. Think about how important it is to move and massage a tight muscle to release the build-up of tension there. It’s the same with our uterus. I highly recommend womb massage and have a Free Tutorial on my YouTube channel.
Especially when you have endometriosis, womb massage as often as possible is essential, although we don’t perform womb massage when you’re bleeding. I recommend at least twice a week, although 3 times a week is ideal to really encourage the blood flow to the uterus. I have both a Womb Healing and a Womb Warming massage oil, which are both recommended to use with Castor Oil. Since the castor oil is heavy, it really penetrates and can be effective in “pushing” out the stagnation. To help you decide which oil blend is best for you, feel the area below your belly button. If it’s colder than the area above your belly button, choose the Womb Warming Oil Blend. Otherwise the Womb Healing is a better choice.
Other physical therapies like acupuncture can be especially effective in treating Endometriosis as well.
Warmth on abdomen is effective and important and can ease endometrial pain. A heating pad is a great way to encourage blood flow to the uterus. Moxibustion, or mugwort is a really great herb for all things related to menstruation and women’s reproductive health issues. It has been said to energetically help you connect to the femininity of your spirit, as well as to help with connection to ancestors, and can help to uncover ancestral trauma. On a physical level, mugwort is warming and moving, so it’s great in treating endometriosis. There’s a moxa pole included in my endometriosis bundle, which is extremely warming and can help to invigorate the blood. Smoke can penetrate in and can really resolve some of that blockage and is great for pain.
Because our digestive organs lay so close to our reproductive organs, it’s important to keep our digestive tract warm. Avoid cold foods and any iced beverages. It’s important to focus on warmth, temperature-wise like broths and stews, but also energy-wise – ginger, garlic, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon.
Excessive raw foods can also negatively impact fertility. Dairy is not good for your reproductive system, and you can get calcium from better, less inflammatory sources.
3. Plant Medicine
Plant medicine is extremely effective in healing reproductive issues, and has been used in treating women’s issues for centuries. We choose herbs that invigorate your blood and target the reproductive organs, such as Mugwort, Motherwort, Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Passion Flower, Lemon Balm. Warming ingredients such as orange peel, ginger, etc, can also be beneficial in moving your energy so that it doesn’t accumulate in the womb.
The herbal tea blends available in my Endometriosis Bundle are formulated to support your reproductive organs while invigorating your blood and qi. They help to reduce pain and cramping associated with menstruation, and can prevent the build-up and stagnation of blood tissue outside of the uterus. B*tch’s Brew Tea is one of my best-selling tea blends because it is so effective in supporting healthy menstruation by targeting uterine blood stagnation.
4. Physical Movement
When you have endometriosis, exercise is important to keep your energy moving throughout your body and to get your blood pumping. Twists can be effective in “wringing” out your organs, and these are often incorporated into a yoga class focused on twists. Even a brisk walk can help reduce the pain and discomfort often associated with endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a progressive condition, so it’s important to note that unwinding and unraveling it will also be progressive. It’s not something that will just “go away” immediately. I usually ask my patients to give their bodies three months to really notice a significant improvement. Drink the invigorating tea 2-3 times daily, use moxa and womb massage at least once a week. Consistency and regular treatment is essential. My Mermaid Bath soak is another way to invigorate the blood. The salt can help draw out impurities to help detoxify your body and help move through some of that stagnation.
While endometriosis can be extremely painful and even debilitating, it’s important to be consistent with your treatment and care. Focusing on the metal element’s energy of letting go is important for women with endometriosis, which I discuss more in my blog about the blood phase of the menstrual cycle.