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The Power of Natural Remedies: Using Turmeric for Endometriosis

With around 10 per cent of women worldwide suffering from endometriosis, it’s one of the most common diseases women of reproductive age face. And despite receiving more and more attention from the medical community each year, there still is no real cure. Women need to instead undergo frequent surgery, or take hormonal drugs that limit their fertility, to reduce the symptoms and the risk of further complications. But recent research has found that using turmeric for endometriosis can be an effective way to reduce the onset of this disease and the problems it can cause.

For many women, turmeric may be a better option because it is much less invasive than other options, i.e. surgery. It’s also less expensive and more widely available than other treatments, and as you will see, it can be just as effective. However, at this point, this treatment option is still relatively unknown. This means that many sufferers of endometriosis do not pursue it.

Of course, if you suffer from endometriosis, you will want to speak with a physician to determine all of your treatment options. But here is some information about the condition as well as how turmeric can be used to help relieve symptoms and prevent the onset and growth of endometriosis.

 

What is Endometriosis?

diagram displaying endometriosis
Source: https://www.news-medical.net

Endometriosis is a reproductive condition that occurs in roughly one out of every ten women in the world. It occurs when the cells in the endometrium, which is the tissue that serves as the lining of the uterus, actually grow elsewhere in the body.

Typically, this tissue will grow in the ovaries or the Fallopian tubes, but it can occur in other parts of the body, although this is very rare. And these growths, although not cancerous, will bleed each month, causing inflammation and scarring in the afflicted area, as well as pain.

And while this condition is relatively common, it’s not entirely clear what causes it to occur. Currently, research suggests that some of the main causes of endometriosis are genetic. Having a family history is one of the most prominent risk factors. But the symptoms of endometriosis are similar to those of pelvic inflammatory disease, irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, and fibromyalgia. So the only way to know for sure if you have endometriosis is to have a biopsy performed by a doctor.

 

The Symptoms of Endometriosis

The only way to know for sure that you have endometriosis is to have a doctor take a biopsy. But learning the symptoms will help you recognize if you are at risk and whether or not you should seek further help. Some of the most prominent symptoms are:

Pelvic Pain

This is far and away the most common and recognizable symptom of endometriosis. In general, the pain will occur on both sides of the pelvis, as well as in the lower back and rectal area.  Should the tissue grow elsewhere, there will be pain there as well. But this is rare, and this can make it difficult to identify endometriosis as the cause.

Typically, the pain is at its most severe during menstruation, as well as the week after the menstrual period has ended. But in some cases, pain can be constant, although this is rare.

This type of pain is typically experienced all throughout the pelvic region, but other, more localized forms of pain are common for sufferers of endometriosis. For example, other pain symptoms include:

  • Painful sex
  • Painful ovulation
  • Pain during exercise
  • “Dysuria”: the medical term used to describe the feeling of needing to urinate constantly. This can also be accompanied by burning during urination.

Infertility

Unfortunately, endometriosis and infertility are closely linked. Around one-third of women who have endometriosis struggle with fertility. The link between the two is not entirely clear, but if you are having trouble conceiving and are also experiencing some of the pain symptoms discussed above, then consider consulting with a physician.

Additional Symptoms

While pain and infertility are the main symptoms of endometriosis, some others include:

  • Diarrhoea and constipation
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Low-grade fevers
  • Heavy or irregular periods
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

 

Diagnosing Endometriosis

Mild cases of endometriosis can be difficult to distinguish from standard pelvic pain. But consult a physician if you experience chronic pain or any of the other symptoms associated with endometriosis.

Doctors will typically start with a manual pelvic exam, which should help reveal cysts on your reproductive organs. But because it’s difficult to feel endometriosis if these cysts have not formed, the next option is to undergo an ultrasound exam. This will help doctors get a better view of the tissues inside and around your reproductive organs, making a clear diagnosis much easier.  

Other forms of detecting endometriosis include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can give an even more detailed picture of the tissues in and around the uterus. And lastly, if all of these methods do not produce a clear result, then the last option is to undergo a laparoscopy. This is a procedure that allows doctors to get a more in-depth view of your abdomen. During this procedure, the doctor may collect a sample of your reproductive organ tissue, which is called a biopsy. This can help give more detailed information about the location, extent and size of the endometrial implants in your body.

doctor with clipboard making a diagnosis

Current Treatment Options

Because of the complicated nature of endometriosis, there is currently no real cure. Several treatment options do exist, and they can help to alleviate the symptoms of endometriosis. But it is likely you will need to maintain a constant treatment program in order to prevent endometriosis from significantly impacting your life.

Which treatment option you pursue will depend largely on your specific situation. More severe cases may require more aggressive therapies, such as surgery. However, if you manage to detect and diagnose endometriosis before it becomes too serious, then you may be able to follow less invasive treatment plans.

Here is an overview of some of the more common treatment options currently in use:

Pain Medication

The first thing a doctor will likely recommend is anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, or something similar), or naproxen sodium (Aleve).

Many doctors start with this treatment option as a way of trying to tackle the pain that comes with endometriosis. However, extensive use of these medications can lead to problems with your liver. This is why so many people seek an alternative treatment.

Hormone Therapy

If pain medication cannot reduce the symptoms of endometriosis, then doctors will often move to hormonal therapies. Endometriosis occurs when the cells that should grow inside the uterus end up growing on different organs in the abdomen. This process is closely linked to estrogen and other hormones in the body.

As a result,  hormonal therapy can be an effective way of reducing the symptoms of endometriosis. The most common forms of hormonal therapies are:

  • Hormonal contraceptives. Things such as birth control pills, patches and vaginal rings can all help to regulate the hormones that are involved in the growth, development and buildup of endometrial implants. And because they often result in a lighter and shorter menstrual flow, they are often effective in relieving the symptoms of endometriosis.

 

  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonists and antagonists. These medications are capable of blocking the production of ovarian-stimulating hormones, which can reduce estrogen levels and prevent menstruation. However, the use of these drugs can come with some side effects. They essentially produce an artificial menopause, so anyone taking these Gn-RH agonists and antagonists may experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness and bone loss.  

 

 

  • Progestin therapy. Coming in the form of progestin pills or contraceptive injections and implants, these therapies also serve to reduce or completely stop menstruation. And as mentioned before, this can help to alleviate the onset of endometrial implants, helping to reduce the symptoms of endometriosis.

 

  • Aromatase inhibitors. These are designed to reduce the amount of estrogen in your body. They are often prescribed along with progestin hormonal contraceptives as a treatment for endometriosis.

Surgery

If you are trying to get pregnant, or if the above treatments are not effective, then doctors will typically recommend surgery. Before endometriosis was fully understood, doctors would usually recommend a full hysterectomy. However, as surgeons have gotten better at identifying and removing only the affected tissue, most are moving away from this treatment option.

The surgery required for removing endometrial implants is the same as that performed to diagnose it. As a result, it’s possible, especially if you’ve pursued other treatment options, that you may only need to undergo one procedure. Surgeons can perform a biopsy and also remove endometrial implants at the same time, helping to reduce the need for repeated surgeries.

 

Using Turmeric for Endometriosis

While the current treatment options for endometriosis are often effective at relieving symptoms, they have side effects. For example, over the counter pain medications have been found to cause liver damage.

Furthermore, the hormonal therapies available will make it impossible to get pregnant during treatment. In fact, most professionals will recommend a combination of hormonal and fertility therapies to those who are looking to conceive while dealing with endometriosis. And surgery, while effective, is obviously something most would like to avoid if possible.

As a result, many have been looking for alternative treatments, and turmeric, which is most commonly referred to as “curry spice,” has been identified as a way of treating endometriosis.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a spice derived from a root that is in the same family as ginger. Traditionally, it has been used as a spice–it’s the main ingredient in many different Indian dishes–and also as a dye.

But turmeric has also been used as a medicinal herb for hundreds if not thousands of years. Ayurveda, the name for traditional Indian medicine, has used turmeric to treat a wide variety of conditions. It has been proven to be an effective treatment for pain and inflammation. And it’s also been found to be able to improve people’s mood, prevent depression and improve brain function and memory. It’s also a powerful antioxidant.

Knowing this about turmeric, it should be no surprise that it also reduces the inflammation and pain associated with endometriosis.

Turmeric and glass of liquid

How Does Turmeric Treat Endometriosis?

Turmeric has been used as an effective treatment for pain and inflammation for thousands of years. But new research has come out that shows why it is such an effective therapy for endometriosis.

In general, not much is known about how and why endometriosis develops. But most research indicates that it has something to do with estrogen, which is why so many of the treatment options available attempt to regulate the presence of this hormone in the body. And this is exactly how researchers have approached trying to understand how turmeric can help prevent endometriosis.

Specifically, turmeric is able to effectively limit the disease progression of endometriosis. It helps to reduce estrogen levels enough to limit the proliferation of endometrial cells, which means it is effective at limiting the growth of endometriosis. And this can provide considerable relief from the pain and discomfort which those who suffer from the disease must deal with on a near constant basis. Animal studies and anecdotal evidence have helped further show how effective turmeric can be in treating endometriosis and its symptoms.

 

Other Uses for Turmeric

Choosing to use turmeric to treat endometriosis will also allow you to take full advantage of the many other positive effects of curcumin (turmeric). As mentioned earlier, it has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions for thousands of years. But modern medicine is now providing empirical evidence to support long-held beliefs about the benefits of turmeric. Some of these benefits include:

 

  • Indigestion relief:  The combination of nutrients found in turmeric can help facilitate digestion and can make it easier for you to make up for any deficiencies in your diet.

 

 

 

  • Brain function and mood. Brain function and mood have been closely linked to levels of the hormone NDNF in the brain, and turmeric has been found to promote NDNF levels, helping to improve overall cognitive capacity.

 

 

 

  • Fights depression. Again, because of its effect on the brain, turmeric can also be used as a mechanism for fighting depression. In fact, it’s been found to have an anti-depressant effect equal to that of the prescription drug Prozac.

 

  • Pain and Swelling Relief. As mentioned earlier, turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent. It has been proven to be equally if not more effective of reducing pain and swelling than other over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and naproxen (Aleve).

 

  • Corporal Cleansing. One of the primary uses for turmeric dating back to ancient times is as an antioxidant. It helps the body remove toxins and maintain the highest possible levels of functionality.

 

 

Adding Turmeric To Your Diet

If you suffer from endometriosis, then consider adding turmeric to your diet.  It will help treat the symptoms of endometriosis. And you will also be able to experience the many additional health benefits of turmeric.

However, adding turmeric to your diet is more complicated than simply putting more curry spice into your food. This is because most of the turmeric or curry spice you find in stores contains less than 3 per cent curcumin, the most important part of the turmeric root.

As a result, it’s best to take turmeric supplements or to consume speciality turmeric drinks. These provide you with a concentrated dose that allows you to experience the benefits of turmeric. Of course, if you suffer from endometriosis, or think you may have it, consult your doctor. But make sure to include turmeric as part of your treatment plan. It’s effective, safe and contributes to a higher level of overall well-being.

 

Additional Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354661

https://www.webmd.com/women/endometriosis/understanding-endometriosis-treatment#1

http://endometriosis.org/treatments/