Women with endometriosis have a complex immune, hormonal and inflammatory situation in their pelvic cavity, which promotes the growth, implantation and progression of endometriosis cysts and lesions, which are the cause of pelvic pain experienced during menses, during bowel movements or during intercourse.
The drug options for endometriosis involve suppressing hormone function, by using medications that block regular cycling hormones. Every treatment option interferes with fertility, and often carries hormonal side effects such as weigh gain. Many women also have breakthrough pain despite medication, with hysterectomy being considered the ultimate treatment option, even for young women in their 30s.
Naturopathic treatments for endometriosis acknowledge that there are some genetic differences between women with and without endometriosis, including the way that estrogen (or xenoestrogens(1,2)) are metabolized, or their requirement for nutrients such as vitamin D(3,4).
Applying antioxidants orally or through IV for women with painful periods appears to counter the generalized pelvic inflammation seen in endometriosis, and reduces pain scores when tracked over many months. IV nutrients such as vitamin C have been shown to reduce endometriosis progression in animal models(5), and orally in humans has been shown to reduce pelvic pain and pain in intercourse(6,7). Weekly IVs following surgery for endometriosis may offer prolonged regression, given that most women have a return of symptoms following surgery. IV magnesium has also been considered a novel treatment option for period pain and endometriosis given the benefits seen with oral magnesium in women with painful cycles.
The most notable antioxidants for endometriosis are turmeric (8,9) (Curcumin) and resveratrol (10,11)(the “red grape” antioxidant). These two antioxidants have been found to improve pain, reduce lesion progression and improve inflammatory markers in women with endometriosis. They each have side benefits of improving hormonal metabolism, and the right prescription can be based on a woman’s other symptoms, or her most concerning symptoms.
Naturopathic care for endometriosis focuses on hormone imbalance, correcting nutrient levels and applying either herbs or nutrients at high doses to exert an enhanced treatment effect. All of the options available through NDs support fertility, or can further enhance the effect of drug therapy to help women who continue to have symptoms despite their conventional care.
We work weekly with McMaster Hospital’s Endometriosis clinic with their patients to provide a more holistic approach to this difficult to treat syndrome. Ask us for a 15-minute interview to find out whether we can support you alongside your conventional care.
- Martínez-Zamora MA, Mattioli L, Parera J, Abad E, Coloma JL, van Babel B, et al. Increased levels of dioxin-like substances in adipose tissue in patients with deep infiltrating endometriosis. Hum Reprod Oxf Engl. 2015 May;30(5):1059–68.
- Sofo V, Götte M, Laganà AS, Salmeri FM, Triolo O, Sturlese E, et al. Correlation between dioxin and endometriosis: an epigenetic route to unravel the pathogenesis of the disease. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2015 Nov;292(5):973–86.
- Miyashita M, Koga K, Izumi G, Sue F, Makabe T, Taguchi A, et al. Effects of 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3 on endometriosis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Apr 1;jc20161515.
- Sayegh L, Fuleihan GE-H, Nassar AH. Vitamin D in endometriosis: a causative or confounding factor? Metabolism. 2014 Jan;63(1):32–41.
- Erten OU, Ensari TA, Dilbaz B, Cakiroglu H, Altinbas SK, Çaydere M, et al. Vitamin C is effective for the prevention and regression of endometriotic implants in an experimentally induced rat model of endometriosis. Taiwan J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Apr;55(2):251–7.
- Mier-Cabrera J, Aburto-Soto T, Burrola-Méndez S, Jiménez-Zamudio L, Tolentino MC, Casanueva E, et al. Women with endometriosis improved their peripheral antioxidant markers after the application of a high antioxidant diet. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2009;7(1):54.
- Santanam N, Kavtaradze N, Murphy A, Dominguez C, Parthasarathy S. Antioxidant supplementation reduces endometriosis-related pelvic pain in humans. Transl Res J Lab Clin Med. 2013 Mar;161(3):189–95.
- Jana S, Rudra DS, Paul S, Snehasikta S. Curcumin delays endometriosis development by inhibiting MMP-2 activity. Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2012 Oct;49(5):342–8.
- Zhang Y, Cao H, Yu Z, Peng H-Y, Zhang C-J. Curcumin inhibits endometriosis endometrial cells by reducing estradiol production. Iran J Reprod Med. 2013 May;11(5):415–22.
- Bayoglu Tekin Y, Guven S, Kirbas A, Kalkan Y, Tumkaya L, Guvendag Guven ES. Is resveratrol a potential substitute for leuprolide acetate in experimental endometriosis? Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2015 Jan;184:1–6.
- Ozcan Cenksoy P, Oktem M, Erdem O, Karakaya C, Cenksoy C, Erdem A, et al. A potential novel treatment strategy: inhibition of angiogenesis and inflammation by resveratrol for regression of endometriosis in an experimental rat model. Gynecol Endocrinol Off J Int Soc Gynecol Endocrinol. 2015 Mar;31(3):219–24.