How Can Naturopathy Help Endometriosis?

If you are one of the many people who suffer from endometriosis, you will know how difficult it is to manage the symptoms.  Painful and heavy periods, nausea, IBS, fatigue and anxiety can make it tough to go about your day. On average it can take 7-10 years for a diagnosis, not to mention the missed days of work or inability to catch up with friends and family. For most people, endometriosis can be a debilitating and isolating condition. 

However, there is hope; recent research has shed light on some of the things that can reduce symptoms, and naturopaths can offer tips and tricks to help you understand some of the underlying drivers that can be contributing to your pain.

Here are some ways that naturopathy can help endometriosis sufferers.

Reducing IBS symptoms

People with endometriosis are more likely to experience IBS-like symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort. From a holistic perspective, Naturopaths need to understand your individual circumstances a little bit more, because there are many things that can cause or contribute to these symptoms, and getting to the bottom of why that is happening for you is the best way to address the issue. Here are some of the things that can be contributing to painful endometriosis symptoms:

·         Some research suggests that people with endometriosis also have more lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in their menstrual fluid and peritoneal cavity, which is an endotoxin that can be produced by specific gut microbiome species. This is referred to as the ‘bacterial contamination hypothesis’, and while more research is needed, there are ways to investigate your own microbiome to see if you have the potential for making excess amounts of this endotoxin.

·         Research tells us endometriosis is twice as common in people with Coeliac disease. This autoimmune condition can cause symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, cramping, bloating, fatigue, weight loss, mouth ulcers, skin issues, vitamin and mineral deficiencies.  

·         Having to take heavy painkillers and undergoing procedures such as laparoscopy for diagnosis can all play havoc with our gut microbiome, however support is at hand. Gut microbiome testing can determine what non-beneficial and beneficial microbiome species you have, which can help to guide herbal and nutritional treatment in some cases.

Reducing pain

There are several herbs and supplements that have been showing promise for reducing pain among endometriosis sufferers, and so these could be considered as part of a treatment plan. It is however important to note that they are not suitable for everyone as some of them can cause health issues in people, notably in individuals with a history of liver problems.  Here are some of the popular herbs and supplements to consider:

–       N-acetyl cysteine: This may help to reduce the growth of endometriosis lesions and exert an antioxidant effect to reduce pain. Dosage ranges from 600mg-1000mg twice a day.

–       Turmeric: Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and even anti-metastatic so it may prevent growth of endometriosis lesions. It is important to work with a qualified Naturopath or Nutritionist when you are using turmeric as it is contraindicated for people with current or prior liver damage.

–        Magnesium: This supplement reduces muscle cramping, supports sleep and mood as well as reducing pain for some.

Helping you to find your endometriosis support team

Because this is such a multi-faceted condition, it can be necessary to enlist a team of health professionals, however often people don’t know where to start. Here is my go-to list to add to your endo support team:

–          Pelvic physiotherapist

–          Counsellor or psychologist

–          Gynaecologist who is an endometriosis specialist

–          Acupuncturist 

Supporting your nervous system

Depression and anxiety are common symptoms of endometriosis due to the chronic and isolating nature of this condition.

Naturopaths utilise herbal and nutritional medicine to support mood, however we can also recommend lifestyle and dietary changes. These invlude:

–          Reducing caffeine and stimulants to decrease anxiety.

–          Supporting your sleep routine (see below) to ensure you are getting good quality rest.

–          Implementing a meal plan to support your blood sugar levels, which tends to help with energy, mood and anxiety.

–          Utilising herbs traditionally used for depression and anxiety such as St John’s Wort, Passionflower and Withania if necessary.

Optimising sleep

Fatigue can be a big issue for those with this condition if they’re waking due to pain, finding it hard to sleep due to worry or anxiety, or experiencing IBS-like symptoms.

Sleep hygiene refers to the practice of winding down before bed, including things to help your body and mind relax to ensure a restful night’s sleep.

Herbs and supplements such as magnesium, passionflower, L-theanine, lavender or skullcap can also support your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Meal planning and nutritional support

It can be tough to find the time to meal prep or even think about food when you’re suffering from a chronic condition, and Naturopaths can equip you with the knowledge and tools to find healthy options that will reduce your symptoms at the same time.

I often recommend things such as:

–        Slow cooked and easy-to-digest meals. One of my favourites for days when you aren’t feeling hungry is our traditional bone broth recipe:

–       Low GI carbohydrates to support energy levels through the day such as brown rice, quinoa, cooked and cooled potato, pumpkin and wholegrain sourdough bread.

– Adequate protein to support mood and blood sugar levels. We need roughly 25gms per meal depending on the person, and this can be surprisingly hard to get to if we aren’t prioritising it. Here is a great guide we’ve prepared for upping your protein intake:

–       A reduction in inflammatory foods such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar and processed foods.

–       Plenty of fruit and vegetables – this means more fibre, more polyphenols for our beneficial gut bacteria, and more vitamins and minerals.

Regulating your cycle

In some cases, people with endometriosis have very short or very long cycles, and the unpredictability of this can really impact their mental health as they never know when they are going to need time to rest.

Herbal and nutritional medicine alongside dietary and lifestyle modifications can support a regular cycle and take one thing off the list of worries that month.

Some tactics include:

–          Supporting blood sugar levels to promote ovulation.

–          Making sure you are eating enough calories.

–        Reducing stress and supporting sleep (the link between hormones and sleep can’t be downplayed!).

–       Using herbs that support your bodies ability to make and detoxify hormones.

Ruling out other conditions

Research tells us that people with endometriosis are more likely to have other autoimmune diseases; a systematic review published in 2019 found an association between endometriosis and at least one other autoimmune condition (Shigesi et al 2019). If it’s warranted, Naturopaths can help to rule these out with testing to ensure that these aren’t also impacting your health.

Endometriosis can be a tricky condition, but naturopathy employs a holistic lens to find legitimate and individual solutions. No one person experiences endometriosis like another, so putting together an individualised plan that you can implement is the key.

Most importantly, we are here to listen and support you in a way that feels achievable for a condition that can be so life changing.

If you would like to find out more about how naturopathy can help in endometriosis, reach out to book in a base chat below.



Margaret Scott (BHSc Naturopathy)

Margaret is a degree qualified Naturopath with a focus on women’s hormonal health throughout the lifespan.

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