Natural remedies for fibroids
FEBRUARY 13TH, 2013
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FIBROIDS
Fibroids are benign growths that often build on uterine walls. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, many women develop uterine fibroids by age 50. Symptoms of fibroid growth include heavy menstrual bleeding, enlargement of the lower abdomen, lower back pain and painful sex. The cause of these growths is unknown; however, the illness may run in families. Hormone levels, specifically estrogen and progesterone, control the size and origin of the fibroids. One risk factor for uterine fibroids is diet and weight. A healthy lifestyle that includes a change in eating habits may be one way to prevent or shrink growths.
Fibroid tumors are composed of renegade muscle cells that come together to form a fibrous "knot" or "mass" within the uterus. Although all uterine fibroids are the same, they are categorized based on their location:
- Submucosal fibroids are located just under the uterine lining.
- Intramural fibroids lie between the muscles of the uterine wall.
- Subserol fibroids extend from the uterine wall into the pelvic cavity.
Fibroids most commonly occur between ages 30 and 40, with black women at greatest risk. To date, at least one genetic link has been identified, indicating that fibroids may also run in families.
For some women fibroids cause no symptoms, but when they do, doctors say problems often involve heavy menstrual periods and prolonged bleeding.
"They can also cause pelvic or abdominal pain or swelling and increased urination," says Aydin Arici, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the Yale University School of Medicine
Avoiding birth control pills can help prevent fibroid growth. Just as these tumors grow faster during pregnancy, their growth is also accelerated by birth control pills containing estrogen. Pesticides and herbicides used on food products are also estrogen mimicking products to avoid. Tampons and napkins bleached with chlorine can also mimic estrogen.
Following are remedies which may be effective in shrinking or eliminating fibroid tumors as well as alleviating discomfort and symptoms:
Fibroids can be reduced by consuming at least three servings of whole grains and/or beans daily. Whole grain and beans also protect against breast and endometrial cancer.
Eliminating excess estrogen will result in shrinking fibroids. Dandelion, milk thistle, and yellow dock help to metabolize estrogen from the body.
Treatment Options: What You Should Know
In the not-too-distant past, doctors routinely performed a hysterectomy for fibroid tumors. And while newer, less-invasive treatments are available; studies show this dramatic operation is still being performed today -- far more frequently than necessary.
"A panel convened by our own governing body -- the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists -- found that 76% of all hysterectomies performed today do not meet the criteria for this surgery. They are being done unnecessarily," says Ernst Bartsich, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in New York.
"I believe many women are conceding to a hysterectomy for fibroid tumors because they are led to believe it's the only solution -- and that is wrong," says Bartsich.
At the same time, Goldstein says it's also important to recognize that not all hysterectomies are alike. In particular, he says the newest form of this operation (called a supra cervical hysterectomy) could still hold the answer for some women. Why?
"In a supra cervical hysterectomy you remove only the uterine cavity holding the fibroids and you do not touch the tubes, ovaries, cervix, or vagina, or any of the support muscles in the bladder or pelvis," says Goldstein. This, he says, means you don't suffer any of the consequences linked to a traditional hysterectomy, including bladder and sexual dysfunction, or instant menopause.
Natural remedies: What you should know
Chasteberry tincture is often used successfully to shrink and prevent the return of fibroids. It reduces excess estrogen, balances hormones, and reduces inflammation. However, results often only become apparent after several months of usage. The dosage is 25 to 30 drops two to four times a day.
Additional herbs effective in treating fibroids include black cohosh, Siberian ginseng, red clover, goldenseal, red raspberry, licorice root, dong quai, and motherwort. Supplemental oleander extract, primarily used in addressing cancer and HIV/AIDS, is also often effective against fibroids and other types of tumors and irregular cells. Liver cleanses and drinking plenty of water to expel toxins from the body may also be very helpful.
Warm castor oil packs placed on the stomach is another effective method of shrinking fibroids and relieving pain. Ginger compresses are also effective. Taking a variety of digestive enzymes in quantity several times a day on an empty stomach has been reported to be very effective at removing fibroid tissue. For more information see:
Steps to natural remedies for curing fibroids
Eliminate or reduce the quantities of red meat and pork/ham in your diet. According to the U.S. Health Department website Women's Health, consuming these animal products puts you at a higher risk for the development of fibroids.
Increase the amount of green vegetables you eat. Vegetables may include lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, Brussels sprouts or spinach. Eat a salad before each meal, and add at least one green vegetable to both lunch and dinner. Use the color as your key: Any green vegetable has the potential to protect you from developing fibroids. Raw Fruits and Vegetables
Raw fruits and vegetables are not only rich in fiber, they also contain digestive enzymes that remove fibrin. Fibrin, red blood cells and muscle cells are the components of fibroids. Women suffering from fibroids should consume a healthy diet of five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Foods like pineapples, citrus fruits, also help block the production of estrogen. A decrease in estrogen levels can have a positive effect on fibroid symptoms and growth.
Lose weight if you are obese. Create meal plans that decrease you calorie intake. Exercise helps the body to free itself of toxins and regulate ovulation. Some women experience tumor reduction while following a vigorous exercise program.
Add whole grains, bran and other high-fiber foods to your meals. One side effect of fibroids may be constipation; additional fiber may help eliminate this problem. Foods with a high fiber content can help reduce the size of fibroids and relieve symptoms. Fiber helps the liver process and excrete leftover estrogen from the body. Beans, nuts and whole grains are examples of high-fiber foods. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, whole grains include compounds called lignans that offers added benefits. Lignans are considered anti-estrogenic because they interfere with the production of estrogen. Whole grain foods that are high in lignans include flaxseed, wheat and buckwheat.
Drink plenty of water daily. Monitor your water intake to ensure you drink at least eight glasses every day.
Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions are high in antioxidants and have natural anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to boosting immunity and being a natural antibiotic, garlic also inhibits the growth of tumors. It is best to eat it raw, as cooking destroys some of its nutrients.
Nuts and seeds
Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and especially Brazil nuts are all excellent sources of fatty acids and a great source of protein. Brazil nuts contain selenium which is good for encouraging a healthy uterine lin ing. Include five to 10 Brazil nuts in your diet every day.
THE TOP TEN WORST FOODS FOR A UTERINE FIBROID
Certain foods and additives may increase the growth of uterine fibroids. Limiting these foods doesn't rid your body of the fibroids but could lessen the symptoms you experience. Speak with your physician about making dietary changes if you have fibroids.
Sugar is the food that most practitioners say to reduce or eliminate if you have fibroids. Sugar is considered a pro-inflammatory food, because it causes your immune system to release antibodies and other hormones that stimulate your body to fight off diseases and foreign materials. Consuming sugar daily over-stimulates your immune system, and these pro-inflammatory responses stay elevated, eventually leading your body to attack itself. Sugar also promotes higher insulin levels, which can lead to lower sex-hormone-binding globulin, which helps your body by binding excess estrogen and deactivating it. The increased estrogen feeds your fibroid tumor and can lead to more severe bleeding, pain, fatigue and other symptoms, according to authors Johanna Skilling and medical doctor Nelson Stringer in "The First Year: Fibroids."
MEAT AND POULTRY
Many animals raised for food are given steroids to promote their muscle growth for meat. These steroids leave metabolites available to humans who consume the animal's flesh. According to Skilling and Stringer, although the Food and Drug Administration states that the levels of steroids used to treat animals produced for food is safe, the metabolites, or byproducts of steroids, can be stored in the animals' body fat. Ingesting the metabolites can lead to higher estrogen activity in your body, causing fibroids to grow. If you must eat animal products, choose organically fed and grown without hormones.
COFFEE AND TEA
Caffeine isn't directly related to uterine fibroid growth, but it can increase the symptoms you experience. If fatigue is a major issue because of heavy bleeding, drinking coffee and tea will make it worse, because they both decrease the amount of iron your body can absorb. These two drinks contain tannins, which are polyphenols that bind iron, reducing the absorption of the mineral from the foods you eat. Decaffeinated coffees and tea also contain tannins, along with red wine, and all limit iron absorption.
MILK, YOGURT AND CHEESE
Dairy products, such as milk yogurt and cheese, contain arachidonic acid, which is an essential fatty acid made from linoleic and linolenic acids. When your body receives too much arachidonic acid from animal products, your body releases prostaglandins, which are pro-inflammatory immune system products, according to Skilling and Stringer. Another point to consider is bovine growth hormone, used to stimulate milk production in post-partum cows. Bovine growth hormone also increases production of a substance called insulin growth factor-1, which stimulates fibroid growth, according to Skilling and Stringer.
Xenoestrogens are chemical estrogens that are produced when canned food comes in contact with the petroleum-based lining of cans. Xenoestrogens act as weak estrogens in your body and can increase your circulating levels of the estrogen your body makes, according to physician and xenoestrogen expert, Elizabeth Smith, M.D. These xenoestrogens block your body from using estrogen and make it available for your uterine fibroid to grow.
ENRICHED PROCESSED FOODS
Enriched processed foods, such as white bread, regular pasta and white rice, contain very little fiber. Limiting your intake of enriched processed foods in favor of whole-grain breads, whole-grain pastas and brown rice can lessen any constipation and bloating you may experience with uterine fibroids, according to Skilling and Stringer. Enriched processed foods also raise insulin levels faster than foods with fiber. These higher insulin levels increase the availability of estrogen to target uterine-fibroid growth.
The information given here is for educational purposes only. It is meant to be used as a guide towards health and does not replace the evaluation by and advice of a qualified licensed health care professional. For detailed interpretation of your health and specific conditions, consult with your physician.