Endometriosis is an undiagnosed disease for millions of women. Bloating, abdominal pain, rectal pain, and heavy periods are just a few of the symptoms that women with endometriosis experience. And once diagnosed, your options are often limited.
Is freedom from endometriosis pain possible? As an integrative physician, I’ve worked with thousands of women over the past decade, many of whom were battling endometriosis. In this article, you’ll learn what endometriosis is, how estrogen affects your symptoms, and most importantly, how you can manage endometriosis pain naturally.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue, which normally only resides inside the uterus, is located elsewhere in the abdomen, like the ovaries, intestines, or other places.
This is a problem because endometrial tissue, no matter where it’s located in your body, responds to the same hormonal changes that your period does, and it also bleeds the same as well.
This causes a significant amount of pain, often debilitating for the sufferer, and the subsequent inflammation can result in permanent damage to sensitive tissues like the ovaries.
Endometriosis Gets Worse with Excess Estrogen
Endometriosis is often a condition of estrogen dominance. Endometrial tissue is sensitive to estrogen, causing the tissue to thicken and spread. This leads to more inflammation and pain as the condition progresses.
While doctors are still working to understand what triggers endometriosis initially, we do know there is a link between endometriosis and estrogen dominance.
What Causes Estrogen Dominance?
Environmental toxins are endocrine (hormone) disruptors. Once inside your body, they can confuse your body by mimicking your natural hormones. In the case of some toxins, like BPA, they can mimic estrogen and create an increased toxic burden for your liver.
Stress causes the adrenal glands to preferentially produce cortisol instead of progesterone, which means estrogen circulates ‘unopposed’ by progesterone in your body (1). This leads to more painful periods, and heavy bleeding.
Poor gut health. Bowel movements are the #1 way estrogen leaves your body. So if you struggle with constipation, or are only having a bowel movement a couple times per week, your body is likely having difficulty getting rid of estrogen.
Nutrient deficiencies. Our food typically contains much lower nutrients than it used to, starving your body of important micronutrients like vitamin A, vitamin B6, and zinc, all of which are needed to produce progesterone to properly counterbalance estrogen.
7 Steps to Heal Endometriosis Pain
1. Heal Your Gut
Cleaning up your diet is a crucial part of the puzzle, as this allows for a healthier microbiome, regular bowel movements (bye-bye excess estrogen!), and less inflammation. The bacteria in a healthy gut release an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase that breaks down estrogen and keeps your circulating hormone levels where they should be (2).
Find a complete, done-for-you plan to reset your gut with the 21-Day Belly Fix. This course can help you eliminate inflammatory triggers, support
natural detox pathways, and balance hormones.
2. Support Liver Detox
Your liver is your body’s detox powerhouse. Toxins, hormones, and metabolic waste all get filtered by your liver before they leave your body. With such a big job to do, your liver needs the extra helping hand!
- Drink plenty of water
- Take a B vitamin (fully methylated for those with MTHFR)
- Work in a detox smoothie (this recipe is my go-to)
- Eat more broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous veggies
3. Take a DIM Supplement
Diindolylmethane (DIM) is my favorite supplement for breaking down excess estrogen. It’s a natural estrogen blocker that helps your body to disassemble estrogen and bring your levels back into balance (3). Take at least 200mg of DIM every day, with food.
4. Get Adequate Sleep
Studies have shown that melatonin can reduce symptoms of endometriosis like PMS pain, painful urination, and pain during bowel movements (4). Support melatonin production by wearing blue blockers at the computer, turning off devices two hours before bedtime, and sticking to a relaxing nighttime routine.
Sleep Savior includes B6 which naturally supports melatonin production, and magnesium, which is essential for calming cramped muscles.
5. Decrease Inflammatory Foods
Removing the following foods has been beneficial for many who suffer from endometriosis.
In addition, incorporating inflammation-modulating supplements is a tremendous help with endo symptoms and pain.
- Omega 3 – Modulate inflammation by balancing pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats with anti-inflammatory omega-3s.
- Turmeric – Curcumin, the component in turmeric is a well-studied compound for inflammation support. Turmeric has been used in Ayurveda for centuries and displays benefits for liver support, digestion, and inflammation.
- EGCG or resveratrol – a potent antioxidant, these polyphenols showed improvement in the size and number of adhesions caused by endometriosis (5)
- Probiotic — Lactobacillus gasseri is a bacterium that’s particularly helpful for clearing out excess estrogen and reversing endometriosis (6)
6. Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Eat foods that calm inflammation to relieve your endometriosis symptoms (7,8):
- Wild-caught fatty fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies)
- Grass-fed beef and lamb
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Brussels sprouts
- Fresh berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries)
- Olive oil and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are particularly useful for breaking down estrogen.
7. Limit alcohol
Alcohol not only overwhelms your liver, slowing down other detox processes, but it can deplete your body of crucial nutrients, like B vitamins and magnesium. If you average more than one drink per day, or more than 4 drinks in a day, you may want to evaluate how your relationship with alcohol could be impacting your health.
Treating Endometriosis with Holistic Medicine
The side effects and symptoms of endometriosis are driven by the buildup of estrogen. By supporting detox in your gut, eating more anti-inflammatory foods, and balancing your hormones, you can start to see relief from debilitating endometriosis pain naturally.
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