What is Endometriosis
Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus (endometrial implant). Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond your pelvic region. Common signs and symptoms of endometriosis may include:
Western Treatment of Endometriosis
In Western medicine, the treatment for endometriosis is usually with medications and/or surgery. Pain relieving medication include over-the-counter drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or naproxen (Aleve). Hormonal therapies used to treat endometriosis include hormonal contraceptives, gonadotropin-releasing hormone, medroxyprogesterone (depo-provera), and danazol. Surgical procedures such as laparoscopic surgery may be used for more mild cases and hysterectomy for severe cases.
Chinese Medicine Perspective
In Chinese medicine, the uterus and the liver are closely related. The liver maintains patency or free flow of the qi. The liver, spleen, and kidney channels run through the pelvis and all can effect menstruation. If any of these channels are blocked, congested or deficient, this will usually manifest in women as some sort of imbalance in the menstrual cycle. The root of any imbalance in the body can be caused by:
Treating Endometriosis with Chinese Medicine
Endometriosis can be managed and, in some cases, cured through the integration of a number of treatment modalities. A combination of herbs, acupuncture, diet therapy, and stress reduction constitute the primary modalities used in the treatment of this painful disease.
Many herbs have remarkable pain-relieving properties. Of these herbs, corydalis (yan hu suo) offers the most potent and consistent relief of pain. It works on the central nervous system and is effective in relieving both external and internal pain. With appropriate dosage levels, the analgesic effect of corydalis has been measured to the effect of morphine. Corydalis has many fewer side effects and complications (such as development of tolerance and dependence) than morphine, but morphine has a proportionately stronger analgesic effect and faster onset of action. The analgesic effect of corydalis can be further enhanced when combined with acupuncture.
In addition to corydalis, there are many other herbs with strong analgesic effects. Mastic (ru xiang) and myrrh (mo yao) are effective against pain of skeletal muscles; cnidium (chuan xiong) is effective against neurogenic pain; and bupleurum (chai hu), angelica (bai zhi) and licorice (gan cao) have generalized analgesic effects.
Tang kuei (dang gui) has long demonstrated effectiveness in treating disorders of the uterus. Administration of tang kuei is associated with both stimulating and inhibiting effects on uterine tissues. Laboratory studies have shown that water and alcohol extracts of tang kuei tend to stimulate the uterus, while the essential oil tends to inhibit the uterus. Furthermore, clinical studies have shown that when the uterus is in a state of relaxation, tang kuei can induce contraction. On the other hand, if the uterus is in a state of contraction, then tang kuei can induce relaxation. This dual action of the herb explains its therapeutic effect of relieving spasms and stopping pain.
Other herbs with marked effectiveness in treatment of gynecological disorders include bulrush (pu huang) and perilla (zi su ye). In a clinical study, women with abnormal uterine contractions and continuous bleeding with blood clots were treated with three grams of bulrush three times daily for three consecutive days. Most women reported satisfactory result with a gradual decrease in both bleeding and clots.