Written by Gabby Borgerink
Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus. This typically involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. For more about endo, read the first article on this series.
Unfortunately, it can take years for women to be diagnosed through the conventional medical system, and even once they get that diagnosis, the gold standard of treatment is surgery, which can be pricey and/or difficult to get depending on where you live. It can feel like a life sentence with no hope for most.
Women who have endometriosis can significantly improve their quality of life by making some lifestyle and nutrition changes, even though they may not experience full relief/recovery.
Before we dive in, I want to talk about a big connection between endometriosis and estrogen dominance. Estrogen is a hormone that causes cell growth/cellular proliferation. This connection is easier to see when you step back and look at the growth of tissue in and around the uterus and pelvis commonly found in those with endometriosis.
The best way to improve and manage your symptoms is to focus on reducing inflammation, supporting the body’s natural detoxification of estrogen, and managing stress. It’s important to keep in mind that it has probably taken years to get to this point, so it won’t dramatically improve overnight. You have to stick with new habits and changes if you wish to see true long term improvements.
The best places to get started
While there are a lot of things you can do to help decrease inflammation and support detoxification, I've picked out 5 simple places to start. These tend to make the biggest difference for women suffering from endometriosis.
Balance blood sugar
Ensuring you have protein, fat, and carb at each meal is important so your body doesn’t feel stressed and blood sugar doesn’t dip too low.
Focus on saturated fats and avoid inflammatory oils
Inflammatory oils such as sunflower, canola, vegetable, or soybean oil are all easily oxidized and can cause damage in the body. It can also act similar to estrogen as well by promoting cell growth and inflammation. We want to be reducing inflammation as much as we can as that is a huge contributor to the pain experienced during a flare.
Try to limit environmental estrogen exposure
There are certain chemicals that actually mimic our own naturally made estrogen but are much stronger and they have been linked to endometriosis. You can read articles here about endocrine disruptors and here for some healthier swaps.
Support estrogen detoxification
This means you need to support your gut and liver. Your liver helps package up excess estrogen to be eliminated once the body is done with it, and your gut does the rest of the work to fully eliminate it from the body. Focus on liver-supporting foods such as
- root vegetables,
- beef liver (or desiccated liver supplement),
- fruit and fresh squeezed fruit juices,
- quality animal fats such as butter or tallow,
- coconut oil/milk/cream,
- collagen and gelatin, and
You should also try limiting alcohol and medications, and managing emotions such as anger or frustration (the liver is linked to these emotions in Traditional Chinese Medicine).
Herbal teas such as dandelion root and leaf and nettle leaf and root are powerful detoxifiers and supporters of the liver and gut. Drink 1-2 cups per day. Be sure to choose organic tea and cover your mug while it steeps to keep all of the beneficial compounds in the liquid.
* Always be sure to check with your practitioner before including herbs or supplements.
If you start to incorporate these changes and still don’t see the improvements you want, it may be time to see a practitioner who can help you create a customized plan that will work for you.
Gabby Borgerink is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner who works with women to educate about hormones and how they can support their body through nutrition and lifestyle. After her experience coming off hormonal contraception and trying both conventional and alternative health care, Gabby believes in the power of listening to your body and getting to the root cause of your health problems through a holistic approach. Her goal is for women to take back the power of their menstrual cycle and support them in balancing their hormones from a bio-individual approach. Visit her website or find her on Instagram to connect and learn more.