March is Endometriosis Month with the awareness focused on directing much needed research money towards understanding the pathogenesis of Endometriosis and improving the treatments available. The issue is that Endometriosis doesn’t receive a lot of attention; with many sufferers identifying this ‘female’ issue isn’t high on the priority list of a male dominated pharmaceutical industry.
I believe there needs to be more research done in the space of endometriosis but there are researchers in other modalities looking into understanding more about the disease and treatments that can be used in its management.
Chinese Medicine is one of them; as we speak researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne are collating data from the Chinese Medicine fraternity in the area of case studies and their success rates in clinical practice with regards to treatments used for endometriosis. This is an essential step in moving forward as this will highlight herbs and formulae that have helped many women Australia wide. Once this research has been completed, then further funding to dissect and understand specifically which herbs and formulae can assist in treating this altered physiological state in the pelvic cavity. This process can be time consuming but let me tell you if you need help seek the assistance of a Chinese Medicine practitioner.
Around June 2019, the SBS show Medicine or Myth where it is a show about ‘everyday’ people sharing their insights in various areas of health, did a story of 3 herbs and their potential benefit for Endometriosis. If you would like to view this episode, head on over to it here https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/1524960835600/medicine-or-myth for a practitioner’s insight into using licorice root, psoralea root and white peony. I have used these herbs in clinic and let me explain to you why they work.
In Chinese Medicine, we understand Endometriosis as a disease of blood stagnation and kidney yang deficiency. The blood stagnation causes the blood to flow ‘against’ the normal movement which leads to the menstrual blood flowing out of the fallopian tubes and the kidney yang deficiency means the body is too deficient to mop up this uterine lining in the pelvic cavity. As to the causes of blood stagnation and kidney yang deficiency well that’s unique to each person. It could have genetic factors, trauma, reproductive health issues, emotional trauma and so on. That is the key difference with Chinese Medicine versus Western Medicine. Our treatments are based on the individual manifestation and not based on the disease name.
Why have these herbs shown benefit in Endometriosis?
Psoralea Root is known to be Bu Gu Zhi, a kidney yang tonic. As mentioned above, kidney deficiency results and the body is unable to ‘mop up’ the menstrual lining that has entered the pelvic cavity.
White Peony, Bai Shao, reduces the contraction in the uterus, nourishes blood and promotes circulation. This herb is commonly used for a number of health concerns and shows fantastic promise in many of them.
Licorice Root, Gan Cao, is a herbs that is probably found in over 80% of Traditional Chinese Medicine formulae. The reason is for it’s detoxifying effect on the body and ‘harmonising’ the other herbs so they are effectively processed by the digestive system. That brings me to its main effect for Endometriosis; in specific quantities Gan Cao helps the digestion to work more effectively. This is turn will help the digestion effectively absorb the nutrients through the small intestine and eliminate the toxins through the large intestine. This is also very essential for the body to manufacture blood. When a person has blood stagnation for a period of time this too can lead to blood deficiency.
Usually, a registered Chinese Medicine herbalist will give more than just 3 herbs but these herbs are the ones with the scientific backing, for now.
As for what the future holds, we can only patiently wait for the researchers to share with us the results of their findings and with each step leading to the next; it is inevitable that sufferers will find a solution to the management of this painful, debilitating condition and start to lead a healthier life.
If you are needing some assistance through Chinese Medicine or would like to discuss your treatment options further, I am available via Zoom (online) consults or in-clinic consults in Surrey Hills, Victoria.