Monday, August 11, 2008

Diet to minimize problems of endometriosis

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is an often painful condition that develops when tissue that looks and acts like the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) migrates outside the uterus.

This tissue implants itself on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, ligaments supporting the uterus, in the area between the vagina and rectum, on the outer surface of the uterus or on the lining of the pelvic cavity.

The tissue acts as if it were still in the uterus: Every month, in response to hormonal signals, it thickens, breaks down and bleeds. With no way out of the body, the trapped blood can cause inflammation, pain, scar tissue, adhesions and bowel problems.

The most common symptoms are severe menstrual cramps and pelvic pain during ovulation, intercourse, bowel movements or urination. Between a third and a half of affected women have fertility problems.

Conventional medicine treats endometriosis with pain medications and hormonal drugs, including birth control pills, to block ovulation and stop the menstrual cycle.

One drug is Danazol, a weak synthetic male hormone that suppresses growth of the endometrium. It can help but can also cause side effects such as acne and facial hair. Synarel blocks the menstrual cycle but can cause hot flashes and vaginal dryness. These drugs ease the pain but aren't a cure.

Try an anti-inflammatory diet to manage endometriosis nutritionally. Dr. Victoria Maizes, executive director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, suggests eliminating dairy foods for three weeks. Avoid all foods containing whey, casein and cow's milk or milk protein, because of the estrogenic hormones they contain. Other suggestions:

* Eat only hormone-free meat to avoid additional estrogen exposure.

* Avoid soy foods if you have not been eating them regularly; they are weakly estrogenic.

* Avoid alcohol (it affects how estrogen is metabolized).

* Choose organic foods.

* Try traditional Chinese medicine.

* Take omega 3 fatty acid supplements.

* Try whole licorice extracts, helpful for inflammatory disorders.

* Drink red raspberry leaf tea daily to relieve cramps.

* Take 500 mg of calcium and 250 mg of magnesium daily.

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