Endometriosis and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Endometriosis is a common disease affecting 10-15 percent of menstruating women between the ages of 24 and 40 years old. It is a hereditary disorder and common symptoms include pelvic pain, infertility, painful menstruation and intercourse. The pain can range from relatively minor to severe which can negatively disrupt daily life and personal relationships. Diagnosis can be tricky and is sometimes given based upon symptoms and a skilled ultrasound reading but the gold standard is laparoscopic surgery. Allopathic medicine treats endometriosis by surgically removing the endometrial ‘plugs’ or with hormonal therapy.

Chinese medicine views endometriosis as a stagnation in the reproductive organs. The stagnation of Qi, Blood, Cold and/or Phlegm arises out of an underlying Kidney organ system deficiency. The tongue can have a purplish tinge especially towards the root and the pulse can have a bowstring quality.

Treatment revolves around correcting the root imbalance and includes acupuncture, Chinese herbs and supplements, abdominal massage, and nutritional recommendations that move the stagnation and restore the Kidney Qi.

Although this in itself will not get rid of endometriosis, Chinese medicine treatment can significantly reduce pain and other symptoms, decrease inflammation, and increase fertility.

Although Chinese herbs are always used in formulas consisting of multiple herbs and I formulate each for the individual, I wanted to share with you one of my favorites for endometriosis.

Yi Mu Cao (Leonuri Herba) the literal translation is ‘benefit mother herb’. It is effective for moving the stagnation caused by endometriosis and effectively treats heavy menstruation which is purple and clotty with pelvic pain. It can regulate menstruation and treat post partum pain. Please do not try this herb without consultation as there are contraindications and this herb is not suited for everyone.

Some nutritional and lifestyle recommendations are:

  • Eat an organic, whole foods, high fiber, plant based diet
  • Use ginger, turmeric, and flaxseeds
  • Avoid alcohol, red meat, caffeine, sugar and chocolate
  • Supplement with Vitamin E and Vitamin C
  • Exercise daily