Can Traditional Chinese Medicine Help To Treat Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a painful condition that impacts 6.3 million women in the U.S. The tissue that normally grows inside your uterus and sloughs off during your period actually begins to adhere to places outside the uterus. That could be on your ovaries, your fallopian tubes, the outside of the uterus, your bladder -- anywhere in the abdominal cavity. 

And every month, the tissue does what it's supposed to do inside the uterus; it grows, breaks down and sloughs off. Because this happens on organs and tissues where it isn't supposed to, you likely feel a lot of pain and discomfort.

Ways to Treat Endometriosis

Unfortunately, there is no way to cure endometriosis -- once the uterine tissue is growing throughout the abdominal cavity, it can be difficult to remove. In some cases, surgery to remove the growths or, more radically, to remove the uterus and, if necessary, the ovaries can help alleviate pain. Surgery, however, is generally a last resort. Here are some other common treatments:

  • Pain medication. This can range from over-the-counter analgesics to prescription drugs designed specifically to relive endometrial pain. 
  • Hormonal therapy. Sometimes taking oral contraceptives to regulate hormones or even reduce the number of periods you have can make symptoms improve. Some doctors may suggest other types of hormone treatments.
  • Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine. Herbal medications that have been used for thousands of years in China to treat symptoms related to menstruation and pain may be applicable to treatment of endometriosis.

How Does Chinese Herbal Medicine Work?

For any malady, Chinese medicine treats possible blockages in the energy that flows through the body, known as "qi." Herbal medicine combines several different herbs that can all work together synergistically to restore proper flow of energy and relieve symptoms. 

In the case of endometriosis, herbal treatments that reduce stagnant blood flow are often used together with success. One study found that 100 percent of the women treated saw some improvement in their symptoms. 

While there can be many different combinations, most remedies include:

  • typha -- helps with revitalizing the blood, minimizing menstrual bleeding and reducing pain
  • trogopterus -- reduces pain

These two herbs are usually used in equal parts with other herbs that improve blood circulation and minimize swelling, including red peony, salvia, cinnamon and rhubarb. Note that some treatments used in traditional Chinese medicine for endometriosis, such as gossypol, which is derived from the cotton plant, have challenging side effects and are not commonly used outside of mainland China. 

Talk to your doctor and your practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, such as High Point Health, to determine if you are a good candidate for herbal treatment of endometriosis.