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 Herbal Medicine: Endometriosis  
 
Approximately five to twenty percent of women of childbearing age are affected by this troublesome condition. In addition, it is found at as many as 20-50 percent of all gynecologic operations. Pain, abnormal menstrual bleeding, infertility and prolonged disability may result.

Endometriosis is the presence of uterine tissue (endometrium) outside its usual location on the inner lining of the uterus. Endometrial tissue may implant itself on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic ligaments, abdominal organs, old scars and in rare cases, the chest, lung, spinal cord and extremities. The site of implantation of the endometrial tissue will largely control the degree or severity of symptoms. Over time the implants may enlarge, bleed, cause scarring and form tough fibrous adhesions between pelvic and abdominal structures.

A number of predisposing factors have been suggested. Hormonal factors are known to be important: implants often regress during pregnancy; first pregnancy at a young age seems to protect against its development; and the disease is more common in women who choose to either postpone or reject childbearing. The average age at diagnosis is 37 years, and the majority of cases occur in women between the ages of 25 and 40. Endometriosis is rare before the onset of menstruation and after menopause

Although the underlying cause is still in question, there are three major theories:
1. The transportation theory holds that endometrial tissue originating in the uterus passes retrograde through the fallopian tubes to implant on the ovaries, pelvis and abdomen at the time of menstruation. Bloodstream and lymph vessel transport may also occur.

2. The second hypothesis suggests that endometriosis occurs at sites outside the uterus in tissues which have the potential for developing de novo into uterine glands.

3. The induction theory combines the above two ideas by suggesting that transported endometrial tissue induces the development of endometriosis through direct contact with sites on adjacent organs and structures.
Endometriosis is a notoriously difficult condition to diagnose, the conclusion often being reached after excluding other problems. Conclusive diagnosis often necessitates an exploratory laparoscopy may be needed. It has been estimated that 25% - 50% of infertile women have endometriosis. Otherwise it may be largely asymptomatic, but is often characterized by :
  • dysmenorrhoea, especially if this begins after several years of pain free menses
  • dyspareunia - painful sexual intercourse
  • lower abdominal or rectal pain may occur
  • metrorrhagia or menorrhagia may occur

In mild or moderate cases herbal medication has much to offer, but in severe cases surgery may be indicated.

Actions indicated for the processes behind this disease :
Hormonal normalizer, such as Vitex, appear to help the body change the underlying hormonal problems.
Uterine tonics are essential for the tonic activity on endometrial tissue. In theory this will help wherever such tissue is.
Anti-spasmodics will ease the muscular pain that is so distressing in this condition.
Nervine relaxants help with the stress and pain.

System Support :
The reproductive system is the primary focus for tonic support. The womans' medical history and symptom picture will usually point to further areas of support. Lymphatic drainage and general elimination would be the next systems to support. The prescription given below is a basic one for endometriosis without this added support.

Specific Remedies :
There are no traditional specifics for this, but Dioscorea villosa is almost specific for the pain (although not very strong). Vitex agnus-castis may be considered the most appropriate remedy for the underlying processes involved.

One possible prescription :
Vitex agnus-castis 2 parts
Senecio aureus 2 parts
Cimicifuga racemosa 1 part
Dioscorea villosa 1 part
Scutellaria spp. 1 part 5 ml of tincture 3 times a day

This supplies the following actions :
Hormonal normalizer (Vitex agnus-castis)
Uterine tonic (Senecio aureus, Cimicifuga racemosa)
Anti-spasmodic (
Cimicifuga racemosa, Dioscorea villosa, Scutellaria spp.)
Nervine relaxant (
Scutellaria spp., Cimicifuga racemosa, Dioscorea villosa)
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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
 
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