By Barbara Poczyniak, R.Ac.
Has your doctor suggested surgery for your uterine fibroids? Perhaps your physician is monitoring your situation and recommends surgery in the future? This is the perfect time to try natural healing ideas you can safely implement now.
Uterine fibroids occur in 20-30% of women of reproductive age. They are made up of smooth muscle and fibrous tissue. Fibroids are classified according to their location and can be located inside or outside the uterus. Size of fibroids can vary greatly from microscopic to that of a large grapefruit. Most are small and do not cause any problems.
However some fibroids can get very large or cause symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods. Many women never have any symptoms, or may only discover them when they have trouble getting pregnant. Fibroids may also be a factor in recurring miscarriages.
How does Traditional Chinese Medicine view uterine fibroids?
In TCM fibroids fall into the category of disorders that are due to “blood stagnation”, namely a pathological condition that forms due to impeded blood circulation in the pelvic area.
Successfully treating fibroids requires addressing the root cause, which often includes lifestyle and nutrition habits, as well as past health history. Implementing some simple health habits can go a long way in healing or even as preparation for future surgery. Lifestyle changes are often some of the most important things to consider, along with TCM treatments such as acupuncture.
Here are my top 5 recommendations to consider in dealing naturally with fibroids.
No. 1 Avoid External Estrogens
The cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, but research shows they are related to excess estrogen in the system. It is important to limit exposure to external estrogens as much as possible, keeping in mind that these may appear in foods as well as throughout our environment.
- avoid hormonally treated meat and dairy
- opt for organic food sources as much as you can
- eat fibre rich foods that will help colon and liver breakdown and eliminate harmful estrogens
- note that excess body fat can increase the storage of estrogen
- increase your intake of vegetables, especially cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cabbage
- cut out use of plastics for food preparation and storage – including plastic water bottles
- reconsider your use of perfumes and scented products. This includes certain cosmetics, air fresheners and even detergents – many synthetic chemicals have been linked to estrogen imbalance in the body
No. 2 Stay hydrated and protect your liver
Did you know that up to 60% of an adult body is water? Drinking enough water maintains the balance of body fluids – most women should aim for 2 or more litres per day. Sufficient body fluids are needed in order to filter out all of the waste products and toxins that the body naturally needs to excrete. Since women with fibroids may be especially sensitive to excess estrogens in the environment – it is crucial to make sure you are drinking enough water.
Apart from other negative effects such as headaches, constipation and weight gain – not drinking enough water can also hamper the body’s own healing efforts to clear up stagnation and restore proper blood circulation. Avoiding alcohol and coffee can also help your liver and keep you better hydrated.
No. 3 Get enough quality sleep
Our bodies are meant to rest and naturally “reset” during the time that we are asleep. This is what happens in our deepest and most restorative sleep level:
- Blood pressure lowers and breathing becomes slower
- Blood supply to muscles increases and muscles are relaxed
- Tissue growth and repair occurs
- Energy is restored
- Hormones are released
According to TCM, the liver is working hard to filter blood during sleep, which is seen as a time of essential regeneration. The time we spend in quality sleep helps optimize the body’s innate restorative efforts. Not getting enough sleep or only getting poor quality sleep can disrupt our body’s own healing efforts.
No. 4 Try Acupuncture for relief
Acupuncture helps accelerate the body’s innate healing process, and can help with fibroids – especially if used as part of an overall health approach. Acupuncture works by:
- helping to increase the production of endorphins – these are the “happy hormones” that signal the body to “rest, heal and digest”
- helping to decrease the over-production of cortisol – the “stress hormone” that signals the body to “fight or flight”
- helping to increase blood flow, by dilating blood vessels and improving circulation
- helping to balance hormonal health by improving communication between the nervous and endocrine systems
No. 5 Improve blood and lymph circulation in the pelvic area
- The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® are a gentle external massage that greatly benefit the circulation of blood, lymph fluid and energy to the reproductive organs.
- The self care massage taught as part of an Arvigo® Therapy treatment is an effective way to continue the beneficial effects of the professional treatment at home, on your own.
- Castor oil packs are an effective way to improve healthy blood and lymph flow in the abdomen and pelvic areas. Do not use them if during menstruation. If you are actively trying to get pregnant they should only be used during the time of month between menstruation and ovulation.
- Exercises that help increase blood and lymph flow, especially in the pelvic area. These may include brisk walking, yoga and belly dancing.
Prepare for surgery and heal faster with Mind/Body techniques
Approximately 80% of uterine fibroids are asymptomatic and require no treatment. Natural methods are often effective for reducing the size of fibroids, but there are times when surgery is still necessary. If preparing to undergo surgery for fibroids (or any surgery really) I highly recommend the Mind/Body visualization techniques taught by Peggy Huddleston, RN in her program: Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster.
These visualization techniques are now recommended and taught in many hospitals throughout North America. They can be used in the months, weeks or even days leading up to surgery and throughout the period of recovery. Studies have shown users experience less anxiety going into surgery, as well as reduced need for post surgery pain medication and improved recovery time.
Learn more about Barbara and how she can support the treatment of fibroids and other reproductive disorders with Arvigo® Therapy and acupuncture.
- Integrated Gynecology Course notes (2012), Canadian Gynecology Institute of Chinese Medicine
- Arvigo Techniques – Fibroid Management, Seventh Ed. (2016)
- The Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine, Lyttleton Jane
- Sleep Foundation research, SleepFoundation.org
- Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster, Huddleston Peggy
Please note that content on this website is intended for informational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, not is it meant to diagnose or treat a health problem, symptom or disease. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this website. Information provided on this website DOES NOT create a doctor-patient relationship between you and any doctor affiliated with our website.