Healing Fibroids Naturally



“The good news is most fibroids don’t cause symptoms, don’t require any fancy treatment, and almost never require a hysterectomy, despite what you may have heard.”


Chances are that you or someone you know has fibroids. Fibroids (also called myomas) are benign tumors that grow in the smooth muscle cells in the uterine wall (the myometrium). They can form on the inside or outside of the uterus; above, below, or on the side of it. They’re present in 25-40 percent of women in their childbearing years, and about 40 percent of women have one or more fibroids when they reach menopause. As a physician, I’ve cared for thousands of women with fibroids-including myself-treating them with everything from diet to drugs to hormone replacement to surgery.
Most
women with fibroids don’t even know they have one until their doctor discovers it during an annual pelvic exam. These benign growths are amenable to lifestyle changes such as diet, taking certain herbs, exercise, and changes in emotional patterns. Lifestyle modifications are likely to have an impact because fibroids are very sensitive to changes in hormone levels in the body. Your hormones can be influenced by everything from dietary modifications to changes in your thoughts
and emotions!

The
good news is most fibroids don’t cause symptoms, don’t require any fancy treatment,
and almost never require a hysterectomy, despite what you may have heard. Unfortunately,
fibroids are the number one indication for hysterectomy in this country. And many
times the ovaries, a woman’s source of testosterone, are removed along with the
uterus to prevent possible ovarian cancer in the future. Though I certainly understand
the rationale for this, many women suffer from unexpected side effects from ovarian
removal and subsequent low testosterone levels, which result in a loss of sex
drive and decreased vitality.

Of
course, depending upon the size, number, and location of the fibroid, some women
experience pain, heavy bleeding, or pressure. If the fibroid is large, 10 cm.
or greater, the lower abdomen can swell slightly and make it appear that a woman
is a few months pregnant, which is what happened to me. Even if her fibroids are
causing problems, there’s a lot that a woman can do besides taking drugs, having
surgery, or undergoing the new Ex Ablate ultrasound procedure. (See below.)
In
his excellent and comprehensive book Healing Fibroids: A Doctor’s Guide to a Natural
Cure (which he co-wrote with Elena Oumano for Fireside, 2002), Allan Warshowsky,
M.D. (a board certified ob-gyn colleague and friend of mine), gives you everything
you need to know to decrease fibroid symptoms naturally. If you have fibroids,
I urge you to read his book. You’re likely to find just the solution you’re looking
for. And keep in mind that the lifestyle changes you adopt to heal your fibroids
will also improve the health of every cell in your body! Here are a few points
from Healing Fibroids. There are many other fantastic insights in the book.

*
Decrease or eliminate “white” foods. Foods such as white bread, cookies,
cakes, and pasta increase insulin, which changes the way estrogen is metabolized,
creating compounds that are more likely to cause cellular inflammation and fibroid
symptoms, including enhanced growth of existing fibroids. (Further evidence of
the diet-estrogen-fibroid connection is the fact that fibroids are more common
in overweight women.)

*
Eat soy and flax. Nearly all women can benefit from taking phytoestrogens-plant-based
hormones found in soy and flaxseed. Not only are phytoestrogens a safe alternative
to synthetic hormones, these phytoestrogen-rich foods decrease the effects of
estrogen levels naturally by blocking the estrogen receptors on the cells in fibroids
and other estrogen-sensitive tissues. Studies have shown that eating soy and flax
helps the body produce smaller amounts of unhealthy estrogens. Flaxseed is high
in both fiber and omega-3 fats, which help reduce inflammation and tumor growth
throughout the body and rid the body of toxins, including excess estrogen.

*
Consider herbs. There’s a wide variety of herbs that help balance estrogen levels
naturally. These include chasteberry, dong quai, and black cohosh-all of which
have been used for centuries for various gynecological conditions. Dr. Warshowsky’s
book contains a comprehensive list of the herbs that work best for fibroids and
includes instructions for exactly how to take them. (I also address the subject
of herbs for menopausal symptoms in my book The Wisdom of Menopause [Bantam, 2001].)

*
Add a tincture of time. Perimenopause and menopause are nature’s own treatment
for fibroids. Falling estrogen levels that occur in late perimenopause often shrink
fibroids considerably. And nothing further needs to be done! Watchful waiting
is especially good for women who have no symptoms from their fibroids or don’t
even know they have them!

When
Natural Methods Aren’t Enough

There is a new ultrasound treatment for fibroids
called ExAblate, which was approved in the fall of 2004 by the FDA. ExAblate is
a new device that combines MRI imaging to map out uterine fibroids followed by
high-intensity, focused ultrasound that heats up and destroys fibroid tissue.
Fibroid tissue is very well suited to this treatment because the blood vessels
in fibroids help the body dissipate the excess heat that’s generated. The procedure
is done on an outpatient basis and is noninvasive, leaving the uterus and ovaries
intact. It involves lying on your abdomen in an MRI tube for up to three hours
while ultrasound waves heat up and destroy the uterine tissue. Side effects may
include blisters on the abdominal skin, cramping, nausea, and some pain that can
be managed with over-the-counter medication.
I had my fibroid surgically removed
during perimenopause some years ago, but didn’t undergo a hysterectomy. (Though
I had no symptoms, I simply got tired of looking pregnant-mine was very large-and
I didn’t want to continue to “dress around my fibroid.”) However, if
ExAblate had been available at the time, I would have strongly considered this
treatment.
Studies show that ExAblate successfully reduces fibroid symptoms
in about 70 percent of women, but that 20 percent will require additional surgery
within a year. The FDA reports that though the procedure successfully reduces
symptoms in the majority of women, these symptoms will return in some women. And
so will the fibroids. This is why I also recommend that all women suffering from
fibroids do their best to adopt the kind of lifestyle changes mentioned above-you’ll
be able to reduce fibroid symptoms over the long term and improve how your hormones
are metabolized. Still, I feel that ExAblate is a major step forward and a very
exciting use of technology.
Please Note: ExAblate should not be used by those
who want to get pregnant because not enough data is available to determine what
happens to the uterine wall and lining following the procedure. For more information
about ExAblate, you can call 866-392-2528 or check out the InSightec Website,
the company that developed the technology, at www.uterine-fibroids.org.

Symptoms
Always Carry a Bigger Message

There are many treatments available for fibroids,
including drugs, surgery, and the newer high-tech ultrasound treatment known as
ExAblate. Regardless of which one(s) you choose, it’s important to understand
that fibroids, like all conditions, don’t just jump out of the closet and land
on you (or your uterus). They’re a signal from your inner wisdom that something
in your life needs to be addressed. This doesn’t mean that you need to obsess
or make a career out of them, but it does mean that you’ll be happier and healthier
if you regard them as messengers and then heed the message. (It might be as simple
as losing ten pounds!)

Fibroids
often represent creativity that hasn’t been birthed yet, or creativity (such as
a job or relationship) that’s being directed down a dead-end path. I’ve written
about this extensively in both Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of
Menopause. Addressing the lifestyle and mind/body factors that favor fibroid growth
in the first place will also help prevent recurrence. And if you eventually need
a medical procedure for your fibroids, your health will have improved greatly
and you’ll heal much faster.


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Provided from the September/October 2005 Issue of The Dr. Christiane Northrup Newsletter with Permission from Hay House, Inc., pg. 6.

Avatar Written by Christiane Northrup MD

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