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Acupuncture and Endometriosis

Endometriosis is an increasingly seen condition in the west and most probably caused by the many stress factors in our modern lives. It has become the most common cause of secondary dysmenorrhea (painful periods) and also a major factor in the cause of infertility.

Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that normally lines the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside the uterus and implants itself on various pelvic organs such as ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic ligaments, bowels, rectum ureter or bladder. The endometrial tissue behaves just like the uterine lining during the menstrual cycle, both being governed by hormones. Consequently each month during your period when tissue and blood are shed and is discharged as a period. With the endometriosis, there is no means for it to be discharged, so this then builds up to form masses and lesions within the pelvic cavity.

The symptoms of endometriosis can vary. The most common symptom is period pain that is not relieved by pain killers, pelvic pain that occurs not only during your period but at other times such as time when you ovulate, especially if you have endrometriosis or cycsts on your ovaries. Menstruation can also be extremely heavy, it can effect fertility and produce masses in the pelvic cavity.

How is Endometriosis caused according to the principles of Traditional Chinese medicine?

Chinese medicine view endometriosis largely as stagnation of blood and Qi (energy) that leads to the congealing and clotting of the blood in the uterus that then manifests as endometriosis. The liver, spleen, and kidney channels run through the pelvis and all can effect menstruation. If any of these channels is blocked, congested or deficient, this will usually manifest in women as some sort of menstrual problem. It is the liver's job to maintain the free flow of Qi. Stagnant Qi is associated with liver stagnation.The liver is so closely associated with the menstrual cycle that liver Qi in women almost always manifests as some menstrual-related problem. The most common cause of Qi stagnation is stress.  Blood clots are common when one's qi and blood is stagnant. The Qi can become sluggish or stuck due to emotional upheaval or stress. We are now living in a world of high levels of stress, coming from so many  different directions and that our bodies and mind have not yet grown accustomed to it. This stress will eventually take its toll on the body.

Cold can block the fastest flowing rivers so one can imagine what cold can do to our bodies. It can cause the blood and Qi to stagnate just like the rivers.

The cold can be generated from eating too many cold foods, going out with cold damp hair, walking on cold floors with bare feet.

How can Acupuncture relieve some symptoms assosiated with Endrometriosis?

Acupuncture may benefit those with endometriosis by stimulating the nerves and muscles, thus providing pain relief and reducing inflammation. Acupuncture treatments are administered according to the signs and symptoms prevailing using points located on pathways at which the energy, traveling through them can be manipulated and therapeutically adjusted. Acupuncture for endometriosis will aim to balance the body by using acupuncture points to move blood and Qi stagnation, eliminate cold and damp stagnation, nourish the blood and warm the interior.

Here are a few tips and hints to think about?

 1)  Avoid excessive emotions in general: Maintain an even, free flow of moderate emotions is the same as maintaining an even flow of Qi and blood. Try yoga, Tai Chi or meditation. Or if that is not your thing, why go for you for a walk and connect with nature.

2)  Take adequate rest: Just prior and during menstruation allow yourself to take adequate rest.

3)  Reduce Stress: Maybe its your job, relationship problems, changing residence, taking more time off, striving for unrealistic goals and expectations and seeking them for the wrong reasons. Maybe its a slower mindful pace of life that is needed. To be in the present.

4)  Exercise: can also speed up a sluggish metabolism and increase production of Qi and blood.  Exercise moves the Qi of the whole body thus moving both physical and emotional blocks, making us feel more relaxed.

5)  Chinese medicine places great importance on diet, especially on cooked as opposed to raw food. Our diet should consist of warm foods. Not too many cold icy foods or cold liquids that put cold in the interior that can create stagnation. Damp forming foods such as dairy foods can produce damp/mucus in the body that can create a blockage. 

As with most things its about getting a balance and for one person it can be slightly different to the next person. Find out the things that make you happy and relaxed and do them. Eat the foods that energise you, and do the exercises that suits you.

by Catherine Adelaja, Acupuncturist at the Aston clinic 


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