Endometriosis - a whole-body approach to healing
As a Nutritional Therapist, I understand that you can't cure endometriosis, but believe with the correct approach you can heal the body in amazing ways. That's why I offer this site as a free resource to any endo-warrior to learn more about their bodies, this mysterious illness, and how to start mending. I offer my own services as well, which you can learn more about here, but this site is truly about community and offering as much information as possible for women to find their own paths.
Half of the women here may be looking for a natural way to manage their endo, while many the others may not yet understand how something so vague as “diet and lifestyle” can impact a “cure-less condition" but are open to new approaches. To everyone on this spectrum, and anywhere in between, this info is for you.
Endometriosis is a very complex issue. Although it demands our attention turn towards the pelvis, it also includes issues far beyond the pelvis: hormone imbalance, immune dysfunction, systemic inflammation and digestive issues. Not only that, but every woman with endo will be experiencing different symptoms to different degrees. We're all so different in how we express this disease!
The shovel we used to dig this ugly 'ol pit probably included a lot of stress, endocrine disrupting chemicals, poor food choices, and more. In fact, when it comes to chronic illness, it's thought that only 1/3 of the recipe for disaster is your genes (so if you're genetically more susceptible), while the other 2/3 comes from diet and lifestyle. So even though you were predisposed, diet and lifestyle were probably your tipping point into endo and beyond.
This here is the reason diet and lifestyle can help swing the endo-pendulum back into the "oh my goodness I'm starting to feel better" category. Because through diet and lifestyle alone can you really balance hormones, dissolve stress, improve sleep, and reverse malnutrition. There is no drug available that will do these things. I liken it to a dog missing his backless that sprints in a wheelchair. He may have a big issue (like, missing his backlegs), but by supporting the areas on his body where we can, he can now run again. Diet and lifestyle, my friends, is that wheelchair.
Holistic healing also means incorporating medical support when needed. So many women with endometriosis have associated autoimmune conditions. Some of these, like Hashimotos thyroiditis, means your body may be attacking (and thus destroying) a gland or organ in your body. This may mean you need medication for the rest of your life because your thyroid gland is so damaged.
Healing gut infections also takes a knowledgable practitioner who will know what to test for and how to apply the information. Do you have SIBO? Giardia? An E coli overgrowth or a bacterial imbalance? These need to be addressed in order for that systemic inflammation to come down, and only a professional will be able to prescribe the necessary herbals or remedies needed.
"But my doctor doesn't know sh*t" - said many of you
If you have an amazing GP, make sure to give them a high five!! Truth be told, there is a 17 year gap between what research knows and how medicine applies it, though, so many of you may have realized your well meaning doc may not be as well versed in your condition as you wish. This is not ideal, to say the least, but not worth throwing all medical approaches to the side because of 1 (or 10) bad apple.
In my humble opinion, the best way to re-approach the medical aspect of endo is through working with a functional medicine doctor. This is different than the doctor at your local hospital, as she will be a licensed doc with advanced training to uncover the root of problems rather than address symptoms. EXAMPLE: you have chronic acid reflux so your regular doc prescribes antacids which address the symptoms, but without focusing on the cause. A functional approach would be to test for h. pylori (a common parasite that causes gastritis), look for stomach acid deficiency, and run a stool test to look for other GI infections. By uncovering the root cause of an issue you can address is, rather than giving a band aid.
And it's important to note, endometriosis excision specialists aren't Functional Medicine doctors unless they clearly state such. Although these surgeons may be insanely skilled in removing the endo, they may not know as much about your related thyoid, endo-belly, other autoimmune conditions, chronic fatigue, skin problems, or joint pain.
This is why it's so important to invite all the healing methods you need to feel your best!
Holistic = Whole-istic. And addressing your own endo may really mean having a team of dedicated professionals that include a nutritional therapist, a functional medicine doc, and a specialist surgeon. It may also include other holistic aids like chiropractic, acupuncture, meditation, alignment specialists, pelvic floor physois, and more.
So anyone who's obsessed with the 100% au-natural approach, be kind to yourself and allow for modern medicine when it's needed. You may really need a surgery or medication, and that's okay.
And for you ladies who have only gone the medical route and still feel lousy, know there is so much that diet and lifestyle can contribute to your whole-body healing process! It's okay to eat well and see positive benefits, it's okay to look into natural care without a stigma of it being woo-woo, and it's okay to feel better without feeling like you have to get a prescription.
The Heal Endo Approach
Since endometriosis is a full-body disease, it must be approached by a full body plan of treatment, which is layed out in the site through 4 pillars.
A nutrient dense life
A movement rich life
A toxin free life
A connected life
"Life" is at the end of each pillar because these won't work as little additions for a life that is led otherwise, just as you can't add turmeric to a sugar laden diet and expect your pain to dissipate, nor can you add a little yoga to your week and expect your endo lesions to minimize.
So many women with endo have deep nutritional deficiencies requiring a multitude of nutrients to heal. Just as important is their biomechanics, bodies with restricted blood flow to the pelvis from poor alignment, sitting habits, and years of positive heeled shoes. All of this is sewn together with chronic stress, something that without addressing can forever keep a women in the vicious endo-flair cycle. The more you learn about the entirety of this disease the more you'll see it's not solely confined to your pelvic cavity, and how treating your whole body you may finally find solutions!
Each one of these pillars is a lifestyle approach to be incorporated throughout your everyday. It's re-learning how to move in it's entirety so that when you do a little yoga, you don't unravel its benefits by sitting in a chair all day. It's learning about nutrient dense foods so that when you eat turmeric it fights inflammation caused by the endo, rather than by the processed foods you were eating. It's removing the endocrine disruptors from your beauty routine and home so that you don't fight the endo through diet and then add it back in through your perfume. And it's doing all of this while re-connecting to yourself, others, and the world at large. It's a new life, and a good life.
Treating disease this way isn't necessarily easy ... not like in the pill form of easy anyways. It takes persistence, dedication, enthusiasm, a will to thrive, and definitely a sense of humor. Why? Because it's an entire lifestyle swap that may (depending on your current life) flip your current mode of operation on its head. But hey, from new foods and bath products, to less stress, more fun, and slowing wayyyyyy down, I'm here to say it's actually pretty cool ;)