Have you been facing trouble due to uterine fibroids? If you have already seen your GP, the treatment options will range from hormonal medications to hysterectomy (uterus removal), depending on the severity. And, for various reasons, you might be contemplating considering the medications or surgery. In that case, you can consider natural remedies to prevent uterine fibroids and also to shrink the existing ones.
This article throws some light on uterine fibroids, the risk factors and their symptoms.
We have also compiled some alternative medicine treatment options and lifestyle changes you can try to prevent and shrink uterine fibroids.
What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign (noncancerous) smooth muscle tumours present in the uterus. They are made of muscle cells and grow within the uterus or can project outside as well.
You may have a single fibroid or multiple ones. The size of the fibroids also varies widely, from tiny seedling sizes to bulky ones that may become quite large, so much so that they take up almost a complete wall of the uterus. Usually, large fibroids push against the urinary bladder. In extreme cases, they may push the uterus up to the rib cage.
Are they cancerous?
They are not cancerous and almost don’t develop into uterine cancer.
What problems do they cause?
About 20% to 80% of women develop uterine fibroids before reaching 50. However, many may not even know they have fibroids as there will be no symptoms.
For those who do have symptoms, the severity is influenced by the size, location, and number of fibroids.
The common symptoms of uterine fibroids are-
- Abnormal bleeding during the menstrual period – The most common symptom is a change in the normal menstrual bleeding pattern. In some cases, the bleeding may be profuse and protracted. This may last for more than a week. In some other cases, the bleeding may be intermittent and start mid-cycle.
- Pain during menstruation – Another common symptom is pain during menses. You may feel pain in the lower back, lower abdomen and pelvis.
- Pain during intercourse – There may be pain during intercourse.
- Infertility – In some cases, more so when the fibroids are large, there may be infertility. In other cases, there may be miscarriages.
- Fullness in the lower abdomen – Some women may feel fullness or bloatedness in the abdomen.
- Anaemia– Profuse bleeding may cause anaemia.
- You may also feel difficulty emptying your bladder.
- Constipation, pelvic pain, and back pain are other symptoms.
The causes of fibroids are not understood well. However, the risk factors are:
- a family history of uterine fibroids
- early onset of puberty
- use of certain kinds of birth control
- poor diet
- alcohol consumption
Having discussed the symptoms and risk factors of uterine fibroids, the following section details about lifestyle changes and diet and also some of the treatment options in Homeopathy, Ayurveda, and TCM.
Ten lifestyle changes to manage uterine fibroids naturally
1. Maintain a healthy weight:
Studies show that fibroids tend to grow when estrogen levels are high. Besides, insufficient progesterone aids the growth. Obesity causes several hormonal derangements, including a decrease in progesterone. Also, fat cells produce more estrogen. Hence, maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent and shrink uterine fibroids and is one of the important natural remedies you must follow.
2. Eat a nutritional diet
A nutritional diet is emphasised to prevent fibroids. A well-balanced, nourishing diet will not only provide your body with the essential nutrients but also helps you have a healthy weight.
3. Foods to include
Fibre-rich, unprocessed food helps balance your hormones that may help prevent and shrink uterine fibroids. So, aim to include whole grains, lentils, beans, dried fruits, and culinary herbs.
4. Foods to avoid
While planning a nourishing diet, you must also be aware of what not to eat. Red meat, processed foods such as breakfast cereals, refined carbs such as white rice, refined flour, crackers, sugary drinks such as soda are a complete no-no.
5. More fruits and vegetables
A recent study shows that a low intake of fruits and vegetables increases the risk of fibroids. So, ensure you consume fruits and raw and cooked vegetables according to your dietary needs.
6. Check your vitamin D
Another natural remedy to prevent uterine fibroids is to aim for optimal vitamin D levels.
A study finds that a vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of uterine fibroids. So check your vitamin D levels, and if deficient, amp up with some extra sunlight and vitamin D rich foods such as salmon, eggs, Cod liver oil, tuna, sardine, liver. You may also take supplements if needed.
7. Limit salt
Studies suggest a link between high blood pressure and fibroids. So, if you are hypertensive, limit your sodium intake.
8. Avoid soy-based food
Yet another study finds that high soy isoflavones are associated with an increased risk of uterine fibroids. Hence, you must limit soy-based food.
9. Green tea may shrink fibroids
Epigallocatechin Gallate present in green tea has anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and antioxidant properties. All these help in shrinking myoma volume and hence can be tried as an at-home remedy to shrink uterine fibroids.
10. Manage stress
Stress is becoming a global epidemic and is arguably a cause of various health conditions. Several medical experts accept that stress may result in weight gain and hormonal imbalances that may trigger uterine fibroids. Hence, roll out your yoga mat for restorative yoga or tie your laces for a brisk walk and reduce your stress levels.
The homeopathic approach
The usual homeopathic approach looks at the patient as a whole, not just a bunch of localised symptoms.
In dealing with this particular issue, it is vital to observe how the patient reacts to the symptoms on an emotional level. There are no clear causes for uterine fibroids. However, stress, anxiety and lifestyle play an important role.
So, all these details together form the picture of the patient and determine the choice of homeopathic remedy to prevent or shrink uterine fibroids.
Homeopathic remedies for uterine fibroids:
One of the most often used remedies in cases of fibroids is Sabina.
This remedy is advised when the menstrual flow is profuse and dark blood clots are present, with severe abdominal pain. The remedy helps shake off whatever disturbance is blocking the healthy flow of energy.
Other good remedies for uterine fibroids are:
- Calcarea Carbonica
The details of the symptoms will help the homeopath choose the right remedy.
TCM considers the uterus one of the six curious organs (the other five are brain, bones, marrow, vessels, gall bladder). The uterus behaves both as Yin and Yang organ – as a Yin organ during pregnancy as it stores the foetus, and as a Yang organ during childbirth and menstruation.
Except during pregnancy, the uterus is not supposed to hold any solid material. Therefore, when the discharge (Yang) of blood during menstruation is not proper, the blood is stagnated in the pelvic area and hence a block in the energy (Qi) flow, which results in the growth of fibroids.
TCM practitioners believe that there will be a slew of signals through menstruation before or during the formation of fibroids. The signals include irregular menstruation, heavy menstrual bleeding, brown or dark brown blood discharge, and severe menstrual cramps.
So, according to TCM, proper blood movement and smooth energy (Qi) flow will resolve the gynaecological disorders. Uterine fibroid treatments include both natural herbal remedies and acupuncture treatment. Please visit a trained expert to seek advice.
TCM herbal remedies for uterine fibroids
According to a population-based cohort study, TCM recommendation of herbal formulae containing phytoestrogen herbs such as Ginseng and Angelica work as weak estrogen or anti-estrogen and is an excellent remedy to shrink uterine fibroids.
Raspberry leaves control excessive menstrual bleeding while strengthening the uterine muscles. In addition, they have anti-inflammatory and anti-emetic effects and effectively relieve menstrual symptoms associated with uterine fibroids. A tea prepared with five raspberry leaves per ½ litre of water is drunk three times a day for 4 weeks.
Ginger stimulates blood circulation in the uterus. The increased circulation also helps to reduce inflammation of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Prepare a decoction of 3 cm of ginger root per ½ litre of water. Drink a cup twice a day for 2 weeks.
The other commonly used herbs are:
- radix paeoniae rubra(Chi Shao)
- panax notoginseng(San Qi)
- peach kernel(Tao Ren)
- cassia twig(Gui Zhi)
- poria cocos(Fu Ling)
Acupuncture treatment to shrink uterine fibroids
Acupuncture treatment that targets,
- The myometrium, which is represented in the TCM by the ChongMo Marvelous Vessel
- The energy points of the lower abdomen of the RenMo Conception Vessel
- The energetic Point 8 of the Liver Meridian
Treatment in Ayurveda
Ayurvedic texts refer to cysts as Granthi, and nine types of Granthi are identified. One among them is uterine fibroids.
Granthi (cysts) occurs due to vitiated doshas, Rakta (blood), Mamsa (muscles), and Medha (fat), and the condition is managed according to the principle of Samprapti Vighatana.
The medications prescribed for uterine fibroids include,
- Vata-Kaphakara medications that alleviate vitiated Kapha and Vata doshas)
- Raktashodana (blood purifier)
- Lekhana (bio-scraping to help shrink fibroids)
- Shothahara (anti-inflammatory)
Ayurvedic herbal remedies for uterine fibroids
The herbs with the above-mentioned medicinal properties used in fibroids treatment are:
- Shigru Guggulu (Morringa oleifera Lam aka drumstick)
- Kanchanara Guggulu (key ingredients are Bauhinia variegate bark, Black pepper, Ginger, Long pepper, Haritakhi, Bibhitaki, Amalaki)
- Haridra Khanda (key ingredients include, Turmeric, Nishoth, Haritaki, Daruhaldi, Nagarmotha, Ajwain, Ajmoda, Chitrakmool)
The bottom line
There seem to be many alternative treatment options and natural remedies for uterine fibroids. The information provided here is to let you know the treatment options available. Please do find a qualified expert before trying out remedies.
Also, as you can see, there are quite a few lifestyle changes and healthy choices you can try to shrink and prevent fibroids.
However, if your symptoms are severe despite trying out these remedies, visit your GP and discuss the best treatment option.
Images: canva.com | Edited by love4wellness | With inputs from Homeopath Giovanna Franklin, Acupuncture therapist George Rath, and Nutritionist and Dietician Dalia Al Andary.