ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR FIBROIDS
Fibroids are noncancerous growths of the muscle of the uterus. It is common in women over 40 and women of African descent. Many women have fibroids without experiencing symptoms, they are often found incidentally during pelvic scans.
For women with symptoms, it may range from mild to severe and include, heavy menstruation, pelvic pain, infertility, bleeding between periods, problems with urination.
Several treatment options are available for fibroids, including medications, myomectomy, hysterectomy among others. Each of the treatment options has its side effects and associated risks. Hysterectomy for example is a major surgery and for young women desiring children, child bearing is no longer possible with hysterectomy.
Currently, there is a growing preference for alternative, natural treatment options for fibroids. A trend that may be due to the reduced risk of adverse effects associated with alternative treatment.
It is important to note that, with alternative treatment, although highly effective in most cases, not everyone will experience improvement in symptoms or complete resolution of fibroids.
It is recommended that you follow up with your doctor regularly, do pelvic scans to confirm the state of the fibroids and if there is no improvement in symptoms, it may be time to ask your doctor for the next step in treatment.
Vitamin D Supplementation
Several studies report the role of vitamin D deficiency in the development of fibroids. Women with fibroids are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency. The risk of vitamin D deficiency is even more likely in women of African descent.
Melanin in the skin is responsible for its dark hue and protects the skin from the sun damage, however, it lowers the ability of the skin to absorb vitamin D directly from the sun.
Women of African descent are at a high risk of vitamin D deficiency due to their skin pigmentation and fibroids. Researchers are currently studying the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and fibroids. Taking vitamin D supplements reduces the risk of fibroids. 1,2,3
Flax seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids known to be have anti-inflammatory benefits. Flax seed contains a plant estrogen (phyotoestrogen) known as lignin. Lignin counteracts the activities of human estrogen and displaces it from tissues especially fibroid tissues. Because fibroids are sensitive to estrogen an require them to grow, lignins by countering the influence of estrogen on fibroids, cause them to shrink. In addition to its protection against fibroids, it is also beneficial to individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohns disease and Ulcerative Colitis)
Green Tea Extract
Chinese alternative medicine has recommended the use of green tea in the treatment and prevention of fibroids since the ancient times. Several research findings strongly support the use of greet tea in treatment of fibroids. 4
COMT (catechol-o-methyltransferase) is an enzyme found in abnormally excess amount in uterine fibroids. It increases the level of estrogen available to the fibroids making them grow rapidly. 6
The active substance in green tea is EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate). EGCG inhibits the enzyme COMT, consequently decreasing the estrogen available to the fibroids and shrinking them. It directly prevents cell multiplication and kills fibroid cells.
Green tea extract is easy to obtain, inexpensive, safe to consume, and has antioxidant, anticancer benefits.
Roshdy et al studied the efficacy of green tea extract as an alternative treatment of fibroids. Study participants were women with fibroids receiving 800 mg of green tea extract daily for 4 months. After 4 months, the participants that received green tea extract showed a significant reduction in the fibroid mass, overall improvement of symptoms and quality of life.
The reverse was the case with the participants that did not receive green tea extract, showing significant growth of their fibroids and symptoms.
None of the participants reported adverse effects from consuming green tea extract indicating its safety.
It is important to note that green tea contains caffeine and should not be consumed excessively.
Curcumin is a natural compound found in turmeric. Curcumin has antioxidant, anti-cancer and prevents inflammation. It prevents the fibroid cells from multiplying and growing.5
Dandelion roots or leaves when taken as tea or infusion increases estrogen metabolism and elimination by the liver. Reduction in estrogen will reduce the available estrogen contributing to the growth of fibroids.
In a tea pot over low heat, add 3 cups of water, add 2-3 tablespoons of dandelion root and bring to boil. Turn off the heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain and drink 3 times a day.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been reported to help minimize the symptoms of fibroids.
Chaste tree also known as Vitex agnus-castus, is known to decrease estrogen levels and reduce symptoms of fibroids. It also reduces symptoms in women with fibroids also experiencing premenstrual syndrome and/or premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
It is safe to consume. It may not be safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women and may adversely affect In vitro fertilization. When consumed in large amount, it may cause decreased in libido.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for Fibroids
Guizhi Fuling Wan (GFW)
Guizhi Fuling Wan (GFW) is a Chinese herbal formula commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat uterine fibroids. It is believed to induce reduction in uterine masses.
A review of several studies involving a total of 3,816 participants reported that GFW is more effective in shrinking fibroids when used alone or in combination with Mifepristone ( a drug commonly prescribed for women with symptomatic fibroids) compared to using Mifepristone alone. The authors did not observe any of the side effects common with prescription medications for fibroids in individuals taking GFW. The studies also, did not report adverse events in people using GFW herbal formulation, indicating it is safe to consume.
Similar to many Chinese herbal formula, GFW contains many ingredients that act in synergy to treat fibroids through multiple mechanisms not clearly understood. 7
Nona Roguy (NR) is another herbal formulation that has been used by traditional Chinese medicine for treating fibroids. It is known to shrink fibroids while preventing the formation of new ones.
A 2004 study comparing the efficacy and side effects of NR and a commonly prescribed fibroid medication, found NR to be equally efficacious, with none of the associated side effects of the prescription medication.
Note: Guizhi Fulin Wan and Nona Roguy can be purchased from many online herb stores. It is important to ensure that the store sells authentic, high quality herbs before buying.
Dietary Changes for Fibroid
Some foods can either encourage the growth of fibroids or cause them to shrink and go away. Fibroids are sensitive to estrogen and foods that increase estrogen make fibroids grow larger and may induce growth of new ones.
Foods to Avoid
- Red meat: Consuming non grass-fed and non lean meat has been reported to worsen fibroids.
- High fat diet
- Refined sugar and processed foods
- High Carbohydrate diet
- Diary products: Some diary products have artificial hormones that worsen fibroids. Instead, opt for product from grass fed animals.
- Bisphenol-A (BPA): BPA is a chemical commonly found in plastic bottle, cups and utensils. BPA mimics estrogen in the body and worsen fibroids. It is unhealthy to consume foods and drinks out of plastic bottles/utensils. Heating or microwaving food/drinks in plastic containers or sun heating them, leaches the chemical into the food.
Foods to Eat For Fibroid
- Vegetables: eat lots of cruciferous vegetables: cabbage collard greens, broccoli
- Fruits: Pears and apples
- Foods high in iron
- Lean meat
- Low fat dairy
- Low fat Diet
- Whole grains
FIBROIDS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW