Guts and Girl Bits Episode #50
As we reach the end of Endometriosis Awareness Month I wanted to release a little recording I made a while ago for women’s health week, in which I spoke about Endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition that can significantly affect a woman’s quality of life, however, there is a lack of awareness and understanding of this condition.
It is estimated that 1 in 7-10 women may have this condition, however it can take many years to receive a diagnosis. In this video discuss some considerations of addressing this condition with naturopathic medicine, addressing the root causes of immune imbalance.
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Hi, everyone, you’re listening to Guts and Girl Bits. I’m Alison Mitchell, a practicing naturopath and I hope to share with you all sorts of information about women’s health and digestive health to educate and empower you to make informed choices about your own health. Please remember that all information is general and does not replace consulting with a healthcare practitioner.
It’s the end of March and March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. So I wanted to share a little video that I recorded a couple of years ago for Women’s Health Week as my latest podcast because in that video, I share all sorts of information about endometriosis, and about how to get to some of the underlying drivers that causes it. So I hope that that’s helpful for you. There has been more research coming out since then, as well. But most of the new stuff that I shared in that one is still relevant. So if you want to hear more information, then please subscribe to me on @gutsandgirlbits. And stay tuned as well for all my e courses that are coming out all about how to understand yourself by understanding your cycles and understanding your hormonal balance in more depth, which you can find over at my teachable account, which is gutsandgirlbits.teachable.com
Hey, everyone, I want to talk about endometriosis today. This is the last day of Women’s Health Week. So I wanted to finish it off by talking about a condition that I really love treating and that’s that’s endometriosis. So if anyone doesn’t know what endometriosis is, basically, it’s a painful condition that affects women. And it affects almost one in seven women approximately. And it can cause quite a lot of issues. So what’s what seems to be happening is that we women get these endometrial cysts, also known as endometriomas, or chocolate cysts, which are basically the content of the lining of the uterus being where it shouldn’t be. So when we normally have our period, what should be happening is that the lining should just you know, break down and dissolve and come out as normal menstrual blood. But sometimes what’s happening is that this isn’t staying in the uterus. This is actually forming little adhesions or cysts elsewhere in the body, such as around the lining around the outside of the uterus or in the fallopian tubes or stuck to the ovaries. And it can also happen in their peritoneal cavity where it’s actually attaching to the intestines, the bowel, bladder and those sorts of things.
So back up back when I was a student naturopath, we were taught that endometriosis is a condition caused by a hormonal imbalance. But with recent research, what we’ve come to understand is that endometriosis is actually an immune condition or an inflammatory condition. So it does have a hormonal component. There is certainly a hormonal driver behind endometriosis. And that is estrogen, but the immune system is actually the biggest player when it comes to endometriosis. And so there are a lot of different factors that actually feed into why the immune system is disrupted in the first place. But what we what we’re finding is that inflammation, in particular, coming from histamine imbalance, and coming from genetic imbalances and gut health is some of the biggest issues that seem to be driving our immune immune dysfunction. So there’s currently not really a great testing option available for endometriosis. It’s unfortunately something that can only be definitively diagnosed with a laparoscopy, which is a type of keyhole surgery where there will be some small incisions made in the abdomen, abdomen, and then they go in with a little camera. And so if they can see the presence of these chocolate cysts, then that’s confirmative of endometriosis. But the laparoscopy at the same time can be used as a treatment. But that’s not that’s not always the best option for every woman. Because for some women who are particularly inflamed or have a strong immune activation, then the actual incision or the actual surgery itself can actually worsen endometriosis. There, they will find that they might actually get some further adhesions developing where those original cysts were removed. There seems to be more of an issue when the laparoscopy is performed with the laser where it’s actually burnt off rather than incised. And that’s that’s something that again, has only really been discovered recently, but it seems to be
You know, while it’s a good thing for some women, but not for every woman, and again, it goes to show that endometriosis is a really, really complex condition. And so because of that complexity, everyone needs to be treated a little bit differently. And we need to try and figure out the cause of what’s going on for those women. So there’s a few, you know, possible causes as to why women can have that particular immune imbalance. And one of those things is a gut imbalance, so and or an infection. So if you’ve got an infection, then your immune system is going to be disrupted. And then if you’ve got that genetic tendency for endometriosis to go wrong, then that’s where it’s going to go out of whack for you. There’s some some naturopaths in the field at the moment that are doing research in this and they’re finding that there’s actually a whole different microbiome, which is your bacteria balance within the peritoneal cavity, which is basically the fluid that our organs swim in, and also within the vagina itself within our reproductive organs. And so if they are out of balance, if that microbiome in that area is out of balance, and our immune system is going to be unhappy, and correcting that can be helpful. Dealing with infections can also be really helpful to under to address that underlying imbalance. Now, the other thing that can sometimes happen is because what we know that it’s an inflammatory condition, and there’s an immune imbalance going on, but there’s certain genetics that are involved in that issue. And I find that the mthfr gene, which is a pretty common gene to have, and it doesn’t having the gene doesn’t always mean that there’s an issue, but it’s if that gene is not acting properly, then it affects the enzyme that deals with a lot of different processes in the body. But in regards to endometriosis, in particular, it affects our our main antioxidant recycler, glue to fire recycling of glue to fire. And now, if we don’t have enough antioxidants in endometriosis, then we can’t really mop up all that immune damage that’s going on. So it makes the inflammation worse. And so then, as a result, that makes pain worse. And that can also, you know, make all those other sorts of reactions worse as well.
One of the things that we also find going on is that mthfr gene affects the detoxification of certain hormones throughout the liver. And if we’re not detoxifying our hormones effectively, then we get that recycling and that uptake of those hormones through through the system, and so then we lead to having too much of certain hormones where they shouldn’t be.
In the case of endometriosis, what we used to think, as I said before was that it was a excess of oestrogen. But in this case, it seems to be that it’s a displacement of estrogen. So there’s too much estrogen being activated in the area of the endometrial tissue lining going on. And that’s causing a reaction with some of our other immune chemicals. So one of these immune chemicals is histamine. So histamine, can you probably know about histamine as an allergic sort of issue like, you know, hay fever and sneezes and rashes, and, and all of those. Well, when are mast cells, the immune cell that causes the histamine to be in excess is actually in reaction to the estrogen. And that causes more of that inflammatory reaction. And so then, you know, you get the pain and the redness and, and those painful reactions, that’s so common with endometriosis. And as a result of the inflammation that takes place, then when there is that, I mean, immune activation in that area, that’s why we’re more you’re more likely to actually get adhesions forming. And so this can be a really big problem for women with endometriosis is that the adhesions can cause a lot of damage, they can stick for free, you can stick your organs together, you can get the uterus can be stuck to the bow or bits of the bow can be stuck together. It can, you can have the bladder being involved as well. And all of that can cause quite a lot of pain. And it can also affect fertility quite significantly as well.
Now, and adhesions do seem to have a bit of a problem and that they can only really be resolved with surgery. So as we were talking about before that surgery isn’t certainly a good option for some women, but it’s not not the first line option for every woman. It’s actually better if you can try and get on top of endometriosis in the early days. But the thing with endometriosis is that it’s actually a condition that a lot of people are getting dismissed and missed about, if that makes sense. What I mean is that women are going to and young girls are going to their doctors and they’re complaining of pelvic pain, period pain, and they’re basically getting dismissed and it seems to be about 70% of young women with endometriosis are getting dismissed and that’s a huge number 70% so if we can get on top of this condition in the early days before adhesions formed and things are going to actually work out a lot better for these women what we need to do is we need to have the funding into a better research system but we also need to have more awareness and women need to be more empowered and educated so that they can make make these make these choices make ask the right questions so i think the fact that the main testing method is a form of surgery is probably pretty off putting but we can do a lot in terms of natural treatment and dietary techniques to actually take this under control one of the things we need to do is to get our gut flora and underbalanced under control and we also need to look at reducing our inflammation levels throughout diet for a lot of women with endometriosis one of the main inflammatory things that’s going on is that they intolerant to certain foods and the key food that i find a lot of women are reacting to is is actually dairy or cow’s protein in particular and this can be you know pretty hard to give up for a lot of women but getting that out of the system can make a big big difference now we also need to look at supporting that mthfr gene which is the one that i was talking about before so the mthfr gene basically it works on a particular enzyme which is can never remember the name of it and let me find it – methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase – and basically that works on the conversion of our fault for late into its activated form in the body now it’s more than just taking folic acid in fact if you’ve got issues with this gene you probably shouldn’t be taking folic acid you should be taking different b vitamins or activated b vitamins and so this is where it gets pretty complicated because depending on what you’ve got going on with this whole methylation pathway taking methylated b vitamin can actually make you feel a lot worse because you can be methylating too fast or too slowly and so if you’re methylating too slowly and you take methyls then that’s going to make you feel like help so we don’t want to do that so that’s where you know seeing a practitioner can come in really handy but if you can get your methylation under control that does a few things it brings histamine into balance it improves your detoxification of your hormones through the liver and it can dampen that immune dysregulation and therefore inflamed inflammation that’s going on so those are some really key things that’s going on and one of the other things is that it really really really helps with your glue to fire and recycling which is what you need to mop up all that damage that’s taking place now there are a lot of other things that we want to work on with endometriosis and as we’ve said a few times get that inflammation level under control so one of my favorite things to do is Turmeric. now turmeric does have a little bit of a blood thinning properties so depending on what your your bleeding is like if you tend to be quite heavy bleeder it might not necessarily be the thing there’s something called VAGF which is basically your some women have a higher level of capillary growth to these endometrial lining and certainly doesn’t happen with everyone but actually getting improved mop up of that area can be quite helpful with certain again immune herbes and things like that as well we also want to again work on those antioxidant levels so working on methylation is helpful but herbs and nutrients that will actually help with your antioxidant levels can be helpful to one of those is n acetylcysteine or you potentially taking gluta thione itself but n-acetylcysteine is a lot cheaper and also it can be converted into the body in the body to glorify and so that’s something that can be quite helpful for people as i was talking about before in terms of diet you want to reduce the foods in your diet that you might potentially be intolerant to that could potentially cause some inflammatory reaction for you so those are some things that you want to do and you also want to work on while it’s not hormone only cause to condition it is hormonally affected so if we can work on getting estrogen detoxification under control then that’s going to help with the estrogen displacement that’s going on some people might know that sort of concept as estrogen dominance what’s really happening though is that there’s too much estrogen in the wrong place not that there’s necessarily a lot of estrogen everywhere going on because for women with with this sort of condition they might actually experience some symptoms of estrogen deficiency like you know brain fog or hair loss and skin dryness and thinning and that sort of thing but then in other instances they’re going to be experiencing symptoms of estrogen excess such as their their period abnormalities and or pms symptoms and those sorts of things so again it comes down to the individual so that’s where you know seeing a practitioner can actually be really helpful to get that under control
so i think i’ve kind of rambled a little bit there that seems to happen when there’s topics that i’m quite passionate about i guess one of the take home points that i really want to say with endometriosis is that we know a lot more about it now we know more about the immune involvement about the inflammatory involvement and so because of that we can actually do so much more for it we can actually get really better treatment happening and so if you know if you if you were seeing a naturopath for endometriosis five or 10 years ago you’d get completely different treatment most of the time now so i would say you know if you want to get some treatment ask your naturopath what they think is the main cause of it what they would do to treat it and if they’re talking about some of these new research that’s going on then give it another try because i have a lot of patients with endometriosis nowadays that i get real good success with and we follow these these routes of look at the infections that might be driving immune imbalance and support methylation support the detoxification of the estrogen but as less of a priority you got to get all those other factors under control get that inflammation down once that see improves things start to get better for them much quicker than it used to back when i first started trading where it would take you know a good half a year’s 12 months maybe to get things much better under control whereas now it’s it’s you know half a year mostly it does always depend on the person always depends on the severity of the condition as well you know for some women their endometriosis is so severe that you know surgery is what is really really required and sometimes even going on something taking something like the marina or getting the marina in is important because that actually helps to improve local progesterone in the uterus and so that can help to improve that imbalance and so if you’ve got less of that estrogen activity taking place then you get to have less of that histamine reaction most of that immune reaction going on so you know one of the first things i would say is get your gut the gut microbiome in the gut and also in the vagina under control is blackmores women’s bio balanced is a product that i do recommend as a retail option there’s also practitioner ones that i use Femex have you know a really fresh diet full of antioxidant rich foods lots and lots of veggies eat your rainbow every day those things are really really important and you also really want to get your stress under control because i mean as you know stress has a big role and a lot of different things so we’ve got this thing called the the hpa axis hpo axis hpt axis where all of our hormones are talking to each other all of the time and if there’s some other things going out of balance for instance our hpa axis which is where our adrenal glands are out of balance that’s going to throw out our hbo axis which is where we’re talking to our reproductive hormones so we want these to be under control and calm so doing some mindfulness and some meditation taking stress herbes taking all your nutrients those are really important too in regards to nutrients i mentioned in acetylcysteine i think that can be really helpful but i also do think that you need to get your core reproductive nutrients under control so that’s firstly get using copper ratio right because excess copper can affect your estrogen levels i also think that you need to get adequate magnesium for your stress levels also to reduce into smooth tissue cramping and calcium is important too you need to have that right ratio going on and i and is is really important so you don’t want to have too much iron because iron in excess can cause oxidative stress which can be inflammatory but if you’re into if you’ve got insufficient levels of iron then you’re going to be more likely to bleed more and that’s going to be a big factor for a lot of women a lot of women with endometriosis have really really heavy blades so we don’t want that that with iron that’s one of the things that i always recommend getting iron levels tested before starting supplementation and get the dose, right? I think vitamin D is important vitamin D is really important for your immune health. And I recommend getting your vitamin D levels over, over 80. You don’t want it to be higher than 150 or so.
And you also need to be considering things that are going to help to bring down your inflammation levels. As far as Herbs and so I’ve said, I’ve said tumeric, I do love tumeric. But again, you just got to be a little bit careful with it, depending on the periods. And I also think that good quality, facials can be helpful, but the same same sort of thing. Although they do they, we’ve always had this bit of a concern with fish oils is that you know, they can cause they can cause a blood thinning activity, or they could cause excessive bleeding. But some studies that actually measured the amount of bleeding that you create with officials has shown that it doesn’t seem to actually cause that greater quantity. So it’s not like you know, you’re going to bleed out or you’re going to have like massive amounts of blood loss or anything like that. Anyway, so activated B vitamins and stay away from synthetic B vitamins, and try and also stay away from foods that are fortified with synthetic B vitamins too, because while not everyone has this mthfr gene, if that mthfr gene enzyme gets unhappy, regardless of the genes presence or not, then that’s going to cause issues with all of those other factors. So it’s going to cause issues with the histamine, the hormones, the antioxidants. So all of those things that we want to work with. Thank you all so much for listening. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s episode. Please join me over at the Guts and Girl bits Instagram page and share any other words of wisdom that you would like to contribute as well. TGuts and Girl Bits now has a collection of E courses that you can view online. The primary course available at the moment is natural menopause support, which provides a whole heap of information on supporting yourself through the major symptoms of metaphors and easing through this transitional life. You can find the collection of E courses at ghttp://gutsandgirlbits.teachable.com. And then you’ll also find a course of understanding underactive thyroid, and coming up soon will be a courses called The Cyclical Woman, Navigating the teenage years, children’s health, nourishing the mother, and more. If you’ve enjoyed today, please leave a review and share this episode to help spread the word. Thank you