Treating Endometriosis with TCM

4 min read

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By Physician Foo Shan Ju of Oriental Remedies Group

Key Takeaways

  • TCM treatments for menstrual pains including endometriosis are non-invasive and have shown longer-lasting results with lesser side effects.
  • Most uterus-related conditions are caused by blood stasis. TCM treatments thus focus on promoting blood circulation and rebalancing Qi in the body.
  • In addition to herbs that warm the lower abdomen, acupuncture and cupping may be prescribed for immediate pain relief. 

Endometriosis affects about 1 in 10 women between the ages of 15 to 49. [1-2] Common symptoms include extreme menstrual cramps, abnormal or heavy menstrual flow, painful intercourse and fatigue.

TCM is a highly sought-after form of treatment for women suffering from endometriosis [3], with acupuncture proving to be effective in treating endometriosis-related pain in several studies. [4-5] In this post, Physician Foo Shan Ju shares how TCM can treat endometriosis.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where endometrial tissue, which lines the inside of the uterus, also develops outside of the uterus, usually on reproductive organs inside the pelvis or abdominal cavity.

During menstruation, the endometrial tissue outside of the uterus breaks down in response to hormonal changes, causing small bleeding in the pelvis. This in turn leads to inflammation, swelling, and scarring of the normal tissue around it. The debilitating pain that comes with it can impact physical and mental wellbeing. Women with endometriosis are also more likely to have problems with conceiving. [6]

How do TCM treatments differ from conventional medicine?

In conventional medicine, endometriosis is usually treated with drugs. However, long-term use of these drugs can cause harmful side effects. Surgery is another option, but the success of surgery depends on the extent of one’s condition and the surgeon’s skills. [1]

In TCM, menstrual pain including endometriosis are caused by an “obstruction of flow” known as Blood Stasis, brought about by poor Qi and blood circulation. As such, the TCM way of treating endometriosis focuses on “lifting the obstruction” by promoting blood circulation and rebalancing Qi to restore “flow”, thereby reducing the pain.

While conventional medicine focuses on treating the symptoms of endometriosis, TCM focuses on restoring the body’s balance to reduce pain, repair the uterus and prevent recurrence, providing longer-lasting results with lesser side effects.

What TCM treatments are available?

For pain due to poor blood circulation, Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan (桂枝茯苓丸) and Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang (少腹逐瘀汤) are commonly used to promote blood circulation in the uterus. For cold womb syndrome (宫寒), Wen Jing Tang (温经汤) can help to warm and nourish the womb.

In combination with herbs, acupuncture is also used to nourish the blood, improve blood circulation, regulate menstrual cycle and provide immediate pain relief.

Moxibustion can help to warm and nourish the womb. It also has antioxidant effects on the uterus and ovaries to help improve fertility.

Finally, cupping can help to relieve muscle tension and alleviate backache.

Photo Credits: Shutterstock

Technology-enhanced therapies for endometriosis

Here are some therapies that have become increasingly prominent in complementing endometriosis treatments and promoting fertility.

Electro-Lymphatic Therapy (ELT)

Recent studies have shown that the lymphatic system plays a major role in the development and progression of endometriosis. [7] Electro-Lymphatic Therapy is a non-invasive therapy that stimulates proper flow and drainage of the lymphatic system. While the surface technique is patterned after Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage, ELT can promote lymphatic drainage at a deeper level and in a less amount of time. ELT helps to prevent development of endometriosis by regulating immunity, relieving inflammation and improving circulation.

Negative Ion Therapy

Negative Ion Therapy directly uses electrons to promote our body’s inherent ability to repair itself. While it does not target endometriosis directly, negative ions can help to promote recovery by regulating immunity and improving cell health. As such, it is a great complementary therapy to pair with other treatments to enhance recovery.

Apart from TCM treatments, there are also other natural remedies for coping with period pain. Physician Foo has round up 7 ways to reduce period pain in this article here.

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Any self-care tips to help manage menstrual pains?

1.Avoid cold drinks, reduce water sports, and keep warm before your expected menstrual period.

2.Drink Brown Sugar Ginger Tea 2 days before menstruation starts or when menstrual cramps occur. Boil 15g of brown sugar and 15g of young ginger in a pot of water.

3.Acupressure massage for pain relief:

He Gu Acupoint

Location: Tender point found on the back of the hand between the thumb and the index finger

Function: He Gu Acupoint is a common point used to relieve pain and can help to relieve painful period cramps

How to massage: Press the acupoint with your other thumb and massage for 1 minute each time

Tai Chong Acupoint

Location: Tender point between the big toe and second toe

Function: Tai Chong Acupoint belongs to the Liver meridian and can help to improve Qi circulation to help improve mood and reduce irritability

How to massage: Press on the acupoint with your thumb and massage for 1 minute each time

Qi Hai Acupoint

Location: 1.5 inches below the belly button

Function: Qi Hai literally translates to “Sea of Energy” and is believed to be the point on the body where Qi gathers. Pressing this acupoint can help to increase Qi and energy and reduce bloating

How to massage: Press with your index and middle finger and massage for 1 minute each time

4.Add TCM herbs to your cooking or as dietary supplements

  • Angelica root (当归): Nourishes blood, regulates menstrual cycle and improves blood flow
  • Rehmannia (熟地): Nourishes Kidney, regulates menstrual cycle and improves blood circulation
  • Red peony root (赤芍): Improves blood circulation and relieves pain
  • Sichuan loveage root (川芎): Improves both Qi and Blood circulation

5.Exercise moderately to improve blood circulation, strengthen immunity, and increase Qi to overcome fatigue during menstruation.

Any self-care tips to help manage menstrual pains?

The information above serves as a general guide only. Please consult a certified TCM practitioner for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

About the author

Physician Foo Shan Ju

Physician Foo graduated from the double degree programme of Biomedical Sciences and Traditional Chinese Medicine at NTU and was awarded the Nanyang and BUCM Scholarship for her outstanding academic achievements. Since graduation, she has been actively helping patients with injury and pain management, gastrointestinal issues and overall wellness, and has also developed a strong interest in fertility and sleep disorders.

Physician Foo firmly believes that every individual’s body constitution and conditions are unique and dedicates herself to crafting a treatment plan that is the most suitable for her patient. She believes in combining complementary tech-enhanced therapies with traditional methods to bring better and faster results to patients.

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