Uterine fibroids are also known as leiomyomas, myomas, or fibroid tumors. They are outgrowths of solid muscle tissue in the uterus. Fibroids more commonly develop in up to 50% of all women past the age of 40 and are now considered a normal irregularity. Sometimes, the fibroid can become really big that some medical documents report of fibroids reaching 100 pounds! Most fibroids, however, just grow to the size of a walnut.
Fibroids are the leading reason for hysterectomies in the United States
Although uterine fibroids develop from unknown causes, doctors suspect that estrogens, particularly estradiol, play a major role in their development. Fibroids tend to vanish after menopause but because the levels of estrogen can increase during the onset of menopause, fibroids that are previously asymptomatic and can develop in the years just prior to the stoppage of menstruation, resulting in symptoms like severe menstrual bleeding and pain, bowel difficulties, urinary incontinence or frequency, pain during sexual intercourse, and a heavy sensation in the abdomen.
White women are nine times LESS LIKELY to develop fibroids than women of other races.
Fibroid tumors are usually benign and non-cancerous. A tumor is not a cancer or malignancy. It’s just a growth or a swelling. In rare instances (<0.1%), these fibroids can turn malignant.
Fibroids that are small tend to vanish spontaneously. The problem is with larger fibroids which are difficult to resolve, although not impossible to treat as they tend to respond to natural modes of therapy.
The uterus is considered part of the lowermost energy center in the body known as the “root chakra.” This is where unexpressed anger is said to reside. Some alternative healing practitioners believe that by allowing the anger to safely be expressed, it can prevent the development of any unwanted growths in these organs
One case I encountered was a woman suffering from menstrual cramping and uterine fibroids. I recommended her to embark on a vigorous exercise program. Within three months, she came back and reported that her menstrual cramps as well as her fibroids disappeared. Irregular ovulation seems to exacerbate the fibroids. Exercise helps bring about regular ovulation.
The size of fibroids can be considerably reduced by eating three or more servings of beans or whole grains each day. Not only that, eating these foods can also help prevent you from developing endometrial and breast cancers.
Estrogen can be metabolized which helps reduce the size of fibroids and the liver can also be strengthened by using herbs such as yellow dock root, milk thistle seed, and dandelion.
Small fibroids can be further shrunk within a couple of months with just 27 drops of chasteberry tincture or Vitex two to four times a day.
Moxibustion, which is the burning of moxa leaves over the site of the fibroids, can help shrink the size of your fibroids as well.
Acupuncture is also an excellent way to shrink fibroids.
Used internally, poke root should be used in tincture form (1 to 10 drops each day). For external use it can serve as a belly rub oil to alleviate fibroid-related distress and pain. Poke root is considered poisonous and it is difficult to find one in the market for obvious reasons so caution must be used when using this herb.
Ginger compresses or warm castor oil packs on the belly can help lessen fibroid size and alleviate pain.
There is still debate on the effectiveness of progesterone for the treatment of uterine fibroids. Some doctors believe that fibroids develop because of lack of progesterone in a woman’s body. Other doctors argue that progesterone only increases the size of the fibroids. This is seen when fibroids tend to enlarge in size during pregnancy. Pregnancy is the time the body produces large amounts of progesterone; menopause, on the other hand, is the time when progesterone levels drop. Regardless of who’s right or wrong, eating the right amounts of beans and whole usually positively alters progesterone/ estrogen ratio and decreases fibroid size.
Fibroid size can be reduced by avoiding estrogen exposure. To achieve this, avoid using tampons that have been bleached since chlorine can mimic the effects of estrogen. Also, eat organic foods and avoid exposure to estrogen-mimicking residues from pesticides and herbicides used on food crops
Nowadays, because of major advances in surgical treatments, women suffering from uterine fibroids avail themselves of surgical options other than hysterectomy (uterus extraction). These include suprecervical hysterectomy, myomectomy, uterine embolization, and hysteroscopic resection.
More than a third of women in the US at the age of sixty and beyond have their wombs surgically removed. In my opinion, the presence of non malignant fibroids is never a good enough for a hysterectomy. Save for very rare exceptions, no woman is healthier without her ovaries. So, even if you decide on a hysterectomy, it’s always wise to keep your ovaries.
Nelya de Brun is a licensed acupuncturist in Boynton Beach, FL., practicing acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Western medical pathology. She is also the founder of Classical Oriental Medicine, LLC.