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While I’m a big advocate of eating well for endometriosis and have my own personal version of the ‘endometriosis diet’ – which avoids inflammatory foods and supports my hormones and detoxification systems – I also find adding quality supplements so helpful. I have turned to herbs and supplements in hopes of experiencing additional relief from my endometriosis and its related symptoms. It is important to note, however, that utilizing herbs and supplements should not be a replacement for traditional, prescribed treatment options. Herbs and supplements for endometriosis may be incorporated into a woman’s treatment plan in addition to the therapies she has been instructed to use by her healthcare provider.
It is important to check in with a healthcare provider before trying any herbs or supplements for endometriosis.
Whether you are new to the diagnosis or longtime sufferer, you are likely here to learn a little more about how you can get some relief with the right supplements for endometriosis. Living with that disease means that your immune system feels pretty weak. Endometriosis is rooted in both an autoimmune reaction within the body and a hormonal imbalance of estrogen excess. While I always, always have a “food first” mindset when addressing the symptoms of endometriosis, I have found supplements for endometriosis can supercharge the work of food in the body and speed up the process of symptom management and recovery.
I haven’t talked as openly about which supplements I take because we are all different, and I’m not a nutritionist. Recently I’ve experienced such a noticeable difference and many of you asking me about it, I am going to share more about what I am taking.
Each year I break my own record for the number of colds caught, I’ve started to wonder if there was more to my colds than plain bad luck. Even if we are doing the best for our bodies, why does it feel like we’ve gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to my immune system and endometriosis? Our colds seem worse than before we had endometriosis, and come more often and stay with us longer. Why?
Does Endometriosis affect the Immune System?
Endometriosis is a chronic condition. The causes of endometriosis vary and are poorly understood. Doctors still don’t know everything about what triggers this condition. Causes may be the combination of multiple factors including genetics and immune dysfunction. Endometriosis has not yet been classified as an autoimmune disease but it may increase the risk for autoimmune diseases. The inflammatory nature of endometriosis seems to trigger an imbalance in the immune system.
Our immune system protects our body from invaders. But immune systems can get out of balance. If you have an autoimmune disease, your body attacks itself, as if it were a foreign invader. Inflammation is part of this autoimmune response. Having endometriosis can increase your risk for other health conditions. Some of these conditions, called comorbidities, are autoimmune diseases. Keep reading to find out what you should know about the health risks connected to endometriosis.
Endometriosis has been strongly linked to a weakened immune system, and many women find themselves catching everything that comes their way, on top of dealing with the symptoms of endometriosis and other conditions it’s associated with, such as IBS and eczema. Sometimes, I get flu symptoms the day before my period and then they disappear once it arrives and I’ve heard other endo sisters say the same.
In previous blog post I’ve detailed the right dietary approach to endometriosis including the foods you should avoid, as well as diving deeply why quitting coffee is one of the main suggestions of the endometriosis diet. Once you have these elements of the protocol underway, it’s time to look at the best supplements for endometriosis to add to your daily routine.
Can we ease our symptoms with supplements for endometriosis?
The question is inherently complicated, as we are not a one-size-fits-all body or disease. But, there are some vitamins and supplements for endometriosis I take that help restore balance to my life by improving my overall health and providing support for a healthy inflammatory response, stress, and pain. As we know, the gold standard treatment for endometriosis is excision surgery with an expert endometriosis surgeon. And, supplements or herbs do not replace that, but rather are a tool to help you live your best life.
For the past 18 months, I tried to help my body with some supplements for endometriosis and super foods. They’ve kept me going through some tough times without getting ill, and have generally supported my body in the fight against endo. I tried different supplements and different brands. Below you can see which ones work for me.
I still have some bad days when I feel weak and tired. But I’ve been exceptionally lucky. My last real cold was April 2017 (two months before my laparoscopy).
There is no scientific consensus on the effect of utilizing herbs and supplements for endometriosis and its related symptoms. However, herbs and supplements can impact different individuals in different ways, and some may experience relief from symptoms when using certain herbs or supplements in a healthy and safe manner.
My Favorite Supplements for Endometriosis
An essential fatty acid in Evening Primrose Oil called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is anti-inflammatory and acts to inhibit tumor growth in those with endometriosis. The oil from this wonderful flower has anti-Inflammatory properties and inhibits the growth of abnormal tissue. Some of the tumor growths are caused by prostaglandins. The GLA in primrose oil evens out prostaglandin production and can reduce pain from uterine contractions.
Serrapeptase has been a real Godsend for me. I suffer from debilitating cramps and used to manage the pain with prescription-strength pain killers. A friend introduced me to this option a couple of months ago and it’s definitely changed my life. It’s taken my pain level from completely unbearable to totally manageable. I’m talking about deep abdominal pain, pain in the uterus, and terrible cramps (not only during my period). I’d highly recommend anyone who’s looking for relief without turning to narcotics. It’s been a genuine blessing.
There are certain supplements you can use to help with the symptoms of endometriosis but there is one supplement that stands out as having great success for helping with endometriosis and that is serrapeptase.
And again, I love it because I had success with this supplement in helping to reduce my symptoms of endometriosis. This product is an excellent anti-inflammatory. Together with a healthy diet, it has kept my endometriosis pain and symptoms under control. I have been taking serrapeptase for 3 months now and my pain is gone! It has also improved my digestion, I hardly ever have stomach pain now.
The dosage that works for me is 3 tablets per day on an empty stomach (in the morning before 1-hour 30min before eating breakfast, the same before lunch and before dinner), and I take it every day. The most important thing is to start with 1 tablet for the first week. Then the second you go with 2 tablets, and then with 3. This is my 4th month of taking this, and the improvement in pain is great, I still have some pain but less than before in intensity and less often. I have read that Serrapeptase taken along with Nattokinase has completely eliminated pain for some women with endometriosis so I will now try Nattokinase to see if it also works for me.
Living with endometriosis means that you should definitely take care of your liver! The best time to do that is with some supplements like milk thistle. It’s not necessary to take it all the time. The best period to clean your liver is before and during your period. I tried different types of natural supplements for healthy liver function. And Milk thistle is what I like the most.
This herb contains the antioxidant silymarin, repairs the cells in your liver, and protects cells from damage (thereby regenerating the strength of the liver to detox the body of excess estrogen), and it is anti-inflammatory. So, this is one powerful herb for endometriosis! I have to say this really helps. So, definitely give it a try – go check out the product yourself!
The silymarin in the seeds is thought to be anti-inflammatory in nature and supportive of healthy liver functioning. The liver is responsible for filtering out toxins in our body, including excess hormones such as estrogen.
Vegan EPA and DHA oil
This oil is packed full of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are excellent anti-inflammatories and also important for healthy hormone function. Reducing inflammation helps reduce pain levels, and omega 3s have been shown to have a significant impact on the levels of endometriosis pain in the pelvic area. Also, inflammation has now been strongly linked to depression, which many women with endometriosis suffer from and can also hinder the body’s ability to heal. Of course, you can use fish oil capsules, but I’m vegan, so I go for this one.
This is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. NAC helps boost the production of glutathione; an important antioxidant your body produces naturally that helps reduce free radical damage. NAC plays a role in your body detoxification of heavy metals and other harmful substances. The most important quality of NAC for women with endometriosis is that research shows that NAC effectively treats ovarian endometriosis.
It can help in the reduction in cysts sizes, has no side effects compared to currently adopted hormonal treatments, and it is not as invasive as other hormonal treatments; therefore, NAC preserves fertility. Most importantly, NAC helps to relieve the pain of endometriosis and it significantly improves the ovulation rate, which in turn increased the chances of getting pregnant (improves fertility).
NAC has been well-researched in relation to Endometriosis and here are a few interesting results:
- In one study of 92 women, treatment for 3 months with NAC caused endometriomas to reduce but the group that didn’t get the treatment had their endometriomas grow significantly. The same study also saw pain reduction as well as eight pregnancies.
- In a study of 398 women treated with a NAC in combination with 2 other nutrients, pelvic pain reduced significantly after 3 months, and even more after 6 months of treatment.
The ability of NAC to reduce the size of endometriomas is particularly interesting when we look at infertility: endometriomas are cysts within the ovaries, and they often don’t respond well to medical treatment. They make it more difficult to retrieve eggs and if you are undergoing ovarian stimulation during IVF they can cause severe (additional) pain. They also interfere with ovulation and even damage ovarian tissue.
If you are trying to fall pregnant, I highly recommend taking NAC as a supplement in addition to following an anti-inflammatory diet, especially if you have a history of endometriomas.
I love this one!
Magnesium for endometriosis
Most of us are deficient in magnesium. When your body does not have enough Magnesium then systemic inflammation occurs. This can result in fatigue, headaches/migraines, aches, and pains. Magnesium helps keep adrenal stress hormones under control too. This is a big deal, as stress hormones throw everything off whack! In fact, I find it so helpful for pain management that I also use it as salt in baths and as a spray on my abdomen to reduce cramping.
4 Ways to Use Magnesium for Endometriosis (you don’t need all of them, just find out which way works best for you)
- Supplements and Diet
For those of us with endometriosis, it’s important to be aware that magnesium can help us battle fatigue and balance our hormones. I take tablets when I remember.
I also rub in the oil when I’m in pain or know I’m due on. Magnesium spray, my absolute go-to endometriosis pain-relief tool. As mentioned previously, magnesium is a muscle relaxant and can help reduce cramp in our bodies. Magnesium spray is also a great way to get more magnesium into your system if supplements aren’t quite the route for you.
Just like with magnesium spray, our skin is absorbing the mineral, and it’s reaching the areas where we need it most more quickly than if we took a supplement.
I am seeing period balms cropping up more and more these days. You can now get magnesium-based balms for muscle cramping to rub into sore spots on the go.
Ah turmeric! Such an underappreciated spice. It is nature’s anti-inflammatory. And with inflammation such a key factor in Endometriosis, we have to consider if turmeric can be of benefit. . I know you probably know it as a cooking spice, but how about its medicinal properties?
This is the supplement that actually led me to the pain. When you battle chronic illness, you battle inflammation. They naturally go hand in hand. Taking a turmeric supplement is another powerful way to support your anti-inflammatory game. Turmeric helps your body to maintain a healthy inflammation response. It also supports cardiovascular health and cognitive function. It is an effective anti-inflammatory, which is now linked to improving symptoms of depression.
Turmeric is especially useful if your Endometriosis because it also helps to reduce gut inflammation and gut permeability (Leaky Gut). It does this by increasing the amount of mucus in the gut wall and improving the gut microbiome.
One of the problems with turmeric is that it is processed so quickly in our digestive system, that not much gets absorbed. But here’s a neat little trick: when it is combined with black pepper, you can increase absorption by 2000%.
There are two ways you can increase the amount of (or start adding) turmeric to your diet:
- Add it to your food. Make sure that when you are adding turmeric to your dishes that you also add black pepper to increase the amount you’re absorbing.
- Take a supplement. A turmeric or curcumin supplement can be a good option to help your body reduce its chronic inflammation and start to heal your gut.
I tried different brands but ended up loving this one.
I don’t like taking too many supplements — as I prefer to get my nutrients from the food I eat. That being said I do take a food-based multivitamin from MegaFood. For me, it’s almost a little “security” that I am getting enough of the nutrients that my body needs to thrive. This particular product is great for reducing stress and hormone balancing as well.
Because it’s food-based, you can take it on an empty stomach (no upset stomachs here) and your body will digest the nutrients more effectively since they are based on foods — and not synthetic. Why does this matter? When your body recognizes a substance, you absorb more, and avoid creating “expensive pee”. ha!
Again I want to make it clear that we are all different. I’ve spent years reducing my inflammation levels and working with my body to reduce my pain. These supplements for me, seem to be the cherry on the top to make my periods feel normal.
Let me know how you experience it!
*I would always suggest you check with your doctor and/or nutritionist to make sure these are right for you before trying, and as always, we are all different, so whilst these worked for me, they may not work for you.