How to treat Endometriosis with Ayurveda
By Dr Sajimon George BAMS, AAA, ATMS
Endometriosis and ayurveda – Endometriosis is the abnormal growth of endometrial cells outside the uterus. Endometriosis is a complex and painful disease that affects women in their reproductive years.
In endometriosis, endometrial tissue is found outside the uterus and in these areas, the endometrial tissue develops into what are called growths, implants, nodules, lesions or tumors.
Endometrial growths are generally not malignant; they are a normal tissue growing outside the normal location. Like the lining of the uterus, endometrial growths respond to the hormones of the female reproductive system. They build up tissue each month, then break down and cause bleeding.
However, unlike the lining of the uterus, the endometrial growths outside the uterus have no way of leaving the body. The result is internal bleeding, inflammation and scarring. The most serious consequence of this scarring is infertility.
Other complications can include rupture of growths, which may spread these cells to other areas. Endometrial lesions will initially appear as clear vesicles and change to a red colour over the years and finally turn black within seven to 10 years.
Endometriosis will result in infertility in about 30-40% of women and is a common result of the progression of the disease.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
- Pain in the uterus, lower back and pelvic cavity prior to and during the menses
- Intermittent pain throughout the menstrual cycle
- Repeated miscarriages and infertility
- Back pain and intestinal upset with periods
- A feeling of pain during intercourse
- Painful urination or bowel movements
- Excessive bleeding including the passing of large clots and shreds of tissue
Causes of Endometriosis
- “Retrograde menstruation” also called the “trans-tubal migration.” During menstruation some of the blood and endometrial tissue backs up into the fallopian tubes, implants in the abdomen and grows. In other words, the blood backs up instead of exiting through the vagina and the endometrial cells present attach to the nearby pelvic organs and begin to grow.
- At birth- during the embryonic stage, the endometrial cells may develop in the wrong location
- Presence of excess of estrogen
- Women who have not had a full-term pregnancy are more likely to have endometriosis
- Endometriosis may also have an autoimmune component
- Environmental factors: toxins and alcohol
From symptoms it is possible to diagnose a patient with endometriosis however laparoscopy is the only conclusive method.
Ayurvedic Treatment of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a disease which requires very keen knowledge and skill to treat.
It is a condition involving all three doshas although the proportion of each may vary to a certain extent according to the individual patient. It is better to consider this as a vata predominant condition. Vata is involved in many ways.
- The painful nature of endometriosis itself is caused by vata.
- The involvement of Apana vata is clear (one of the five sub-divisions of vata) in the downward movement of menstrual flow.
- Another sign of the role of Vata is the displacement of endometrial cells from their original location in the uterus to outside.
All ayurvedic treatments for endometriosis aim to bring proper flow of vata movement in other words vata anulomana. Here the vitiation of vata dosha is due to blockage of its normal pathways. Since vata is the only principle which can move around, blockage of its path causes its aggravation resulting in pain, movement of menstrual blood to the opposite side (retrograde menstruation, which is cause of endometriosis) and all other vata aggravated symptoms.
Through treatment procedures and ayurvedic medicines we should remove blockage of the channel of vata so that it could perform its normal functions. During menstrual periods when the patient complains of excessive bleeding and other pitta aggravated symptoms, treatment procedures should be done very carefully to prevent further vitiation of pitta without affecting normal functions of vata. While in chronic disease, adhesions are examples of kapha involvement.
Ayurveda is a holistic healthcare system that suggests procedures which address both physical and mental aspects involved in this condition.
In the management of endometriosis, the following procedures are useful and effective.
Vata predominant condition
Oral administration of medicated oils
It has fat burning properties, which is performed using herbal decoction and powder of suitable herbs. This is useful in dissolving subcutaneous fat and stimulates nervous system and glands.
Steaming and other heating procedures:
Oils are never used. It is useful in removal of blockage of subtle channels or srotas.
Virechana or medicated purgation:
It is a cleansing method, performed by giving some herbal purgatives in oil form which help to eliminate blockage of pathways of vata humor.
Vasti or enema like procedure:
Designed to clean the lower alimentary canal and most effective in Ayurvedic treatment bringing cleansing of subtle channels or srotas spread all over the body. This is very effective in aggravated vata principle through removal of blockage in pathways of vata humor and calm vata aggravation.
This is different from common vasthi in the way of administration, quantity and small difference in ingredients.
Medicine is applied to the uterus through the vaginal route. This is very useful in endometriosis and infertility.
Pitta predominant condition:
Where the patient complains of excessive bleeding etc
Selected herbs in powder form are used.
Dhara (pouring) of medicated buttermilk or decoction:
This procedure is very effective to calm down brain activities and thus help in managing bleeding and other pitta dominant symptoms.
Kapha predominant condition
Here adhesion etc will be present.
Kshara karma or application of medicated alkalis:
Specific medicinal plants will be dried and burned. The ash will be collected and dissolved in water. The supernatant portion will be dried to collect the kshara. This will be either orally administered with suitable medium such as decoction, buttermilk, ghee etc or will be applied directly to accessible areas where endometrium is abnormally present.
Ayurvedic diet and activities
- Avoid dairy products with fat as much as possible
- Take fruits such as dark grape and Papayas
- Avoid fatty, spicy, salty and non vegetarian items
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid physical stress and strain
- Drink plenty of warm water
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Take proper rest during menstrual cycle
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