Are there natural remedies for uterine fibroids? This is a question that I am asked very frequently these days. Women with uterine fibroids hope to find symptom relief in the alternative or traditional medicine. Today we want to go through the things that we know have an impact on fibroids growth and development as well as to give recommendations on preventing estrogen dominance.
Uterine fibroids – non-cancerous tumors that grow in or around the uterus. They can be very painful and cause significant bleeding. While some women are unaffected by these benign tumors, others suffer significantly in their quality of life. There is no conclusive evidence of what causes fibroids, but we do know that there are certain things that cause them to thrive, or “feed them”. Studies have documented patterns in women with fibroids so we have some general knowledge of what can make a woman susceptible to developing fibroids.
Since we don’t where fibroids come from, we cannot control all of the factors contributing to the development of uterine fibroids. However, we can control some aspects that make fibroids grow bigger and that can affect the rate of fibroid growth. In a nutshell, there is no proven natural cure for fibroids, but if you reduce the factors in your life that are in your control, you may help stunt their growth and reduce the symptoms of uterine fibroids.
What We Know About Fibroids
In looking for natural remedies for uterine fibroids, we need to understand what makes fibroids grow. Here is what we know:
- Some women are more prone to develop fibroids than others.
- Studies have shown patterns in women who develop fibroids; some of the patterns discovered are:
- Fibroids most frequently occur in women between the ages of 30 and 40.
- Women who start their menstrual cycles at younger ages are more likely to develop fibroids.
- Family history can be a factor in developing fibroids.
- Black women have higher instances of fibroids, they develop fibroids at younger ages, and their fibroids grow more rapidly.
- Obesity and high blood pressure can play a part in fibroid growth.
- Low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for developing fibroids.
Uterine Fibroids Like Estrogen
We know that uterine fibroids respond to hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone. Over the years, the levels of excess estrogen women have been exposed to has been increasing steadily, and today the amount of estrogen we are exposed to in our lifetimes is at an all-time high.
Following are some reasons for increased estrogen exposure:
- Menstrual cycles are starting at a younger age, and the longer a woman has her menstrual cycle, the longer her estrogen levels remain elevated.
- Women are having fewer or no children, which causes their estrogen levels to remain elevated longer.
- Being overweight plays a part in a woman’s estrogen levels. Body fat creates and stores estrogen so the higher the body fat ratio, the more elevated estrogen levels you have.
- Exposure to xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens, as defined by Science Direct, are “foreign” estrogens, substances that are close enough in molecular structure to estrogen that can bind to estrogen receptor sites with potentially hazardous outcomes”. Sources of Xenoestrogens include plastics, pesticides, chemicals, and water systems.
- Xenoestrogens are also found in some dairy products, meat, some birth control pills, and hormone replacement therapy. Soy is also something to be evaluated carefully. If you start reading labels, you will be surprised at all the things that contain soy. Soy contains a high concentration of isoflavones that can bind to estrogen receptors in our body just like xenoestrogens. Although, less of an issue today than in years past (as women are going more natural), hair relaxers are made with xenoestrogen.
- Reduced estrogen metabolism capabilities – sometimes, a woman’s body struggles with metabolizing and removing excess estrogen.
What Can I Do To Shrink My Fibroids Naturally?
Some of the factors that make one woman more prone to developing fibroids than another are somewhat out of our control. However, we can control what we put into our bodies. Here are some recommendations that may help alleviate symptoms related to fibroids:
Eat A Healthy Diet
Eat a diet rich in plant-based and whole foods, which are nutrient-dense and rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Colored fruits and vegetables have compounds (flavonoids) that block an important enzyme in estrogen production.
Eat foods that are natural anti-inflammatory agents, such as tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, almonds, walnuts, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, oranges, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines), ginger, and cinnamon also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Things To Avoid If You Are Estrogen Dominant
|commercially grown/raised meat and dairy products||hormone-free, grass-fed, and humanely raised animal products whenever you can|
|insecticide or pesticide residue laden foods||foods grown local and organically|
|drinking water from the tap. Several studies have shown estrogen levels present in tap water||filtered water or natural spring water|
|plastics as much as possible*||glass as much as possible for storing and reheating foods and liquids|
|parabens. Many household and personal care products contain parabens which are composed of a chemical structure much like estrogen and can mimic its effects within our bodies||natural or organic products. Read labels, research parabens, and learn what to look for. When something is absorbed through your skin, it is being 100% absorbed directly into your body|
|foods with soy or soy protein containing very high amounts of plant estrogen that can affect your natural hormone balance and create higher estrogen levels||products that can replace soy foods such as almond milk instead of soy milk, for example|
|pre-packed foods||whole foods|
|saturated fat, caffeine, sugar, junk foods, artificial sweeteners, white flour, and alcohol which can all add to the estrogen dominance||foods that help balance estrogen levels, such as dark leafy greens, quinoa, legumes, ground flaxseed, Swiss chard, broccoli, and chia seeds. Whole grains are a great source of fiber that counter estrogen and hormone levels. Examples of healthy whole grains are organic brown rice, millet, spelt, buckwheat, rye, and oats|
*Plastic containers/bottles are not highly regulated and can “leach” endocrine disruptors into our bodies. These endocrine disruptors mimic hormones, attaching themselves to our “good” hormones, and wreak havoc. Your body’s estrogen receptors are good targets for endocrine disruptors. Today, plastic is labeled BPA-free because after much widespread use of this plastic material the industry finally admitted that toxins were being emitted into the contents of the containers made with BPA. The replacement plastic is PET but a recent study released by the National Library of Medicine revealed harmful levels of endocrine disrupters discovered in mineral water bottled in PET.
Beyond Your Diet
Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (technically it’s a hormone) that is naturally found all over the body, including the uterus. Because vitamin D naturally counterbalances estrogen levels, a deficiency in Vitamin D is a risk factor when it comes to fibroids.
Vitamin D levels in our bodies vary depending on the amount of sunlight our bodies are exposed to, so where you live, the amount of time you spend outdoors, and the pigmentation level of your skin all play a part in your vitamin D levels. Studies have shown that only 10% of African-American women have sufficient vitamin D levels versus 50% of Caucasian women of the same age. Earlier we pointed out that African-American women are more at risk for fibroids. Vitamin D may play a bigger role in this scenario than we once understood.
The best source of vitamin D is through safe sun exposure but it is not always possible. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble (excess amounts will not be eliminated naturally), it is important that you talk to your doctor when using vitamin D supplements to establish the correct dosage. The amount will vary depending on the degree of your deficiency.
Take Care Of Your Liver
Avoid too much alcohol. Your liver is responsible for metabolizing estrogen (getting rid of the excess). It also is the filter of the body, getting rid of toxins to keep us alive, the one-organ cleanup crew. Many over-the-counter medications like cold medicines, pain relievers, and acid reducers have to pass through the liver to be metabolized, which can eventually affect your liver. If your liver’s capabilities are reduced, it can result in its inability to metabolize and remove excess estrogen putting you at risk for fibroids.
Excess body fat is linked to higher estrogen levels so maintaining your ideal weight could help alleviate fibroid symptoms. Regular exercise is known to reduce stress levels and blood pressure levels. Exercising 2 – 3 times per week was shown to reduce a woman’s risk of fibroids. However, if you have been diagnosed with fibroids, low to moderate impact exercise is recommended.
An average adult needs at least 7 to 8 hours of “good” sleep each night. Sleep helps prevent weight gain, helps boost your immune system, provides time for your body to repair itself, can improve memory, makes you more productive, and helps your mood.
Navigating Options for Natural Remedies For Uterine Fibroids
We know that uterine fibroids are very sensitive to estrogen and are hormone-dependent. We also know that in a woman’s lifetime, she will likely be overexposed to estrogen by her own body as well as man-made chemicals that mimic estrogen. It is vital to keep excess estrogen out of our bodies and lead an overall healthy lifestyle.
Even if you are predisposed to uterine fibroids, there are steps you can take to slow down their growth. However, as mentioned before, today we are not aware of any natural fibroid remedies that can treat fibroids or eliminate all symptoms of myomas.
If you suffer from uterine fibroids and want to find a treatment option that is right for you, please do not hesitate to give Atlanta Fibroid Center a call at (770) 953-2600 to make an appointment with Dr. John Lipman, one of the leading fibroid experts and UFE specialists in the country, or make an appointment online at ATLii.com.