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A Natural Approach to Treating Uterine Fibroids
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Aug 31, 2005
We recently had a guest at our fasting clinic who was startled to find that on day 7 of her water-only fast, she could no longer feel a uterine fibroid in her lower abdomen that she had been carrying around for years.
I can confirm from the evaluation that I did on her first day with us that she had a mass that was about the size of a medium-sized adult fist in her lower abdomen, diagnosed by ultrasound as a uterine fibroid before she arrived. I couldn't find even a trace of a mass when I did a thorough re-check of her abdomen.
I was, of course, extremely happy for her healing experience. Although some of the guests who visit our clinic experience obvious symptoms of cleansing and detoxification like diarrhea and vomiting, it never gets old to see a dramatic change like the melting away of a benign tumour.
Getting back to uterine fibroids, our recent guest's positive experience prompted me to outline some thoughts on their origin and some steps that all women can take to help prevent their growth and formation and even help to reduce or eliminate existing fibroids.
What are uterine fibroids, exactly?
They are benign tumours of muscle and connective tissue that grow in and/or around the wall of a woman's uterus.
What causes uterine fibroids to develop and grow?
To the best of my knowledge, there is one major cause:
Having too much estrogen in one's system relative to progesterone, a state often referred to as estrogen dominance.
Let's take a closer look at this topic.
Estrogen and Progesterone Output During a Healthy Monthly Cycle
From the onset of puberty to menopause, a woman's body is designed to have estrogen and progesterone work together to fuel and regulate her monthly cycle.
The bulk of estrogen is released into a woman's blood circulation during the first half of her monthly cycle. Estrogen works to build the lining of a woman's uterus to prepare it for implantation of a fertilized egg should fertilization occur.
The bulk of progesterone is released into a woman's blood stream during the second half of a healthy monthly cycle. During this time, progesterone acts to maintain the rich lining of the uterus that estrogen helped to build up during the first two weeks of her cycle.
If a fertilized egg successfully implants into the uterine wall i.e. if a woman becomes pregnant, her body must continue to produce a large amount of progesterone on a continuous basis to maintain a thick and well vascularized uterine wall throughout the course of pregnancy. This job of continuous progesterone production is handled nicely by a healthy placenta.
If there is no implantation/pregnancy, a woman's body stops producing large amounts of progesterone, which results in sloughing off and elimination of the thickened uterine lining, also known as a woman's monthly flow.
This cycle repeats itself about once every month until a woman experiences menopause, with estrogen dominating the first half of each cycle, and progesterone dominating the second half.
Sadly, many women and even teenage girls in industrialized countries have too much estrogen and/or too little progesterone in their systems.
Why is estrogen dominance a problem?
There are many reasons, but the relevant answer for this article is that having estrogen dominance causes a woman's uterine lining to thicken far more than is healthy during her monthly cycles. This repeated, excessive thickening can result in localized growths in the muscle and connective tissue that line the uterus. We call these growths uterine fibroids.
All of these physiological facts have had me convinced for years that addressing estrogen dominance is essential to shrinking and preventing uterine fibroids.
What causes estrogen dominance?
- Exposure to Xenoestrogens
Xenoestrogens are estrogens that are produced outside of the body.
Here is a list of significant sources of xenoestrogens:
- Birth control pills
- Hormone replacement drugs
- Condom spermicides
- Conventional personal care products, particularly cosmetics
- Plastic cookware
- Growth hormones found in factory-farmed animal products
- Pesticides and herbicides
- PCBs - polychlorinated biphenyls
- Foaming agents in soaps and detergents
- Being Overweight
Estrogen is produced in three different areas of the body:
- Ovaries (testicles in men)
- Adrenal glands
- Fat cells
That's right. Estrogen is produced by fat cells. The more fat cells a person has, the greater chance he or she has of experiencing estrogen dominance.
- Chronic Stress
When a person experiences chronic physical and/or emotional stress, his or her body will begin to convert progesterone into the stress hormone, cortisol. In fact, we now know that a woman who experiences significant stress during pregnancy can actually draw upon her baby's progesterone stores to manufacture enough cortisol for the mom to deal with her stress. The point is, stress can lead to a depletion of progesterone, which creates the same condition of estrogen dominance that a woman experiences when she has too much estrogen in her system.
So, what can you do to prevent and work at shrinking uterine fibroids?
- Clearly, you must strive to avoid unnecessary exposure to xenoestrogens. Study the list of xenoestrogens above and do your best to avoid them.
- Because fat cells produce estrogen, reaching and maintaining your ideal body weight is essential to addressing chronic estrogen dominance.
- Finally, estrogen dominance must be addressed in part by making a conscious and consistent effort to manage emotional stressors effectively.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that some people with uterine fibroids find that their fibroids shrink dramatically and sometimes even disappear completely with a water fast.
This makes a lot of sense, since a water fast addresses each major cause of estrogen dominance. Assuming that a water fast is done under optimal conditions, there is no exposure to xenoestrogens. A water fast forces the body to burn excess fat for energy, particularly after the two-day mark. And finally, a water fast helps to decrease the tone of one's sympathetic nervous system, decreasing a need for the stress hormone, cortisol.
The best part of all of this information is that you don't have to do a water fast to effectively address estrogen dominance. So long as your food and lifestyle choices are in alignment with the suggestions listed above, you will give your body its best shot at preventing and shrinking uterine fibroids naturally.
Please note: A more thorough look at this topic would require a technical discussion of the entire endocrine system. The purpose of this article is to give you a clear understanding of fundamentals of estrogen dominance and practical suggestions on how to avoid experiencing it.
If you would like to study this topic in greater depth, I recommend that you read
Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health (Revised Edition) for a comprehensive look at female reproductive health,
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause : Balance Your Hormones and Your Life from Thirty to Fifty for a thorough look at endocrine imbalances that can contribute to uterine fibroids.
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