Herbal Medicine for Endometriosis
Herbs seem to promote tissue healing through a blend of effects. In addition to using
phytoestrogens and other hormone-balancing plants, therapy aims to augment circulation to
and from the areas of damage. Nutritive herbs provide building materials for the cells.
Particular hepatic herbs may be chosen if a woman needs to eliminate toxins. Finally, it
is important to improve immune-system function so that white blood cells will cluster
around and eat up debris or imperfect cells.
Herbs that are useful for the treatment of endometriosis are: dandelion, Oregon grape
root, pasque flower, chasteberry, false unicorn, cramp bark or blackhaw bark, black
cohosh, motherwort, vervain, yarrow, hops, valerian, and borage.
Here is a summary of the beneficial effect sought from a herbal treatment and the herbs
that are involved:
Alteratives and Lymphatic Tonics: Examples are
blue flag, burdock, cleavers, Echinacea, poke root and sarsaparilla.
These herbs focus on
hormone metabolism, improving the bile-bowel functional relationship, and treating
gastrointestinal toxicity, flora, and pelvic blockage. Choose from Rosmarinus (rosemary
leaves and flowers), Taraxacum (dandelion root and leaf), Carduus marianum (milk
thistle seeds), and Verbena officinalis (vervain herb). Other hepatics,
cholagogues, and alteratives may replace any one of these, as necessary.
Herbal Hepatics and the Liver:
There may be a need for elimination beyond
reliance on the hepatics listed above. This includes fasts alternating with rebuilding
diets containing kelp, seaweed, sprouted seeds, and easily digested whole foods to speed
recovery. A castor oil pack is effective in assisting recovery when placed over adhesions
or the site of greatest pain.
The primary symptom
of pain impedes healing and must be treated with effective herbal nervines and analgesics
while the more comprehensive state of health is slowly improving. The anti -inflammatory
herb Matricaria recutita (chamomile flower) is useful here. Muscle relaxants such
as the Viburnum spp. (cramp bark), Valeriana (valerian root), and Humulus (hops
flower) are effective, though Humulus has a cold quality in common with other
bitters. The heat-producing Zingiber officinahs (ginger root) relaxes muscles. The
dried herb of Anemone pulsatilla (pasque flower herb) prepared as a tea,
capsule, or tincture is a standard remedy in Europe for reproductive pain and infection.
No ill effects are reported from using these herbs.
Anti-inflammatories and Nervines:
This will assist delivery of the
other herbs to improve the blood and lymph drainage. Gahum aparine (cleavers),
Calendula (calendula flower), and Echinacea spp. (purple coneflower root, seed)
all work against a possible secondary infection due to stasis (stagnation), and Echinacea's
effects on collagen repair in connective tissue adds to its alterative and
immune-system normalizing functions.
Elimination through the kidneys allows
the body's mechanisms for self-regulation to work optimally, while preventing buildup of
stimulating herbs. Sohdago virgaurea (goldenrod herb tea) prevents overtaxing the
Two types, demulcents and bitters, act
in their respective ways. Demulcents such as Althaea officinahs (marshmallow root)
soothe inflammation and reduce pain by reducing stimuli to pain sensors in the digestive
mucosa. This has a reflex soothing effect through spinal nerve pathways to muscles other
than digestive structures, which may be in spasm. Bitters such as Verbena (vervain)
or Achillea (yarrow herb) change the intestinal flora, or tone the bowel wall while
stimulating general digestive function.
: Smilax ornata (sarsaparilla
root) gives tone rather than stimulation of the immune system. It is considered by
herbalists to be a tonic for lymphatic circulation and hormonal balance, with an affinity
for clearing skin conditions. Larrea mexicana (chaparral) and Berberis aquifohum
(Oregon grape) are two stronger skin alteratives with an effect on immunity.
Mildly expectorant diaphoretics may
overlap with the benefits of alteratives by warming the circulation. Herbs chosen for
strengthening elimination through the respiratory organs may have other benefits. British
medical herbalist Sue Godwin writes that Cimicifuga racemosa (black cohosh) may
play a role in dissolving adhesions while carrying out its better-known actions of
clearing lungs, relaxing muscle, calming nerves, and normalizing reproductive cycles. Cimicifuga
is useful for its antispasmodic role in the treatment of endometriosis.
Both metrorrhagia (bleeding between
periods) and internal bleeding (endometrial or from ruptures) are affected. Fresh plant
tincture or preparation of Capselia bursa-pastoris (shepherd's purse) will decrease
abnormal bleeding, as will Hamamelis Virginia (witch hazel bark), Agrimonia
cupatoria (agrimony herb), Hydrastis canadensis (goldenseal root), and Vinca
spp. (periwinkle herb). Since goldenseal is endangered and good quality agrimony is
hard to find in many regions, fresh Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd's purse)
tincture may be the best bet. Other herbs which are used as astringents include American
Cranesbill, Beth Root, Burr Marigold, Lady's Mantle, and Periwinkle.
These reduce tension and take the edge
off pain since the symptoms can be so difficult to manage. These synergize with analgesics
and include Leonurus cardiaca (motherwort herb, also a bitter), Scutellaria spp.
(skullcap herb), and flower essences. Flower essences are a gentle way of using the
essences of plants in water. They are believed to affect one's thoughts and emotional
: The uterine tonics tones and strengthen
the whole system, both on the tissue of the organs and on their functioning. Examples are
Black Cahosh, Blue Cahosh, Castleberry, False Unicorn Root, Life Root, Motherwort,,
Raspberry, and Square Vine.
: These stimulate and promote normal
menstrual flow. Useful in this function are the herbs such as Blue Cahosh, False Unicorn
Root, Life Root, Motherwort, Parsley, Pennyroyal, Rue, Southernwood,
Vine and Yarrow.
: These balance and normalize the
functioning of the endocrine glands and aid the proper functioning of the reproductive
system. Castleberry is an important herb in this connection. It normalizes
progesterone activity and is useful for all aspects of menstrual dysfunction.
These are used to provide soothing and
healing action on the system's mucous membranes. Herbs used include Bearberry, Blue
Cahosh, Corn Silk, Golden Seal, Irish Moss, and Marshmallow.
Examples are bearberry, couch grass,
Echinacea, garlic, juniper, wild indigo, and yarrow.
Alteratives and Lymphatic
Amanda M. Crawford, author of 'Herbal Remedies for Women' recommends
two herbal formulae that are useful for endometriosis. According to her, Herbal Formula 1
decreases excess estrogen during the luteal phase of the cycle. Herbal Formula 2 balances
progesterone and shrinks and heals endometrial lesions. Herbs in both formulae share
complementary effects throughout the month; these relax painful spasms, stimulate liver
function, build healthy immune-system response to cellular debris, or nourish a woman
undergoing the physiological demands of self-healing.
Herbal formula 1
(Take from ovulation through the end of menses)
|Vitex agnus-castus (chasteberry
|Viburnum opulus (cramp bark)
|Achillea millefolium (yarrow
|Scutellaria lateriflora (skullcap
|Dioscorea villosa (wild yam root)
Herbal formula 2
(Take from the end of menses to ovulation)
|Vitex agnus-castus (chasteberry
|Caulophyllum thalictroides (blue
|Smilax ornata (sarsaparilla root)
|Carduus marianum (milk thistle
|Mitchella repens (partridgeberry
|Dioscorea villosa (wild yam root)
Valeriana officinalis (valerian root)
1 ounce or more
If the pain is severe but you are sensitive to Valeriana, you may replace it
with double the amount or more of Passiflora (passionflower herb).
These must be continued for a minimum of three months before effects
may have a lasting benefit, but the therapy should improve symptoms of pain within the
first few days. The complete treatment would take into account the length of the disease
and its progression. Consult a qualified doctor or practitioner before starting any
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