Managing Fibroids: An Integrative Approach To A Common Problem
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For many women, chances are you either have a fibroid or know someone who does. Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that grow from muscle cells within the uterus. Each year more than half a million women are diagnosed with fibroids. In many cases, women suffer from severe pain during menstruation, heavy menstrual flow, and even chronic pain due to enlarging fibroids.
Research suggests that being overweight puts individuals at an increased risk for developing fibroids. Often these tumors can increase in size if there is an imbalance or excess of estrogen in the body. Fat cells and tissue contain an enzyme called aromatase that converts steroid hormones in the body to estrogen. This can often cause significant estrogen imbalances in individuals that are overweight or obese, and in turn promote growth of fibroids in the uterus.
While there are few “magic” cures to any illness, certain lifestyle changes have been shown to help some women by improving symptoms and even reducing the growth of fibroids. Consider making some of the following adjustments to your daily lifestyle if fibroids are a concern for you.
Balance Your Diet:Increased sugars, processed foods, and a high quantity of dairy products can be linked to increased inflammation in the body and a higher chance of obesity. It can be difficult to completely eliminate these foods, particularly given the hectic schedules many women face. Aim to limit animal products to organic, and hormone-free, and reduce refined sugars like candies, cookies, and packaged snacks or meals. Elimination is ideal, but if you find that difficult, try to limit these foods to once a week. Adding in foods from the anti-inflammatory diet can also help eliminate the potential for high fat and estrogen excess.
Supplements:It’s no secret that Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation within the body. These can come from various food sources like walnuts, flax seeds and salmon. You may also consider taking a supplement. Typically 1000 mg daily is recommended, but it is important to speak to your personal physician before taking this so he/she can review all your medications and counsel you on your personal risks and benefits. Many women also lack Magnesium, a vital mineral that can cause muscle cramping and pain. Magnesium supplementation may also improve symptoms prior to menstruation, particularly if you suffer from severe cramping. Excess Magnesium, however, can also be dangerous. Remember to speak to your personal physician about supplementation. Additionally, many women can develop anemia from heavy menstrual flow associated with fibroids. It is important to be tested and treated for this condition. You may require iron supplementation to improve this. Several leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard also contain iron.
Exercise:Getting your body moving and active can help more than just your waistline. Exercise is known to have a positive affect on inflammatory processes in the body and can also help burn fat. By reducing the potential for fatty tissue build up and decreasing inflammation, fibroids associated pain is often improved and excess estrogen in the body can also be reduced.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):This is a field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine that is being widely utilized today, particularly for fibroid treatment. These include Acupuncture and herbal treatments. The data on this method is controversial and variable. One study showed benefit with TCM and body therapy, however it was a relatively small sample of women. Another study looked at the benefit of Acupuncture and fibroid tumors, and found that there was no clear evidence to show that it can provide benefit, and further research is required. Alternative therapies can be an helpful option, particularly if you would like to avoid surgery or other procedures. Make sure to find a licensed practitioner who can clarify the risks and benefits of any potential treatments.
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