Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies    

Search entire site by keyword(s)
Free electronic MH newsletter
Information on Distance Learning in Herbalism
Back to articles index page
Back to medherb.com
 

Female - Holistic treatment of fibroids

by Cabrera, Chanchal

Medical Herbalism 09-30-93 5(3): 2,4

Fibroids or myomata are a type of benign tumor, occurring in the uterus, and occasionally on the cervix. They are the most common type of tumor occurring in the body. The actual incidence of uterine fibroids is not known because they are frequently asymptomatic until well advanced. But it is estimated that one out of every five women over the age of thirty has a uterine fibroid tumor.

The true cause of uterine fibroids is unknown but their development appears to be related to estrogen levels in the body because they are more common in women of menstruating age. In women who are pregnant or who are taking the contraceptive pill, where estrogen levels are unusually high, the rate of growth of fibroids is accelerated. In the post-partum period fibroids generally shrink as estrogen influence is low at this time, but they resume growth as estrogen levels rise again. Fibroids usually cease to grow, and may even shrink, after menopause. It is also important to note that dietary estrogen influence may be significant. Commercially produced meats as well as all dairy products and eggs are notably high in artificial estrogens that are routinely given to cattle and poultry to increase milk or egg production. These will enter the body and may cause disruption to the hormone balance.

The only allopathic treatment available is surgery. Dilation and curettage may be appropriate for smaller fibroids that are growing into the uterine cavity. Myomectomy (fibroid removal) is offered to younger women who have not completed their family, but more usually hysterectomy is recommended. In the U.S. complete or partial hysterectomy is routine and many insurance policies will not reimburse for the myomectomy.

It may be difficult to cause fibroids to regress with herbs and other natural therapies, but it usually possible to retard or inhibit their growth and to alleviate the symptoms.

A cleansing and detoxification diet will be helpful in removing toxins from the body and opening channels of elimination. This should probably take the form of a short period of fasting on fruit or vegetable juices or possibly a period of raw foods only.

A maintenance diet should be based around low estrogen. This means avoiding all farmed meats, eggs and all dairy products. All dietary fats should be kept to a minimum, polyunsaturated vegetable oils being preferable to any animal fats. Salt, sugar, coffee and alcohol should be avoided because of their stressful effect on the liver. Because hormones are ‘deactivated’ by the liver before elimination, any liver congestion will lead to raised levels of circulating estrogen and thus aggravate fibroid growth. A high fiber diet is beneficial by virtue of minimizing constipation and encouraging regular complete bowel evacuation. Seaweeds should be included in the diet to boost thyroid function and enhance normal estrogen production. Essentially the diet should emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables, unrefined carbohydrates and legumes/pulses.
 
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    73

 

    Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies

Supplements would include:

- High potency B complex (at least 100 mg. of each of the major B vitamins daily). A deficiency of B vitamins may lead to higher-than-usual estrogen levels by interfering with the liver’s ability to inactivate it. Conversely, high levels of estrogen can lead to low B-vitamin levels. If all animal foods are eliminated from the diet, it may be appropriate to supplement with 100 mcg. of B12 daily.

- Vitamin E (600 iu. daily): This helps to normalize estrogen levels and regulates bleeding.

- Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids to bowel tolerance. These strengthen capillaries and minimize bleeding. Vitamin C also promotes the absorption of dietary iron.

- Iron (20 mg. daily), if there is evidence of anemia. This should be taken in the form of a liquid herbal supplement because prescription iron pills cause significant constipation. It should be noted that adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid are required to absorb iron and the use of herbal bitters will thus enhance the effect of an iron supplement.

- Lipotropic factors (phosphatidyl choline, methionine and inositol) are useful to encourage liver activity, including clearance of estrogens.
 
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    74