Complementary Medicine for Endometriosis: A Holistic Approach to Managing Symptoms

healing modalities for endometriosis

These alternative health practices may be the missing link in your healthcare plan for treating endometriosis.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to diagnose or treat a medical condition. Please seek a medical provider for treatment and diagnosis. References are listed at the bottom of this post where most applicable.

Endometriosis affects 175 million of women worldwide, causing severe pain and disruptions to daily life. While conventional medical treatments like surgery and medication play a crucial role in managing this condition, there is a growing interest in complementary medicine for endometriosis. This approach takes a holistic view of the disease, considering not only the physical symptoms but also the overall well-being of the individual. In this blog post, we will explore the various modalities of complementary medicine that have shown promise in alleviating endometriosis symptoms. Whether you’re seeking alternative options or looking to complement your existing treatment plan, this comprehensive guide will provide valuable insights into the world of complementary medicine for endometriosis.

What is Endometriosis?

For those who are unfamiliar with the condition, it involves the tissue growth of endometrial tissue outside of the endometrium, an area in the reproductive organs of women. Adhesions can develop on the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus though those with more advanced cases have this displaced tissue found in the bowels, appendix, and other organs.

Additionally, women with the condition may also experience hormonal imbalances, emotional and physical stress, headaches, insomnia, pain during their menses or throughout their monthly cycle among others.

While the condition can prove deeply frustrating, there are several healing modalities that may be able to assist with improving symptoms. These include acupuncture, chiropractics, rolfing or structural integration and deep rest.

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What are the best alternative healing modalities for endometriosis?

The best alternative healing modalities may be familiar sounding to you, but have you thought about any of them your hormonal imbalance or aches and pains?

These examples of acupuncture, chiropractics and rolfing are just a few examples of complementary and alternative medicine for endometriosis. They are all found in the Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine as reference.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture uses needles to target certain points on the human body to provide a certain effect which some believe helps to regulate the central nervous system. The practice is widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and more recently has become a popular complementary medicine for pain management. A recent study found acupuncture helped alleviate physical pain in its subjects. In fact, many insurance companies are starting to cover acupuncture treatments as a part of their plans. Though, some of these studies note the placebo effect from acupuncture, which is when a person derives a benefit even when they didn’t receive the treatment being studied, benefits still remain.

When you visit, you can expect to have a discovery session with your acupuncturist which will provide a plan for your visits. While many fear the needles, they usually do not hurt. A good acupuncturist will help you remain comfortable throughout your session. Many people experience calmness during and after their sessions.

Many people love acupuncture because it is more affordable than surgery for pain management and is drug-free.

The cost of acupuncture varies widely, though expect to pay in the range of $20-40 per session at a community acupuncture facility, or $50 on up for private sessions.

My two cents? I’ve used acupuncture for about a year now and not only did I feel calmer, I also saw some improvements to my menstrual cycle. Not every practitioner is the same, so find one you like the most.

Chiropractics

Chiropractors study and mend the spinal column on a person’s body in order to bring balance to the nervous system. They believe that healing can occur once the spinal column is aligned correctly, as the nervous system and blood flow will be able to move freely. Hundreds of thousands of people go to a chiropractor each year and many insurance companies cover this complementary medicine practice.

Some of the research is still inconclusive regarding this practice’s exact benefit on endometriosis directly, but it is well known to be a modality that helps with headaches, back pain, and other physical difficulties. Other sources share that going to a chiropractor helped with blood flow to the reproductive organs which improved their endometriosis symptoms.

When you visit, you can usually expect to receive an x-ray of your whole body which helps the chiropractors determine your scope of treatment. Your treatments will include various pressures on your spine which will help the vertebrae rest in the correct position within the spinal column. The sessions are usually no more than 10-15 minutes.

While many insurance companies do cover visits to chiropractors, some do not. Office visits can run around $50-100+ for a visit, and the initial x-rays can cost more.

In my experience with chiropractors, I always felt great after a visit. Mostly, this was because I could feel a release of pressure with the adjustments. I did have mixed results with some lower back pain, that chiropractic care wasn’t able to touch over the 12 sessions I attended.

Rolfing

Rolfing is a system of structural integration of one’s body parts and the name from the institute where it was founded  at the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, Boulder, CO. Rolfing helps with myo facial release and has been found to improve the walking ability of two children with cerebral pasly in a study. Another study in 2020 found that focus points using structural integration on healthy women yielded an increase in blood flow to the points, along with a decrease in stiffness and an increase in reported elasticity.

For women with blood flow issues, pain and muscle tightness accompanied by endometriosis may benefit from rolfing as it may help their posture, alignment, and reduce stress on their bodies.

When you visit you can expect an initial introductory session which helps the provide the basis for your treatment plan.

Rolfing session are not usually covered by insurance and visits can range from $150-200 per 60 minute session.

Deep Rest

Unlike the other healing modalities listed above, deep rest is exactly what it sounds like: taking a rest to heal. Sleep is known to be an important component of healing from chronic illness, but resting deeply involves more than sleep. It involves calming down your nervous system from the stress it carries. How do we do that? This article a A Pain in the Endo’s website outlines some ways to help you get to a state of deep rest, and includes sleep, making plans, meditation and getting into nature as helps.

The best part about making sure you are getting deep rest is that it is free and you can put it into practice at any time on your own schedule. Users report stress and pain relief and good feelings. 🙂

Wrapping it Up

While endometriosis affects many women and many women suffer uncomfortable side effects, these are three alternative complementary medicine practices that may be able to provide symptom relief in the short term and unknown longer health benefits down the road.

Looking for other types of complementary and alternative medicine?

Additional References:

Pruessner JC, Dedovic K, Pruessner M, Lord C, Buss C, Collins L, Dagher A, Lupien SJ. Stress regulation in the central nervous system: evidence from structural and functional neuroimaging studies in human populations – 2008 Curt Richter Award Winner. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2010 Jan;35(1):179-91. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2009.02.016. PMID: 19362426.

Hansen AB, Price KS, Loi EC, Buysse CA, Jaramillo TM, Pico EL, Feldman HM. Gait changes following myofascial structural integration (Rolfing) observed in 2 children with cerebral palsy. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2014 Oct;19(4):297-300. doi: 10.1177/2156587214540466. Epub 2014 Jul 2. PMID: 24989994.

Jędrzejewski G, Kasper-Jędrzejewska M, Dolibog P, Szyguła R, Schleip R, Halski T. The Rolf Method of Structural Integration on Fascial Tissue Stiffness, Elasticity, and Superficial Blood Perfusion in Healthy Individuals: The Prospective, Interventional Study. Front Physiol. 2020 Sep 15;11:1062. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.01062. PMID: 33041843; PMCID: PMC7522439.

Salehi A, Hashemi N, Imanieh MH, Saber M. Chiropractic: Is it Efficient in Treatment of Diseases? Review of Systematic Reviews. Int J Community Based Nurs Midwifery. 2015 Oct;3(4):244-54. PMID: 26448951; PMCID: PMC4591574.

Kelly RB, Willis J. Acupuncture for Pain. Am Fam Physician. 2019 Jul 15;100(2):89-96. PMID: 31305037.

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