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Many women with endometriosis walk around feeling tired and fatigued all the time, many times from low iron levels. It’s not uncommon that your iron levels have been suffering but you may not have realized it! Or you may have been told this or even tested with low iron, but didn’t get the tests you really needed or weren’t given a protocol to begin to build your iron back up. But did you know there are many natural and easy ways to begin to build your iron back up again? It’s possible to improve your iron levels naturally.
Ideal Iron Levels
First things first, if you haven’t then make sure you find a healthcare professional who will do a complete lab workup on you and include these measures. If you have difficulty finding one, try looking into a functional medical doctor or naturopath. Many times, if you also have infertility present with endometriosis, a good obgyn may think to run these tests but often it’s just not their wheelhouse. Alternatively, you can get your labs done independently without going through insurance but it will be more expensive.
My iron levels were not just suboptimal, but very low, for YEARS! Even with going to a functional medical doctor, I was told this but was not given any advice on what to do. I didn’t think to ask because I didn’t realize how important it was. I ate more meat and ate more spinach, until I forgot about it and moved on with my life. Plus, at the time, I didn’t feel great eating meat so I ate mostly a vegetarian diet. Plus, I didn’t know how to eat a vegetarian diet and still have a balanced diet. I needed help. 🙂
Finally, I found a health practitioner who flagged me immediately, tested me and got me a protocol. Years and years of issues finally addressed. My acupuncturist also noticed a difference after I began the iron and thyroid protocol.
Here are the ideal ranges you want to look for once you get your results back:
Ferritin: 40-50 ng/ml
Serum Iron: middle of the reference range
TIBC (Total Iron Binding Capacity): middle of the reference range
Percent Saturation %: 35-38%
Reasons Why Proper Levels of Iron Matters
When you have endometriosis, having optimal iron levels really matters. Why? Well, if you have a history of heavy menstrual cycles, you are losing more and more iron over the years with out replenishing. For another, many women with endometriosis are told to limit their red meat intake (including at this website here) but red meat is an EXCELLENT source of iron. Ug. What are you to DO?
Low iron levels impact your thyroid hormones. When your iron is low, chances are you may also have subclinical or clinically diagnosed hypothyroidism. Having low iron levels may hinder T4’s ability to turn into T3 (Free T3, the usable form of thyroid hormone in your bloodstream), resulting in low or sub-optimal ranges of this important thyroid hormone which helps in part give you energy and vitality. If you’ve ever been suspicious of having thyroid issues, especially hypothyroidism, you might be on the right track!
When your thyroid is
acting up slowing down, this can also cause a decrease in gastric stomach secretions. Meaning, your stomach acid decreases just when you need the help for digestion. If food items aren’t properly digested, a whole host of issue crops up including bloating, leaky gut, and many other issues that we won’t discuss here. You can read more about ways to improve your digestive health here!
This all creates a cycle for being unwell and feeling off everyday! Pretty soon this feeling becomes your new normal. I know it did for me. I felt tired and weak so much of the time and at some point I told the doctor that I wasn’t sure if I was feeling more or less fatigued because it had been so long that I felt this rundown.
Having low ferritin may cause hair loss, too. Nice, huh?
Protocols to Help with Iron Deficiency Anemia
Nettle Leaf Tea Protocol
Stinging Nettle leaves (urtica dioica) are a highly nutritious superfood that you can use dried for herbal tea for boosting your iron levels naturally. Nettle is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and wonderful for women in general and women with endometriosis specifically. I’ve covered more about teas, including nettle leaf tea, for endometriosis in my post here.
I’m really loving the FGO brand of organic nettle leaves. If you can’t find that one, the Starwest brand has never let me down. It’s also in organic and comes in a large size which is needed for this protocol.
Take a handful of the leaves and put into the quart container.
Pour hot water over the leaves and fill to the top of the jar, leaving headspace to prevent spillage.
Let seep for 4 hours or overnight.
Sit on throughout the rest of the next day. Repeat daily.
Supplement Protocol for Building Iron Naturally
Take the Garden of Life Vitamin Code Healthy Blood supplement 4x/day. It is recommended to take this with breakfast, lunch, dinner and before bed. It is also recommended to take liposomal vitamin c with the first and last dose of your iron for maximum absorption, since iron absorbs better in the presence of vitamin c.
If you have a calcium supplement, take this at a separate time from your iron supplement as calcium can block iron’s absorption.
Use case iron to cook (hey, trace amounts are better than nothing!) I love my three piece set!
A great smoothie would include spinach (high in iron) and strawberries (high in vitamin c). For another great endometriosis smoothie recipe, check out my post. Sub in green such as spinach for a boost of iron! I have an endometriosis smoothie every morning and try to include as many superfoods as possible!
The human body is incredibly complex, but so much information is available on this thing called the internet. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Take in the good and see how it makes you feel.
Have you had your iron tested? Try the protocol? Let me know how it was for you in the comments below!