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What is endometriosis?

          Endometriosis is a disorder where tissue grows on the outside of the uterus. The ovaries, fallopian tubes, and tissue lining of the pelvis are typically involved in this disorder. Although this tissue is not the same as the tissue that usually grows inside the uterus, this tissue acts in the same way by breaking down and bleeding during the menstrual cycle. This disorder is often excruciating because the tissue has no way of exiting the body.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

          Some of the most common symptoms of endometriosis might include painful periods (dysmenorrhea), pain with intercourse, pain with bowel movements or urination, excessive period bleeding, infertility, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and/or nausea.

HOW DOES endometriosis OCCUR?

          Many things could lead to the development of endometriosis. However, the most frequent causes of this disorder include retrograde menstruation, transformation of peritoneal cells, embryonic cell transformation, surgical scar implantation, endometrial cell transport, or an immune system disorder (Mayo Foundation, 2018).

What are the causes of endometriosis in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?

          In traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), endometriosis results from Blood stagnation and Phlegm in the uterus. There are four “patterns of disharmony” that would indicate endometriosis. These four patterns include persistent uterine bleeding with purple or dark blood, lower abdominal distension and pain that worsens with pressure, fibroids and cysts in the lower abdomen, and dysmenorrhea (Me & Qi, 2022).

What can Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) do to treat endometriosis?

          Traditional Chinese herbal formulas are known to treat a variety of health issues, including but not limited to liver disease, infertility in women, menstrual pain, irregular menstruation, and menopause (Winchester Hospital, 2022). In addition, many studies have found traditional Chinese herbs effective in treating endometriosis. For example, a study conducted by Wu et al. found that certain traditional Chinese herbal formulas can prevent endometriosis by regulating the immune response, apoptosis and proliferation, oxidative stress, and angiogenesis (2022). Traditional Chinese herbs help treat endometriosis by promoting microcirculation, improving the speed and volume of pelvic blood flow, reducing the blood viscosity, reducing inflammation, and preventing fibrosis (Flower et al., 2009). In addition, these herbs are known for their anti-inflammation and analgesic effects, which ultimately help relieve the symptoms associated with endometriosis (Tsai et al., 2017). 

          Acupuncture can release blocked energy, Qi, flowing in the meridian systems. Diseases will occur if these channels/pathways are blocked from releasing the necessary energy (Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2022). This TCM modality has been found helpful in treating endometriosis. A 2019 case study found that after six months of acupuncture treatment, the patient suffering from endometriosis and fibroids went from a pain level of ten to a pain level of three or four and was more mobile than before (Payne, 2019).

          Similar to acupuncture, auricular (ear) acupuncture can treat pain from many sources such as infectious diseases, functional disorders, allergic disorders, endocrine system disorders, epidemic diseases, chronic diseases, and overall wellness (Wang, 2009). Compared to traditional Chinese herbs, a study regarding auricular acupuncture found that acupuncture is more effective in treating dysmenorrhea - painful periods caused by endometriosis. However, the overall improvement rate of the disease was not statistically significant between the two (Zhu et al., 2011).

          Using moxibustion can help reduce the effects of endometriosis as well. One form of moxibustion is warming needle moxibustion. In this practice, acupuncture and moxibustion are combined by wrapping moxa on the needle handle and igniting it. The purpose of doing this is to encourage Qi and improve Blood circulation. This warming needle moxibustion technique is beneficial in reducing the symptoms of endometriosis, including dysmenorrhea (Guo et al., 2021). A study found that using moxibustion and herbal paste helped improve blood circulation, remove blood stasis, and reduce pain in individuals suffering from endometriosis (Hantong et al., 2020). Another study examining the effects of moxibustion on endometrial pain found that after 3 months of moxibustion treatment, menstrual pain intensity and painful symptoms improved significantly (Yang et al., 2017).

          Another traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) modality used to help reduce the symptoms of endometriosis is cupping. Cupping releases local stagnation such as Blood stagnation in the female reproductive system. According to TCM theory, cupping works by draining excess fluids and toxins, loosening adhesions, lifting connective tissue, enhancing circulation, and stimulating the peripheral nervous system (Cutler, 2008). Cupping therapy is found to have similar effects to acupuncture in treating pain symptoms (Zhang et al., 2017). Cupping is used to help promote blood circulation, anti-inflammatory effects, muscle relaxation, removal of toxins, and overall pain reduction (Al-Bedah et al., 2018).

          At Rapha Acupuncture in Newport Beach, we are a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinic specializing in women’s health and can help you design the best treatment plan for endometriosis! Using acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbs customized to your symptoms, Rapha Acupuncture provides a natural and holistic solution for endometriosis, painful periods, and other discomfort associated with it. Give us a call today!

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