Is This The Endo Me?

I was 30 when I first heard that word, Endometriosis. I was having a routine smear test and the nurse said to me, “if you want children, you should start trying soon as it looks like you have a touch of endometriosis.” OK, I said.

I went home and thought nothing of it, this was just before the internet generation, so I didn’t really know how to research it other than to go to the library, it wasn’t as easy as it is now. I was also in a band and too busy having a good time, children were not on my agenda. How I wish it was easier back then to google the condition, to see what it was all about as my doctor had no useful advice for heavy painful periods and endometriosis symptoms, he said it was normal for some women to get painful periods and offered me the contraceptive pill when I was 16. I had been taking it for 14 years, but what happens when you want to stop taking it?

This common, painful inflammatory condition affects 1 in 10 women which means 178 million women all over the world suffer with it.

The endometriosis word came back into my life at 34, I stopped taking the contraceptive pill as I wanted to try for a child with my partner, soon after stopping the pill, I developed severe pains in my tummy, a scan on my pelvic area revealed two big ovarian cysts measuring 8cm each, called ‘chocolate cysts’ as they were filled with old blood, yuk. This was when I realised the severity of the condition and how much it was going to affect my life in more ways than one.

I’d always suffered from painful and heavy periods but just thought they were normal and that every woman goes through the same torture each month. However, when I came off the pill I was older and wiser, the symptoms and consequences of my symptoms which caused low B12, anemia and infertility meant that I needed to try to find ways to heal myself through diet and lifestyle choices and I knew there would be no short cuts.

As I have knowingly lived with this condition for 10 years now, I have grown to understand what makes it worse and what eases the symptoms. I have learned that I also need to make peace with my uterus, so instead of calling my period “a b*tch of a period” which I did every month for the past 20 years, I now send it loving thoughts, which isn’t easy to do when you are in excruciating pain.

Here are just some of the alternative methods, and products that I find have really helped my endo condition so far that you might not have discovered already;

  • Castor Oil Packs – This was a big game changer for me. Castor oil helps to bring circulation to your uterus and help bring in new fresh oxygenated blood which is what you want for a healthy uterus. Check out this video I found on how to do a Castor Oil Pack, I find the Pukka Castor Oil brand a really nice organic brand which is cheap and easy to find in most health shops or on Amazon. I found it really helped me to relax too as you cannot do anything for 45 mins to 1 hour so just lie down and listen to meditative music or whatever you find relaxes you.
  • Magnesium Spray – Apparently many women with Endometriosis lack magnesium so it’s a good one to have in your armour, it helps to relax your muscles which helps ease cramps. I found this really helpful to spray at night as it also promotes restful sleep. My favourite is by Kiki Health.
  • Clary Sage – Clary Sage oil contains natural phytoestrogens from plants and I was a little dubious at first as estrogen is usually a no-no with this condition, but apparently, good estrogen is ok just the bad ones like xenoestrogens from toxins and plastics are the bad guys. I found the oil really helped my pains if I put the oil on my tummy and then had a hot water bottle on top.
  • Supplements – If you haven’t tried ‘Endo Complex‘ yet, Its a food grown natural supplement from Wild Nutrition which provides all the right nutrients to help ease the complex endometriosis condition. I find it works really well with their ‘Methyl Connect’ supplements too which help your body to absorb folate and B12. Methylation is a biochemical process involved in almost all of your body’s functions. It controls everything from your stress response and how your body makes energy from food to your brain chemistry and detoxification.
  • Another supplement I also find useful which I formulated is ‘Woman’ by We+People, its an organic natural superfood supplement which contains maca root to help balance hormones, ginger to help fight inflammation and also a prebiotic which promotes a healthy gut and immune system. All required in abundance to tackle this often debilitating condition.
  • Ashwagandha – One of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing, has been used since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions including stress and anxiety. This one is a new one for me as I have been researching the connection between stress and endometriosis recently as I personally suffer a lot with anxiety. So it turns out stress really affects our adrenal function and it’s our adrenals which play a huge role in keeping our hormones balanced, so it’s really important to keep them calm. I find Ashwagandha has totally stopped me from waking up with anxiety caused by high cortisol levels that peak in the morning. My favourite is the Organic India brand.
  • Fibre – I know this sounds totally crazy but after 10 years of having this disease, I have only just worked out how important fibre is. I mean, it took a herbalist to tell me that I should buy a fibre powder. I added a spoonful to my smoothies and started to go to the toilet twice a day instead of once and almost immediately it solved my constipation issues which I didn’t realise were related to my endo. It helped me to expel the excess estrogen and toxins which were clogging up my system. Be careful with it though as it does make you dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water. It’s better to get your fibre from food but I did use Lepricol which I found good to get me started and it also includes digestive enzymes and probiotics.
  • Tulsi Tea (Holy Basil) – This is a tea that I find really good for keeping my adrenals calm and there are other great teas too which are supposed to help reduce endometriosis and fibroids such as green tea which is full of antioxidants. I use the Pukka Tea variety.

Since I’ve gained a little more knowledge and insight into this condition and through research and trial and error, I am now mostly pain-free. I do have an endometrial polyp which has shrunk in size so this has made me more determined than ever to get my reproductive health back. When I stick to my well-balanced whole foods diet, get plenty of exercise and take supporting supplements, I manage pretty well. Now all I need is to get my fertility back. But at 44 I know that I am wishful thinking. If you think you have endometriosis don’t leave it until its too late to take control and get to know this condition so you can manage the symptoms and get on with enjoying your life.

There are lots of support groups and awareness of this condition out there nowadays so don’t suffer alone. Try ‘This Endo Life’ for a great blog and website dedicated to living and thriving with this condition. Also, check out UK charity group https://www.endometriosis-uk.org which organises several meetups and events throughout the year.

Simple Seed Cycling

If you’ve recently been hearing the words, ‘seed cycling’, Its nothing to do with bicycles. It’s a new brilliant way to make sure we are getting the right nutrients throughout our menstrual cycle.

Seed cycling is an old naturopathic therapy that uses nutrition, to support the body’s production, metabolism and detoxification of hormones in order to bring hormones back into balance, naturally.

Our female bodies are so complex, that we often find ourselves a little bit bemused by them, for years I suffered from heavy periods that I thought was normal, turns out I had endometriosis and I only found out 10 years later. So if you suffer from painful heavy periods and you have signs that something feels wrong, then get it checked, chances are it could prevent problems later on. 

Our cycles are divided into phases.

  1. The follicular phase, day 1 to 14 of your cycle. when your estrogen is increasing and an egg is maturing in preparation for ovulation.
  2. Ovulation typically occurs on day 14 for women with a ‘normal’ 28-day cycle which is characterized by the release of an egg,
  3. Luteal phase. This usually happens on day 15 of your cycle, the follicle turns into a structure called the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone and helps thicken your uterine lining to prepare for a pregnancy.
  4. Menstruation: If the egg is not fertilized, the lining of your uterus, also known as the endometrium, will shed and this becomes your period.

Do I need to seed cyle?

Our bodies are usually naturally very good at keeping our hormones in balance, but with the number of hormone disruptors in our everyday environment, its easier than ever for our bodies to get confused. For example, drinking from plastic bottles exposes you to estrogen-mimicking compounds called xenoestrogens and not only is it in plastics, but it’s also in the chemicals we are exposed to every day such as detergents, cosmetics, receipts, even the clothing on our backs, which can cause a lot of us to suffer from estrogen dominant conditions such as Endometriosis, PMT, PCOS, and Infertility.

Why Seeds?

Seeds are rich in essential fatty acids and nutrients, like zinc and selenium, which are the building blocks needed to create happy healthy hormones.  So this is why seed cycling could just be what we need, to keep things in balance.

Flaxseeds in-particular are rich in lignans, which have been shown to be beneficial in improving estrogen and progesterone ratios. There have also been studies showing that breast tenderness related to our cycles is improved by including flaxseeds in your diet too. Sesame and sunflower seeds also contain lignans and essential fatty acids which support the hormones. So by choosing the right seeds needed for each cycle phase, it could vastly improve your menstrual health, less pain, regular periods, less breast tenderness etc.

Where To Start?

I made some seed balls as they are really easy to snack on, rather than having to make a smoothie or carry lots of packets of seeds around. I prepared 14 and took 1 a day or you could take 2 a day and make more. So far my menstrual pain has eased, and my breasts don’t seem so tender before my period, its supposed to be 3-6 months before you see any improved results, so give it time.

Heres a really simple guide to which seeds would be good to start with, simply put the chosen seeds which preferably are organic and high quality, into a food blender with some cacao powder, and a little raw honey to make them stick, you could also try adding dates which give a good source of fibre, a good digestive system is vital, which can aid your body in expelling those pesky excesses estrogens.

Day 1-14

Flax seeds and pumpkin seeds work well for this phase as they  work to detox any excess estrogen whilst preparing the body for adequate progesterone production in the second half of the cycle.  pumpkin seeds are also high in iron which is beneficial in this half, if you have heavy periods. 

Day 15-28

Sunflower seeds and sesame seeds work well for this phase as sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E to support progesterone levels and sesame seeds are high in zinc and selenium which block excess estrogen.

Happy Hormones

So if you want happy hormones, or if you just like the sound of these as a tasty healthy snack, and they are tasty especially when you add a little coconut oil, honey, dates and raw cacao. I prefer to use raw cacao than dark chocolate as this is the purest form of chocolate, which contains magnesium and zinc, also known minerals to be lacking in people with endometriosis and other estrogen dominant conditions. So maybe worth giving a try.