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article by Claudette Wadsworth


What are Fibroides?


Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumours of the uterus. They grow in various locations on and within the muscular wall of the uterus or inside the uterine cavity. Their structure is encapsulated connective tissue that can be single or multiple. They vary in size from a few millimetres to very large, for example, the size of a football, and they affect 20 - 25% of women past the age of 35. Fibroids rarely occur before adolescence and shrink after menopause. They can run in families, although environmental factors play a huge role in whether a disease is ever expressed.



Most commonly there is heavy, clotty and prolonged bleeding which can lead to anaemia and fatigue as well as painful periods, backache and swelling. Some women will have no symptoms, and symptoms are rare before 30 years of age. Larger fibroids will start to put pressure on adjacent abdominal organs causing increased urinary frequency, feelings of heaviness and congestion in the lower abdomen and abdominal enlargement. Depending on the location of the fibroid, it may cause miscarriage or infertility.



Diagnosis is made by pelvic ultrasound, pelvic examination and palpation, and laparoscopy.

Fibroids that are not interfering with fertility or causing unwanted symptoms are often simply left as they are, and require no surgery or drugs to shrink or remove them. Monitoring every six months and employing alternative therapies to moderate their growth and to rebalance the underlying hormones is advisable. In rare cases, they can undergo malignant change and develop into sarcoma.



Oestrogen. It is unknown why the uterine muscle begins to rearrange itself, but it is known that its growth is stimulated by oestrogen. This is illustrated by the facts that pregnancy reduces the risk of developing fibroids and that a fibroid will shrink after menopause. Obesity, however, is related to an increased risk as there is increased production of oestrogen in fatty tissue. One study found that there are more oestrogen and progesterone receptors in fibroid tissue than in a normal uterus.

Xenoestrogens are synthetic environmental oestrogens or chemicals that mimic oestrogen, to which we are increasingly exposed. Xenoestrogens include:

many pesticides, herbicides, dioxin; growth hormones stored in animal fat;

PCBs in plastics which are released when the plastic is heated or used for hot food or drinks; oestrogen in waterways due to the urine of women taking birth control pills containing synthetic oestrogen; nonylphenols that are breakdown products of surfactants used in detergents, cosmetics and other toiletries;

spermicides used in diaphragm jellies, condoms and vaginal gels.


Toxicity. The liver and bowel are particularly important, as the liver breaks down oestrogen to be detoxified and carried out of the body in the faeces. If the liver is functioning poorly and/or there is constipation, there will be a consequent build up of excess oestrogens in the blood. In today's modern world of high pollution, chemicals and highly refined Western diets, often both the liver and digestion are compromised.

Insulin. High insulin levels, that control blood sugar, stimulate the release of growth hormone that in turn increases the growth of fibroids.

Stress. Stress lowers the hormone, melatonin , causing increased growth hormone that stimulates fibroid growth. Stress also raises levels of the hormone, prolactin, that inhibits progesterone, causing a relative excess of oestrogen ('oestrogen dominance').

Nutrition. As illustrated above, highly refined carbohydrates, especially sugar, cause insulin resistance and consequent fibroid growth. Growth hormone is also increased by low concentrations of essential fatty acids in the blood. A highly processed diet lacks fibre and causes constipation, which can increase oestrogen levels as explained above. Coffee, alcohol, cigarettes and other recreational drugs are all liver toxins and exacerbate insulin resistance.




Naturopathic treatments can be useful, especially to improve the symptom of heavy bleeding and to control the underlying hormonal imbalance that is fuelling the growth of the fibroid. However, it is rare that these treatments will shrink the tumour.

A reduction in symptoms does not correlate with the size or growth rate of the tumour.


The naturopathic approach is based on self-healing, the key aspects being as follows.



•  Eat regularly: 3 main meals and 2 snacks daily that stimulate your metabolism. If you skip meals, it slows your metabolism down and your blood sugar levels drop, so that you crave sugar or a stimulant to bring them back up again quickly.


•  Protein. Having protein in all your meals controls your blood sugars by slowing down the absorption of sugars, stimulating your metabolism, and decreasing hunger and sugar cravings, as well as being important for liver detoxification of the hormones. Vegetarian protein foods are dairy, eggs, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.


•  Preventing anaemia (low iron levels from excessive blood loss) is important. This should be checked by a blood test with your doctor - check ferritin (iron stores) as well as haemoglobin (iron in red blood cells). Increase iron-rich foods: red meat, whole grains, spinach, dried apricots, peaches and figs, almonds, molasses, parsley, prunes and others. Iron absorption is enhanced by vitamin C: squeeze lemon juice onto food or use in salad dressings, include berries, tomato, capsicum, broccoli and cabbage with your meals. Iron absorption is inhibited by the following: phytates that occur in whole grains, beans and legumes, but vitamin C, soaking and slow cooking counteract their effects; polyphenols found in black tea, coffee and cola drinks; calcium - take calcium supplements at different times from iron supplements or meals.


•  Eliminate all sugar - sweets, chocolate, soft drinks, fruit juices (eat fruit maximum about 3 pieces/day), cordials, alcohol, anything with added sugar, honey, artificial sweeteners including Splenda and aspartame (Nutrasweet or Equal).


•  Decrease intake of all refined carbohydrates : white-flour products such as white bread, white rice (Basmati or Doongara are acceptable as low glycaemic), noodles, pasta, packet biscuits, cakes and pastries. Dense seeded breads and whole grains, such as rolled oats and wholemeal pasta, are fine.


•  Avoid all junk foods , processed foods and deep-fried foods: anything battered, hot chips, packet chips, doughnuts, packet cereals, packet biscuits, etc.


•  What can I eat for breakfast? Plain rolled oat porridge or natural muesli with plain natural cultured yoghurt, fruit, nuts and seeds or eggs or baked beans with wholegrain toast.
[A fruit-only breakfast may suit some people - Editor.]


•  Avoid coffee, alcohol, cigarette smoking or drugs as they all stimulate the stress hormones that exacerbate insulin resistance as well as providing numerous toxic chemicals!


•  Eat more phytoestrogens because these help buffer against xenoestrogens and the stronger oestrogens produced in the body. Phytoestrogens may be obtained from 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds/linseed daily on your breakfast, ¼ cup of alfalfa or sprouts, use beans and legumes instead of grains, sunflower seeds and non-genetically-modified soy products such as tofu, tempeh and miso. However, I do not advocate other Western invented soy products such as soy sausages, soy protein powders, soy cheeses, etc.


•  Omega-3 oils are anti-inflammatory and reduce the release of growth hormone. Consume daily: flaxseeds, avocado, walnuts and, if you are not eating vegetarian, cold-water oily fish such as salmon, trout, cod, sardines.


•  Herbal teas: roasted dandelion root (a great coffee alternative) and green tea support liver detoxification, while a mix of nettle leaf, red clover and calendula is excellent for the reproductive system. Drink 2 - 3 cups daily.


•  If you suffer constipation: increase your water intake to 2 litres daily; eat more fibrous fruits and salad vegetables such as celery, carrot, beetroot; add a couple of stewed prunes to your breakfast each morning; drink 1 teaspoon psyllium husks in a glass of warm water each morning upon rising; and add 30 ml of chlorophyll to your drinking water. If you have a history of constipation, perhaps try a colonic irrigation to rehydrate the bowel.



•  Have regular moderate exercise. A minimum of 4 times a week of 45 minutes with stretching or yoga is essential to control insulin levels, increase the circulation through the pelvis, manage weight and reduce stress. Hip circling, pelvic thrusts and hip stretches are very beneficial - if done for 10 minutes every day - to increase circulation through the pelvis and uterus and free the blocked energy and blood flow in these areas.


•  Castor oil applied to the lower abdomen with a hot water bottle on top is very anti-inflammatory: apply for ½ hour three times a week and pay attention to all thoughts, feelings and emotions that arise. Try to source an organic or pesticide-free castor oil.


•  Caroline Myss, the author of Anatomy of the Spirit , teaches that, in energy terms, fibroids represent creativity that has never been expressed. Make time for some creative outlet for yourself, something you love doing or are passionate about so as to start to move the energies in the body - for example, singing, dancing, gardening, art, woodwork or cooking. Perhaps try journalising everything you would like to create, then letting your imagination and enthusiasm run with it. Our internal lives are very much reflected by our external lives and vice versa. Certainly, the uterus is the vessel of creativity through pregnancy, whether or not it is being used for that. Therefore, it is important to look at "where in my life am I being/expressing my creativity?"


•  Myss extends the idea of blocked creativity into the concept of life energy that is stagnating into dead ends such as jobs or relationships that have been outgrown. Perhaps there is a need to re-evaluate your relationships with other people and make changes if you feel they are unsupportive of you. Physical therapies such as massage, acupuncture, belly dancing, yoga and tai chi and meditation also encourage the idea of "freeing blocked energy" in the pelvis.


•  Christiane Northrup, a gynaecologist in the USA who wrote the book, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, acknowledges that surgery alone will not change the fundamental pattern in the woman's body that encouraged the fibroid to grow in the first place. "It is vital to listen to what our bodies are trying to teach us. ... Fibroids, like other disorders, don't just come out of nowhere and land on your uterus. When you become willing to be in a relationship with your uterus by letting its messages speak to you, you have taken the first steps toward healing, instead of just masking or eliminating symptoms. After you get in touch with the messages from your uterus, you can choose a treatment that works best for you, whether it's surgery or brown rice or both."




There is no single remedy that will shrink fibroids. For any remedies, the dosage will vary according to the potency and quality of the product, the size of the tumour and the severity of the symptoms. It is recommended that you see a practitioner experienced in treating fibroids to prescribe herbal medicines and nutritional supplements. Some supplements are contraindicated in pregnancy, breastfeeding and with some medications.


Appropriate nutrients include:

•  Iron: for anaemia, excessive blood loss;

•  Essential fatty acids: anti-inflammatory, prostaglandin regulation of hormone synthesis. Fish oils or evening primrose oil;

•  Vitamin E: oestrogen balancing, repair of endometrial tissue, antioxidant, inhibits lipoxygenase pathway;

•  Magnesium: relaxes painful muscular contractions, insulin resistance;

•  Multivitamin containing all B vitamins: breakdown of oestrogens by liver, helps with stress, reduces the levels of homocysteine that causes inflammation of the uterus.

Appropriate herbs include:

•  Hormone regulating herbs: chaste tree, peony, dong quai;

•  Uterine toners: dong quai, ladies' mantle, blue cohosh;

•  Astringents to reduce bleeding: shepherd's purse, tienchi ginseng, yarrow;

•  Circulatory stimulants for pelvis: ginger, ginkgo, cinnamon;

•  Liver herbs: schisandra, St Mary's thistle, rosemary;

•  Lymphatics and alteratives: thuja, calendula, e chinacea, poke root.




Article provided by:

Claudette Wadsworth


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