Endometriosis (Holistic)

About This Condition

Chronic pain and bloating in a woman’s abdomen may point to an abnormality of the endometrial tissue. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Ease the soreness with C and E

    Lessen the pain by taking a daily combination of 1,000 mg of vitamin C and 1,200 IU of vitamin E


About This Condition

Endometriosis is a progressive and chronic condition in which endometrial tissue (the inner lining of the uterus that is shed each month during menses) is found outside of the uterus and implanted within the pelvic cavity.

Endometriosis is believed to affect as many as 10% of all women in the United States and is the third leading cause of gynecologic hospitalization and a leading cause of hysterectomy.1 Although many theories exist, the cause of endometriosis is unclear. However, there does appear to be a genetic link—women who have a mother or sister with endometriosis are more likely to develop this condition.


Women with endometriosis may have symptoms including pain before and during menstrual periods, pain with sexual intercourse, abdominal bloating, pain during urination or bowel movements, pelvic tenderness, premenstrual spotting, abnormally heavy or long menstrual periods, rectal bleeding during menstrual periods, and an inability to become pregnant.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Preliminary studies suggest that women who exercise two to four hours per week have less risk of developing endometriosis.2, 3 However, the benefit seems to be limited to those women who participate in vigorous exercise, such as jogging or other activities that raise the heart rate. Whether exercise will reduce the symptoms of existing endometriosis is unknown.

Holistic Options

According to preliminary reports, regular meetings with other endometriosis sufferers may help women with endometriosis learn about the disease and cope better with the many psychological and emotional issues that often accompany this condition.4 One preliminary study found that women who had the opportunity to speak with other women with endometriosis, as well as to meet with their physician, had a higher satisfaction with their overall care.5

Acupuncture has been reported anecdotally to help control the pain associated with some cases of endometriosis,6 but no controlled studies have confirmed this claim. One small, preliminary study found that auricular acupuncture (acupuncture of the ear) was as effective as hormone therapy in treating infertility due to endometriosis.7

Eating Right

The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

Recommendation Why
Cut down on caffeine
Research suggests that women who have more than about 1.5 cups of coffee a day are more likely to have endometriosis, although no study has investigated whether avoiding caffeine improves symptoms.

There has been no research investigating the effect of any specific diet in women with endometriosis. Preliminary research suggests that women who consume more than 5 grams of caffeine per month (about 1.5 cups of coffee a day) are more likely to have endometriosis. No study has investigated whether avoiding caffeine improves the symptoms of endometriosis.


What Are Star Ratings?
Supplement Why
2 Stars
Vitamin C and Vitamin E
1,000 mg vitamin C and 1,200 IU vitamin E daily
A combination of vitamin C and vitamin E can help lessen the pain of endometriosis.
In a double-blind study of women with pelvic pain presumed to be due to endometriosis, supplementation with vitamin E (1,200 IU per day) and vitamin C (1,000 mg per day) for eight weeks resulted in an improvement of pain in 43% of women, whereas none of the women receiving a placebo reported pain relief.
1 Star
Fish Oil
Refer to label instructions
Fish oil may reduce the severity of endometriosis, and it has been shown to improve symptoms of dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), which may be caused by endometriosis.

Animal research suggests that fish oils may reduce the severity of endometriosis, and fish oils have been shown to improve symptoms of dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), which may be caused by endometriosis. Therefore, while no specific research has been done on the effects of fish oils in women with endometriosis, some health practitioners recommend several grams of fish oil per day for this condition.

1 Star
60 mg per day
In a preliminary study, symptoms of endometriosis gradually declined when women took Pycnogenol.

In a preliminary study, symptoms of endometriosis gradually declined when women took 60 mg per day of Pycnogenol, which is high in flavonoids. Double-blind research is needed to confirm these findings.

1 Star
Refer to label instructions
Vitex is recommended either alone or in combination with other herbs, such as dandelion root, prickly ash, and motherwort, by some doctors to treat endometriosis symptoms.

Vitex is recommended either alone or in combination with other herbs, such as dandelion root, prickly ash, and motherwort, by some doctors to treat the symptoms of endometriosis. Although vitex affects hormones that in turn affect the severity of endometriosis, and it may be effective for premenstrual syndrome, no research has tested the effect of vitex supplementation on women with endometriosis. Similarly, no other botanical medicines have been scientifically researched for treating this disease.


1. Eskenazi B, Warner ML. Epidemiology of endometriosis. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am 1997;24:235-58 [review].

2. Cramer DW, Wilson E, Stillman RJ, et al. The relation of endometriosis to menstrual characteristics, smoking, and exercise. JAMA 1986;255:1904-8.

3. Signorello LB, Harlow BL, Cramer DW, et al. Epidemiologic determinants of endometriosis: a hospital-based case-control study. Ann Epidemiol 1997;7:267-74.

4. Whitney ML. Importance of lay organizations for coping with endometriosis. J Reprod Med 1998;43(3 Suppl):331-4.

5. Wingfield MB, Wood C, Henderson LS, Wood RM. Treatment of endometriosis involving a self-help group positively affects patients' perception of care. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 1997;18:255-8.

6. Maciocia, G. Obstetrics and Gynecology in Chinese Medicine. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1998:691-733.

7. Gerhard I, Postneek F. Auricular acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility. Gynecol Endocrinol 1992;6:171-81.

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