Uterine Polyps + Fibroids - How to Treat & Prevent
The holistic view of women’s health recommends having regular tests, screenings, and bloodwork done to ensure optimal health from all aspects. These check-ins include tests designed to identify various growths, such as fibroids, polyps, and cysts. All of these growths are completely different from one another and require different prevention and treatment methods.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous muscle growths within the walls of the uterus. Endometrial polyps are abnormal tissue growths within the inner lining of the uterus, also known as the endometrium. Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs on one or both of the ovaries that usually form during ovulation. Symptoms of fibroids, polyps, and cysts vary, however, these structural abnormalities can all contribute to pelvic pain, abnormal uterine bleeding, and other similar symptoms. Since the root causes and manifestations are different, though, it’s important to understand these distinctions in order to achieve effective treatment and/or prevention.
Fibroids, also known as leiomyomas or myomas, are benign muscular growths that develop within the tissues of the uterus. This type of growth starts from the smooth muscle cells that make up the uterus wall and grows into a rubbery ball. These growths can vary in shape, size, and location, as they can be found both on the outside of the uterus and deep within the uterine tissue.
Women who are most likely to develop fibroids are those between the ages of 30 and 40, but younger and older women can develop fibroids as well. Doctors check for fibroids during routine pelvic exams or ultrasounds. If you experience severe menstrual changes, abdominal pain, cramps, infertility, or bowel or urination problems, let your health care practitioner know. Fibroids typically do not cause any symptoms, yet are picked up during routine examinations. Many fibroids never cause problems and often do not need treatment.
Types of Fibroids
Intramural fibroids. This is the most common type of fibroid. They grow within the muscular uterine wall, and if they grow large enough, they can actually distort and stretch the uterus or womb. They can also cause prolonged, heavy periods along with pressure and pain in the pelvic area.
Subserosal fibroids. These are fibroids that grow on the outside walls of the uterus. They can press on the bladder, causing urinary symptoms such as difficulty emptying the bladder. In rare cases, subserosal fibroids can bulge from the back of the uterus and press on the spinal nerves, causing pressure and pain in the back.
Pedunculated fibroids. These fibroids grow on small stalks inside or outside of the uterus.
Submucosal fibroids. These are fibroids that grow right underneath the uterine lining. This type of fibroid is more likely to cause heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding. They can also sometimes cause problems for women trying to get pregnant.
Cervical fibroids. These grow in the cervical tissue. They’re quite rare compared to the other types of fibroids.
How to Prevent Fibroids
Avoid high-fat, processed meats. Foods high in unhealthy fats, like non-organic/processed meats and trans fats (typically found in hamburgers and processed breakfast sausages) can increase inflammation levels. Processed foods also often contain chemical additives and other ingredients that promote inflammation. Source only grass-fed organic meats and include more plant-based protein sources in your diet instead.
Avoid conventional dairy. Non-organic dairy contains steroids, hormones, and other chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors. This means that they can alter your natural hormonal balance, which in turn can encourage the development and growth of fibroids.
Eliminate refined sugar. Weight gain and hormonal imbalance are closely linked, and these two factors can also encourage the development of fibroids. Consuming high amounts of refined sugar can increase body-wide inflammation and lead to weight gain.
Eliminate refined carbohydrates. Refined carbs cause insulin spikes and hormonal imbalances. Found in instant hot cereals, commercial bread, and processed pasta, processed grains have been stripped of everything but starch, leaving no nutritional value.
Consume green leafy vegetables. These have many anti-inflammatory effects, so they may discourage the growth of fibroids. Green leafy vegetables are also rich in vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting and helps to control menstrual bleeding.
Avoid alcohol. Consuming alcohol reduces immune function, promotes weight gain, and encourages hormonal imbalances.
Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is highly taxing on the liver. When the liver has more substances to process than it can handle, it won’t be able to maintain a proper hormonal balance, as hormones are included in the list of substances processed and eliminated by the liver. The more you can keep your alcohol and caffeine consumption down, the easier it will be for your liver to detoxify your body and to keep your hormones in a proper, fibroid-discouraging balance.
Avoid exposure to environmental toxins. To improve both your hormonal and overall health, avoid the following: pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, bleach, food preservatives, harmful cleaners, food dyes, phthalates, parabens, and fragrances. These harmful substances are often found in female care and beauty products, so be cautious when purchasing these items - read labels and purchase natural, unbleached feminine care products as well as organic body care products and makeup. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which is a useful tool to explore the impact of the ingredients in your favorite beauty products.
Exercise. Working out regularly can help to prevent fibroids before they even begin to develop. Exercise has many anti-inflammatory effects, may help control blood pressure, can help improve insulin sensitivity, is beneficial for weight management, and may contribute to hormonal balance.
How to Heal Fibroids
Eat organic foods. Eating mostly organic foods can help to prevent and shrink fibroids because organic products are grown without the use of chemical pesticides. As mentioned above, pesticides used in commercial/non-organic agriculture may impact estrogen levels and other hormones. Since hormonal balance is essential for natural fibroid treatment, you’ll want to reduce your pesticide intake as much as possible.
Include cruciferous vegetables in your diet. These vegetables support the liver’s detoxification processes and can, therefore, help to balance estrogen levels. Due to their high fiber and antioxidant content, the best cruciferous vegetables to consume are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. A plant-based diet in general will help to reduce the potential for fibroid development.
Focus on getting enough foods rich in beta-carotene. Upon digestion, the human body turns beta-carotene into vitamin A, which promotes the growth and repair of healthy tissues. This can be very helpful for treating fibroids. Some foods that are high in beta-carotene include carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, and spinach.
Eat plenty of iron-rich foods. One of the symptom of fibroids is sometimes more blood loss during menstruation. This excessive blood loss can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. To replace the excessive loss of iron due to increased bleeding, include high-iron foods like grass-fed beef, beans and legumes, and blackstrap molasses in your diet.
Consume flax seeds. Flax seeds can help to balance estrogen levels in the body, which in turn can work to shrink fibroids. You should aim for at least 2 tablespoons per day if you already have fibroids. You can sprinkle flax seeds on oatmeal, add them to smoothies, or simply eat the seeds by themselves. They’re also great freshly ground.
Eat whole grains. Instead of eating refined grains, opt for healthier whole grains like millet, brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, rye, quinoa, and steel cut oats. These are higher in fiber, contain more minerals, and tend to be much less processed.
Take Chickweed -Chickweed helps to shrink & eliminate fibroids. Take In tea or tincture form 2-3 x per day.
Try vitex. Also known as chasteberry, this herb reduces estrogen levels by promoting the production of progesterone. For best results, vitex should be taken for at least six months in tincture form 2-3 x per day.
Add milk thistle. This antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb aids the body in liver detoxification, which is important for hormone balancing. Best in tincture form.
Drink herbal teas. Herbal teas may help soothe symptoms by decreasing inflammation and rebalancing certain hormones. Teas made with chasteberry, milk thistle, yellow dock, dandelion root, nettle, and red raspberry all have systemic benefits for the uterus and reproductive system.
Focus on essential fatty acids (EFAs). Most commonly supplemented as fish oil or flaxseed oil, EFAs can help reduce inflammation in the body, which may play a part in fibroid growth.
Supplement with a B-complex. It’s common for B vitamins to be lacking in the diet, and many people also have genetic defects that cause their absorption of B vitamins to be insufficient. When the body is deficient in the B vitamins, the liver will be missing some of the raw materials it needs to carry out its metabolic processes and to regulate estrogen levels.
Use essential oils. Thyme, clary sage, and frankincense are the best essential oils for natural fibroid treatment. They all have the ability to help balance hormones naturally. Clary sage essential oil can have an antidepressant effect and can significantly lower cortisol levels, which will help to balance all of the sex hormones.
Try: Rub 2 drops of each oil over your lower abdomen twice daily (combine with a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil if you have sensitive skin). You might also try putting 2 drops of frankincense oil on the roof of your mouth twice daily.
Try castor oil packs. By applying a castor oil pack to your abdomen, you increase circulation in the lymphatic and circulatory systems while also increasing lymphocytes - white blood cells that eliminate disease-causing toxins from the body. A buildup of toxins plays an important role in fibroid development.
A polyp is an abnormal tissue growth on a mucous membrane. Polyps grow on the inner lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. They also have the ability to push themselves out into the inner cavity of the uterus and cervix, so they can be found growing in the lining of the cervix as well. These ball-like structures look like they’re emerging from the end of a stalk jutting from the uterine lining of the uterus or cervix. Unlike fibroids, polyps can be malignant growths, meaning they can be cancerous. The malignant form is rare and is usually only found in postmenopausal women or in women who have untreated polyps.
Unfortunately, polyps can be easily mistaken for fibroids because they look similar in imaging tests and have similar symptoms, such as heavy menstrual bleeding, cramping, and abdominal pain. The only way to determine the malignant or benign nature of polyps is to have your doctor remove them and send them to a pathologist for testing.
Endometrial polyps sometimes do not cause any symptoms. Whether they do or not depends on their size, number, and location. Potential symptoms include postmenopausal vaginal bleeding, bleeding between menstrual periods, very heavy bleeding during menstrual periods, and bleeding after intercourse or exercise. If endometrial polyps are suspected, imaging techniques such as ultrasounds and hysteroscopies are usually used to confirm their presence. If polyps are found, an OB-GYN will take a small tissue sample for a biopsy to check for cancer or precancerous cells.
How to Prevent Polyps
Reduce exposure to xenohormones. Exposure to certain environmental toxins may contribute to the development of endometrial polyps. Xenoestrogens are a subclass of endocrine disruptors (human-made chemicals). Xenoestrogens have the ability to bind to our estrogen receptor sites. To avoid them, eat organic foods, avoid exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers, use natural feminine care products, use natural and organic body care and beauty products, avoid food preservatives and dyes, use low-VOC paints, use recycled unbleached paper products, use non-chlorinated oxygen-based bleach in the laundry, and avoid plastics.
How to Heal Polyps
Be patient. Polyps can go away over time without treatment. If endometrial polyps are identified in an exam and a woman is not experiencing severe symptoms and is not at risk for cancer, it is best to wait and see if the polyps resolve on their own.
Consume a whole foods diets. Eating a whole foods diet is the best way to provide the body with its baseline nutritional needs, and to ensure that it responds well to other herbal, supplemental, and natural therapies. This way of eating will create a foundation for a healthy, properly functioning body.
Eat fiber-rich foods. If you have polyps then your main focus and one of the first things you should do right now is to eat more fiber. Fiber helps the body to get rid of excess estrogens. Good sources of fiber include dark leafy greens, broccoli, Swiss chard, other fruits and vegetables, quinoa and other whole grains, chia seeds, beans, and ground flax seeds.
Consume whole grains. Choose whole grains in place of refined grains. Good choices include brown rice, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, rye, quinoa, and oats.
Avoid all anti-nutrients. These include sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and junk foods, all of which may contribute to estrogen dominance and can negatively impact fertility. Instead, eat a diet rich in legumes, fresh vegetables, fruits, clean protein sources, and healthy fats.
Supplement with DIM. This compound, which is derived from the digestion of indole-3-carbinol (found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale) can increase the body’s natural ability to metabolize and remove excess estrogen. The goal is to help the body manage estrogen in a better way in hopes that any existing polyps will see a reduction in exposure to estrogen. This should help to slow the growth of polyps and prevent the formation of new ones.
Try pau d’Arco. This herbal remedy comes from trees found in the Amazon rainforest, and has strong antibacterial properties, which can help to prevent infection due to foreign tissue growth.
Take goldenseal root. This herb is antibiotic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory. It works to help reduce pain and inflammation from foreign tissue growth. A reduction in inflammation may help to prevent scar tissue and adhesion formation.
Include dandelion root & leaf. This plant provides excellent liver support for improved hormonal balance. Dandelion leaf is very nourishing to the body, being high in vitamins and minerals. The root aids in liver health and stimulates digestion for improved estrogen metabolism.
Add ginger root to your diet. Ginger root is a wonderful herb used to increase circulation and promote blood flow to the uterus. This increased circulation helps to reduce inflammation of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
Try black cohosh root. This root promotes regulation of the entire menstrual cycle. For women with a uterus that feels inflamed or irritated throughout the month, black cohosh can be an effective option for relaxing the uterus by helping to reduce inflammation.
Make red raspberry leaf infusions. Raspberry leaf works to tone the uterine muscles and normalize blood flow during menses. This is one of the best normalizing herbs for the female reproductive system. Raspberry leaf is astringent, meaning it contracts and shrinks internal and external body tissues. It can also help to prevent hemorrhaging due to excessive bleeding and is one of the best herbs for uterine health.
Explore Dong Quai root. Also known as “female ginseng,” this ancient Chinese remedy increases circulation, which helps to bring in fresh healthy blood to remove excess tissue growth, heal tissue damage, and limit scar tissue and adhesion formation. Healthy circulation ensures proper natural cleansing of the body as well. Proper circulation is required to remove toxins, dead tissue, diseased tissue, and metabolic waste from the body - which is incredibly vital for women with polyps.
Incorporate maitake mushrooms. This mushroom has been shown to enhance immune system functioning and to contain anti-tumor properties. It’s also useful for improving glucose metabolism, which will indirectly help to balance hormones through the balancing of insulin.
Take a protease enzyme supplement. Protease works by eating away foreign tissues including those present from endometriosis, uterine fibroids, polyps, scar tissue, and adhesion formation. Protease also aids the body in proper blood formation and detoxification.
Try castor oil packs. These are an ancient therapy that helps to cleanse and heal the body wherever they are placed. The castor oil has a drawing power that clears the body of excess toxins. Castor oil packs stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory systems. The lymphatic system removes toxins and waste from the area stimulated by the castor oil pack. The promotion of circulation by the castor oil pack will also bring in fresh, oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to the reproductive organs, including the uterus. This is vital to reducing and dissolving polyps.
NOTE: Do not use during menstruation.
Whether you’re dealing with fibroids, polyps, or cysts, understanding the root causes of these conditions can go a long way toward preventing and healing them. By incorporating supportive nutritional, supplemental, herbal, and lifestyle practices, these conditions often resolve easily and naturally on their own.