February 9, 2017

By Virender Sodhi, MD (Ayurveda), ND

Can seaweed cure Endometriosis and breast cancer?

Endometriosis is a painful, chronic disease that affects176 million women worldwide and 1 in 10 women in the US.

Endometriosis usually causes symptoms during reproductive years however, many women are un-diagnosed.Endometriosis occurs when tissue which lines the uterus (called the endometrium)is found outside the uterus — usually in the abdomen on the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, and ligaments that support the uterus; the area between the vagina and rectum; the outer surface of the uterus; and the lining of the pelvic cavity. Endometrium growths can also be found on the bladder, bowel, vagina, cervix, vulva, and in abdominal surgical scars. They can also be found in the lung, arm, thigh, and other locations. Endometriosis acts like a weed which grows wild on all the implanted organs. The cause of endometriosis is unknown.

There is not a clear-cut picture why these females get endometriosis. One theory is “retrograde menstruation theory” which suggests that normally menses flow downwards and can expel through the vagina. But in certain females, menses flow upward and push the endometrium tissue into the abdominal cavity. With the endometrium migration, these tissue swill start to grow on other organs.

Another theory is that menstrual tissues backup and creates an immune system and hormonal response, allowing endometrium to grow to cause endometriosis.

Still another theory suggests that endometrial tissue is distributed from the uterus to other parts of the body through the lymph system or the blood system. A genetic theory suggests that it maybe carried in the genes in certain families or that some families may have predisposing factors to endometriosis.

This misplaced endometrium responds to the menstrual cycle in the same way as the tissue of the uterine lining does each month the tissue builds up, breaks down, and sheds. Menstrual blood flows from the uterus and out of the uterus through the vagina shedding endometrium, but the blood and tissue shed from endometrial growths in other organs have no way of leaving the body.This results in internal bleeding, the breakdown of the blood and tissue from the lesions, and inflammation — and can cause pain, infertility, scar tissue formation, adhesions, and bowel problems.

Symptoms of Endometriosis?

  • Pain before and during periods
  • Pain with sex
  • Infertility
  • Fatigue
  • Painful urination during periods
  • Painful bowel movements during periods
  • Other gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhea, constipation, and nausea.

Also, many women with endometriosis suffer from:

  • Allergies
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Frequent yeast infections

Treatment:

The gold standard treatment for endometriosis is laparoscopic excision surgery. Other types of surgery include ablation or cauterization. All these procedures can only remove the tissue on the surface of the affected tissue but not the tissue growing beneath the surface. The surgical procedure has side effects of scarring and resultant inflammation. Re-occurrence rate with surgical procedures are very high, 50% in five years. Even hysterectomy is not the cure, as you cannot remove the endometrial tissue from other parts of the body.

Ayurvedic treatment and Seaweed cure for endometriosis:

I have seen many females with the history of endometriosis.With Ayurvedic detoxification (Panchakarma) and herbal treatments, we can offer a lot of relief for so many females.Many of these females were on birth control pills for the management of endometriosis, and some of these females have even undergone surgical procedures to remove endometrial tissue. They were also using NSAIDS for pain relief. The majority of females had a good response after Ayurvedic intervention and was successfully able to stop NSAIDS and birth control pills.

I am intrigued by the following case story published on three females who have a long history of endometriosis and who saw remarkable improvement with use of common seaweed called bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus).

  • Three pre-menopausal women with abnormal menstrual cycling histories volunteered for the present study. Subject 1 had a history of excessive blood loss during menstruation (hypermenorrhea), shorter than the average menstrual (polymenorrhea) cycle of 16 days rather than 28 days, anovulatory menstrual cycles, and was diagnosed with luteal phase deficiency and endometriosis through laparoscopy.
  • Subject 2 suffered from excessive bleeding and a shorter-than-average menstrual cycle. Subject 3 suffered from excessive bleeding and was diagnosed with endometriosis. All three women reported a history of painful menses. Otherwise, all women were in general good health and free of any chronic diseases. All women were active and exercised approximately three times per week. No hormones, other medications, or soy protein were taken for 3 months prior to the start of the study.
  • Using dried, powdered bladderwrack in 350 mg/capsules, two capsules were administered daily for the low dose treatment (700mg)and four capsules were administered daily for the high dose treatment (1.4 grams).
  • <;i>All women provided self-reported menstrual cycling histories for the three months before the treatment period. Serum estradiol and progesterone levels were measured. Ovulation was monitored through body basal temperature. Subject 1 has the average length of her cycle 16 days, baseline hormone levels were checked on day 12 of the menstrual cycle and day 21stfor the first cycle and on the 21stday after that. She was given bladderwrack 700 mg. Subjects 2 and 3 were administered 700 mg/d of bladderwrack beginning on day 21 of their menstrual cycles and followed for two consecutive cycles. <;i>Subsequently, Subjects 1 and 3 agreed to continue the experiment for two additional cycles at which time they received a daily dose of 1.4 g/day of bladderwrack. Menstrual cycling logs were maintained on all subjects during the entire course of the experiment. They were monitored at least weekly for compliance to the supplement regimen.

The results of this study were interesting; bladderwrack effectively increased the length of the menstrual cycle and reduced the total number of days of menstruation. Subject 1 had been getting periods after every 16 days, on 700 mg per day her cycle came after 26 days and on 1.4 gram of bladderwrack her periods were coming after 31 days and she bled only for4days as compared to 9 days before treatment. Subject 2 bled for 4 days as compared to 8 days, and subject 3rdhad periods for3days as compared to 6 days. There was 75% drop in estrogens with 700 mg and 85% drop with 1.4 gram of bladderwrack. Progesterone levels increased 15 fold on the low dose and 25 fold on the high dose. Menstrual cycles were further lengthened with increasing dose. These changes in menstrual cycle length can have beneficial health effects in lowering risk of estrogen-dependent diseases such as endometriosis and ovarian, endometrial, and breast cancers.

Estrogen's proliferative effects on mammary gland development and endometrial and breast cancer are well documented, whereas synthetic progesterone-like progestin and natural progesterone have shown different results. Progestins have been linked with increased risk of breast cancer. Overall natural progesterone has been linked to fewer breast cancers and endometrial cancers. Historical data on Asian females in China and Japan, where the use of seaweeds and soy products in the diet is prevalent, have very low breast cancer, ovarian and endometrial cancer. Bladderwrack can be a good tool for estrogen positive breast cancers in females who do not want to have Tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors like anastrozole, letrozole or exemestane. Thanks to Michael Greger, MD for bringing this awareness on bladderwrack for endometriosis through NutritionFacts.org. I will have a new weapon in my arsenal in treating endometriosis along with other Ayurvedic therapies.

References