Supplements for Endometriosis: Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

There are many supplements or nutrients that can be part of an effective adjunctive therapy for endometriosis. In this post, we'll look at fish oil, turmeric, vitamins E and C, and N-acetylcysteine:

Fish oil

Processed and red meat contain higher levels of arachidonic or omega 6 fatty acids, which in excess, causes inflammation. However, fish and fish oil offer anti-inflammatory benefits due to higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)‎.

Studies have shown that fish oil decreases period pain and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) consumption.1,2

You can consume fish regularly such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies, and trout to boost your omega 3 levels. Women with endometriosis or adenomyosis, however, may need to supplement, so aim for a high-quality purified fish oil with both EPA and DHA.

Turmeric (curcumin)

Curcumin is a constituent of turmeric which has been well studied for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties and its effect on preventing endometriosis lesions from growing new blood vessels.

Turmeric can be incorporated into the diet easily by adding it to meals and drinks. To gain a therapeutic dose to manage the symptoms of endometriosis, a lot of turmeric needs to be consumed. Additionally, the levels of curcumin contained in turmeric can vary, and therefore, curcumin is often taken instead as a supplement.

Vitamin E and C

There have been some studies on vitamin E, some with vitamin C, which both offer the benefits of antioxidants:

Vitamin E contains fat-soluble compounds that are potent antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory effects on the production of prostaglandin. Nuts and seeds and green leafy vegetables contain high levels of vitamin E.

Vitamin C has a number of roles in the body, but is best known for as a powerful antioxidant. It acts as an antioxidant by working synergistically with vitamin E, which is why vitamin C is often prescribed with vitamin E.

Fruit and vegetables such as berries, capsicum, papaya, oranges, broccoli, and kale all contain high levels of vitamin C.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

N-acetylcysteine is a protein (a form of the amino acid cysteine), which acts as an antioxidant through its ability to restore glutathione, a powerful and important antioxidant within the body.

2 studies on NAC showed real benefits on women with endometriosis:

One study showed that taking 600mg 3 times daily for 3 consecutive days a week for 3 months, NAC was effective in a reduction of ovarian endometriosis cyst size.3

Another study showed a preparation containing 600mg of NAC consumed twice daily, combined with other antioxidants, showed a significant reduction of endometriosis related pain and a lower intake of pain relief medication.4

A word of caution

Be careful taking supplements if you have other health conditions, are on medications, or are considering pregnancy, and tell your doctor if you are considering surgery. I also recommend exercising caution when purchasing off the internet ,as some brands may be of lower quality than others.

It’s always best to try and obtain nutrients through the diet, but if you’d like to try supplementing and you’re unsure about what supplements are right for you, talk to your health practitioner.

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