Herbs and Supplements
Some people with endometriosis have turned to herbs and supplements to find relief from their symptoms. However, it is important to note that herbs and supplements should not replace traditional, prescribed treatment options. Herbs and supplements may be used along with the therapies prescribed by your doctor.
Currently, there is no scientific consensus on the effect of herbs and supplements on endometriosis and its related symptoms. Herbs and supplements can impact people in different ways.
What are some commonly used herbs and supplements?
Milk thistle is a plant that contains silymarin. The silymarin in milk thistle seeds is thought to be anti-inflammatory and support healthy liver function. The liver is responsible for filtering out toxins in our body, including excess hormones like estrogen. Endometriosis lesions depend on estrogen for development and growth. Promoting healthy liver function may help decrease excess estrogen in the body. Milk thistle may interact with drugs used for some liver conditions, diabetes, and high cholesterol.1
The digestive system is full of bacteria that help it function and digest our food properly. Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain good bacteria and help support our gut health. Probiotics may also help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. This may help relieve some endometriosis-related symptoms. Probiotics can be found in foods such as yogurt, some cheeses, and fermented tea (kombucha).2,3
Omega 3 fatty acids
Similar to probiotics, omega 3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation and promote healthy immune system function. Some studies have found that eating a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids may decrease the risk of developing endometriosis However, others have suggested that omega 3 fatty acids may have no effect on endometriosis that is already present. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish, fish oil, flaxseed, some nuts, and fortified foods.4-6
Curcumin is an active component in turmeric. Turmeric is used across the world as a spice for food, flavoring, coloring, dietary supplement, and more. It is native to Asia and is related to ginger root. The part of the turmeric plant that is most commonly used in supplements is its roots.7,8
Curcumin helps control inflammation and hormones. It also may promote a healthy immune system. Research on curcumin for the treatment of endometriosis is limited. However, several studies have found it may provide relief from endometriosis-related symptoms. Further research is needed to better understand this link.7,8
DIM, short for diindolylmethane, is found in vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower. Researchers think DIM helps reduce inflammation. It is broken down in the body similarly to estrogen. Because of this, low doses of DIM may help promote healthy estrogen breakdown and removal from the body.9
Vitamin B6 refers to a substance that the body needs to carry out a variety of critical functions. Vitamin B6 can be found in non-citrus fruits, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, fish, and poultry, among other sources. It is possible that vitamin B6 might play a role in hormone regulation. Vitamin B6 may reduce the level of estrogen in the body. This may relieve endometriosis symptoms. However, more research is needed to better understand this possible link.10,11
Things to consider
This is not an exhaustive list of all herbs and supplements you may consider trying along with your prescribed endometriosis treatment options.
It is important to talk to your doctor before trying any herbs or supplements. Some of these products can cause unwanted side effects or interact with medicines. Also, before you start a new medicine or treatment, tell your doctor if you are taking any herbs or supplements.