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Acupuncture for Endometriosis: How and Why It Helps

Endometriosis can be a challenging and often debilitating condition affecting millions of women around the world. This condition occurs when endometrium (tissues similar to the lining of the uterus) grow outside the uterus. This abnormal growth can cause pain, inflammation, and in some cases the formation of cysts. It is often overlooked or misdiagnosed, leaving many women in pain and fear. Typical treatments may include surgery and medication, however an increasing number of individuals are seeking out complementary therapies including acupuncture. Let’s further explore Traditional Chinese Medicine and how acupuncture may be effective in the management and treatment of endometriosis.

Endometriosis through the lens of Traditional Chinese Medicine:

Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis (TCM) patterns of disharmony in the body. Rather than stating a disease, as seen in Western medicine, TCM aims to identify the root cause and the branch symptoms of an imbalance in the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnosis of endometriosis considers various factors, including symptoms, tongue and pulse examination, lifestyle, emotional well-being, and the overall balance of Qi (vital energy), Blood, Yin, and Yang. Here are some key aspects of TCM diagnosis for endometriosis:

  • Pattern Identification: Before getting treated with acupuncture for endometriosis,  the practitioner will identify specific patterns of disharmony based on a patient's symptoms and signs. Common TCM patterns associated with endometriosis may include:

    • Blood Stasis: Stagnation and accumulation of blood in the pelvic area lead to stabbing pain.

    • Qi Stagnation: Impaired flow of Qi, lead to pain and discomfort.

    • Liver Qi Stagnation: Emotional stress and tension affecting the Liver meridian, contributing to menstrual pain.

    • Kidney Yin or Yang Deficiency: Imbalances in the Kidney organ system, affect hormonal regulation.

  • Menstruation Quality: Acupuncturists and TCM practitioners pay close attention to the menstrual cycle, including the length, duration, colour, and quality of menstrual flow. Before developing a treatment plan with acupuncture for endometriosis, menstrual irregularities, such as clots, dark blood, long or short periods, or pain are used as important diagnostic information.

  • Pain Characteristics: The nature, location, and intensity of pain are essential in TCM diagnosis. Before receiving acupuncture for endometriosis, different types of pain, such as sharp, stabbing, or dull, are assessed to help determine the underlying pattern. Pain that is fixed or worsened by pressure may suggest Blood Stasis while a dull and aching pain may suggest Qi stagnation. 

  • Tongue Examination: The tongue is considered a map of the internal organs and reflects the internal state of the body. Practitioners examine the colour, shape, coating, and moisture of the tongue to gather diagnostic information. When receiving acupuncture for endometriosis, changes in tongue characteristics may indicate specific patterns of disharmony.

  • Pulse Examination: Pulse diagnosis involves assessing the quality and features of the radial pulse. TCM practitioners use this information to detect imbalances in the organs and meridians. Pulse qualities related to Blood, Qi, Yang and Yin are especially relevant for endometriosis diagnosis.

  • Emotional and Lifestyle Factors: Emotional stress and lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise habits, are considered in TCM diagnosis. Improper lifestyle choices may lead to imbalances in the body.

  • Palpation and Physical Examination: Palpation involves gentle touch to identify areas of tenderness, tightness, or pain, especially in the lower abdomen. Physical examination may include abdominal palpation to assess the condition of the organs.

  • Excess or Deficiency Patterns: TCM categorizes patterns as excess or deficient. Excess patterns may involve factors like Blood Stasis or Heat, while deficiency patterns may include deficiencies of Qi, Blood, Yin or Yang.

  • Differentiation of Syndromes: Acupuncturists and TCM practitioners differentiate patterns of imbalance to treat each person uniquely. Specific acupuncture points are selected based on the identified pattern and the treatment of the root cause of the problem.


Acupuncture for Endometriosis: How it Helps

  1. Reducing  Inflammation:

Endometriosis is associated with chronic inflammation, which contributes to pain and the formation of scar tissue. Acupuncture has been studied for its anti-inflammatory effects, with research suggesting that it may modulate inflammatory markers by reducing oxidative stress in the body.

  1. Balancing Hormones:

Hormonal imbalance, particularly estrogen dominance, is linked to endometriosis. Studies have shown that Acupuncture influences the endocrine system, and in turn, hormone levels are brought into regulation. Studies indicate that acupuncture may affect hormones such as estradiol and progesterone, potentially contributing to hormonal balance.

  1. Pain Management:

Chronic pain management is a challenge and goal of people with endometriosis. Acupuncture has been recognized for its analgesic (pain-relieving) effects. Research suggests that acupuncture may stimulate the release of endorphins, also known as the body's natural painkillers. Through the release of endorphins, endometriosis-related pain is reduced.

  1. Improving Blood Flow:

Acupuncture has been shown to enhance blood circulation, promoting better oxygenation and nutrient delivery to tissues. Improved blood flow may aid in the resolution of stagnant blood and the reduction of inflammation commonly associated with endometriosis.

  1. Regulating the Immune System:

Endometriosis involves immune system dysfunction, where the body's natural defences may not adequately respond to the presence of ectopic endometrial tissue. Research on Acupuncture has shown it’s ability to modulate immune function, potentially helping the body recognize and manage endometrial implants more effectively.


Acupuncture for Endometriosis in Barrie: Treatments at Evolve Massage Therapy & Acupuncture Clinic in Barrie

As scientific evidence suggests, acupuncture for endometriosis may offer valuable therapeutic benefits. As a complementary therapy, it has the potential to address various aspects of the condition, from pain management to hormonal balance and immune system regulation. If you're considering acupuncture as part of your endometriosis treatment plan, consult with healthcare professionals. Our Registered Acupuncturist, Kathleen Luecke will be happy to answer any of your questions related to this topic or Traditional Chinese Medicine. You can reach out to her with your questions and/or book an appointment with her. She will be happy to help you on your journey toward balance and harmony.

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