Endometriosis is a disease “for a long haul”. It usually appears very early but it is diagnosed late, you need a lot of doctors to monitor and manage it and you are also “in charge” for your ambition, motivation, planning and a healthy lifestyle - things that can have a positive impact on endometriosis too.
I experienced the first signs of endometriosis at 11 years old, followed by years of pains and struggle, but only at 27 years old I heard the word “endometriosis” for the first time. After all sort of (inefficient) treatments I went through my first surgery in 2014, followed up by a second one in 2016, a more complex surgery that also included a bowel resection.
Ever since 2014 I have been starting to research a lot on scientific websites, especially Pubmed.com
Moreover, I read about the dietary changes and natural supplements that could be beneficial in endometriosis. Ever since, I am trying to have an organized life in this respect. I don’t succeed all the time, I have better or worse periods of time, but this is only according to “how clean my diet is” or “how strict I am with my supplements plan”.
I know there are people who do not believe in this approach (it is their choice). Some others say they tried this path, but with no success. Yet, I strongly believe this is the road to go. And some other endometriosis patients or studies confirm it.
Here are the 10 essential natural supplements, from my point of view, in endometriosis. They are not the only ones, but they are very important. I wrote you down the list and, where it is the case, I linked to another article where I detail more about each of them. At the end of this article you will also find some very useful dietary recommendations.
Most of the following supplements are based on studies, but you need to ask the opinion of a doctor before taking them. It could be a family physician, an endocrinologist, a naturopath etc. – do that in all cases, but especially if you are under treatment for some other illness.
!! Disclaimer: all the following information is only with an informational and educative purpose. They must not replace doctor’s treatment and recommendations. All these supplements should be discussed with your doctor.
Moreover: without a proper diet and without a regular medical checkup at a gynecologist specialized in endometriosis, these supplements cannot do wonders. It all depends on your body, on the stage of your endometriosis, on what you need, on what you think etc. If, for example, you are stage IV, diet and supplements will help you, but will not help you avoiding the surgery, if this is the case. Of course, there are also exceptions, but we are not taking about them here.
The best natural supplements in Endometriosis
1. Systemic/Proteolytic Enzymes
Bromelain, papain, amylase, lipase, protease, serrapeptase – these are all helpful in endometriosis, having benefits on ovarian cysts, adhesions, pains etc. As far as I read, at certain dozes and for some people, serrapeptase can give bleedings or can affect sight (here, a list of serrapeptase side effects). I have been taking it for about 5 years and I have never experienced any side effects. Its alternative would be Wobenzym N, the German product that was included in several studies regarding endometriosis and infertility. Here you can find an article about more studies on systemic enzymes in endometriosis and my experience with this supplement.
Some other useful resources for you and your doctors you can find here and here.
2. Vitamin C
I have been writing before about vitamin C and studies that show its beneficial effects on endometriosis. I have been taking vitamin C – 1 g a day for several years, from a well know brand in Romania and not only, almost always buying it from Iherb. Vitamin C is also great for immunity and energy.
The only “bad thing” I found about vitamin C in my research was that in high doses can raise estrogen when you take birth control pills.
Here I have written more about the studies on vitamin C and endometriosis and my experience with this supplement.
I have also written a lot about NAC before. I took this supplement with certain breaks: in general, I was taking it 3 months and then 2-3 months break. As a dosage, either I followed the “instructions” of the Italian study (1800 g a day, split in three pills, 3 consecutive days of the week and then a break till the following week), or I took a 600 mg pill a day, every day. For some time, I do not tolerate NAC very well so I stopped it.
In this article I wrote more about the scientific research on NAC and endometriosis (quite promising) and my experience with it.
4. Omega 3
Omega 3 is one of the “top supplements” in endometriosis, from my point of view. I take it from 2014. Here I will mention a brand and a certain product because I have felt great effects with it: Solgar Omega 3 Triple Strength.
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Regarding Omega 3, it is best to talk with a/your doctor before taken it, as, in certain cases and for some people with certain conditions Omega 3 can raise the risk of bleeding and it is not recommended in high doses to people who already take blood thinner pills. Here you can study more about its side effects, but keep in mind I, for example, did not experience any of those. Still, it is better to ask your doctor if, considering your medical history is it safe to take Omega 3.
There are a lot of studies made on Omega 3 and endometriosis. This study made by the Japanese doctors shows that Omega 3 can inhibit the formation of peritoneal endometrosic lesions (study made on rats).
In another study directed by several scientists from Turkey, it was demonstrated that fat acids Omega 3 can reduce the endometriosic lesions (study made on rats).
Yet, the doctors from United States of America made a research on people this time, with 205 women. The conclusion was clear: women with a high level of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid – one of the three main Omega-3 fatty acids) present a 82% lower risk of developing endometriosis, comparing to women with a lower EPA level.
5. Vitamin D3
Studies on Vitamin D are diverse, but I am taking it for a while and I am feeling fine. Here I would like to mention you should test your vitamin D level before supplementing it, as in high doses, when you already have a high level of vitamin D, can be toxic.
As effects, ever since I have been taking vitamin D3 (and all the other supplements) my period is better and the disease hasn’t relapsed.
Regarding studies, the Italian experts showed that a high percent of patients with ovarian endometriosis have a deficit of vitamin D and according to another complex study, vitamin D can considerably reduce the worsening of chronic disease.
6. Calcium D-Glucarate
This is not a plant, but an allopath substance, so your doctor should know about it. My gynecologist, for example, knew about it, could answer me some questions about it and agreed to take it for managing my high estrogen level. Cause, yes, this is its main effect for us, endometriosis patients: lowers estrogen. I have tried many of the supplements that had, at least on paper, this effect, of lowering estrogen, and only Calcium D-Glucarate helped me.
For lowering estrogen there are also other supplements such as DIM, Indole-C-Carbinol, sulforaphane, but none of these were useful, on the contrary. I am not saying they are not efficient, but for me they weren’t so I decided to include on this list only Calcium D-Glucarate.
Here and here you can find more about this supplement.
7. A multivitamin supplement
Till a while ago, I avoid taking multivitamins. Then, I confronted with serious hair loss and I didn’t understand the cause as my hormones were all balanced. At some point I realized whenever I took a multivitamin pill a day for at least 4-5 days, my hair loss problem started to diminish.
Moreover, talking with an endocrinologist doctor, she told me that when our body has some vitamins/minerals deficiency, all the other functions fail to work properly She gave as example calcium: a low level of calcium (low level but still in limits) can interfere with thyroid gland.
8. Zinc and selenium
Here, I will only mention them and give sources. I have tried them both. I do not tolerate selenium (if you are like me, just eat 4 Brazilian nuts a day – this is the recommended food selenium dose – more can be toxic) and with zinc – it depends on the dosage, brand and type (always zinc picolinate). If I take only 20-25 mg a day, from a very well-known American brand from Iherb, I am well with it. If not, if I take more of it, I start having different symptoms such as breast pains or PMS symptoms.
Here and here you will find some studies regarding zinc and selenium in endometriosis.
Even if a plant, due to its main compound, “berberine”, you can still ask your doctor about this supplement too.
Still, there are brands that commercialize it and have doctors to counsel you so you can try this option too. I used it when I was diagnosed with blocked tubes – hydrosalpinx. I know there are so many controversies regarding this subject: that hidrosalpinx do not go away on its own, that affects the tubes and that tube should be removed etc. – the best way here is to talk to your doctor and to take a personalized decision, together.
For me, Goldenseal was always a life saver for hydrosalpinx but not only. Goldenseal contain berberine, o beneficial compound in adenomyiosis (see here the study), a compound about which dr. Lara Briden wrote extensively, connecting it with endometriosis (here you can find the article that, in my opinion, should be read by all doctors who are involved in treating and managing endometriosis).
10. A supplement for lowering stress, something to help your adrenals
A few years ago my cortisol level was a little bit too high. My endocrinologist from that time told me the cause were my endometriosis and my adrenals that are always active to keep down the inflammation, to “fight” endometriosis. Theoretically, we should sleep 8-9 hours a night and to fall asleep before 11:00 p.m. For now, I cannot do that.
I do not have such conclusive and happy experiences with supplements for adrenals so I wouldn’t want to mention anything here. The best and right way to go is to say again about those 8-9 hours of sleep, shutting down TV and phone 2-3 hours before going to sleep and reducing stress by all means possible (massage, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, walking, praying etc.).
Some other useful tips & tricks:
- Without a proper diet, supplements cannot do wonders
- It would be best to have a diet with no gluten, no alcohol, no dairy, no sugar, no soy, no canned food, no sodas, and no meat and eggs that do not come from a bio source.
- Always read the label, especially when you buy something “fancy” and especially when you buy “gluten free products”. Often times, these are full of chemicals, so try to cook for yourselves, more traditional dishes.
- Try not to overeat ( not to cut completely, but only not to over eat) dry fruits and very sweet fruits such as dates.
- Look for a good fishery in your area and eat fish at least 2-3 times a week (try not to opt for frozen fish).
- Here you can find a lot of ideas of healthy and tasty recipes, suitable also for an endometriosis diet.
- If you are at the beginning with diet, avoid completely the “wrong food” for several days (14 days) and you will see that afterwards it will be easier. In the meantime, make sure you have healthy food in the fridge because being hungry will make you forget about healthy dieting.
- Be careful with oils: try using more coconut oil and olive oil (there are versions of them especially for cooking/heating).
- Eat every day a grated carrot as this lowers estrogen and balance the thyroid.
- Try keeping a diet where to write what it is not ok for you, even from the recommended foods. Then, eliminate them for 1-2 months and reintroduce afterwards, step by step.
If you read all these, it is clear you want and you can do something for your health. As you might see, there are enough sources, endometriosis patients often tell their stories, scientists initiate all kind of studies so transform yourselves in “researchers” and make the first step. Of course, do not forget the “disclaimer” from the beginning of the article. This article and the sources mentioned in it should reach your doctors too as they are the first ones to guide you in this complex journey with endometriosis.