Chinese Herbs for Endometriosis?
With the joining of Chinese and Western medicine in modern China, Endometriosis now has its own category in traditional Chinese medicine called 子宫内膜异位症 zǐ gōng nèi mó yí wèi zhèng.
In Chinese medicine theory it is described as resulting from the slowdown and stagnation of blood flow in the pelvis. This stagnation gradually becomes visible by laparoscopy as endometrial lesions.
So What Causes Blood Stagnation?
Sluggishness in blood flow can be caused by a number of factors and often these factors originate from other unresolved issues in the body.
Chinese doctors have learned that if these ‘other’ issues are not addressed, a patient may have a temporary improvement, but is quite likely to have a relapse sooner or later.
Individual patients might have issues such as poor digestion, weakness in certain parts of the body, especially the Kidneys (which in Chinese medicine theory supports the whole reproductive system), general tiredness and tension.
Other common factors include cold slowing the blood flow or digestive weakness failing to supply sufficient blood.
The habit of holding stress in the abdomen can also be an important factor in the cause of blood stagnation because the act of tensing the muscles tends to slow the flow of energy or ‘qi’ which itself is involved in ensuring blood movement. Even low-grade tension, if frequent enough, can cause reduction in the flow of qi and result in sluggishness of blood flow and eventual blood stagnation in the pelvis.
Why the pelvis?
The next question to answer, then, is why in the pelvis, and not in the shoulders, where so many other people get soreness and aches from tension?
The Chinese medicine answer is that the Liver, which is sensitive to stress and responsible for moving qi throughout the body, has itself an acupuncture channel which runs directly over the ovarian area and then encircles the genitals before it runs down the thigh. Any impediment to energy flow here will cause backup across the numerous other channels that traverse the area, exactly like the traffic jam that results if a major traffic conduit becomes backed up.
So What Can Chinese Medicine Do?
Preliminary research suggests that both Chinese herbs and acupuncture can be effective treatments for endometriosis (link at the bottom of page).
Chinese gynaecology and Chinese medicine in general addresses itself to the realm of “functional” disorder, a lack of coordination somewhere in the vast, finely-tuned biosystem of the body, which may not as yet have perceptibly damaged the body structurally. Endometriosis does not just happen overnight; it begins to develop long beforehand.
Chinese medicine treatments for endometriosis attempt to address the underlying issues behind the condition, diagnosing the cause of the blood stagnation and tailoring specific herbal prescriptions to address this.
Chinese medicine also suggests that stress is often a major factor. But what can we do about stress? It is out there, it is not something medicines can eliminate. Chinese medicine agrees that stress is part of life, but one’s reaction to it can be more or less under control. A Chinese doctor will try to assist, with herbs or acupuncture, the coping abilities of a patient, while advising them to try to eliminate all unnecessary stress. In many cases the patient is able to significantly reduce their level of perceived stress, which we believe will also reduce the chance of further blood stagnation occurring.
Why The Grove?
The treatment of endometriosis and its underlying diagnosis is a complicated endeavour requiring tailored herbal prescriptions or herbal prescriptions and acupuncture to achieve results. Our practitioners are Chinese herb experts with experience treating endometriosis with raw herbs over many years of practice.
Steven Clavey worked with the endometriosis association for 25 years, participating in studies and sharing his insights with western gynaecological practitioners and patients alike. He has treated countless patients for endometriosis over his more than 35 years in practice. Davina Mercuri has been treating endometriosis patients with The Grove for almost 20 years, and has been mentored by and coordinated treatments with Steven Clavey. Cassandra Young has received extensive mentoring with Steven Clavey in the treatment of endometriosis and treated numerous cases with herbal prescriptions and acupuncture. Jade Ouk uses a combined approach of herbal prescriptions and acupuncture drawing upon her experience of mentoring with Steven and seeing endometriosis cases while interning at the Zhejiang Hospital in China.