Heating Pads & Endometriosis

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Recently, someone brought it to my attention that they’d heard that heating pads are bad for Endo. Now…I live with my heating pad literally attached to my body almost every first few days of my period.  So, I was taken aback by the suggestion as I find the heat soothing.  And I vowed to do some research on the theory that heat is bad for Endo…and, as usual, formulate my own opinion and share it with you.

Endometriosis News ran an article in August of 2017 highlighting the opinions of Melissa of EndoEmpowered and Aubree Deimler of Peace with Endo, and both discussed how heat may cause fascia to manipulate (or soften) and harden after it cools down once the heat is removed.  Aubree tried the heat elimination process to see how she felt, and felt a difference with her pain.  If you’d like to try, please follow her example.  Melissa interviewed Chris Toal of Azolla Health, who shared a downloadable brochure on the theories behind heat and fascia. Not only does Toal discourage the use of heating pads, but also the use of hot showers or baths.  Aubree directly linked back to Melissa’s article and interview.

What is fascia?  It’s a thin, fibrous tissue made up mostly of collagen that covers and supports tissue, such as muscles or organs.

From what I gather, the underlying theory expressed in the views of Endometriosis News, Melissa, and Aubree of why heat is bad for Endometriosis pain is that the heat, for lack of a better term, softens or melts the fascia tissue.  Once the heating pad is removed, the fascia rehardens and can make the pain worse.  This may cause adhesions to shift, form, and harden.  Aubree cites to Ida Rolf‘s theory regarding fascia and displacement with energy/heat/manipulation.

Visualize a brand new, unlit candle.  Once lit, the wax begins to melt.  Blow out the flame and the wax cools and rehardens, oftentimes in a new shape.  Or think of making gelatin: the mixture is liquid while hot and solidifies once it’s in the fridge and cooled off.

The fascia-altering theory is the only argument I have been able to find against using heating pads if you have Endometriosis…so:

Let’s find some proof to all of this…because, like I said, sometimes I live on my heating pad.

Ida’s theory that fascia tissue degrades with manipulation or energy is frowned upon by some.  It’s called the thixotropic effect, where the tissues degrade with heat or pressure, then reform upon settling.  Paul Ingraham wrote about his opinions in Feb. of 2013 and again Jan. of 2018 on thixotropic effect on PainScience.com and opines that fascia is simply “too tough” to manipulate in such a manner and states that Ms. Rolf found her theory to be “nonsense” as well.  Mr. Ingraham cited many studies and professionals to support his opinions.  You’re welcome to read both pieces (linked above and in the Resources section below).

But what if it’s not nonsense?  According to the Science of Slow Cooking (mmmmm…crock pot food…), collagen begins to break down and liquify into a gelatin at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  Now, I’m no expert on the human body versus a meat-animal, but…how hot do heating pads get?!?

A study published in Safety Brief in 2015 ran a few experiments on heating pad created by Kaz (Model HP-110).  After running the heating pad for 120 minutes, it never exceeded 151 degrees Fahrenheit, uncovered.

Sunbeam offers a FAQ on their webpage about the temperature range of their heating pads: the low setting 110 degrees F and the high setting can get up to 160 degrees F.

Sew4Home conducted their own little science experiment with homemade microwaveable heating pads.  They compared rice, corn, and flaxseed.  After 30 seconds of heating, the rice was 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the corn was 158 degrees, and the flaxseed was 144 degrees.  Five minutes later, each had cooled:  136 (rice), 142 (corn), and 142 (flaxseed).

Hot water bottles should never be filled with boiling water (water typically boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit), due to leakage and safety concerns.  Many manufacturers of hot water bottles suggest a nice, easy-to-touch temperature; not scalding.

So, I’m not sure that heating pads (electrical, microwaveable, or hot water bottles) will get hot enough to do any liquifying damage to facia.  But, then again, I’m no expert.  And several webpages promote the use of heating pads (sometimes combined with castor oil packs) to help with adhesion, Endometriosis, pelvic, or lower back pain.

So, then I was curious: why do heating pads make my pain feel better?  Once more, I hit the internet.  And, once more, ran into a lot of Mr. Paul Ingraham’s writings and voluminous cited resources, along with other webpages.

Heat may be very soothing, it increases blood circulation to the area, it may relax tense muscles, and a 2006 study found that internal heat receptors may actually block pain signals.  So, once more, heat may be good for dealing with certain types of pain.

Again, I’m not a scientist and this is just my opinion after bouncing around the internet for several hours doing research and reading.  My conclusion?

My heating pads make me feel better…and I will not stop using them.  Am I knocking Endometriosis News, Melissa, Aubree, or Chris? Nope.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I value a broad perspective on things.  But, for me?  I also value the comfort that a good ol’ heating pad delivers.

What about you?  My advice? Do whatever makes you feel better.  Hot, cold, or neither.  It’s your body and you know it better than anyone.

Resources:

Earth Clinic (Dec. 2017): Natural Remedies for Abdominal Adhesions

EndoEmpowered (Nov. 2016): Stop Using Hot Water Bottles for Endo Pain

Endometriosis News (August 2017): Should You Use Heat for Endometriosis Pain Relief?

Functional Fascia: Fascia Facts

Healthline: Treating Pain with Heat and Cold

LiveScience: (July 2006) Study: How Heating Pads Relieve Internal Pain

Merriam-Webster Dictionary: definition of fascia

My Health Alberta Ca Network: Adhesions Care Instructions

PainScience.com (Jan. 2018): Does Fascia Matter?

PainScience.com (Aug. 2016): Heat for Pain.  When and how to apply heat for therapy…and when not to!

PainScience.com (April 2017): The Great Ice vs. Heat Confusion Debacle

PainScience.com (Feb. 2013): Thixotropy is Nifty, but It’s Not Therapy

Peace with Endo: (Jan. 2017) Why I Stopped Using My Heating Pad for Endometriosis Pain

Safety Brief: (Jan. 2015) On the Safety of Heating Pads

Science of Slow Cooking: The Science of Slow Cooking

Sew4Home (Sept. 2014): Organic Fillers for Warming Pads: We Compare Rice, Corn and Flaxseed

Sunbeam: FAQ – How Hot do the Heating Pads Get?

Taber’s Medical Dictionary: definition of fascia

The Hot Water Bottle Shop: FAQS

University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignDepartment of Physics: Q&A Water Temperatures

 

~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa

 

Reader’s Choice: Melatonin & Endometriosis

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One of my readers, Erin, emailed me asking if I could look into taking Melatonin for Endometriosis pain and symptoms.  She had heard that it may help reduce the symptoms, pain, and maybe even the lesions themselves.

So, on goes my Research Cap and it begins!

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body as the light fades.  Many people take Melatonin to help them fall asleep and stay asleep.  It’s been coming out in studies over the past decade that Melatonin may play a role in helping reduce Endometriosis lesions and pain.

In 2008, a study was published about 25 rats that were surgically implanted with Endometriosis.  Interesting enough, it found that the rats that were treated with Melatonin were found to have fewer and smaller Endometriosis lesions than rats that received nothing.

In 2010, another rat study took place, this time comparing rats who were given Melatonin to rats who were given Letrozole.  Thirty rats were induced with Endometriosis, given Estrogen for 2 weeks, then surgically confirmed to have Endometriosis lesions present.  Some received Letrozole for 2 weeks.  Others received Melatonin for 2 weeks.  They were all surgically opened up and their Endometriosis lesions were recorded and measured.  The rats received another 2 weeks of Estrogen, then were finally studied.  It found that the rats who received Melatonin had fewer and smaller lesions than the rats that were given Letrozole.

In 2012, Melatonin was referenced in a study about different types of pharmacological treatments of Endometriosis.  It stated that past studied have shown that daily Melatonin usage had reduced the volume and size of lesions and reduced oxidative stress markers.  As far a dosing goes, rats were given 10mg a day for 18-28 days.  It stresses that the doses had not yet been tested on humans.

A Brazilian study published in 2013 found stated that Melatonin was thought to help Endometriosis because it’s an analgesic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.  It studied 40 women over an 8-week period.  Some of them were given a placebo, and the others were given 10mg of Melatonin each day for 8 weeks.  For those who took the Melatonin, 40% of them had reduced daily pain and 38% of them had reduced painful periods.  They also had an improved quality of sleep.

In March 2015, a study was published discusses various doses of Melatonin given to rats that had been implanted with Endometriosis.   Unfortunately, the abstract did not divulge the doses given to each rat and the results.  It did; however, state that Melatonin treatment did result in the regression of lesions in the rats.

I know I’m excited to read about the possible benefits of Melatonin when it comes to Endometriosis.  BUT, there’s always a “but”…

The US Department of Health and Human Services states short-term Melatonin use appears safe; however, little is known about the safety of long-term Melatonin usage since studies of long-term effects have not been conducted.  Also, some people have complained of side effects while taking Melatonin:  dizziness, drowsiness, headache, irritability, nausea, and stomach cramps.  Many users have also complained of grogginess the next day.

Then there’s the question of dosing.  What is the appropriate dose of Melatonin?  A 2001 study identified the proper dose of Melatonin to help people sleep is 0.3mg per day, taken just before bed.  Sleep.org stated a dose between 0.2mg and 5mg taken an hour before bed would be sufficient.  For people who have sleep-wake cycle problems, they’ve taken 2-12mg of Melatonin for 4 weeks.  The study of Endometriosis in women was a 10mg supplement for 8 weeks.

There are also indications that Melatonin may worsen depression, cause high blood pressure (or negate blood pressure medications), worsen bleeding in people with bleeding disorders, may interfere with immunosuppressive therapy (for organ donor patients, etc.), and may increase blood sugar levels of diabetics.

Don’t forget about the “don’t take this medication with this medication” category.  Since Melatonin may be a sedative for many people, avoid taking Melatonin if you take other medications that may cause drowsiness.  Some examples would include Klonopin, Ativan, Donnatal, and Ambien.

There is some concern out that that taking Melatonin may cause hormonal issues.  Since Melatonin is technically a hormone created by the body, supplementing it may cause imbalances or

As always, please talk to your physician before starting any type of new regimen, whether it be pharmaceutical, supplements, diet, or lifestyle changes.   I know I’ll be talking to my physician.  And always understand that little is regulated in the supplements market.  Do you own research and act wisely.

Do you take Melatonin for your Endometriosis? Have you noticed a difference? Please let us know by leaving a comment below!

Resources:

Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics (March 2015, Abstract) The Effects of Different Doses of Melatonin Treatment on Endometrial Implants in an Oopherectomized Rat Endometriosis Model

Dr. Tori Hudson – (May 2014, Blog) The Effect of Melatonin in the Treatment of Endometriosis

Empowered Sustenance – (June 2014, Blog) Melatonin Isn’t a Sleeping Pill: 3 Reasons to Avoid Melatonin

Fertility & Sterility (April 2008, Article) Regression of Endometrial Explants in a Rat Model of Endometriosis Treated with Melatonin

Fertility & Sterility (April 2010, Article) The Effects of Letrozole and Melatonin on Surgically Induced Endometriosis in a Rat Model: A Preliminary Study

Fertility & Sterility (Sept. 2012, Article) Pharmacologic Therapies in Endometriosis: A Systematic Review

Huffington Post (March 2016, Article) Read This if You Take Melatonin to Sleep at Night

National Center for Complementary and Integrative HealthMelatonin: In Depth

PAIN – (June 2013, Abstract) Efficacy of Melatonin in the Treatment of Endometriosis: A Phase II, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

WebMDMelatonin

~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa

Review: EndoFEMM Heating Pad

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Photo courtesy of Pelvic Pain Solutions

Oh man.  If you know me, you know I love my heating pads.  I have an electric one by my bed, a microwaveable one for when I’m watching TV, another microwaveable one for work, and even those ones you stick on your clothes for discreet heat.

Well, in April I received an email from Babette, the President of Pelvic Pain Solutions (and fellow EndoSister), offering me a free sample of their EndoFEMM heating pads (you can see them here).  If I liked it, I agreed I’d share about my experiences.  First off, I thought “free sample” meant I’d be getting like a 3″x3″ square of it so I can take it for a test drive; nope – it was the entire EndoFEMM heating pad in all it’s “Paris Girl” glory!  So, here I am today…which means I obviously liked it.

It’s a strap-on kind of heating pad that I can wear around the house, hands-free, and have a lovely, heavy weight and pleasant pressure on my pelvis, as well as constant heat!  I microwave it for a minute or two, but ALSO have the option of cold therapy (brrrrrrr, I hate the cold).

First impressions?  My husband said I looked like a sumo wrestler, so in good humor I stomped around the house in my best sumo pose.  BUT I cannot sing the praises of the EndoFEMM enough – it’s large enough to cover ALL of my painful pelvic area, even my mons!  I absolutely looove the heat and pressure on my hips.  And if my lower back is giving trouble, I just shift it around so the heat is on my backside.  A word of warning, though: it’s HOT – and when you fasten something HOT to your body…you get HOT!  So you may want to wait a minute before strapping this bad boy to your belly, or check to see if the heat is okay…

I love it.  It’s now my favorite heating pad and I absolutely want to buy the travel size one to keep at work.

So, on April 22, 2017, I started my period.  My EndoFEMM arrived juuuuuust in the nick of time.  Granted it doesn’t take away my pain and Endo symptoms…but it does ease them.  Heat has always been a comfort.  And now I have hands-free heat, comfort, weight, and pressure.  Like a purring cat on my lap.

Next, on May 20, 2017, I started my period again.  And happily reached for my EndoFEMM.  Again, I was met with warm, heavy, comforting goodness.  And HANDS-FREE! I think that’s my favorite part.  I just wear my heating pad around the house and can still do things like…pet the cat, reach for the remote, carry a glass of wine from the kitchen to the couch…ha.  I love it.  The heat lasts for about a half an hour before I nuke it again for 60 seconds. And I never realized just how much I needed the heat on my hips and mons…it’s incredible.  An all-encompassing gigantic heating pad.

Anyway, I blab!  I ramble!!  Just know that this girl loves this heating pad!  And thank you to Babette for turning me on to them!  Now if my crazy review has led you to their webpage, clicking that little “Buy Now” button, I absolutely insist you update me on your thoughts in my Comments section below.  Do you love it as much as I do?

A paper on the holistic treatment of Endometriosis

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The Ohlone Herbal Center published Whitney Staeb’s apprenticeship paper in October 2016 about the holistic treatment approaches of Endometriosis.  If you’d like to read the 16-page report in it’s entirety, please click here.

It discusses herbs and flower essences that may help ease inflammation and symptoms.  Although it does not discuss doses, it does talk about the supposed medicinal properties of each and combinations that may help during cycles.  If intrigued, read the paper and consult with your healthcare provider and an herbalist.

Diet and proper nutrition play a large role possibly controlling Endometriosis symptoms.  She identifies some “ideal foods” that may be incorporated into, and excluded from, your diet.

Lifestyle changes such as switching feminine hygiene products, exercising, taking warm baths, using heating pads, and practicing good self-care may also ease the physical and mental issues of Endometriosis.

I encourage you to read her paper yourself (click here).  See if any of it speaks to you.  And, again, please do your own research (look for the pros and cons of each listed suggestion) and speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new regimen.

Have you ever, or do you presently, take any of the herbs/supplements referenced in this paper?  Please share your experiences with us in the comments below. Your journey may help others!

Yours,

Lisa

We’ve all heard of Big Pharma…but what about Big Supp?

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A few months ago, some of us attended a workshop on hormonal treatments and Endometriosis.  It was presented by Dr. Sally Rafie of The Pharmacist’s Clinic.  We’ve all heard the term, “Big Pharma,” and the lobbyists, money, and the-big-push that comes with pharmaceuticals and their respective manufacturers.  But at this workshop, I learned of the term “Big Supp.”  And went “oooooooooooooooooooh” – never once had I thought of the machine that drives the supplement industry.  Nor the regulations that they are, or aren’t, forced to adhere to.

Someone recommends I take something? I may do some precursory research, but nothing in depth.  And I generally will try it…I am always wary of the snake oils, though – the “specifically-marketed-to-relief (fill in the blank)” pills, oils, tinctures, shakes, etc.

So, today, I delve into the dietary supplement industry.  What are the driving forces behind the industry.  What regulations, if any, exist to ensure the safety of the consumer?  Is there a great big corporate pyramid with some dark and sinister Villain perched on top?  Or is it all just clean-livin’ hippies out to help the world? Let’s find out!

“Dietary Supplements” according to the Federal Trade Commission are: vitamins and minerals, amino acids, enzymes, herbs, animal extracts, and probiotics.  The FTC put out an infographic about dietary supplements, which you can view by clicking here.

According to some sources, the supplement industry rakes in $30-120 billion a year in the US alone.  Nutraceuticals World states that the supplement industry creates 754,000 jobs and pays out $38 in salaries/wages.  And that the dietary supplement industry constantly fights the FDA’s regulations and policy change.

The US Food & Drug Administration does not regulate the supplement industry like they regulate the pharmaceutical industry.   Supplement manufacturers do not need to seek FDA approval or prove to the FDA that their products contain the ingredients they say it does, nor do they have to pass safety or efficacy tests.  They can simply put their product on the market.  Sometimes, this leads to contaminated or unsafe products.  They’re supposed to report to the FDA any adverse events (people complaining of harmful side effects, etc.).  There will be times where consumer tests may red-flag supplements and the FDA steps in, finding violations.

Dietary supplements are a political hot-bed, too.  There’s an ongoing history of political contributions, supposedly in an effort to win political favor over policy changes.  In the past, democrats have been seeking to have the supplement industry regulated like prescription drugs; however, there has been strong opposition from supplement manufacturers.  In 2015, over $3,000,000 was raised in lobbying efforts.

In 1994, the Dietery Supplement Health Education Act came into effect.  In short, dietary supplements fall under the “food” category, rather than the “medicine” category.  This means manufacturers must report all ingredients/allergens on a label, that the ingredients are safe for consumption, and that the amount of content claimed is at least as much as the amount identified on the label (it can be more).  It also means that the products aren’t held to the same standards as pharmaceuticals: safety and efficacy do not need to be proven to the FDA, nor does it need to pass an approval process.

Not only is it an under-regulated industry (regarding health claims and consumer safety), but some supplements may have negative interactions with other medications (such as antibiotics, birth control, or blood pressure medication).  Reportedly each year 23,000 people end up in the Emergency Room because of a supplement they took, and adverse reactions.  I cannot stress enough to please talk to your physician before beginning a supplement.

In 1995, the FDA created the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs.  The ODS is tasked with promoting the scientific study of dietary supplements.  They are presently working on publishing their strategic plan for 2015-2020.  The ODS’s mission statement is, “to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, stimulating and supporting research, disseminating research results, and educating the public to foster an enhanced quality of life and health for the U.S. population.”

In 2006, the Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act came into existence.  Manufacturers must report any adverse events/reports to the FDA.  The FDA also encourages consumers to report any adverse events they may have while using dietary supplements.

In 2007, the Current Good Manufacturing Practices took place – invoking standards in an effort to ensure quality throughout the manufacturing, processing, labeling, and storing of supplements.  It took full effect in June 2010.

From 2008-2012, the FDA found that nearly half of the 450 manufacturers inspected violated manufacturing rules.  It could have been as simple as using the wrong phrasing on a bottle (making a claim to treat/cure a condition), having unclean manufacturing/storage facilities, or even using incorrect/undisclosed ingredients.

In 2008, over 200 people were treated for toxicity due to Total Body Formula’s supplements – it turned out that the products had 200 times the labeled dosage of selenium, as well as heightened levels of chromium, which can lead to toxicity poisoning.  Many people reported symptoms of hair loss, fingernail discoloration, muscle and joint pain, gastrointestinal issues, and many missed work because of their symptoms.  A  lawsuit was filed in 2008, and completed in 2012; however, the settlement terms were confidential.  Total Body Formula supplements were manufactured by TexAmerican Food Blending (Arkansas) and Wright Enrichment (Louisiana).  According to TBF’s attorney, Rod Cate, “They have nothing to do with the manufacturing process. [Total Body] relies upon the manufacturers to do it correctly.”  Where were the checks and balances?  Oh, that’s right : they don’t exist for the supplement industry.

In 2009, the FDA filed a complaint against Quality Formulation Laboratories, Inc.; American Sports Nutrition, Inc.; and Sports Nutrition International, LLC, for manufacturing and storing products in “filthy conditions,” which may allow allergens to enter the products.  An inspection found live (and dead) rats in the facility (including a dead rat cut in half on the blending platform), rodent urine & feces, and holes gnawed through product packaging.  The companies were also including milk ingredients in their products, but failed to disclose such on their labels – which could be a major allergen problem for some folks.  Finally, it was discovered that equipment was not cleaned between batches, allowing for contamination.  In 2010, the US District Court shut down the three businesses for their violations; however, the owners of the three businesses were continuing to operate in 2011.  They were found guilty of contempt and were each sent to Federal Prison.

In 2011, the FDA filed an injunction against ATF Fitness Products and Manufacturing ATF Dedicated Excellence, aka MADE, (both companies owned by the same man) for substituting ingredients and failing to update the labels on their products.  Additionally, they failed to report to the FDA adverse reactions/events, including one consumer suffering a heart attack.  ATF exclusively purchased their products from MADE. Some of the products they manufactured and distributed were: Sci-Fit and Nature’s Science.  In 2012, they were permanently shut down.   ATF Fitness Products filed for bankrupcy in 2012, MADE filed for bankruptcy in 2013, and Mr. Vercellotti, the individual owner of both companies, filed for bankruptcy in 2013.

In February 2015, the New York Attorney General’s office accused Walmart, Target, CVS, and GNC of selling fraudulent/dangerous supplements.  The majority of the products tested from these retailers did not contain the ingredients identified on the label.  Many also contained a majority of fillers such as powdered rice, houseplants, beans, peas, and asparagus.  For example, a ginkgo biloba supplement purchased at Walmart claimed to be gluten- and wheat-free, but ended up just containing powdered radish, houseplant, and wheat.  Ginseng pills purchased at Walgreens were made of only garlic and rice; it contained no ginseng.  Many retailers stated they were going to pull the items from their shelves.  Others stood by the integrity of the manufacturing and testing of the supplements.  GNC agreed to now use DNA barcode testing to “authenticate plants used in supplements and adopt new testing standards to prevent contamination. The agreement also imposed reforms to improve transparency for consumers and to promote consumer safety.”

Then in September 2015, the New York Attorney General’s office was at it again.  This time they found that 13 manufacturers of “devil’s claw” supplements were using the wrong plant altogether!  Some of the manufacturers included The Kroger Co. (with Vitacost.com – where I buy my supplements…crap), Now Foods, Nutraceutical International, and Nature’s Way.  Nature’s Way responded to the A.G.’s office, stating they would refund anyone who purchased their product during a certain period of time, and to employ better verification processes.

In November 2016, the FDA announced that Raritan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., had voluntarily recalled some of their homeopathic products because they might contain more Belladdona, a potentially fatal poison, than labeled or intended.  These products included baby teething tablets and a liquid ear relief treatment.

Also in November 2016, the Consumer Labs tested various potassium supplements and found one brand had arsenic present!  A daily serving of the potassium tablets was found to contain higher levels of arsenic than allowed by the EPA in a full liter of drinking water.  Think it was the cheapest available supplement?  Nope! Of all the products tested for arsenic, the potentially-toxic “winner” was the most expensive!  Unfortunately, the brand name was not made available without having a paid membership with Consumer Lab.

On December 1, 2016, the FDA announced that Ultimate Body-Tox was recalling their Ultimate Body Tox PRO tablets since it contained an undeclared ingredient: sibutramine.  Sibutramine was declared unsafe in the US in 2010 and removed from the consumer market.  It has been known to cause an increase in pulse rate and blood pressure, which may be a risk factor for those with heart problems.  Not only did their dietary supplement contain an known unsafe ingredient, but the manufacturers failed to identify the ingredient on the label!

This year, India has enacted new regulations that supplements can no longer be sold as medicinal and must feature a “health supplement” label and an advisory warning that it is not intended for medicinal use.  Furthermore, the ingredients cannot exceed daily allowances mandated by the Indian Council of Medical Research.  Supplements are also restricted by age : only people over 5-years-old may be given supplements.  These regulations are scheduled to take full effect January 2018.

New Zealand’s government is presently working on clarifying the labels used on natural health products (NHPs), as well as limiting ingredients and dosages.

How can you be sure that the supplements you’re taking are a) what they claim to be and b) safe?  Frontline put together a great list of five steps you can take to look a little deeper into your supplements.  Read their article here.   These tips also include checking the FDA’s webpage for adverse effects/reactions to the supplement(s).

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There are companies out there that independently test and vouch for dietary supplements.  ConsumerLab conducts independent tests and publishes results about many different products, including dietary supplements.  Unfortunately, you must be a member to review the results of those tests. NSF International is another company that conducts independent tests.   US Pharmacopeial Convention is a non-profit organization that tests the integrity of dietary supplements.  For a list of USP-approved supplements, click here.  These companies offer a “seal of approval” that you can find on the packaging of supplements.  Be advised, though, that  manufacturers pay these independent testers to review their products and receive that seal showing the product contains what it says it contains – it does not mean the product is safe for consumption, or that it will do what it claims.  Plus there’s always the chance for biased results when someone is paying for a service…

AND, do your own personal research.  I was told to take flax seed oil as a great Omega-3 fatty acid to help combat the inflammation of Endometriosis.  And, without research anything, I did.  I was excited to try this new thing that may help with my pain.  Did I have adverse reactions?  None that I could feel…but I did learn much later that flax seed contains phytoestrogens which may boost my estrogen levels and adversely influence my Endometriosis.  Whelp.  So I moved on to krill oil…but now I want to research ALL of the supplements I’m taking, one by one.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask your physician their opinion on products.  I told my gastroenterologist that I was taking digestive enzymes and probiotics daily.  He asked if they made me feel any better – and I let him know that I wasn’t any better or any worse.  So he suggested I stop taking them, stating that my body creates enough digestive enzymes and probiotics on their own.  So, I tried the test : stop them for a few weeks, see how I feel.  If no better or no worse, might as well save me the $30 a month that I was throwing into those supplements.  And do you know what?  I still feel great, having stopped them nearly a year ago.

I also asked my gynecologist his thoughts on resveratrol for adhesion prevention.  He believes there isn’t enough science to back the claims AND stated the dosages required would be incredibly high.  He encouraged me to save my money, maintain a healthy diet, exercise, and keep positive thoughts.  The decision was totally mine; however, and I chose to save my money.  Does this mean I’ll never buy a new supplement ever again? Hell no.  I’m presently looking into an enzyme that helps a fellow EndoSister immensely – I’m just going into this with a more informed outlook…

All that being said, though, if the supplements you are taking make you feel better, continue what you are doing!  That truly is what’s important.  But…do your homework and research! Talk to your physician.  And check for consumer complaints…

I had no idea the dietary supplement industry was so under-regulated.  I knew they weren’t held to the same approval standards, but didn’t realize it was such a free-for-all.  Do I believe Big Supp exists?  I sure do… But I shall become the informed consumer, damn it!

I hope you do, too.

*Updated December 1, 2016*

Resources:

Bankruptreport – James Vercellotti

Chicago Tribune – (Article; June 2012) Dietary Supplements: Manufacturing Troubles Widespread, FDA Inspections Show

CNN – (Article; Nov. 2016) Homeopathic Kids’ Products Recalled Due to Belladonna

Consumer Lab – (Press Release; Nov. 2016) ConsumerLab.com Finds Arsenic in Testing of Potassium Supplements

Consumer Lab – (Press Release; Nov. 2016) Seller of Mineral, Joint Supplements and More Warned for Manufacturing Violations, Drug Claims

Consumer Products Healthcare Association

Council for Responsible NutritionDietary Supplement and Food Regulations Compared

CourtDrive – ATF Fitness Products, Inc.

Federal Trade CommissionDietary Supplements

Forbes – (Article; Dec. 2011) Prison for Sellers of Dietary Products Contaminated by Rodents and Milk

Frontline – (Article; Jan. 2016) Five Questions to Ask When Considering Health Supplements

HealthWyze – (Blog; March 2010) Evaluating the Evaluators from Consumer Lab

India Today – (Article; Nov. 2016) FSSAI Sets Rules to Check Health Supplement Mis-Labeling

Inforuptcy.com – MADE

Mad in America – (Article; Nov. 2016) Have you Ever Wondered Why Labels on Suppelements are So Vague?

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements – Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary SupplementsMission, Origin, and Mandate

Natural Products Insider – (Blog; 2011) FDA Slams AFT for cGMP Violations

New York Attorney General – (Press Release; Sept. 2015) A.G. Schneiderman Issues Cease-and-Desist Letters to 13 Makers of Devil’s Claw Supplements Marketed to Arthritis Sufferers

New York Times – (Article; Feb. 2015) New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers

New York Times – (Article; Nov. 2016) Which Supplements, if Any, May be Worth Your Money

NSFDietary Supplement Safety

Nutraceuticals World – (Article; June 2016) Supplement Industry Contributes $122 Billion to US Economy

OpenSecrets – Nutritional & Dietary Supplements lobbying information

Pharmavite – (.pdf handout; 2015) How Dietary Supplements are Regulated

Pittman Dutton & HellumsTotal Body Formula no RX for Health, Sickens 197

Plainsight – (Court docket) In Re: Total Body Formula Products Liability Litigation MDL 1985

Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society – (Article; Dec. 2015) FDA Unveils New Office of Dietary Supplement Programs

ScienceBlogs – (Blog; July 2012) Dietary Supplements: Scary Substances Manufactured Under Scary Conditions

Seminole Voice – (Article; Nov. 2016) Not All Supplements are What They Claim to Be

STAT – (Blog; Nov. 2015) Experts Debate: Do We Need Tougher Regulation of Dietary Supplements?

Trib Live – (Article; May 2012) Federal Agents Mum on Raid at Closed Oakmont Factory

US Food & Drug AdministrationDietary Supplements Guidance Documents & Regulatory Information

US Food & Drug Administration – (Press Release; Nov. 2011) FDA Takes Enforcement Action Against Pennsylvania Dietary Supplement Maker

US Food & Drug Administration – (Press Release; July 2009) FDA Takes Enforcement Action Against Three New Jersey Dietary Supplement and Protein Powder Manufacturers 

US Food & Drug Administration – (Press Release; March 2008) FDA Warns Consumers About “Total Body Formula” and “Total Body Mega Formula” Distributor Recalls Dietary Supplement Products After Reports of Adverse Reactions

US Food & Drug Administration – (Database) For Consumers: Dietary Supplements

US Food & Drug Administration – (Article) How to Spot Health Fraud (interestingly enough, it’s under the “Bioterrorism and Drug Preparedness” category)

US Food & Drug Administration – (Press Release; Nov. 2016) Raritan Pharmaceuticals Inc. Issues a Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Products Containing Belladonna Extract Due to the Possibility of the Presence of Belladonna Alkaloids

US Food & Drug Administration – (Press Release; Dec. 2016) Ultimate Body Tox PRO: Recall – Undeclared Drug Ingredient

Vanguard – (Article; Nov. 2016) WARNING! Your Dietary Supplements May Not be Living Up to Their Claims

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide

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I’d recently heard about food grade hydrogen peroxide.  Wait, what?  People are ingesting the bubbly stuff I put on scrapes and scratches?  Some say it’s great for you, that it cures allll kinds of things by oxygenating the blood.  Others swear up and down that it acts as a detox for your body (I know you’re either rolling your eyes at that word, or you’re squirming in your seat with excitement).  Regardless of how I feel about detoxes, cleanses, cure-alls, etc., I am still curious about this trend.

What’s the differences between the hydrogen peroxide I keep in my medicine cabinet and “food grade hydrogen peroxide?”  Concentration! Here’s the different types of H2O2 available:

3% Pharmaceutical H2O2, what most of us have in our first aid kits and medicine cabinets.  Some EndoSisters dilute 3% H2O2 in a hot bath and soak for relaxation;

6% Beautician Grade H2O2, used in hair coloring treatments;

30% Reagent Grade H2O2, used in scientific experiments;

30 – 32% Electronic Grade H2O2, used to clean electrical components;

35% Technical Grade H2O2, used in scientific experiments;

35% Food Grade H2O2, used for food production and processing.  It has also been found as an ingredient in improvised chemical weapons (due to it’s high oxidation).  This is what many people have been ingesting or breathing for health benefits, although it must be severely diluted prior to use (some dilute it in water and drink it, others dilute it and use it in a humidifier or nebulizer, and yet others dilute it, gargle, and spit).  Consuming improperly diluted H2O2 can be fatal.  Other ways people use FGH2O2: a foot soak, in the bath, as a douche, as an enema, or as mouthwash; and,

90% H2O2, used in rocket fuel (yes, I just Nerded Out).

There are claims that food grade hydrogen peroxide acts as a natural disinfectant, that it oxidizes and eliminates toxins from the body, and (as we all pretty much have learned growing up) cleans wounds and fights infection.  As for claims of a cure, people have said that food grade H2O2 has cured their sinus infections, emphysema, Alzheimers, yeast infections, Diabetes, melanoma, blood poisoning, warts, depression, sciatica pain, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, Lupus, herpes, gum infections, skin infections, toothaches, cancer, AIDS, and so much more.  You can find countless testimonials online about the life-changing benefits of users.

On the flip side, people have complained that after drinking or inhaling food grade hydrogen peroxide (even diluted), they’ve suffered from coughing fits, nausea, vomiting, sore throats, cotton mouth, swollen legs, headaches, chest pain, tinnitus, loss of balance, blood disorders, constipation, a burning sensation near the anus, stomach cramps, and flu-like symptoms (body aches, fatigue).  One webpage said that these adverse symptoms are merely, “the H2O2 seeking out the virus & streptococcus to destroy.”  Others tell these complainants to simply reduce the amount of drops they take each day and the symptoms will dissipate. One concerned user said he got heart pains after consuming H2O2 with tap water…the response from another H2O2 user: that the heart pains are likely caused by the tap water because “God knows what’s in that stuff” rather than the H2O2.  Another tap water drinker suffered from extreme bloating after H2O2 consumption, had been to the ER, and was suicidal after the bloating hadn’t receded. She wrote, “I am a victim to not researching this properly and being a complete idiot. Please help me know if in time this will heal.”  She doesn’t mention she’ll stop using H2O2…and nobody responded to her question.

In 2006, the FDA published a press release outlining the dangers of ingesting hydrogen peroxide.  They urged consumers not to ingest the 35% Food Grade H2O2, for risk of causing “serious harm or death.”  They urged those who were already consuming to stop immediately.  The FDA has never approved of such actions, and went after companies selling FGH2O2 claiming their product healed illnesses.

Curious to start your own treatment of food grade hydrogen peroxide?

First, bring it up with your doctor and address pros, cons, concerns, possible side effects, and possible interactions with medications or supplements.  I’m pretty sure most MDs will dissuade you, but you need to have this conversation.

Secondly, good luck finding the recommended dosage.  All I’ve found online are conflicting reports about which percentage of H2O2 to purchase, how many drops versus how much water to dilute, and how best to increase your dosage:

  • Some say 3 drops of 35% H2O2 to 12oz of water.
  • Some say 3 drops of 12% H2O2 to 11oz of water.
  • Others says 4 drops of 8% H2O2 with 8oz of water.
  • Some say use 3% H2O2 and don’t dilute it.
  • Others say us 3% H2O2 and dilute it further.
  • Some say you can ingest the regular 3% H2O2 we all have in our bathrooms.
  • Others say no to the 3% H2O2 because it’s full of other ingredients that may be harmful to us.
  • Some say to take it on an empty stomach.
  • Others say to always eat before you do.

It’s all over the place.  And don’t get me started on how many drops you should be taking how many times per day.  Some sites warn against laying down immediately after consuming H2O2 as it can cause the gases in your stomach to rise, causing discomfort or trouble breathing.

A 2007 study states that ingestion of hydrogen peroxide can kill you in one of three ways : 1) caustic injury (it burns ya), 2) oxygen gas formation (ya send a bubble to your brain), and 3) lipid peroxidation (the oxidation causes free radicals to strip lipids of electrons and can cause a chain reaction of cell damage/death).  A 39-year-old man accidentally drank 8 ounces of 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide (he thought it was water; it was in an unlabeled bottle in a friend’s fridge).  He went to the ER after vomiting blood and complained of upper abdominal pain.  Upon examination, he had some caustic injury to his stomach, as well as some gas issues.  He spent three days in the hospital and was released.  The study notes, “the storage and use of 35% hydrogen peroxide for natural health benefits results in an emerging source for more serious ingestions. Thirty-five per cent hydrogen peroxide can be lethal when ingested, and needs to be treated with caution and stored appropriately. Public awareness and regulation of the use of this substance is required.”  As a side note, some people believe the cellular and tissue damage caused by these free radicals may aid in the development of adhesions…which nobody wants.

A study published in the Journal of Community Health this year reviewed 634 poisoning incidents that occurred between 2012-2013 in California.  Of those, 30 reports were related to hydrogen peroxide: seven people used it in their ears, 22 people used it rectally, and one person used it vaginally. This study mentions that a 29-year-old woman went to the ER because she had administered as 12% food grade hydrogen peroxide enema in the hopes to “clean herself out.”  She had 10 separate episodes of rectal bleeding before going to the emergency room.

Other side effects of hydrogen peroxide consumption/poisoning may be a narrowing of airways, trouble breathing, burning of gastrointestinal tract, too much oxygen in blood (which may cause an embolism), and tissue damage. However, I think these were mostly from cases which did not dilute the solution enough…

With an unregulated, unstudied, and unproven “treatment,” I urge you to please do your research and be careful.  I know you’re going to treat however you feel is best for you, but do it with an educated mind.  Heed the warnings and go into this fully aware of all of the consequences.

Will I try it?  You can probably guess my answer by the tone of this blog entry. 😉  But will I judge you for wanting to try it? Not at all…just be careful.

Resources:

Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology – (Article, Oct. 2007) Accidental Ingestion 35% Hydrogen Peroxide

Cancer Tutor – (Blog, June 2016) Hydrogen Peroxide Cancer Treatment

Earth Clinic – (Blog, Sept. 2016) Food Grade Peroxide Cures

Educate Yourself – (Blog, July 2013; updated May 2015) The Many Benefits of Hydrogen Peroxide

Endometriosis: Current Management and Future Trends – (Excerpt, 2010) Oxidative Stress and the Pathogenesis of Endometriosis

Heal Dove – (Blog, April 2016) Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide and Its Uses

Illinois Poison Center – (Blog, Feb. 2011) Frightening Facts about Food-Grade Hydrogen Peroxide

Journal of Community Health – (Abstract; Feb. 2016) Human Poisoning Through Atypical Routes of Exposure – if you would like to read the entire article, please let me know

Livestrong – (Article, Jan. 2016) What are the Dangers of Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide?

Los Alamos National Library – (Slides, Jan. 2016) Unconventional CW

OBGyn.net – (Blog, July 2011) Stress Reduction for Relief of Fibroids & Endometriosis

Texas Poison Center Network

US Food & Drug Administration – (Press release, July 2006) FDA Warns Consumers Against Drinking High-Strength Hydrogen Peroxide for Medicinal Use

US National Library of Medicine – (Abstract, May 1999) Lipid Peroxidation and Tissue Damage

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 🙂 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

 

Recap : Naturally Speaking, It’s Endo Event

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On March 5, 2016, an event was held in Toronto, Canada called “Naturally Speaking, It’s Endo.”  It was a workshop with several presenters on natural techniques that you could use to manage your Endometriosis symptoms and pain.  I asked Michelle, one of the organizers of the event, if she and her cohorts would answer a few questions for our blog, and they did!  Not only that, but they offers some amazing highlights from each of the speakers below.  They also offered some beautiful door prizes and a luncheon for the attendees.
This once again goes to show that you don’t have to be huge organization to prepare an event.  This was put together by two women; two very strong women with a vision! I always say it because it’s, true, but “Together, we can do great things!”
**

Who helped organize and plan the event?

It was basically myself with the help of our office manager, Elaina. We also had support from The Endometriosis Network Canada (TENC) to help promote the event, but the planning and organization was just Elaina and I.

How long had it been in the works? (If you can believe it, many EndoSisters ask me these two questions because they’d like to prepare events in their area, too, and it’s something that many people want to know)

I initially wanted to do this event last September and had started thinking about it in July. But since I was getting married in October, I felt I was being pulled in too many directions at that time. I contacted TENC to see if they were planning anything in March for endometriosis awareness month. When they said they didn’t have any plans I told them I was interested in planning an event about natural ways to manage endo symptoms. We often get asked by women about what options exist in natural healthcare if they don’t want to use medication, or if they are on medication, what options can provide complementary support. TENC said they would help us spread the word about the event, so I started planning the speakers and event content around late November to early December. I booked a venue in January and we started promoting the event right away. I have helped plan events before so I know in order for the event to be successful, you should give yourself at least 6 months to plan, organize and promote the event.

How many attendees did you have?

We had 12 attendees.

I see that you have 5 guest speakers, covering topics from nutrition, naturopathic medicine, chiropractic care, restorative exercise, and skin care/make-up. How did these topics tie-in to Endometriosis care, treatment, and support?

I wanted to give women a variety of options for treatments because each woman is going to have a different experience with endometriosis. In holistic medicine we believe that every person is a unique individual, and what works for one person with endo, may not work for another. So the speakers offered 5 different options that can be used separately, or in conjunction with each other. I also know that other illnesses/diseases can occur simultaneously with endometriosis, such as weak pelvic floor muscles. These five different perspectives encompass a treatment plan for the whole person because what we eat, the supplements we take, our breathing and posture, our exercise regime and what we put on our skin all affect endometriosis symptoms.

Were there highlights of each that you’d care to share? I know that feeling well, inside AND out, can dramatically help an EndoSister feel better about her condition.

I can share highlights from each presentation.

From a nutrition perspective: the aim of the diet should be to help reduce inflammation to help reduce symptoms. The best way to do this is with a veggie centric diet which is dairy and gluten free, high in fibre and healthy fats, and low in carbohydrates. www.greystoneshealth.com

From the restorative movement: The way you move every day makes a big difference to your pelvic floor health. Walking more, sitting in chairs less, not wearing high heels, and not sucking in your stomach are all great ways to start caring for your pelvic floor. www.movementrevolution.ca

From a skincare perspective: what we put on our skin is directly absorbed into our body. Some ingredients used in skincare products are toxic and can mimic the estrogen hormone, so be an aware consumer and look for organic, natural options for skincare and makeup products. http://www.arbonne.com/pws/christiepawliw/tabs/home.aspx

From a naturopathic perspective: the very first thing that needs to be done to help reduce symptoms from endometriosis (even before looking at hormones) is to reduce inflammation and ensure a healthy gut ecology. Once this is done, the hormones will balance much easier, especially with incorporation of some mind/body work. Lastly, the Dutch hormone panel is a new test that provides a deeper look at the hormone balance in a person with endometriosis. www.greystoneshealth.com

From a chiropractic perspective: Deep breathing techniques will help to support the pelvic floor and core muscles. Your pelvic floor acts as a second diaphragm and when everything is working together, the nervous system is better supported and helps to reduce symptoms such as low back pain. www.backinbalanceclinic.ca

I also see that representatives from The Endometriosis Network Canada was present. Could you tell me more about that? What did they talk about? Any future events coming up? More support for local EndoSisters in that area?

Yes. I asked them to come and do a brief talk at the beginning of the event about what they do in case any women in attendance hadn’t heard of them before.

As of right now, we don’t have any future events planned. However, we do write blog articles for TENC and any other endo publications that are interested.

I know tickets were $20-30 and the price of admission included snacks, a make-up tutorial, and a chance to win door prizes. Where else did the funds go? I’m assuming overhead and payment for the guest speakers? Anything else?

The event was $20 and included admission, food and a chance to win door prizes. We initially tried offering a discounted rate so that it would encourage people to buy tickets ahead of time because we were offering food and needed a sense of numbers to prepare for. However, we weren’t selling a lot of tickets and were told that sometimes women with endo don’t know until the day before an event if they will feel well enough to attend. So we kept the price at $20. We wanted to keep the price low so it was affordable, but we needed a way to make back some of the money we paid for expenses. So essentially all the money we made from the event went to cover some of the overhead expenses, and we (meaning
Greystones Health) covered the rest.

If you could do anything differently, what would it be?

I don’t think so. We put a lot of effort into this event and were pleased with the result.

Any advice for EndoSisters reading this entry today?

In regards of event planning, be sure to give yourself lots of time to plan the event, and also consider the timing for the event. From my experience both planning and attending events, events held during the summer months usually have less people because people are busy outdoors enjoying the weather. When the weather is cooler, people are more likely to look for something to do.

In regards of a health perspective, my partner, Dr. Steyr has had success treating women with endo as a naturopathic doctor, whether it was managing symptoms or helping them prepare for pregnancy. I’ve heard many women say that they’ve run out of options to manage their endo symptoms, and so we want to give them a message of hope. There is always a way to better health, and it’s important to realize that this is a process which can take some time, but we’re here to help and support these women as they journey on their path to better health.

**
For more information on any of the participants involved in the workshop, please see the links below.
Greystones Health: A Toronto based natural healthcare team offering naturopathic medicine and nutrition counselling.  They also work with Back in Balance for chiropractic services.
Michelle Heighington: registered nutritionist.  Michelle is also able to meet with patients via Skype! If you’re interested, please reach out to her for more information.
Dr. Joseph Steyr: naturopathic doctor.  Dr. Steyre and Ms. Heighington offer a free initial consultation.  If interested, please reach out to their offices at info@greystoneshealth.com.
Dr. Lisa Clarke: chiropractor
Petra Fisher:restorative exercise specialist
Christie Pawliw: independent consultant for Arbonne International.  Christie is available by e-mail if you’d like more information about skincare.  Please feel free to contact her for more information.
The Endometriosis Network Canada: A volunteer-run, incorporated, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to facilitate & promote a patient-centred approach to managing endometriosis.

I want to thank Michelle, Elaina, Greystones Health, each of the presenters, and The Endometriosis Network Canada for taking the time to help spread the word about Endometriosis, other treatment options, and taking the time to respond to our questions.  Keep up the great work!

Yours,

Lisa

Endo & Liver Function

Anatomy_Abdomen_Tiesworks

Most of my blogs are started out of my own curiosity, and this one is no different.

I’ve read in numerous sources that gals with Endometriosis need to keep our livers in tip-top condition; well-greased and in proper working order.  I’ve seen a few Facebook posts from other EndoSisters that they have heightened levels of *something* when they have a liver panel blood test done, and they wonder if their Endometriosis may have something to do with that.  That struck a chord with me because I have Gilbert’s Syndrome, which is a liver disease diagnosed through heightened liver panel results.

Does my Endo affect my liver’s functions? And does that, in turn, add to or affect my Gilbert’s Syndrome? My liver blood panel test results?

I may not have found any definitive answers to my questions above, but I did learn A LOT about my liver, hormones, diet, and health. Intrigued? Read on, Dear Reader, read on.

What Does the Liver Do

The liver is the second largest organ in your body (weighing about 3 pounds) and is a big, ugly, rubbery reddish-brown organ that resides in the upper right cavity of your torso, and is protected by the rib cage.  Think of it as a filtration laboratory: the liver receives blood coming from our heart (rich in oxygen) and digestive tract (rich in whatever was absorbed from the foods or beverages we ingest) and even toxins that were absorbed through our skin; filters it (removing chemicals, bacteria, and toxins); and then sends the good & clean blood and nutrients back throughout your body.  It also helps metabolize medications and breaks down alcohol.

Our livers secrete bile (which helps break down fat) and delivers it to our intestines or stomach to help with digestion.  The liver also creates proteins that are vital for blood clotting and stores sugar, vitamins, and minerals. Is this all the liver does? NO! It has actually hundreds of different functions throughout the body. Huuuuundreds!

Hormones & the Liver

Among its many other functions, the liver manufactures estrogen and testosterone. It is also responsible for maintaining and destroying excess hormones.  Research is ongoing into understanding the estrogen breakdown and distribution by the liver, and possible effects of estrogen-related symptoms and cancers.

Many physicians and women with Endometriosis believe there is a direct link to Endometriosis and estrogen/hormone balance.  If you are one of those Believers, you’ll want to take efforts to maintain a happy and healthy liver.  It’s been shown that a diet high in eating complex carbs in veggies and grains aids in the metabolism of estrogen and high in fiber intake increases the amount of excess estrogen secretion (aka, you poop it out).  Less stress on our livers to have to filter it out itself. There are also many women out there who believe it is not a hormone-driven condition, but one based off of many other factors.  So, this article may mean nothing to you.

Regardless of your thought process of hormone levels and Endometriosis, maintaining healthy liver function is key to keeping your entire body in tip-top condition. Which helps in the long run. With everything.

Can Endo Grow on the Liver?

It’s not a far-fetched question as it grows in so many other places of the body.  During my 2014 diagnostic laparoscopy, an Endometriosis legion was found on my liver.  It was deemed too dangerous to remove at that time.  And by my 2016 surgery, it had vanished on its own. So, it’s not unheard of.  And I personally know three other EndoWarriors who have Endo lesions on their livers.

But in the August 2018 issue of Annals of Hepatology, a 40-year-old woman had a large mass on her liver show up in imaging studies.  An exploratory surgery was performed and the mass was removed from the left hepatic lobe of her liver and a biopsy confirmed the cystic mass was, indeed, endometriosis.

How to Help the Liver

Maintaining a healthy diet is critical to assisting your liver do it’s job better!  The American Liver Foundation suggests eating grains, proteins, dairy, fruit, vegetables, and good fats.  Also, eat plenty of fiber, which you can get from fruits, veggies, grains, breads, and cereals.   Of course, those of us following the EndoDiet will be avoiding dairy, soy, and gluten.  More on their dietary suggestions, including what to eat if you already have a liver disease, can be found by clicking here.  They also provide a free, 14-page brochure full of healthy recipes that aid in healthy liver function (click here).

Certain supplements are rumored to help with liver strengthening and cleansing : SAMe (aka Sam-E; S-adenosylmethionine), Milk Thistle, and Milk Thistle Seed Extract are some of the well-known ones.  Magnesium is said to help with estrogen detoxification.  Magnesium and calcium have been shown to decrease the symptoms of PMS.  All of which is related in one way or another to, you guessed it: the liver! Tumeric has also been shown to help increase the liver’s ability to detoxify certain estrogens (it’s also great for inflammation!).

How to Strain and Harm the Liver

Alcohol is the most famous way you can damage your liver.  “Pickle your liver,” is a common expression.  Alcohol is processed through the liver and can cause irreversible damage, leading to many different types of alcohol-related liver disease.  To read more about the different types of alcohol-related liver disease, and what can be done for each, click here.

Fatty foods and obesity can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  Mind your diet. Exercise.  You only get one body…

If you’ve taken pain killers or headache medicine before, you may recall seeing the label about consulting with your physician regarding Acetaminophen.  And you also may recall about not taking more than the instructed dose, which also means not mixing medications : taking 2 Tylenol and an hour later 2 Midol or 1 Percocet.  Too much Acetaminophen can cause serious liver damage.  More info on Acetaminophen (courtesy of the American Liver Foundation) can be read by clicking here.  Acetaminophen may also interfere with the effectiveness of your birth control pills.  Read the fine print and talk to your doctor.

Gilbert’s Syndrome

When I was 14 years old, I was diagnosed with Gilbert’s Syndrome, I was told it was a rare condition that mostly affected men.  The doctor surmised I must have contracted it during a blood transfusion when I was born (I was 3.5 months premature and spent a long time in the hospital) and that I would not be able to ever donate my blood or organs.  However, I’ve since learned a few things:

1. Gilbert’s Syndrome is not as rare as I first suspected, and is actually considered common. 3-7% of the United States population has it, and is more common in men more than women.

2. Gilbert’s Syndrome is an inherited gene mutation, which means you’re born with it. One or both of my parents has this gene, but they may not know it.

3. The American Red Cross does accept blood donations from people with Gilbert’s Syndrome.

It’s relatively harmless.  And there is no treatment.  But just what does it do to me?

Every once in a while my skin and eyes will turn yellow…aka jaundiced. I can also suffer from extreme fatigue during these times.  The jaundice is caused by heightened levels of bilirubin in my system, because my liver is unable to process it out of my blood as quickly as it should…Bilirubin is created when old red blood cells break down, and is normally filtered through the liver.  Since my liver has a defective enzyme due to Gilbert’s Syndrome, it cannot breakdown the bilirubin levels as well as it should, so it continues to circulate through my system.  If the levels get too high, I go yellow, but it goes away on its own.  Due to the ineffective cleansing levels of my liver, medications may have increased side effects.

Certain circumstances can affect my G.S. : fasting, skipping meals, having a cold or flu, exercising too much, dehydration, being on my period, stress, or lack of sleep.

What Have I Learned Today

My original question was, “Does my Endo affect my liver’s functions? And does that, in turn, add to or affect my Gilbert’s Syndrome?”  It remains unanswered.  But what I did learn was that my liver’s health and efficiency may affect my Endometriosis…

I learned a lot about my Gilbert’s Syndrome that I didn’t already know.  I also learned that the liver does a whole lot more than I thought it did…a whole lot more. Since my diagnosis with Endometriosis, I’ve altered my diet habits, so I feel much better about that, and it seems to go with the American Liver Foundation’s dietary recommendations.  I’ve also drastically reduced the amount of alcohol I drink.  Which I probably should have done a decade ago…hindsight…

And I want to continue to strive to keep my liver strong and healthy.  Especially because my liver already functions at a lesser rate than the average person.

What did you learn?

*Updated September 4, 2018*

Resources:

American Liver Foundation

American Red Cross

Annals of Hepatology – (Abstract; Aug. 2018) Rare Case of Hepatic Endometriosis as an Incidental Finding: Difficult Diagnosis of a Diagnostic Dilemma

Connections

Drugs.com

Healing Edge

HPBlondon

Know Your Dose

Mayo Clinic

Meta E-Health

WebMD

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

EndoSisters, ring in the New Year with Hope!

2015 HopeHappy New Year!!!!

And we’re going to start this one off right for my EndoSisters!  I know our medical community has left us feeling neglected, in pain, helpless, or hopeless…BUT there is hope in the non-traditional medical world.  While we continue to wait for modern medicine to find a cure, we can still take steps to help our bodies fight this disease!

For many sufferers of Endometriosis, they have found relief from some, if not all, of their pain through natural methods!  I do not always write about these methods, purely because I haven’t tried them all and cannot offer you my own personal experience…but today I will!

If any of these methods may offer you or I relief in 2015, then it’s worth a try!

And if you have any methods you’d wish to add to this list, please drop a comment below 🙂

Diet Change:

A lot of books, blogs, and articles have been written about altering our food and beverage intake to help with control our Endometriosis symptoms.  I’ve altered my diet, and do feel better (although it may be because I also slipped right into my Lupron Depot treatments at the same time…we shall see how I feel after my injections are done in January!).  In short, the new diet consists of:

No red meat: causes increased inflammation and hurts digestion (also may contain crazy amounts of hormones)

No dairy: causes inflammation (also may contain crazy amounts of hormones)

No wheat products: contains gluten and phytic acid, which can aggravate symptoms of Endometriosis

Avoid as much processed sugar as possible (including juices and sodas): causes inflammation and further aggravates symptoms of Endometriosis (I can’t cut this out ’cause it’s everywhere, but I do make a conscious effort to cut back…)

No caffeine: causes abdominal cramps and increases estrogen levels

No chocolate: contains sugars and caffeine

Limit alcohol intake: muddies up the liver (I haven’t cut this out, but I have drastically reduced.  I no longer drink beer and only enjoy 1 glass of white wine when I do drink)

Since my diet change, I have learned the pleasures of leafy greens (ohmigawd, SALAD can be so adventurous!), turkey products, and cannot get enough water during the day.  I’ve also acquired a taste for coconut milk and have learned a plethora of ways to roast and cook vegetables.  I also enjoy a nightly tea to aid with digestion and lowering inflammation.

I miss eating cheese. So much.  And pie.  And every once in a while, I cheat and eat those things.  But, I suffer the next day with severe abdominal pain and … issues (to put it politely).  I’ve also learned that I can no longer stand sodas, they’re just toooo sweet and sticky and not appetizing at all. I enjoy Teeccino instead of coffee, and have also fallen in love with non-caffeine herbal teas.

Oddly enough, one of my favorite “side effects” of my diet change, well two: 1) I very rarely get headaches or back pain anymore and 2) I also very rarely have gas anymore! No more “pull my finger” jokes.  It truly has been an amazing experience.  And if those two reliefs are related to my new Endo Diet, just awesome!

Supplements/Vitamins:

A lot of women with Endometriosis have upped their vitamin intake to help combat our whacky estrogen levels and inflammation, among other things.  Following is a sampling of certain herbal supplements many Endometriosis sufferers have found helpful:

Artichoke: helps the liver’s function and keeps it clean and strong

Ashwagandha: helps relieve stress and fatigue

Black haw: relieves pain and cramping

Burdock: helps the liver’s function and keeps it clean and strong

Calcium plus Vitamin D: increased calcium may ease cramping and pain.  (also, for women like me currently on Lupron Depot, calcium intake is a must!) (I take this)

Chaste berry: helps normalize menstrual flows

Chaste tree: balances hormone levels

Crampbark: relieves pain and cramping

Dandelion: helps the liver and kidney’s function

Dong Quai: helps stabilize hormone levels

Echinacea: helps boost our immune system

Evening Primrose oil: reduces inflammation and balances hormone levels

Folic Acid: may help slow abnormal cell growth and aids in distribution of vitamin nutrients. (I take this)

Goldenseal: helps the liver’s function and keeps it clean and strong.  It also improves pelvic circulation.

Grape seed extract: reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system

Licorice: helps the liver’s function and keeps it clean and strong.

Magnesium: eases cramping and aids in digestion (I take this)

Milk Thistle Seed Extract: helps keeps our livers healthy and strong.  Milk Thistle can mimic and raise estrogen levels; however the Milk Thistle Seed Extract does not. (I take this)

Motherwort: helps stabilize hormone levels

Multivitamin: A lot of the Vitamin A, Bs, C, and E are necessary for our healthy upkeep, as well as Zinc and Iron.  A good multivitamin will cover this gambit.  (I take this)

Ocotillo: improves pelvic circulation

Omega-3:promotes the “good” prostaglandins, which we EndoLadies need. (I take this)

Siberian Ginseng: helps relieve stress and fatigue

Valerian root: relieves pain and cramping

Wild yam: relieves pain and cramping

Witch hazel: improves pelvic circulation

Xanthoxylon: improves pelvic circulation

Alternative Medicine:

Many women have also found these exercises and alternative practices useful in helping control their pain and suffering:

Acupuncture: it may relieve pain and tension, as well as balance hormones.

Castor Oil Packs: helps reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.

Dry skin brushing: helps keep the lymphatic system clean and detoxes the body

Pelvic Massage: a simply 20-minute pelvic massage with essential oils helps with pain and cramping, as well as shifting and stretching any adhesions you may have in your pelvic region.

Sitz Baths: reduces pelvic pain  and cramping

Yoga: reduces pain and stress, promotes mental health and well-being

May you find relief this year.

Resources:

eatendohappy.com

endo-resolved.com

ezinearticles.com

healthguidance.org

healthwyze.org

holisticonline.com

ifoundthecure.com

livestrong.com

melshealthshop.com

mindbodygreen.com

natural-hormone-health.com

naturalnews.com

natural-homeremedies.com

Teeccino

top10homeremedies.com

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa