Turmeric & Black Pepper

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So, back in the day when I first received my diagnosis and went nuts researching how to best rid my body of inflammation, I started making a tea that contained ginger, honey, and lemon.  I later added turmeric.  And when I could, I used fresh ingredients.

Now I’m lazy and just sip on a mug of tea steeped from a tea bag.  I’ve tried several different ginger teas (some with turmeric, some without).  But my favorite right now is Trader Joe’s Organic Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea.  I’ve also started putting a turmeric powder in my shakes in the morning.  It’s made by Gaia Herbs and it’s their Turmeric Boost Restore formula.  I blend it with a banana, some almond milk, and a pea protein powder mix.

But somewhere between making my homemade tea and finding TJ’s tea, someone told me that in order to allow my body to really soak in the benefits of turmeric I needed to incorporate black pepper. What?  Hence the hunt for the alleged uber anti-inflammatory tea (and other products) with ginger, turmeric, and black pepper.

I was tellin’ my Mum about it recently and she poked me to research and write about it.  Why ARE they supposed to be consumed together?  Why not? So, here I am…drinking my TJ’s tea and hitting the internet for answers!!  AND using goodsearch.com drops a one-cent donation to the Endometriosis Foundation of America each time I search a term! A double whammy!

I’m no nutritionist and don’t understand the chemical breakdowns of these types of things, so here’s my laymen understanding …

From what I can tell, an ingredient found in turmeric (called curcumin) is processed too quickly in our bodies and we don’t have a chance to absorb it well.  An ingredient found in black pepper (called piperine) slows down that process and allows the curcumin-y goodness to enter our bloodstream and work its magic.  There’s a 1998 study out there that compares the levels of curcumin in the bloodstream with and without black pepper.; showing a 2000% increase when consumed with black pepper (don’t ask me the ratios).  Do be careful, though: there are suggestions and concerns of piperine and certain drug interactions. So, as usual: talk to your doctor first.

BUT…please…feel free to read the articles in the Resources section below and form your own opinion!  I know nothing!!  But I do know I’ll continue my turmeric & black pepper combo routine.

Resources:

Healthcloud – (Article, Feb. 18, 2015) Do I Need to Take Pepper with Turmeric?

Healthy and Natural World – (Article) How to Optimize Turmeric Absorption for Super Boosted Benefits

Lucy Bee Blog – (Article, Sept. 22, 2016) Why We Should Be Eating Turmeric with Black Pepper

Just Vitamins – (Article, Sept. 25, 2017) Why Turmeric and Black Pepper Need to Be Taken Together

Pharmacy Times – (Article, July 28, 2017) Piperine Drug Interactions

Planta Medica – (Study, 1998) Influence of Piperine on the Pharmacokinetics of Curcumin in Animals and Human Volunteers

Turmeric for Health – (Article) 6 Amazing Health Benefits of Black Pepper and Turmeric

~ 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 ūüėČ Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa

Tomatoes & Endometriosis

tomatoes15-lg

During our September support group meeting, I was munching on some cherry tomatoes when one of our girls stated, “I thought tomatoes were bad for our Endo…” Damn it. Now I have to research…AND during a camping/survival skills trip in early October, I learned that the ENTIRE tomato plant (except for the tomatoes) is poisonous!  What?  How amazing is that?!?

Anyway, I digress…back to research.

My first page I found digging into tomatoes and Endometriosis introduced me to a word, “lycopene.”  What IS lycopene? It’s a carotenoid – a plant pigment – and specifically, lycopene is responsible for making fruits and veggies red…like TOMATOES.

In 2008, Dr. Tarek Dbouk announced at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine Conference that a study found lycopene could prevent or reduce the production of a protein that promoted adhesion growth. Numerous studies claim that an increase of tomatoes and tomato products in the diet reduces chances of various cancers and cardiovascular disease (although the FDA was found very little evidence to substantiate the claims).  It has been suggested that women with Endometriosis may be able to reduce their symptoms by increasing their lycopene consumption.  Although studies have suggested the lycopene may act as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and help reduce adhesion formation, further studies are needed.

So after reading all of that, you wanna cram your fridge full of tomatoes and other red fruits and veggies right? Well…not so fast (there is always a flip side).

Tomatoes belong to a family of plants known as nightshades.  Some studies have suggested that nightshades may increase inflammation or worsen symptoms of autoimmune diseases.  Healthline published an extensive article on nightshades and various findings and theories on the effects of conditions or sensitivities.  The author also suggests (if you suspect you may have issues with nightshades) to cut ALL nightshades out of your diet for four weeks, then reintroduce them and see how you feel: the ol’ Elimination Diet.  Sounds easy?  Well, here are some fruits & veggies that are nightshades:

  • eggplants
  • goji berries
  • peppers (sweet, bell, chili, etc.)
  • potatoes (except sweet potatoes and yams)
  • tobacco
  • tomatillos
  • tomatoes

This also means that spices derived from those are included in the list of “avoid nightshades”: cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, chili powder, and paprika.  Um…think we’re done? Nope…think again – ketchup, marinara sauce, hot sauce, and salsa all are made from nightshade components. Not an easy task avoiding nightshades.

But are tomatoes the only source of lycopene? Nope – plenty of other fruits and veggies contain lycopene:

  • apricots
  • asparagus (that’s not red!)
  • basil (again…not red!)
  • gac fruit (what is that?!?)
  • goji berry (aka wolfberries; careful…it’s a nightshade)
  • papaya
  • parsley (it’s green!)
  • pink grapefruit
  • pink guava
  • red cabbage
  • red bell peppers
  • red carrots
  • rosehips
  • sea-buckthorn
  • watermelon

A 2015 study tested 10 fruits and veggies in raw and processed forms to discover which had the highest lycopene content.  A breakdown of the tested fruits and veggies (lowest to highest lycopene quantities) in their raw forms: watermelon, asparagus, carrot, grapefruit, gac, red cabbage, sweet peppers, papaya, tomato, and pink guava.  In processed food form, the following order was determined (lowest to highest): mango juice, canned carrot juice, cherry tomato paste, watermelon juice, dried apricots, marinara sauce, sundried tomatoes, canned tomato juice, canned tomato puree, and canned tomato paste.  That being said, they concluded the study by stating, ” The appropriate dose and duration of lycopene supplementation remains to be determined.”  It’s been said that just 8 ounces of tomato juice a day can help increase the levels of lycopene in your system. But, but, but…TOMATOES…nightshades…Endometriosis…!!

Last night, Merritt Jones of Natural Harmony Reproductive Health taught a class on nutrition and Endometriosis and discussed nightshades and why they may be harmful to Endometriosis-sufferers and should be limited or avoided altogether.  But, she also stressed finding what works best for your body, your digestion, and your symptoms.

But wait! There’s more…a flipside of the flipside!  Healthline also wrote an article about nightshades and inflammation in regards to arthritis pain.  Some people with arthritis who avoided nightshades did not experience any symptom relief after eliminating nightshades, so they were encouraged to continue to eat them due to the health benefits that they provide.  The pros outweighed the cons for those individuals.  AND, Ms. Jones informed us at last night’s class that if cutting out anti-inflammatory foods does not help reduce symptoms, you may be suffering from a bit of bad gut health, possibly even leaky gut syndrome.  Always talk to your healthcare provider if things aren’t working – something else may be going on.

So now what?  Tomatoes are good for you. Tomatoes are bad for you.  “Tomayto, tomahto” – do your own research, try the elimination diet, see how you feel, and follow your gut (but do make sure your gut is healthy!).  BUT if you do want to increase your lycopene intake, there are plenty of other options (food and supplement-wise) besides tomatoes.  And, as always, please talk to your healthcare providers before starting any new supplements.

What am I gonna do?  Man, I love me some tomatoes.  I have a little carton of them on my desk right now – delicious, cherub tomatoes.  I really don’t know what I’m going to do.  So, that means I’ll likely do my best to cut them out (and other nightshades) to see if I notice a difference in how I feel – and decide after I reintroduce them back into my diet.

But what about you? What are you going to do? Or what have you already done – and did it make a difference? I’d love to hear about it…drop me a comment below.

(Updated March 27, 2019)

Resources:

Annual Review of Food Science and Technology (Manuscript; 2010) – An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene

Canadian Medical Association Journal (Article; Sept. 2000) Tomato Lycopene and Its Role in Human Health and Chronic Diseases

Daily MailEating Tomatoes Could Help Fight a Painful Womb Condition that Affects 2 Million Women in UK

Dr. WeilTomatoes for Endometriosis?

Healthline (Article; June 2017) – Are Nightshades Bad for You?

Healthline (Article; March 2017) – Nightshade Vegetables and Inflammation: Can They Help with Arthritis Symptoms?

Journal of Basic Sciences Р(Article, 2015) РEvaluation of Lycopene Contents from Various Fruits and Processed Food

Journal of the Natural Cancer Institute – (Article; July 2007) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Evidence-Based Review for Qualified Health Claims: Tomatoes, Lycopene, and Cancer

Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons – (Article; Apr-Jun 2007) Patients with Chronic Pelvic Pain: Endometriosis or Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome?

LiveScience– (Article, Oct. 2015) – What are Carotenoids?

Livestrong – (Article; Oct. 2017) – List of Nightshade Vegetables & Fruits

~ 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 ūüėČ Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

Endometriosis & Salt/Sodium

wooden mortar and pestle filled with salt

I enjoy salt.  Love it, actually.  And one night my Jim asked if I thought salt altered my Endometriosis at all.  We’ve all heard too much salt is a bad thing for blood pressure, watch your sodium-intake, blah blah blah…but I didn’t care – I love my salt.  Well, his question stuck with me over the months and it’s finally time to look into it.

I’d always thought salt and sodium were the same thing…nope. ¬†Table salt is a blend of ingredients, including sodium. ¬†Sodium is a natural mineral. ¬† Sodium helps our bodies balance electrolytes and fluids and is mainly stored in our kidneys. We pee out any excess sodium our body doesn’t use.

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Endometriosis & Wine

A spilling glass of red wine

So, we’ve all heard that a glass of wine can be good for you. ¬†Healthy, actually. ¬†Then we’ve all heard that it can be harmful. ¬†Throw in the mix that some of us suffer from Endometriosis…and that many people try to cut alcohol out of their lifestyle to¬†prevent flare-ups and symptoms. ¬†Alcohol is not only harmful to our bodies and livers, but contains a lot of sugar, as well as wreaks havoc on our system. ¬†But I like me some vino!

Cutting out alcohol all together is likely your safest bet if you’re wanting to live cleaner and healthier. ¬†The liver filters out toxins, as well as estrogen, from the body. ¬†As you may have read elsewhere, Endometriosis¬†is an estrogen-fed and reliant disease. ¬†If our livers cannot properly filter out estrogen, we are simply empowering our illness. ¬†Alcohol is also high in sugar…and we’ve previously discussed how sugar may increase your Endometriosis pain and flare-ups. ¬†Studies have shown that alcohol may also increase estrogen levels due to phytoestrogens in alcohol…plant estrogens that¬†¬†mimic human estrogen (…wait…I didn’t know that. Crap.)

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Inflammation & Endo

Inflamed Bloomin' Uterus logo. It looks bloated and swollen

The Oxford Dictionary defines inflammation as, “a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury and infection.”

An article which is slated to be published in June 2016’s Frontiers in Bioscience reviews previous studies and literature which discuss how inflammation may cause Endometriosis to develop.  It states, “…inflammation is crucial in the pathogenesis of endometriosis…” Pathogenesis is the development of a disease; the cellular events and mechanisms that lead to a disease.

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New Study : Endometriosis and Semen

New unwrapped condom

So there’s an article that was recently published that has a lot of the EndoCommunity in an uproar today on Facebook.  The article was title, “How your sex life may influence endometriosis,” published on May 1, 2015, by MedicalXpress. My initial knee-jerk reaction last night was to be furious.

I interpreted the article as saying that sex can cause and affect Endometriosis growth; to be more precise: seminal fluid can affect Endo growth.  Semen.  Baby-MoJo.  I’ve had my Endo pain since my early years in high school.  And I did not have sex until I was 21.  And my cramps were pretty damn bad back then.  How dare a study suggest that sexual activity had anything to do to heighten my endo symptoms or progression.   And my outrage was further fueled by others’ reactions about the same conclusion.

I’ve decided to take my time, read the study slowly, and try to digest what it is the study is trying to tell us. Wait. Step back. Breathe, breathe.  Relax.  Now go read the study…

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Stress levels may affect Endo

Graph of how stress affects body mind emotions and behavior

So after a particularly stressful day at the office, I decided to do some writing and soul searching and (of course) research.  In all of the books and articles I’ve read, there has been a comment or chapter stating that stress may worsen Endometriosis.  But why?

How Stress Affects the Body:

Stress may trigger adrenal stress hormones, which may alter heart rates and blood flow.  It may also impair our white blood cell count, which can lower the body’s chances of fighting infection, reduce inflammation or even prevent/limit scarring. Gals with Endo know that inflammation and scarring are two critical components of a painful Endo day.  Stress may also cause or exacerbate problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.

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Bee Glue & Endo! (Bee Propolis)

A bee

My mother recently sent me question that a fellow EndoWarrior posted on BeePollenBuzz.com, which got our thinking caps revved up to see what Bee Propolis can do for my Endometriosis.  Let the research begin!

What is it: bee1

Bee Propolis has been used since about 350 B.C. for it’s medicinal properties!¬†Propolis is not honey. ¬†It’s not pollen. ¬†It’s not royal jelly. ¬†So what is it?

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EndoInvasion : Stages

A stage with the Bloomin' Uterus logo centered on it in a spotlight
Our Uterus : center stage!

So there are four “Stages” of Endometriosis.  It’s the doctors way of categorizing the depth of the EndoInvasion in our bodies.  It was developed by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.   Diagrams of the various stages can be in an article published in Fertility & Sterility back in 1997.

I didn’t know my Stage level and had to ask my doctor.  My Endometriosis was Stage 4, the most severe it can get. Probably because it was brewing inside me undetected for nearly 2 decades. Ugly disease. (Update: As of June 6, 2019, I’ve now had a total of four excision surgeries; each one classified my illness as Stage 4).

The interesting things about Stages: the Stage Level doesn’t necessarily dictate our symptom or pain levels.  Someone with Stage 1 can have severe pain, while someone with Stage 4 may not even realize it.  Just one more mystery o’Endo.

So what are these Stages?  Here ya go:

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