How can Chinese Medicine treat Fibroids

Updated: Mar 19, 2019

Fibroids prevalence is very common for over 35 year old women. Studies shows that the incidence rate is more than 40%. Moreover, only 20% of the fibroids suffers are aged under 35, and that ages between 35 to 45 have seen the highest frequency.



Uterine Fibroids (also known as uterine myoma, leioma, fibroma) is a condition where tumors grow in the uterus. These are equivalent designations for benign (non- cancerous) growths of smooth muscle tissues in the uterine walls.


Most women with uterine fibroids have no symptoms. However, fibroids can cause a number of symptoms depending on its size, location within the uterus, and how close they are to adjacent pelvic organs. 

Abnormal uterine bleeding and pain is the most common symptom of a fibroid, and other symptoms include:

  • Pelvic cramping or pain with periods and abnormal uterine bleeding between periods

  • Heavy or prolonged periods  (menorrhagia)

  • Abdominal discomfort or bloating

  • Constipation or painful defecation

  • Increased urinary frequency or retention

  • Pain during intercourse

  • Back pain

While fibroids do not interfere with ovulation, some studies suggest that they may impair fertility and could lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes. In particular, submucosal fibroids (fibroids growth underneath the uterine lining) that deforms the inner uterine cavity are most strongly associated with decline in fertility. Occasionally, fibroids can be the cause of recurrent miscarriages. Hence, the sufferer may not be able to sustain the pregnancy if it was not removed. Only 10-20% of fibroid cases require surgery, as there is always a risk of complications and regrowth after the surgery.



Chinese Medicine and Fibroids




Chinese Medicine uses various methods for treatment, eg. acupuncture, herbal medicine and cupping.

With Chinese Medicine treatment, significant improvements have been witnessed regarding pain and bleeding within 1 week. Furthermore, fibroids up to size of 2-3cm diameters can be successfully treated to reduce the size to a more comfortable level, if not, in some cases, eliminate them entirely. Larger myomas are usually treated with surgery, though pre-treatment with Chinese herbs and needling can help to reduce the complications of surgery. 


This disease is principally related to the liver and spleen. The stagnation of the qi and the blood and phlegm retention play a major role in the pathogenesis of abdominal masses.


The three basic causes are:

1. Mental Depression and Qi and Blood Stagnation.

2. Improper Diet and Production of Turbid Phlegm.

3. Attack by and Retention of Pathogenic Factors- cold, dampness, heat, or toxins


When women develop turbid phlegm, Qi and Blood stagnation/stasis, it makes slow blood and fluid flow. Overtime the blockage build-up which could then cause changes of endometrium of uterus. Even after surgery, there could be a high chance that fibroids could regrow if the turbid phlegm, Qi and Blood blockage is not treated.


Treatment

The treatment usually requires a combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine. The treatment seeks to remove stasis, soften hardness and disperse the masses, regulating Qi and Blood circulation and reduce pain. Fibroids are dependent on estrogen and progesterone to grow and therefore the treatment will also focus on regulating and balancing hormones. Customised treatment plan will be customised for each patient depending on factors such as duration of disease, symptoms and menstrual cycle.

The duration of individual treatment plans range between 1-8 months, but typically can be treated in several months. 


Nutritional Advice 

It can be used to avoid developing uterine fibroids as well as to prevent fibroid tumors from growing. The patient should begin a hormone-balancing diet, involving foods with low inflammation effects, and low acidity. The following are some suggestions:

  • Eat warm/cooked food as cold and raw food can slow Blood and Qi flow

  • Avoid fried food as it can produce more turbid phlegm

  • Seaweeds: promotes blood circulation; prevents the formation of blood clots

  • Salmon: breaks down fibrin; anti-inflammatory 

  • Soy products:  helps to shrink uterine fibroids (contains isoflavones and phytoestrogens to regulate estrogen levels in the body). Soy products such as tofu, miso, soymilk, tempeh.

  • Legumes: helps strengthening the immune system.


Dietary recommendations would vary for each patient. Please contact Dr. Ellen Lee to discuss further your nutrition plan.

If you want to learn more about Chinese Medicine dietary, please visit the website:

http://www.acupuncture.com/nutrition/


Lifestyle Modification – regular exercise

Aerobic exercise such as swimming and walking, consumes oxygen and helps to burn carbohydrates. It is associated with improvement in insulin resistance and sugar utilization as well as hormone balance.

Weight training also helps balance hormones such as growth hormone and testosterone. Because fat cells (adipocytes) are known to produce inflammatory mediators and estrogens, limiting them will also reduce estrogen dominance. Regular exercise of either kind has also been shown to lower the incidence of breast cancer and colon cancer.

Treatment results vary depending on individual situation, but most patients tend to respond quickly.

If you like to explore more, please don’t hesitate contact Dr. Ellen Lee who specialises in gynecology and women’s health.






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References:

  1. Foran T. New therapeutic options for uterine fibroids. How to Treat (powered by Australian Doctor); 7 Sep 2017. https://www.howtotreat.com.au/therapy-update/new-therapeutic-options-uterine-fibroids (accessed Jan 2018).

  2. Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Uterine artery embolisation for the treatment of uterine fibroids. November 2014. https://www.ranzcog.edu.au/RANZCOG_SITE/media/RANZCOG-MEDIA/Women%27s%20Health/Statement%20and%20guidelines/Clinical%20-%20Gynaecology/Uterine-Artery-Embolisation-(C-Gyn-23)-Review-November-2014.pdf?ext=.pdf (accessed Jan 2018).

  3. Effects of soy isoflavones on estrogen and phytoestrogen metabolism in premenopausal women. X Xu, A M Duncan, B E Merz and M S Kurzer (1998)

  4. Integrated identification, qualification and quantification strategy for pharmacokinetic profile study of Guizhi Fuling capsule in healthy volunteers. Yun-Xi Zhong, Xiao-Liang Jin (Scientific Reports volume6, Article number: 31364, 2016)

  5. Song, S.M., Hou, Y.Z., Wang, A.F., Qian, J.Y. (2006). Gui Zhi Fu Ling capsule treatment of uterine leiomyoma; 504 cases of clinical observation. Applied Journal of General Practice, 2006, 4(3):319.


Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

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