What do we know about endometriosis?

  1. We know that endometriosis requires oestrogen in order to grow.
  2. We know that some women with endometriosis may have oestrogen dominance where the oestrogen is out of balance with the progesterone.
  3. We know that some xeno-oestrogenic pesticides may be a problem for us.
  4. Often the immune system is not functioning normally and is not removing oestrogen implants as it probably should.
  5. We know too that the endometrial implants are producing their own supply of oestrogen and prostaglandins. These may trigger more inflammation and pain.
  6. The endometriotic implants produce terrible inflammation from all the secreetions which they produce and these chemical secretions may cause extreme pain for some women which has a debilitating affect upon their daily lives.
  7. Often there is bowel and bladder involvement, some pain on intercourse and women can suffer from a terrible leaden fatigue which prevents them from living the life they wish.
  8. Some women struggle terribly with a sense of loss from the infertility they may be suffering. Period time, ovulation time, even just vacating the bowels can be excruciating agony.

All together endometriosis causes terrible trauma. Often members of the medical profession struggle themselves with disbelief of all the pains and symptoms that are told to them. Endometriosis is not as easy as measles or a broken leg to treat. It is a systemic disease, maybe an auto-immune disorder. When drugs and surgery are used they often just mask the symptoms and do not remove the cause.

Women need to listen to the messages which their body gives them. Illness is an imbalance and good nutrition can help to redress that imbalance.

Nutrition may help to reduce the symptoms which we percieve as being triggered by endometriosis. Nutrients work all body processes, you are what you eat and what your body can digest and absorb. Every seven years what you eat becomes you...

Nutrition is not an alternative approach like herbal medicine and homeopathy, it is essential to life. Eating is something we do every day, it sustains us, it can keep us healthy - or it can make us unhealthy.

Case History

Jo R of Slough

I am 25 years old and have had painful periods for as far back as I can remember. By the age of 18 the period and pre-period pains worsened and I found myself suffering for 2 weeks of my cycle, leading up to my period. My pre-period symptoms were stomach cramps, tiredness, water retention and extremely volatile moods, which would last up until my bleeding began. Once my period came, for the first 2-3 days, the pain in my lower abdominal area would be so excruciating, that at the time I found it difficult to stand up straight. My bleeding would be so heavy that I found it difficult to function at all. Once the first few days had passed, I would have a fairly normal period, which lasted, for approx. 3 more days and then 2 fairly pain free weeks until the cycle began again.

This became increasingly more difficult as this not only affected my work, as I was incapable of working for 3 days a month, but my social relationships were also affected, as I was so lethargic and irritable.

My Doctors response to my repeated plea's for help were, "Do you think you're the only woman who has ever had period pains". Typical.

Out of desparation I changed my doctor and set about the many elimination tests, scans and examinations until finally, following a laparoscopy, I was diagnosed as having a classic case of Endo in my pelvis and lower abdominal area.

I was advised that my only form of treatment would be a hysterectomy or hormone treatment. As you can imagine I opted for the latter of the two and began taking Provera 3 times daily.

After about 3 weeks of this treatment my body shook so ferociously that I found it difficult to hold a cup of tea without spilling it. Huge boils appeared on my back and shoulders, and hair began to sprout from my neck , face, and lower body. I returned to my consultant who immediately took me off Provera treatment. We discussed the other possibilities but I still kindly refused a hysterectomy ! I then tried taking the pill continuously with a break every 3 months. My mood swings remained and the rest of my body eventually gave up, and I had problem after problem with headaches, haemorrhoids to greasy hair and acne.

It was at this time that a friend read an article written by Dian. I drove down for a nutrition consultation and found that I gained more answers and satisfaction in the hour I had with her, than the entire time I had been under the various consultants and GP's.

I started a nutrition programme which incorporated diet, exercise and vitamin supplement. I cut out wheat, alcohol, caffeine and supplemented my diet with vitamins, Evening primrose oil, vitamin B6, fish oils, acidophilus, vitamin C, and magnesium. Within 2 months I felt and looked like a new person. My energy returned, my mood swings ceased, my periods regulated themselves and my skin cleared up. Not only did I feel 110 per cent better, but people commented on my appearance!

I will not pretend that this initial step was easy, in fact I found it extremely difficult. But once I came to terms with this fact and changed my way of thinking it became much easier.

I followed the diet for over a year and now I have reduced my vitamins to evening primrose oil and a multi vitamin and magnesium. I now take the pill 2 monthly and my periods remain pain free.

In order to allow your body to heal through sound nutrition you need to:

  1. To eat as well as you can afford.
  2. To buy the freshest food you can find.
  3. To cook from fresh whenever possible or to eat fresh food in salads daily once the digestion can tolerate raw vegetables.
  4. Eat as wide a variety of foodstuffs as possible, remembering that 'variety is the spice of life'.

The Food Pyramid

A guide to the food groups from which you should pick your daily diet. By chosing the highest quality food you can ensure that the body can reach its optimum health potential. Remember thAT your body is entirely composed from the food you eat and the water that you drink. Reproduced with kind permission of P.Holford of ION

A Healthy Eating Program

Drink one litre of fresh filtered water each day
Eat 3-4 helpings of fresh green leafy vegetables per day, 2 servings of red-orange vegetables and 2 pieces of fresh fruit
Eat 2-3 servings of wholegrain cereals such as rice, oats, rye, corn, millet, quinoa or wheat , unless you are grain intolerant. Then you can use root vegetables, sago, tapioca or arrowroot, banana or chestnut flours..
Eat 30gms of fibre foods each day, this would come from the fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals or nuts and seeds.
Eat some complex carbohydrate foods daily such as cereals, root vegetables, or pulse vegetables (legumes) as this supplies slow-releasing sugars into the body to sustain energy levels
Eat 1 tablespoon of fresh cold pressed oils each day from sesame, sunflower, safflower, olive or eat seeds and nuts or use 1 tablespoon of ground linseeds with breakfast. Avoid trans fats.
Eat some 50-75gm of protein foods per day, choosing from a variety of sources so that we take in a wide range of amino acids e.g. pulse vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, eggs, dairy foods (cow, goat and ewes) and fresh fish or lean organic meats.

Supplements: are they necessary?

'Vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in preserving and maintaining health and restoring it in diseased patients'.

Carl Pfeiffer,MD. PhD.

Supplements of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids taken for three to six months may help to replenish your body cells. When the body is ill it requires the building blocks of life to restore its vitality and renew failing cells. By taking nutritional supplements you can support the digestive, immune and reproductive systems and improve the body's healing potential. Remember that the body is striving to be well all the time. The only way the body has to heal itself is through the nutrients we eat, which allow renewal to occur. If the diet is deplete in nutrients or the GI tract is damaged then body cells will sustain damage.

This would be a basic program for everyone to try. For an individually tailored program consult a qualified nutritionist and have a full assessment of your personal needs taken.

Case History

Sarah G of Tyne and Wear

I was diagnosed as having endo when I was eighteen, I am now twenty-three. For as long as I can remember I always had the most agonsing period pains, but thought that this was normal. I would spend a good week each month practically overdosing on painkillers which never actually alleviated any of the pain.

Previous to my diagnosis, I started experiencing awful stinging pains in the bottom right of my abdomen. I was told I had a bladder infection and when I suggested endo I was promptly told I was "far to young' and I specifically remember the comment "oh, you'd know if you had it". - " know about it ? " I couldn't sleep because the pain was so bad. I eventually had a laparoscopy -privately- which revealed that -yes- I had endometriosis. I was unfamiliar with the disease, but was reassured by doctors that drugs could help. Luckily I already knew a nutritionist, who had been treating my brother with nutrition, he has ME. I have avoided taking any of the drugs given for endo. I was advised to change my diet considerably and to start taking a number of supplements. To be honest, at the time, I wasn't really convinced that changing my diet and taking a few supplements would help. It took a while, but finally I went on the diet programme free from yeasts, refined sugars, dairy foods and caffeine. Basically I ate fresh, natural food, nothing processed. I discovered that after eliminating wheat from my diet, that I was particularly sensitive to it, to the extent that when I ate it I became tired, bloated and my stomach would hurt.

I also started taking a considerable number of supplements. They was one multi vitamin mineral, a vitamin C, a vitamin B complex, and acidophilus and 4 Efamol Marine capsules per day. This may sound like an awful lot to anyone who just takes one regular multi each day. I had also been put onto the contraceptive pill to stop the endo spreading and this leaves you deficient in a number of vitamins. (Author:It puts vitamin A and copper levels up and B vitamins and zinc down).

Although this regime may seem pretty drastic, especially the diet, it's not, and it really helped me over the past 5 years. Not only has it helped with the pain, I've had the added bonus of losing a little weight, increased energy and fabulous skin, which everyone still comments on !! For me the most effective supplement was the evening primrose and fish oils, which is great for hair and skin, but most significantly, it acts as an anti-inflammatory, which has subsequently helped control the stomach pains. Since I was diagnosed I had to have 2 laparoscopies and extensive laser surgery when my endo spread. However the inflammation had calmed down, my surgeon is most surprised.

>Nutrition plays such an important part in controlling endo, it seems to me that very few doctors are aware of this fact, and that is why nutritionists can play such an important role in helping to control the symptoms of endo.

Endo is not something that has to rule your life, and from my experience you can at least control any of the awful pain which is so often associated with the disease. I still stick to the diet and take some supplements, but often I forget why I am taking them in the first place, since I have so few problems today.

Copyright belongs to Dian Mills and Mike Vernon

Extracts from their book published on 3rd June 1999:
Endometriosis: A key to healing through nutrition

>Dian Mills holds her nutritional consultations at:
The Endometriosis and Fertility Clinic each appointment takes 1 hour with Dian as your nutrition consultant. You would fill in a comprehensive nutrition health questionnaire before the appointment. The questions relate to your health concerns, symptoms, goals, food intake, lifestyle and full medical history.

Over the hour you will be able to discuss your own special nutritional needs. A plan of your dietary changes will be made and a nutrition report will be given to you. You will be advised on how to implement these changes and long term support and follow-up will be given. If nutritional supplements are required these will be discussed with you. Biochemical and functional tests may be recommended if they are appropriate to your needs. All your objectives and priorities will be taken into account before any decision is made.

The Endometriosis and Fertility Clinic aims to use a strictly scientific, evidence based understanding of nutrition to improve health.


As Mary Lou Ballweg Director and Founder of the American Endometriosis Association states, "Together we make a difference".

The more of you who try this path and achieve good results the more we can help each other regain health in this way.