12 Natural Remedies for Endometriosis

These complementary therapies may treat pain and cramping

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Natural remedies for endometriosis may help you manage the condition, either alongside conventional treatments or instead of them.

In endometriosis, the tissue that forms the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the organ. These growths are known as implants or lesions, and they can cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms.

Lesions often attach to the:

  • Fallopian tubes
  • Ovaries
  • Pelvic lining

They can also spread beyond the pelvic area.

This article looks at 12 natural treatments for endometriosis, including home remedies like dietary changes and therapies such as massage and acupuncture.

endometriosis signs and symptoms
Illustration by Emily Roberts, Verywell

Endometriosis Symptoms

The symptoms of endometriosis tend to come on or get worse before and during your period. Symptoms include:

  • Pelvic pain and cramps
  • Low back or abdominal pain
  • Deep and sharp pain during sex, bowel movements, urination, or ovulation
  • Sciatica or nerve pain that travels from your lower back to the back of your thighs
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Stomach issues, such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Not being able to get pregnant

Endometriosis Treatments: Standard vs CAM

The standard endometriosis treatment plan generally involves:

  • Hormone treatments
  • Surgery
  • Pain medicine
  • Lifestyle changes

But treating this condition can be hard and may cause unwanted effects. For these and other reasons, you may want to look for natural ways to improve or replace your healthcare provider's treatments.

Natural remedies don't fall under mainstream care. Rather, they're considered complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

Little evidence exists to support the various forms of CAM for this condition. Even so, they're low-risk treatments, and using them is not likely to make endometriosis worse.

Let your healthcare provider know if you plan to use natural treatments of any sort, so they can keep an eye on your condition and prevent and manage any drug interactions or side effects.

Home Remedies for Endometriosis

May CAM treatments are home remedies—things you can do yourself, without a healthcare provider. (It's still a good idea to run these by your care team, just to make sure everything you're doing is safe.)

Home remedies for endometriosis include:

  • Isoflavones
  • Low-fat diet
  • Progesterone cream
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Chamomile
  • Probiotics
  • Resveratrol
  • Turmeric
  • Green tea

Isoflavones for Endometriosis Symptoms

A group of plant-based compounds called isoflavones may help ease symptoms of endometriosis by blocking aromatase. This is an enzyme that converts androgens (male hormones) to estrogens.

Estrogen is a female hormone that controls the normal growth of the endometrium. An imbalance in this hormone can worsen pain and other symptoms caused by lesions.

Rich sources of isoflavones include:

  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Soybeans
  • Chickpeas
  • Fava beans
  • Pistachios
  • Peanuts

Likewise, an organic compound called indoles may slightly counter the effects of estrogen.

Indoles can be found in foods such as:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bok choy

Low-Fat Diet for Endometriosis

Some studies suggest that, over time, being exposed to certain toxins may raise your risk of endometriosis and make it more severe.

Toxins such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are stored in animal fats and can be passed to you through foods and drinks. Cutting back on saturated fats may help lower your risk.

Some studies have shown that a higher intake of red meat can raise the risk of endometriosis, while a higher intake of fresh fruits and vegetables can lower risk.

Progesterone Cream May Block Blood Supply

Progesterone cream may help block the pathway that leads to endometrial lesions. It is believed that the cream helps prevent new blood vessels from sprouting in a process known as angiogenesis.

Stifling this process may impede the blood supply that feeds lesions and causes pain. It may also keep new lesions from forming.

The cream is made from soy or Mexican wild yam. The yam's root and bulb are used to extract a plant steroid called diosgenin.

A bioidentical form of the female hormone progesterone is then made.

Wild yam cream is often touted as a natural form of this hormone. But this is misleading since the body cannot convert diosgenin to progesterone.

The cream is sold from drug compounding pharmacies and some drugstores. The dose can be applied to the upper chest, wrists, or inner arms or thighs.

For safety reasons, the cream should only be used with your healthcare provider's guidance. Too much of the hormone can cause you to:

  • Have mood shifts
  • Feel depressed
  • Retain water
  • Gain weight
  • Have heavy bleeding during and in between your period

Although progesterone cream can be bought over the counter, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved its use.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Swelling

Endometrial cramps and pain are largely caused by a class of complex fatty acids known as prostaglandins.

Some of these fatty acids ease swelling while other promote it. Too much of one type or too little of the other can incite pain.

The body converts omega-3 fatty acids into the types of prostaglandins that quash pain and swelling.

Omega 3s may also keep the types that boost swelling from forming.

Omega-3s can be found in fatty fish such as:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies

A higher intake of omega-3s can sway the balance of prostaglandins in favor of the ones that temper swelling.

This action is mostly due to a nutrient found in fish oil known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Research outcomes remain split when it comes to EPA's merits, but some studies have shown that omega-3s help lower the risk of this health issue by close to 50%.

Along with eating fatty fish, you can obtain omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil supplements sold over the counter in capsule form.

Chamomile Helps Calm Cramps

Chamomile has long been used as an herbal aid to calm the body and mind.

These same effects may help ease premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and endometrial pain and cramps.

Chamomile contains an isoflavone known as chrysin. A 2019 in vitro study found that chrysin prompts apoptosis (cell death) in uterine tissues that have grown out of control.

The study notes that chrysin found in chamomile and other substances (such as honey) may one day lead to novel drugs for endometriosis.

It remains to be seen whether stronger studies can replicate or improve upon these results in humans.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics are microorganisms that are good for your health. Prebiotics are food for probiotics, which helps probiotics flourish.

People with endometriosis often have an imbalance of microorganisms, which probiotics and prebiotics may help correct. You can get probiotics and prebiotics through dietary supplements or food, such as:

  • Dairy products, especially yogurt with live cultures
  • Raw vegetables
  • Fruit

Research suggests these are especially beneficial to people with advanced endometriosis.

Resveratrol May Quell Pelvic Pain

Resveratrol is a nutrient mainly found in berries, nuts, and grape skins.

It may help quell symptoms by blocking aromatase and the COX-2 enzymes that cause swelling and pain.

Studies have shown that this nutrient may greatly reduce pelvic pain and menstrual cramps.

Adding resveratrol to the care plan seemed to improve pain better than just using hormone treatment alone.

But these were in vitro and animal studies along with a few smaller human studies.

Larger scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs) supporting the merits of this phytoestrogen are still needed.

Turmeric Helps Control Free Radicals

Turmeric contains a nutrient known as curcumin that may help keep swelling and free radicals in check in women with endometriosis.

In vitro studies have shown that curcumin can slow endometrial cell growth by keeping the body from making estradiol. This is the strongest of the three types of human estrogen.

Further research may be able to pinpoint whether oral intake of turmeric can produce the same health outcomes in women with this health issue.

While generally regarded as safe, the FDA warns that some imported turmeric supplements were found to contain high levels of lead. To ensure safety, only buy supplements certified by the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.

Green Tea May Curb Lesion Spread

Green tea also acts to block aromatase and impede angiogenesis.

The main active nutrient found in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).

Animal studies have shown that EGCG may have healthful effects in women with endometriosis.

A 2021 review found that EGCG may stymie the growth and spread of lesions.

A separate review published in 2021 supports these findings and notes that EGCG may also lessen pain in women with this health issue.

Natural Remedies for Endometriosis

Natural treatments that you need a healthcare provider for include:

While these should be done by certified healthcare professionals, it's still important to talk to your primary provider before trying them.

Acupuncture May Lessen Pain Best

Acupuncture involves the insertion of small needles in the skin to treat pain and other health problems.

A 2017 review of studies published in PLoS One found that acupuncture may help ease pelvic and abdomen pain and shrink lesion size in women with endometriosis.

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2018 also found that among the approaches studied, only acupuncture notably reduced pain.

Larger-scale RCTs are needed to back up these findings.

Massage Helps Break the Tension

Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) and pelvic massage may help:

  • Gently release bands of uterine scar tissue called adhesions
  • Ease stress that can heighten pain and cause uterine spasms

A 2017 review cited a few studies that support the use of OMT and massage in women with endometriosis.

The studies found that these treatments may help ease tension and pain and bolster quality of life.

But the breadth of their effects cannot be garnered based on the results of these studies alone due to factors such as poor research design, small sample size, and short study period.

Chinese Herbs Stand Toe-to-Toe With Steroids

Herbal formulas are often used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat uterine health issues like endometriosis.

TCM cites blood stasis as the cause for this health problem. Lesions form when blood slows or pools in the abdomen and other sites within the body.

A review of studies published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that Chinese herbs used to treat blood stasis fared well when compared to the steroid gestrinone in curbing endometriosis pain after laparoscopic surgery.

Oral and enema forms of these herbs also eased pain just as well as the steroid drug danazol when used outside of surgery.

Despite these findings, the authors point to the need for more rigorous research to assess how well Chinese herbs treat and lower the risk for this condition.

Summary

For some women, standard treatments may not be enough to manage endometriosis symptoms such as pain.

In this case, some women may integrate CAM into their plan of care. These may involve eating low-fat foods and using various herbs and nutrients to curb or keep symptoms at bay.

It may also involve holistic healthcare methods such as acupuncture, massage, and TCM.

Although these and other natural treatments may help endometriosis symptoms, it is vital to your health to use these modes of care with caution and with your healthcare provider's guidance.

A Word From Verywell

The care plan for endometriosis involves a tailored approach that factors in the types of treatment you prefer and your health status.

These may involve the use of well-established and novel modes of treatment.

Share your desire to integrate natural modes of treatment with your healthcare provider.

Seek guidance from your provider, but also conduct thorough research of your own before trying out any new treatment.

Bear in mind that the natural approach may not be the safest or best treatment choice for your health needs.

Making a well-informed choice can help you optimize your care plan and safeguard your health.

Endometriosis Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Doctor Discussion Guide Woman
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By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.