Endometriosis is a chronic, often painful, medical condition in which the tissue that is similar to the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus. This condition affects approximately 10-15% of reproductive-aged women and others with uteruses and can cause pelvic pain, heavy periods, back pain, nausea, and more.
While often first treated with hormonal drugs, pain relievers, or surgery, some people try herbs as a complementary treatment for symptom relief.
6 Herbs for Endometriosis Relief
Endometriosis is linked to estrogen levels. Higher levels of estrogen can lead to more tissue growth and inflammation, which in turn makes the condition increasingly painful. Herbal remedies that focus on regulating the hormonal cycle or stabilizing estrogen levels may be effective at improving symptoms when taken in conjunction with other medication.
Some of these claims are backed up by clinical research. However, some of these studies are still in the early stages. For this reason, herbal remedies are considered an alternative treatment for endometriosis that are used to support the primary treatment with the guidance of a medical professional.
The following herbs may offer relief from endometriosis symptoms.
1. Curcumin - Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory effects. Some studies show that it may help regulate hormones, slow the growth of endometrial tissue, and soothe inflammation. However, more research is needed to see if curcumin can be used to help treat endometriosis.
One study suggests that curcumin may reduce the production of estradiol (a type of estrogen), while another suggests that it may suppress tissue migration. Another review explored its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may relieve symptoms of endometriosis.
2. Pine Bark - In 2014, one small study suggested that pine bark extract, when used alongside oral contraceptives, could reduce endometriosis pain. While participants taking oral contraceptives alone experienced a reduction in pain, the reduction was significantly greater in those who also took the pine bark extract.
3. Chamomile - According to one study, chrysin (a compound found in chamomile) suppressed and killed endometrial cells. However, it’s important to note that the study examined cells in a laboratory setting. Further research is required to determine the results in the human body.
4. Peppermint - Peppermint is known for its antioxidant properties, which may help ease endometriosis symptoms.
A 2016 study found that peppermint can reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. Although not proven to be associated with peppermint, one study found that antioxidant supplements can reduce pelvic pain from endometriosis.
5. Vitex - Vitex, which comes from the flower of the chaste tree, has been used traditionally for a variety of gynecological issues.
A 2016 review discussed several studies that suggested that the compound could treat menstrual irregularities and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). While its effects on endometriosis need further study, other research suggested that it may positively affect infertility in patients with endometriosis.
6. Ashwagandha - Ashwagandha is often used as a supplement to help reduce stress. Studies support this, showing that treatment with the herb can lead to a clinically significant reduction in stress.
Another study found that women with endometriosis had significantly higher cortisol levels — a hormone involved in the stress response — than average. Although further research is needed, these studies indicate that ashwagandha could potentially play a role in reducing the stress that may contribute to the worsening of endometriosis.
There is currently no cure for endometriosis. However, other forms of medical treatment can help manage the symptoms of endometriosis, which include severe pain, heavy bleeding, infertility, and more.
Speak to your doctor about how to best manage your symptoms. Depending on your age, medical history, and other factors, they can recommend the best treatment option for you.
Along with dietary changes or herbal remedies, they may recommend:
- Pain medication (over-the-counter or prescription)
- Hormone treatment to reduce estrogen levels (contraceptive pills, progestin-only pills, and intrauterine devices)
- Surgery to remove endometriosis tissue implants and repair damage
- Surgery to sever nerves in the pelvis, reducing pain
- A hysterectomy to stop heavy bleeding.