Endometriosis is a condition whereby the endometrial tissue (the lining of the womb) grows on other parts of the reproductive system and/or other organs. It is predominantly viewed as a hormonal condition, as oestrogen is a potent driver of the irregular tissue growth. However, new research has shown that endometriosis can also be mediated by an immune response as well as a hormonal response.
Typically, people with endometriosis report experiencing excruciating period pains in their uterus and lower back which can travel down their legs. The pain can last for a few days at a time and is often bad enough to prevent them from daily tasks. However, some people with endometriosis do not have any symptoms at all and the amount of endometriosis lesions present may not correlate to the amount of pain that someone will experience.
Currently, diagnosis of endometriosis is confirmed through a laparoscopy operation, where the endometrial tissue growths (lesions) may be seen on areas outside of the womb. In some cases, surgery may be recommended depending on how this is affecting quality of life. However, there is also plenty we can do doing to support our own natural balance. Here are some key considerations:
Reducing inflammatory foods and drinks in the diet such as dairy, red meat, caffeine, sugar and alcohol are a key part of a nutritional approach to managing endometriosis. Readdressing the balance with positive inclusion of anti-inflammatory foods such as oily fish or other omega 3 rich oils and functional foods such as turmeric and ginger may also form part of a supportive protocol for this condition.
Flaxseeds in particular, as well as being a rich source of omega 3 anti-inflammatory fats, are also a source of phytoestrogens, which have been shown to have anti-oestrogenic capacity. The simple inclusion of these in your diet in a variety of formats such as the ground seed or the oil may help to reduce symptoms associated to endometriosis. They also provide both fibre and prebiotic support which can help support the health of the digestive system and in turn the hormonal balance.
A large amount of our oestrogen gets metabolized in our liver , so supporting liver function through functional foods and sometimes herbs can be a useful recommendation. In particular, cruciferous vegetables have great activity in this area as they contain a variety of compounds including glucosinolates and indole-3-carbinol (I3C). This I3C converts to a compound called diindolylmethane or DIM. This compound helps to break down oestrogens and metabolise them correctly which reduces the chances of oestrogen dominance .
As well as foods such as cruciferous vegetables supporting this pathway, it is also possible to support this supplementing DIM and also using liver supportive herbs such as milk thistle.
N-acetyl cystine (NAC) is another nutrient of noteworthy consideration when it comes to endometriosis. NAC is the precursor to glutathione, which is our master antioxidant, and supports liver detoxification. Studies have shown that NAC reduces the size of endometrial lesions and pain associated with the condition. One particular study in Italy followed a large number of women who were able to cancel their laparoscopy after supplementing with NAC three days a week, every week for 3 months because their symptoms had reduced so significantly.
Additionally, Pycnogenol, which is the bark of a maritime pine tree, is a plant flavonoid and has been shown to inhibit inflammation and pain in women with endometriosis.
Other nutritional considerations
There are many other nutrient considerations for optimising the hormone balance when it comes to endometriosis such as vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and vitamin D.
You can read more about nutrition for hormone balance on our blog or take a look at each of these individual nutrients and what they do for our health in our ingredients database.
 Murray, M.T and Pizzorno, J. (2012). ‘The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine’, Third Edition. New York: Atria.
 Rodríguez-García C, Sánchez-Quesada C, Toledo E, Delgado-Rodríguez M, Gaforio JJ. Naturally Lignan-Rich Foods: A Dietary Tool for Health Promotion?. Molecules. 2019;24(5):917. Published 2019 Mar 6. doi:10.3390/molecules24050917
 Romm, A., Hardy, M. and Mills, S., n.d. Botanical Medicine For Women's Health.
 Huijs, E. and Nap, A., 2020. The effects of nutrients on symptoms in women with endometriosis: a systematic review. Reproductive BioMedicine Online.
 Porpora MG, Brunelli R, Costa G, et al. A promise in the treatment of endometriosis: an observational cohort study on ovarian endometrioma reduction by N-acetylcysteine. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:240702. doi:10.1155/2013/240702
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.