Myth Buster: Endometriosis

We're here to bust five common myths about healthcare and endometriosis.

Misinformation abounds on the internet. It's hard to know what's fact and what's myth. Deciphering the truth gets even trickier if you're trying to research which natural healthcare option is best for you.

Myth #1
My doctor says candida (yeast) is not a real problem and doesn't affect endometriosis.

Candida albicans (C. ablicans) is a type of yeast that lives in harmony with other microbes in our digestive tract and the female reproductive system. Candida only becomes a problem when the yeast population grows to outnumber the other microbes in our system. This is called candidiasis. Some doctors only view candidiasis as an issue for people living with HIV. This kind of yeast, however, is also responsible for causing thrush.

Originally, the medical community considered candida a common yeast that caused no harm; however, more and more research is emerging about how candida is connected to other health concerns. A prominent endometriosis journal published an article in early 2013 stating: “Observations suggest that C. albicans may stimulate cell proliferation of endometrial cells from women with endometriosis.”

It's important to understand that the digestive and reproductive tracts are ecological environments, and it's not about whether or not candida is present. It's about the population of candida relevant to probiotic - “good” - bacteria in our gut.

Reference: http://www.j-endometriosis.com/article/does-candida-albicans-play-a-role-in-the-etiology-of-endometriosis

Myth #2
All of this natural stuff sounds good, but there's no research to back it up.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a large and growing field with an extensive history of research. Unfortunately, many natural products like herbs or foods can't be copy written (no one can copy write garlic for example) so there is less incentive for companies to invest large sums of money in research and development studies.

Luckily, the government has begun funding more studies and professional databases like the Natural Standards Database compile research on specific natural products and reports on safety, effectiveness and interactions.

Of course, it's always important to work with a healthcare professional who is educated in the science of natural health products. Don't be afraid to ask him or her about their level of education and familiarity with scientific research studies for alternative medicine.

Myth #3
Natural health products aren't regulated.

All natural health products are regulated in Canada. That said, some companies invest more money in scientific research trials to ensure their product is of the highest quality. Many naturopathic doctors and holistic nutritionists use professional lines, which are standardized, high quality products whose safety and effectiveness have been well researched.

Even though these products are regulated, you still need to be careful in selecting which product is right for you. Some products, like St. John's Wort, interact with certain medications. Before choosing a natural healthcare supplement, be sure to speak to your healthcare practitioner. Some health food stores will employ natural healthcare practitioners that may be able to answer some of your questions. Be sure to ask at the store to speak with their healthcare professional.

We recommend a detailed consultation with your own natural healthcare practitioner who knows your full medical history. A consultation like this can greatly reduce the risk of you choosing the wrong product or one that could interact with other medications you're taking.

Reference: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/about-apropos/index-eng.php

Myth #4
My endometriosis is genetic and it runs in my family.

While it is true that many health conditions have some correlation with genetics, very few health conditions are 100% pre-determined by our DNA (Huntington's coria being one of the rare exceptions). Issues like our cholesterol levels, insulin function and our hormones are as much controlled by environmental and lifestyle factors as they are by our DNA. We call this a gene by environment factor.

Our genes make us susceptible to issues like endometriosis, but our lifestyle plays a large role too. The best example of this is our exposure to xenoestrogens, external estrogens that mimic our own estrogen, in our environment. Increased exposure to estrogen has been widely recognized to cause or even worsen endometriosis symptoms. Your external environment not only has a significant impact on your risk for endometriosis, but also on the severity of your symptoms.

We say all this to emphasize that there are many different options and solutions for easing the symptoms of endometriosis. You don't have to suffer in pain.

Myth #5
Natural health is only good for mild conditions, not serious issues like mine.

Naturopathic doctors and holistic nutritionists work with a wide variety of health conditions. We address serious diseases like cancer and HIV, as well as common ailments like colds and the flu. All that said, the majority of our patients are people living with chronic health issues like endometriosis. Many of our patients come to us to work with them as complementary healthcare professionals, alongside their medical doctor. The goal is to work together in harmony and see improved results.

On the other hand, we do see patients who have tried the conventional approach with limited success and are looking for alternative solutions. These are the patients who work with us as their primary healthcare provider. There is no greater reward than seeing our patients attain the health and wellbeing they've been searching for after having suffered from painful symptoms for many years.

References:
Ottawa integrative cancer centre, http://www.oicc.ca/en
Sherbourne Health Centre: Naturopathic Clinic for HIV, http://sherbourne.on.ca/chronic-conditions/hiv/

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