How to Treat Endometriosis with Seaweed

How to Treat Endometriosis with Seaweed
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Five cents worth of seaweed a day may dramatically improve a major cause of disability and compromised quality of life among women.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Endometriosis is a major cause of disability and compromised quality of life among women.” It is “a chronic disease which is under-diagnosed, under-reported, and under-researched.” For patients, it “can be a nightmare of misinformation, myths, taboos, lack of diagnosis, and problematic hit-and-miss treatments overlaid by a painful, chronic, stubborn disease.” Pain is what best characterizes the disease: pain, painful intercourse, heavy irregular periods, and infertility. About one in a dozen young women suffer, and it accounts for about half the cases of pelvic pain and infertility. It’s caused by what’s called “retrograde menstruation.” Instead of the blood going down, it goes up into the abdominal cavity, where bleeding tissue of the uterine lining can implant onto other organs.

You can have the lesions surgically removed, but the recurrence rate within five years is as high as 50%. Now, “[e]ndometriosis is an estrogen-dependent disease.” So, might the anti-estrogenic effects of the phytoestrogens in flax seeds and soy foods help—as they appear to in breast cancer? I couldn’t find studies on flax, but soy food consumption “may [indeed] reduce the risk of endometriosis.” But, I couldn’t find any studies on treating the disease with soy. There’s another food, though, associated with decreased breast cancer risk—seaweed.

Seaweeds have special types of fiber and phytonutrients not found among land plants. So, it’s not like choosing to get your beta-carotene from carrots versus a sweet potato. If you want these unique seaweed components, some of which may have anticancer properties, we need to find a way to incorporate sea vegetables into our diet.

Anticancer properties, such as anti-estrogen effects. Japanese women have among “the lowest rates of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers.” They have longer menstrual cycles, and lower estrogen levels circulating in their blood. And, that may help account for their low risk of estrogen-dependent cancers. We assumed this was their soy intake, but the seaweed might be helping as well.

You can drip seaweed broth on human ovary cells that make estrogen, and see estrogen levels drop, because it’s either inhibiting production, or facilitating breakdown of estrogen—and may even block estrogen receptors, lowering the activity of the estrogen you do produce. This is in a petri dish, though, but it happens in women, as well.

They estimate that an effective estrogen-lowering dose of seaweed for an average American woman might be around five grams a day. But, no one has apparently tried testing it on cancer patients yet. But, it has been tried on endometriosis. Three women with abnormal cycles—two of which with endometriosis—volunteered to add a tiny amount of “dried, powdered bladderwrack,” a common seaweed, to their daily diet. It effectively lengthened their cycles, and reduced the duration of their periods—and, not just by a little.

Check out subject #1. A 30-year history of irregular periods averaging every 16 days, but, having just a teaspoon, a quarter-teaspoon, of this seaweed powder a day added ten days onto her cycle, up to 26 days. And, a half-teaspoon a day brought her up to 31—nearly doubling the length of her cycle. And, they all experienced marked reductions in blood flow, and a decreased duration of menstruation. Poor subject #1 was having periods every 16 days that lasted nine days long—can you imagine? After 30 years of this kind of craziness, just a half-teaspoon of seaweed a day, and she was having periods just once a month, and only lasting about four days. And, most importantly, in the two women suffering from endometriosis, they reported substantial alleviation of their pain. How is that possible? Look at their drop in estrogen levels. A 75% drop after just a quarter-teaspoon of seaweed powder a day; 85% after a half-teaspoon. 

Now, obviously, with just a couple women, no control group, we have to do bigger, better studies. But, look when this study was published—more than a decade ago, and not a single such study has been published since. Does the research world just not care about women? Millions of women are suffering with these conditions. Who’s going to fund it, though? That much seaweed costs less than five pennies; so, a larger study may never be done. But, with no downsides, I would suggest endometriosis sufferers give it a try.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: kreuzfeld via pixabay. Image has been modified.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Endometriosis is a major cause of disability and compromised quality of life among women.” It is “a chronic disease which is under-diagnosed, under-reported, and under-researched.” For patients, it “can be a nightmare of misinformation, myths, taboos, lack of diagnosis, and problematic hit-and-miss treatments overlaid by a painful, chronic, stubborn disease.” Pain is what best characterizes the disease: pain, painful intercourse, heavy irregular periods, and infertility. About one in a dozen young women suffer, and it accounts for about half the cases of pelvic pain and infertility. It’s caused by what’s called “retrograde menstruation.” Instead of the blood going down, it goes up into the abdominal cavity, where bleeding tissue of the uterine lining can implant onto other organs.

You can have the lesions surgically removed, but the recurrence rate within five years is as high as 50%. Now, “[e]ndometriosis is an estrogen-dependent disease.” So, might the anti-estrogenic effects of the phytoestrogens in flax seeds and soy foods help—as they appear to in breast cancer? I couldn’t find studies on flax, but soy food consumption “may [indeed] reduce the risk of endometriosis.” But, I couldn’t find any studies on treating the disease with soy. There’s another food, though, associated with decreased breast cancer risk—seaweed.

Seaweeds have special types of fiber and phytonutrients not found among land plants. So, it’s not like choosing to get your beta-carotene from carrots versus a sweet potato. If you want these unique seaweed components, some of which may have anticancer properties, we need to find a way to incorporate sea vegetables into our diet.

Anticancer properties, such as anti-estrogen effects. Japanese women have among “the lowest rates of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers.” They have longer menstrual cycles, and lower estrogen levels circulating in their blood. And, that may help account for their low risk of estrogen-dependent cancers. We assumed this was their soy intake, but the seaweed might be helping as well.

You can drip seaweed broth on human ovary cells that make estrogen, and see estrogen levels drop, because it’s either inhibiting production, or facilitating breakdown of estrogen—and may even block estrogen receptors, lowering the activity of the estrogen you do produce. This is in a petri dish, though, but it happens in women, as well.

They estimate that an effective estrogen-lowering dose of seaweed for an average American woman might be around five grams a day. But, no one has apparently tried testing it on cancer patients yet. But, it has been tried on endometriosis. Three women with abnormal cycles—two of which with endometriosis—volunteered to add a tiny amount of “dried, powdered bladderwrack,” a common seaweed, to their daily diet. It effectively lengthened their cycles, and reduced the duration of their periods—and, not just by a little.

Check out subject #1. A 30-year history of irregular periods averaging every 16 days, but, having just a teaspoon, a quarter-teaspoon, of this seaweed powder a day added ten days onto her cycle, up to 26 days. And, a half-teaspoon a day brought her up to 31—nearly doubling the length of her cycle. And, they all experienced marked reductions in blood flow, and a decreased duration of menstruation. Poor subject #1 was having periods every 16 days that lasted nine days long—can you imagine? After 30 years of this kind of craziness, just a half-teaspoon of seaweed a day, and she was having periods just once a month, and only lasting about four days. And, most importantly, in the two women suffering from endometriosis, they reported substantial alleviation of their pain. How is that possible? Look at their drop in estrogen levels. A 75% drop after just a quarter-teaspoon of seaweed powder a day; 85% after a half-teaspoon. 

Now, obviously, with just a couple women, no control group, we have to do bigger, better studies. But, look when this study was published—more than a decade ago, and not a single such study has been published since. Does the research world just not care about women? Millions of women are suffering with these conditions. Who’s going to fund it, though? That much seaweed costs less than five pennies; so, a larger study may never be done. But, with no downsides, I would suggest endometriosis sufferers give it a try.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: kreuzfeld via pixabay. Image has been modified.

Doctor's Note

I’m so glad I finally got an endometriosis video out. I think the only other video where I touch on it is What Diet Best Lowers Phthalate Exposure?.

I’ve also been neglecting sea vegetables. I did do Which Seaweed is Most Protective Against Breast Cancer? and more recently, Wakame Seaweed Salad May Lower Blood Pressure—with more on the way.

I’d recommend staying away from kelp and hijiki, though; see Too Much Iodine Can Be as Bad as Too Little.

Other natural remedies for menstrual problems include:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

75 responses to “How to Treat Endometriosis with Seaweed

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  1. Thank you so much for posting this! I ended up having a hysterectomy last year and despite this symptoms and Ovarian Cysts have returned. I will certainly be giving this a try!




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  2. Could it be the iodine content that is helping, and not the fiber and or other nutrients?

    And are you concerned about seaweeds accumulating the plastic nano-particle microbeads and
    other minuscule plastic particles that litter our oceans due to plastic consumer products being
    dumped into the sea?




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    1. From what I know, a lot of seaweed is grown in tanks/labs so you don’t end up with the pollution problems in seaweed that you do in many seafoods. Plus the plastic ends up in fish through them eating it and bioaccumulation. Seaweed doesn’t have mouths to eat other fish or the plastic bits ☺




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    2. Thanks for your comment Jenna,

      It could be due to multi factors, but according to this video it seems that part of it may have to do with the estrogen lowering properties of seaweed (which could also be related to fibre).

      After a bit of research, I have found that one report states that seaweed from aquaculture can be regarded as contamination-free (see here). A FAO article also speaks about the removal of toxins in the process of seaweed farming.

      Hope this answer helps.

      Hope this answer helps.




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  3. kelp did not help my situation 35 yrs ago (re endometriosis) so I dont know that iodine is the central factor. These days I am just as reluctant to use seaweed as I am to eat fish.. just dont want to add toxins to my diet when it isnt necessary.




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      1. Thanks Ryan, I will check it out for sure. I kind of wondered since they grow the golden algae for vegan omega 3 in tanks thereby avoiding pollution concerns.. so it would seem logical also for the sea vegetables. I do use nori sheets sometimes in a wonderful ‘detox’ soup of broccoli and spices and spinach. thanks again.

        @Nicky, you are blessed to have a family. I was not so fortunate. The pain was/is debilitating since I was left with ovaries. One thing I did look into though was lower estrogen = risk of osteoporosis.
        Maybe at just small quantities of seaweed its a non-issue




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    1. Different seaweeds have different levels of iodine. In the doctor’s note under the video Dr. Greger recommends not eating kelp and hijiki because of excessively high levels of iodine and links to a video where he discusses iodine intake .




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        1. Kelp is fine, just don’t over do it. It’s just easier to over do it with Kelp. With something like dulse you can take more because it is lower in iodine and then get even more phytonutrients because of the greater volume.

          I get about 200 mcg of Iodine from kelp per day. 1100 mcg per day is the upper limit for iodine intake.




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    2. Thanks for your question.

      Indeed, according to the National Institute of Health:

      “High intakes of iodine can cause some of the same symptoms as iodine deficiency—including goiter, elevated TSH levels, and hypothyroidism—because excess iodine in susceptible individuals inhibits thyroid hormone synthesis and thereby increases TSH stimulation, which can produce goiter [2,58]. Iodine-induced hyperthyroidism can also result from high iodine intakes, usually when iodine is administered to treat iodine deficiency. Studies have also shown that excessive iodine intakes cause thyroiditis and thyroid papillary cancer [2,58]. Cases of acute iodine poisoning are rare and are usually caused by doses of many grams. Acute poisoning symptoms include burning of the mouth, throat, and stomach; fever; abdominal pain; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; weak pulse; and coma [2].

      Responses to excess iodine and the doses required to cause adverse effects vary [58]. Some people, such as those with autoimmune thyroid disease and iodine deficiency, may experience adverse effects with iodine intakes considered safe for the general population [2,5].

      The FNB has established iodine ULs for food and supplement intakes (Table 3). In most people, iodine intakes from foods and supplements are unlikely to exceed the UL [2]. Long-term intakes above the UL increase the risk of adverse health effects. The ULs do not apply to individuals receiving iodine for medical treatment, but such individuals should be under the care of a physician [2].”

      The Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Iodine have been set at 1100 mcg for adults.

      Hope this answer helps.

      Hope this answer helps.




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  4. I have a question about the cancer warning now present on all packages of seaweed. I’m guessing that it’s due to the Fukushima incident and it’s wide reaching effects across the Pacific. This seems as ominous as the warning on cigarettes. Can you please touch on that? I tried looking up the information provided on a package but it seemed deliberately obscured with facts. What’s the deal?




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    1. This is Darryl (login bug has returned). There’s a new review on Fukushima radionuclides:

      Buesseler et al, 2017. Fukushima Daiichi–Derived Radionuclides in the Ocean: Transport, Fate, and Impacts. Annual Review of Marine Science, 9, pp.173-203.

      The story remains, exposures to radionuclides from FDNPP in seafood are trivially small compared to background exposures from naturally occurring 210Po. Japanese regulators don’t permit fishing in Fukushima harbor, and most Japanese seaweed production is conducted hundreds of miles to the south, but a hypthetical consumer of 100 lbs of seafood caught in Fukushima harbor in 2013 would increase their annual radiation exposure by about 10%. I suspect heath risks from anxiety over FDNPP radionuclides are greater than more tangible risks, and personally purchase Japanese sourced wakame over the cheaper seaweed sourced from the Chinese coast, given the pall of coal smoke (and presumably mercury etc.) that hangs over China.




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      1. Darryl: Thanks for this post. Lots of folk are worried about that. This update is helpful.

        re: login bug. Last week, NutritionFacts switched from disqus to wordpress as the application running the forum. Previous login bugs related to disqus should not have traveled forward. If you are interested, the NutritionFacts staff have said that they are taking bug reports through the Help Center (see link at the bottom of the page and then click the link that is in the upper right of the Help Center). If you want to get the issue problem-solved, that might help.




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  5. I buy several varieties of seaweed from a small seaweed farmer in Maine that tests his ‘farm’ produce and is more steward in his approach. All of his seaweed is amazing. Check out Larch Hansen at Seaweed Man.




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  6. I wish I had known this when I had heavy periods every two weeks when I was in my 30’s. Pregnancy made this nonsense stop, but it would have been nice to try this instead of going to the doctor, taking hormones, etc. (I’m a month from age 70 now and my diet has drastically changed since my SAD diet then….)




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  7. As a liftetime endometriosis sufferer, this is worth a shot for me! I understand that hijiki and kelp are not recommended. What would you recommend and in what form? Is dried seaweed a good option?




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    1. Why not buy powdered bladderwrack and add to a smoothie. Or you could even buy a cheap capsule / pill making kit and make you’re own caps like I do for my wife with amla, turmeric and ginger.




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    2. I have a similar experience. I suffered through endometriosis from the age of 18 on. The doctors were “mystified” as to the source of my pain (my 80th birthday is next week) and I always had the feeling that they thought I was a neurotic. At age 21 I had one successful pregnancy, during which the pain stopped of course. After, however, it returned x10. Again, doctors claimed to be mystified. They even tested me for parasites (negative of course). Went on the early birth control pills for 2 years and had 2 yrs of relief. Wanted another baby so came off birth control. After 2 years of not getting pregnant, a Rubins test (that’s all they had in the early ’60s) showed my tubes had closed. They temporarily opened them by forcing air, but I was unable to conceive. Fortunately we were able to adopt, but for the rest of my fertile days, I suffered monthly attacks of pain mid-cycle (the timing was atypical for endometriosis). Even post-menopause, and after several years of HRT, at the age of 79 I still have very minor monthly discomfort — an unpleasant reminder.

      As a happy WFPB practitioner for almost 10 yrs, I am a cycling athlete (bicycle, that is), absent of the neuro-muscular aches and pains that most of my age cohort suffers, and enjoy excellent health. I do eat seaweed infrequently as part of a dish, but will step it up a bit. Wish I had known about seaweed’s possible benefits many years ago.
      Thanks.

      Now, as a




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  8. Can one use any seaweed to potentially get this same benefit as the study indicates or does it have to specifically be bladderwrack seaweed? We have Dulse Seaweed flakes and wondering if that would be just as effective in the same dosage or is there something unique about bladderwrack?




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  9. I am very pleased to see a video posted about endometriosis. This disease is under researched and often looked over even though it affects many. By twenty four I’d had two surgeries and went through several different hormonal medications and landed myself at a reproductive endocrinologist looking at IVF. I have since managed to conceive and deliver twins (with a lot of medication and a lot of money) but the painful menstrual cycles are now returning and I am terrified of another twenty years of living in the bed for 3-5 days each month. I am not alone as I have heard countless other stories of women in situations like mine.




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  10. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming that if one is allergic to soy (like I am), then the seaweed is a better option for protection from breast cancer?




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    1. Nancy Altman, If you are allergic to soy, there are plenty of other foods that help prevent breast cancer. Green tea, flaxseeds, broccoli, mushrooms and seaweed, consumed regularly, are all associated with reduced breast cancer risk. http://nutritionfacts.org/2016/05/26/preventing-breast-cancer-with-flax-seeds/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/2014/05/15/which-seaweed-to-help-prevent-breast-cancer/http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cancer-interrupted-green-tea/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/breast-cancer-vs-mushrooms/http://nutritionfacts.org/video/broccoli-versus-breast-cancer-stem-cells/




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  11. Please forgive me if this comment appears twice. I can’t find the comment I posted earlier. It doesn’t seem to be working. I asked if soaking beans in a seaweed called kombu will actually degas them as some websites suggest. Also, I wanted to share this article that says drinking four cups of coffee a day can increase the death rate in people under age 55: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3835155/




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  12. Hi, I am Dr Miriam Maisel, one of the NutritionFacts moderators. I have to say I found the study quoted in this video a little bit confusing and disturbing. The research by Skibola which was cited looked at 3 women with “abnormal menstrual cycling lengths”, 2 of whom were also diagnosed with endometriosis, but only one of the 2 had a laparoscopic diagnosis. (Laparaoscopy is the way to actually see the lesions which consist of endometrial tissue found outside of the womb, like on the outside of the intestines. These lesions bleed under hormonal influence at the same time as a regular menstrual bleed, and the bleeding is associated with inflammation and pain. Eventually there can been scarring, adhesions and so on…). So three had abnormal cycling lengths, and only one definite case of endometriosis. Although ovarian hormones were measured, thyroid hormone and thyroid stimulating hormone were not. This is unfortunate because underactive and overactive thyroid are both very frequently associated with menstrual irregularity. Of course seaweeds contain iodine and iodine is required for thyroid hormone synthesis. It is possible that thyroid hormone imbalance was corrected by ingestion of the iodine containing seaweed, and this allowed the cycles to normalize. But it is very common to have menstrual irregularity in the absence of endometriosis and only one of the three participants had proven endometriosis…The general “allopathic” approach to short menstrual cycle lengths which cause inconvenience and distress would be the use of a combined oral contraceptive pill (estrogen and progesterone), if thyroid disease is not the cause. This at least alleviates symptoms and is a satisfactory solution for very many women. However if thyroid disease is the cause that should be addressed first. But as a doctor I am horrified to read of cases where there are menstrual problems such as those described in the study, over DECADES! When conventional treatment has certainly existed for decades. Of course if including seaweed in the diet is helpful, with respect to cycle length, that is wonderful and very useful to know. But the study cited is not really looking at endometriosis as such.




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    1. I think it’s a crime that birth control pills are prescribed to women who have cycle irregularity or pain. It’s a band-aid not to mention a class one carcinogen- not to mention not a satisfactory treatment to women who are trying to get pregnant- not to mention another gazillion dollar industry that is concerned about money not women. There is absolutely nothing to lose when you eat a little seaweed everyday- and just because it’s not normal to eat seaweed in the US (like it is in Japan) doesn’t mean we need to pick it apart and prove it’s 1000% effective before we try it. It’s food- not a drug- and might be a God-send to women suffering under this terrible condition.




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  13. Abnormal cycles can likely become more abnormal especially if heavy menstruation is involved because patient lacks the RBC’s to carry around the hormones that make the cycle regular. The same can lead to increased fatigue. My question is if Seaweed helps this, what might be a good resource to consider for this kind of supplementation?




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  14. It’s great that NutritionFacts.org is talking about Endo but PLEASE do not spread misinformation about this debilitating condition ….there is plenty of “alternative facts” floating around about this disease. I hope you will edit your video to correct your statements about the cause of the disease – I would have hoped that it would have been caught in the research review that retrograde menstruation is NOT the cause of endo. Also, I may suggest changing title to indicate that seaweed may reduce symptoms of endo (especially – at this point the only “treatment” is surgery. Much appreciated!




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    1. Surgery is not the only treatment. I had endo, blocked tube and 5 cm endometrioma. I don’t have any of the above anymore. I used to be a vegetarian prior to endo diagnosis and went on complete wfpb diet. Retrograde menstruation was a cause of endo for me, but it was caused by candida infection. I used chinese medicine tampons to treat it with combination of DIM, healthy diet and exercises. It all resulted in pregnancy which was my initial goal. After my period returned I had no endo pain what so ever, 4 years later and still feeling great and 5cm endometrioma is completely gone.




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  15. First of all, I appreciate everything that Dr Greger and his team do. I have learned a lot from his posts and book, and share it with everyone I know.

    However, some of the information in the video is outdated and not current about the cause of endometriosis. Retrograde menstruation is not the leading theory as to what causes endo. Endo has been found in fetuses (see the links below), in addition, the endometrial cells from the uterus act differently than endometrial implants located elsewhere in the peritoneum. Its time we stop saying that this is what causes endo.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/reflux-supported-evidence-endometriosis-nancy-petersen
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2671494/
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20471320
    http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282%2814%2902227-4/abstract
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21678420
    http://www.j-endometriosis.com/article/6d05d671-2fd5-4aeb-8ce3-d0d3c483c334
    http://www.hormonesmatter.com/endometriosis-fetuses-important/
    http://pacificendometriosis.com/age-stratified-laterality-of-endometriosis-does-not-support-reflux-menstruation-as-the-origin-of-endometriosis/

    Many women suffer and get inadequate treatment, either with harmful hormone therapies with lasting consequences, or surgeries performed by doctors who don’t know what they are doing, and end up making things worse. While I agree with the video, eating seaweed can’t hurt, I caution women to think that this will reverse a condition they may have had since birth, and they may not be alleviated from their pain until they work with an expert excision doctor (not their regular gyn surgeon).

    For those women wanting to educate themselves, there is a private group called Nancy’s Nook on Facebook that is dedicated to education and research. It is led by a former nurse, Nancy Petersen. You need to educate yourself about this because many doctors are not up on the current research and may treat you inappropriately.




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  16. I am a retired OB-GYN and infertility specialist who treated hundreds of women with endometriosis. Late in my career when I became a vegan, I also found the metabolic pathways that are inflammatory and non-inflammatory in my research on endometriosis. I encouraged my patients to become vegan and gave them instructions and recipies during my off hours (no fee). Within 6 weeks, most had significant reduction in menstural flow and pain. Patients with fibroids avoided hysterectomies. Some indometriosis patients became pregnant, presumably due to reduced pain with intercourse. See Obstetrics and Gynecology February 2001 for a study by Dr. Neil Barnard.




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  17. Hi there! I really enjoyed this video on endometriosis.
    I previoisly researched the impact of soy milk on infants as a formula alternative to breast milk. I had learned that soy milk contains phytoestrogens which can impact that development of female infants. Which I found very interesting and makes sense as oestrogen plays a big role in the development of the female infant brain. But then watching this video on endometriosis made me wonder how soy can reduce levels of oestrogen in the body. Since phytoestrogens mimic the effects of oestrogen. I know that the primary focus was on seaweed. (And again absolutely fascinating stuff.) and the video did mention how there wasn’t a lot of research carried out on soy products. But it did raise the question with me how soy can reduce the levels of oestrogen in the females when it contains phytoestrogens. Is it perhaps because the body sees there is something that looks like oestrogen so therefore doesn’t produce any more oestrogen naturally? Would love your feed back and find out where I can get more info on this! many thanks in advance




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  18. Hey guys, sorry for posting off topic but I’d really appreciate some advice. I’m writing a major essay in school on the topic of saturated fat and heart disease and would like to find all RCTs that substituted PUFA for SFA. How to I search PubMed in order to find them? Keywords, limitations etc.




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  19. I appreciate that the video begins with accurate statistics that emphasize the widespread effects that endometriosis has on society and individual women’s lives. Unfortunately, what’s follows is inaccurate. As one commenter already points out, the origin of disease is still not entirely know, though most true experts agree that retrograde menstruation is NOT the sources of endometriosis. There are many reasons for this, some already highlighted, so I’ll address the main premise of the video: the estrogen dependence of endometriosis. If only it were true.

    Endometriosis is not AS estrogen-dependent as most assume. It’s true that some who have endometriosis respond favorably to restriction of estrogen (say, in the barbaric protocol know as Lupron, which chemically castrates the patient). But so many others do not respond to hormone manipulation and that’s because we now know (from credible research) that the response of endometriosis lesions is widely variable, from patient to patient and lesion to lesion. In other words, it’s a crap-shoot. We also know that something as powerful as Lupron fails to change the pathology of the disease, even as it shuts down the ovaries and the hormones they produce; once Lupron therapy stops, symptoms return and that’s because the pathology remains. Moreover, we have countless documented cases of persistence of disease after surgical castration, menopause, and psuedo-menopause.

    The assumption that endometriosis can be thwarted by managing hormones (or diet) is outdated and could even be harmful because the disease is left to progress. Not all cases are progressive, but when they are, collateral damage is a given. Nothing we can inject, ingest, insert, or apply can change the pathology of endometriosis; there isn’t a single study that demonstrates that endometriosis responds to these things because all that’s studied is symptoms and quality of life indicators. Those measurements aren’t meaningless, but they are not indicative of the disease process at all. Might you feel better for a time? Yes. Is that a sign that the disease process is no longer present or progressing? No.

    Those who practice skilled excision surgery (the only proven effective treatment for long-term relief in most cases, as long as the surgeon is experienced and skilled; btw, the statistics the videos offers on recurrence of disease after surgery are skewed by the poor outcomes demonstrated by inferior techniques like ablation, which has a 70% failure rate) report seeing more advanced cases of endometriosis and they believe it’s because patients do not have access to specialized care early enough. Instead, conventional “treatments” fail (as one would expect based not he data) and patients try to manage symptoms with diet and hormones and all the while, their disease can progress. When a woman has an obliterated cul de sac, nothing but skilled surgery will help. A young woman who manages for a decades with diet and supplements could be forfeiting any choice she might have regarding pregnancy because while she’s avoiding gluten and adding seaweed, her ovaries might be compromised by lesions and or adhesions. A nodule on the bowel can grow to cause obstruction and one on the rectum could eventually invade the vagina.

    With respect, seaweed isn’t what women need. What women need is outrage about the inadequate care we receive. What we need is a call for greater access to specialized care through insurance and more incentives for GYNs to train with the handful of truly skilled excision surgeons.




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    1. I agree with you here Kathryn, except for on one point; “Nothing we can inject, ingest, insert, or apply can change the pathology of endometriosis”. Yes research is in it’s early stages, that’s true. However, to say that women can have absolutely NO effect from dietary or pharmaceutical changes is just not helpful. This is very dear to me, as my wife has struggled with this condition for years and I’m so glad that we have changed our diet around, tried supplements and continued our own research.
      While we don’t have research to say a specific diet or drug absolutely helps. We also don’t have enough research to say that ALL diets and drugs won’t help. As the doctor says, “give it a try”; but don’t leave women feeling hopeless…




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      1. Dylan, I am sorry your wife suffers. I know what that;s like because I lived it myself well into my 40s. I myself am (was) an endometriosis patient and now I help administrate an 18k member patient education group that’s focused on teaching evidence-based treatment. We teach women how to know when something sounds too good to be true because too many suffer from the kind of hopelessness you mention. The hopelessness is real and it’s the fault of a system that knows what the gold standard should be, but denies it to women all the time. What’s more convenient is to offer medications and inferior surgery and then call the disease a hopeless enigma.

        Managing symptoms with diet or hormone manipulation can be therapeutic for many, but often it’s only for a time. None of it will change the underlying pathology. Period, full stop. We know that even the most powerful drugs, the ones that completely halt all ovarian activity, fail to stop the disease or cure patients. Managing symptoms is a big deal, for sure. I did so for a long time by avoiding certain foods, for instance. That was helpful. But it’s often not sustainable. And it’s not the same as doing something that gets to the underlying pathology. The distinction is imperative because we know that symptoms are often not indicative of what the endometriosis is up to. In fact, masking symptoms can present a very real danger, by allowing the nodules and lesions (and associated adhesions) time to progress into disease that’s more difficult to address at a later date. We unfortunatley see it all the time.

        I have no objection to free-thinking folks buying supplements or anything that think will work. My objection is with those who claim a curative option even when they fail to understand the basic mechanics of the disease. If we start from flawed assumptions, as is the case with seaweed, we are bound to be disappointed.

        There is only one thing that is proven to actually treat the underlying pathology of endometriosis and by now, it’s been replicated and published in peer-review journals for over 20 years. It’s called skilled excision surgery and very few physicians specialize in it or have been doing it long enough to be good at it. Most generalists are put off by the notion or they don’t know enough to be able to refer patients to those with notable skills (even though the professional organizations they belong to recommend just that: referral to excision surgeons). If patients can figure out ways to get to these physicians (in spite of those who deny them, like their own OBGYNs and insurance plans), they can find the hope they seek. With skillful excision and follow-up care for co-ocurring conditions that contribute to pelvic pain (IC, pelvic floor dysfunction, adenomyosis, fibroids, recurrent cysts, so on), women’s lives are being restored.

        To my mind — as one who has educated patients for over two years, one who works with healthcare professionals in that mission — the best antidote for the hopelessness that women with endometriosis feel is not another supplement or another promised based on a misunderstanding of what endometriosis is and how is behaves. We actually KNOW better by now and we don’t have to cling to “maybes” and “what ifs”. We have a good answer for the crushing hopelessness and it’s called skilled excision of disease.

        I hope your wife can find the relief she deserves.




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        1. Hi Kathryn,
          I also run a patient group / health promotion charity called EndoActive here in Australia.
          I’d love to know the name of your patient education group. Is it on facebook? I’d love to know more about what you do.
          I agree with a lot that you’ve said and respect your knowledge.
          I of course have endo and totally agree that what women need is skilled excision surgery and early intervention.
          However, what I find incredibly frustrating and unhelpful is the after care – or lack there of. For so many women who have had a successful surgery they remain in terrible pain which often becomes chronic – simply because they are given no information on how to look after themselves and recover after the surgery.
          I’ve noticed enormous changes in my endo and general health (I’m now 99% pain free for over 18 months) after making dietary and lifestyle changes that have been enormously helpful.
          There aren’t studies on the things I’ve done relating to endo, however when it comes to managing chronic pain – the evidence is there.
          Basically, I believe that there needs to be a combination of good excision surgery, possibly medication and adoption of a chronic pain management plan and anti-inflammatory diet for endo patients in order for them to feel better and keep the disease at bay. Above all, more information and education for patients is needed so that they have a better understanding of what endo is and how to self-manage after they’ve had a laparoscopy. That is my personal feeling.
          Do please let me know the name of your group and how to find you.




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  20. This is for the tech people behind NutritonFacts.org. Is it me or do some of the videos seem to have the volume too low? I have turned up the volume on my computer all the way and the volume in the YouTube window but the volume is still very low. For future recordings can you please turn up the volume a bit? Thank you.




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    1. mark: A couple of other people have reported audio problems also. We are trying to figure out a pattern as this problem does not appear to affect everyone. Some questions: Do you experience this problem only on the youtube site, but not here on NutritionFacts site? What browser and version are you using? What version of Windows? If you don’t mind saying of course. Thanks!




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  21. Please stop spreading myths about Endo! First off, retrograde menstruation is a theory that has been disproved. Second, if surgery is performed by and expert surgeon, the recurrence rate is as low as 5%. Certain foods and supplements can help reduce inflammation and help balance estrogen levels, which may alleviate symptoms for some. The disease, however, will remain and continue to progress. Having the disease properly excised by an expert surgeon (there aren’t many who qualify) is our best option for treatment!




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  22. Hi there,
    I just bought a pot of dehydrated fucus vesiculosus (whole, not powdered) and I’m wondering how to consume it. Should one simply eat it? In the label there is an instruction to boil it in water and drink it, but I didn’t even understand if one should ingest only the water or the leaves too…)
    Also, should I be concerned with the amount of iodine that it may contain?

    Thank you!




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  23. Hello, Eduardo,
    I am a family physician with a private practice in lifestyle medicine, and also a moderator for this website. In the study to which Dr. Greger refers in this video, the women consumed powdered Fucus vesiculosus (bladderwrack). Sounds like you bought dehydrated whole seaweed. You would need to ingest not just the water you boil it in, but also the seaweed itself, in order to get the full beneficial effects. It might be easier to grind it up first — maybe in a food processor. I’m sure you can find vegan recipes that include seaweed as an ingredient. Have fun with it!




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  24. Hi!

    I have a large 15cm penduculated fibroid sitting over my uterus. The plan is to start Lupron Depot for 3 months to shrink it as much as possible to remove it laporascopically, if possible. Has anyone had success with Lupron injections? I’ve read so many stories of long lasting effects from this drug.




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  25. You asked about Lupron injections, so I checked the database Pub Med and found two articles for your review. While Lupron Depot is often used to treat fibroid tumors with success, review of dosage indicates some of the side effects can be lessened with lower, yet still effective dosage. You may want to discuss with your doctor–and also try the seaweed approach as well. Here are those articles:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28207540

    Different dosages of mifepristone versus enantone to treat uterine fibroids: A multicenter randomized controlled trial.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15172874
    Systematic review of mifepristone for the treatment of uterine leiomyomata.

    Hope that helps. Joan-NurseEducator




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  26. Hi there :) Does anybody know anything about taking Pine Bark for endometriosis? I understand seaweed, particularly bladderwrack, can be helpful, but I’m worried about using anything with iodine in because of an under active thyroid and taking Levothyroxine? I’m desperate for some relief, as so far nothing has helped.




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  27. For people looking for up to date medical information (eg information on Lupron efficacy, treatments) as well as doctors who use modern best practices (ie excision surgery and not ablation) for symptom management, please see the Nancy’s Nook FB group.

    Unsurprisingly, a plant based gluten free diet seems to help endo, aka the “Endo Diet”. I love ❤️ this site.




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  28. Does anyone know why longer menstrual cycles are desirable? He said that Japanese women have longed menstrual cycles- does he mean longer days between period or longer period days?




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  29. I’m like 100% positive the effects seen with the seaweed supplement were due to the iodine content, not the fiber. Iodine is essential in increasing progesterone and decreasing estrogen. Estrogen dominant menstrual cycles lead to cysts, PMS, breast pain/hardness, etc.

    I think this is why, once I stopped using iodized salt in my diet (to lower my overall sodium intake), I saw a gradual worsening of menstrual pain over a series of several months. I didn’t realize this until recently, and I have been taking the bladderwrack supplement mentioned in the video for about a week now. It’s good way to get iodine without the sodium, and if like me you don’t particularly care to eat seaweed. Fingers crossed that it will actually work.




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