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.

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