Fibroid tumors of the uterus are very common. They are benign growths of the muscle cells of the uterus that affect 20 -70% of all women. They seem to be more common in darker skinned women. Most often these tumors are small and do not cause problems.  However, they can grow from the size of a pea to the size of a watermelon quite rapidly. Depending on their size and position in the uterus, they can cause severe hemorrhaging and pain each month sometimes requiring multiple blood transfusions and invasive surgical procedures.

By Allan B. Warshowsky, MD FACOG, ABIHM 
www.doctorallan.com 

Robyn was very anxious. This was to be her big day at the office. The presentation that she was about to give to the board of directors was the culmination of months of work, and she wanted to make a great impression. The fact that her period was about to arrive did not make her feel any better. Her menstrual cramps and premenstrual symptoms had been increasing over the last few months, and the bleeding had been heavier than usual in her recent cycles.

As she rose to move to the podium, she felt the first pain. That was followed by a stronger cramp that resembled the labor pains she had heard about. She held on to the table for a moment and as the pain intensified she felt the wetness begin to flow. Hastily excusing herself, she ran to the restroom and found that she had bled through the super tampon she was wearing and had already soiled her clothing with blood. 

Later that day at her gynecologist’s office she found out that the “small” fibroid tumor that was discovered on her uterus 6 months earlier had grown to the size of an orange and was causing the severe menstrual cramps and heavy menstrual flow. How, she said, does a small fibroid grow to be so large so fast? The doctor shrugged and replied that he does not know why they grow, but due to the heavy bleeding and pain the fibroid should be removed. At the age of 35, unmarried with no children, Robyn was shocked and fearful that she would never have children because of her fibroid. 

Contrary to Robyn’s fears, I have found in my 30 years of facilitating holistic healthcare for women, that individualized non-invasive protocols that I have developed work to prevent invasive procedures, save the uterus and optimize health. Using non-invasive lifestyle change, supplements and mind-body techniques, patients do heal. They no longer “flood” when having their menses. Their pelvic pain is gone. They also notice that other areas of imbalance and “dis-ease” in their lives improve. Women are no longer plagued by the symptoms of fibroids. 

 
So, what is a fibroid?
Fibroid tumors of the uterus are very common. They are benign growths of the muscle cells of the uterus that affect 20 -70% of all women. They seem to be more common in darker skinned women. Most often these tumors are small and do not cause problems.  However, they can grow from the size of a pea to the size of a watermelon quite rapidly. Depending on their size and position in the uterus, they can cause severe hemorrhaging and pain each month sometimes requiring multiple blood transfusions and invasive surgical procedures.

The cause of fibroid growth is not completely understood. Genetics may play a role. Fibroid tumors and other estrogen relating conditions sometimes run in families. There seems to be a greater preponderance of fibroids among the Afro-American population. Most studies show that excessive estrogens (nature’s growth hormone) can stimulate the growth of abnormal uterine cells and then the fibroids are nourished and supported in their growth by blood vessels derived from inflammation in the body. Since we are awash in an environment of estrogenic substances as reported by Rachel Carson in her groundbreaking book “Silent Spring” and we live in very stressful and inflammatory times, it is no wonder that fibroids are such a significant health concern. 

With my integrative holistic viewpoint, fibroids can be seen as a sign that there is some deeper imbalance in the body that is manifested by hormone imbalance and inflammation causing the fibroid to grow. The fibroid is the tip of the iceberg. It is what we can observe, but we know that there are much larger and fundamental problems beneath the waves that we cannot see. Only by identifying and correcting these underlying imbalances can we truly heal fibroid tumors.  

Conventional treatments of fibroids are mainly surgical and invasive. These procedures range from hysterectomy (complete removal of the uterus) and myomectomy (removal of the fibroids alone) to less invasive destructive procedures that include uterine artery embolization and use of energy sources such as laser and ultrasound to melt down the inside of the fibroids. The problem with all of these procedures is that the underlying cause of the fibroid is not addressed. Within a few years after any of these procedures the fibroids grow back. I have seen many women in my practice who have had 2 or more myomectomies and are still plagued each month with such pain and heavy menstrual bleeding because of fibroid re-growth, that they are incapacitated for several days of their menses. They miss time from work, school, and daily responsibilities. 

 

My approach to fibroids is different.
While addressing the symptoms of Robyn’s fibroid through as natural means as possible, I do the necessary workup to discover the underlying causes of fibroid growth and symptoms. These imbalances include environmental factors such as estrogenic toxins in the environment, lack of vitamin D (especially prominent in Afro-Americans) and the standard American diet (SAD) with its emphasis on refined and processed foods that remove the essential minerals and vitamins. Foods in the SAD, including gluten grains and other acidic and inflammatory foods such as red meat, poultry, and dairy increase fibroid growth. Excessive sugar intake and insulin resistance, problems with detoxification, intestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and parasites, heavy metal toxicity and food allergies can all contribute to fibroid growth as well.   

Lifestyle change is the mainstay of my “healing fibroid protocol”. I begin with an anti inflammatory diet similar to the Mediterranean diet which emphasizes omega 3 oil rich deep sea cold water fish, seeds and nuts, vegetables and complex carbohydrates as those found in legumes. I eliminate the acidic and inflammatory foods mentioned above.  Adding foods such as soy, kudzu and flax seeds help to balance estrogen.  They prevent estrogens from becoming too strong in the body, modify the effects of environmental estrogenic toxins (xenoestrogens) and support healthy estrogen levels. Vegetables from the cruciferous group (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower) have beneficial effects on estrogen metabolism also affecting reduced estrogen dominance.  

Exercise is another important part of the protocol. We all know how significant exercise is for overall health. Studies show that 30 minutes of exercise 3 times per week will help lower inflammation and support healthy hormone balance. There are studies showing that amount of exercise will help reduce breast cancer reoccurrence by up to 50%. In addition to improving overall muscle tone and flexibility, both helpful for reducing cramping associated with fibroids, I encourage fibroid patients to exercise to improve healthy hormone production so that progesterone and estrogen will be in balance.   

Meditation and visualization practices reduce inflammatory chemicals in the body and also keep hormone levels in check. I encourage referrals to massage therapists and acupuncturists to help alleviate energy stagnation. All of these mind-body techniques are among the most powerful ways to counter self-limiting thoughts that may be blocking your healing. They help to identify and release the stored and not acknowledged emotional energy that may be blocking the healthy flow of energy through the uterus. In my book, “Healing Fibroids – A Doctors Guide to a Natural Cure”, I describe many forms of exercise and meditation that are helpful for fibroid healing. 

I also use nutritional supplements to promote health in the fibroid healing protocol. When used correctly, supplements help balance hormones and strengthen organs and glands. They also help restore essential body nutrients that are removed by commercial food processing, lost during storage, or gobbled up by the demands stress places on our bodies. They can be used in place of pharmaceuticals that may cause other side effects, to lessen the impact of the symptoms of fibroids. 

My protocols have helped many women avoid invasive procedures and have facilitated optimizing their health as they heal their fibroids. At least 80% of women who have been told that they need surgery to treat their fibroids find that they not only can stay out of the operating room, but that their symptoms resolve, and the fibroids stop growing and ultimately shrink. Even in the less common situation where surgery is opted for, utilizing this approach helps avoid the frustrating re-growth of fibroids that occurs if the underlying issues are not identified and treated. 

This integrative holistic approach to healing requires awareness that something is not quite right in your life. It is supported by a strong commitment to self healing and self nurturing. It requires one to become non-judgmental towards oneself as the process unfolds. In this view all illness becomes an opportunity for change and growth. Healing fibroids in this manner is an opportunity for creating optimal health.