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Uterine fibroids

MagazineMarch 2010 (Vol. 20 Issue 12)Uterine fibroids

These generally symptomless benign tumours-known as 'fibroleiomyoma' or'uterine fibromyoma'-are painless, although other signs may raise thesuspicion of their presence

These generally symptomless benign tumours-known as 'fibroleiomyoma' or
'uterine fibromyoma'-are painless, although other signs may raise the
suspicion of their presence. Shorter menstrual cycles and heavy bleeding
(hypermenorrhoea), sometimes with discomfort, are often associated with
them, as are a difficulty in conceiving and a tendency to miscarry.
Most uterine fibroids (or myomata) are found on routine abdominal or
gynaecological examination, during surgery, on an ultrasound scan or post
mortem. Small fibroids are left un-treated, while large ones are surgically
removed either by full hysterectomy-unnecessarily in the vast majority of
cases and often because the operation is easier for the surgeon-or by
myomectomy, where only the fibroid is removed. This allows the patient to
still have children, although fibroids do frequently recur.
Happily, alternative medicine offers a variety of promising, non-surgical,
approaches to the problem of fibroids.
- Homeopathy. Experiments over the past five decades have shown that
parathyroid hormone (Parathyroidinum) and Cobaltum Nitricum are both
effective for uterine fibromyoma (Allg Hom"oop Zeitung, 1958; 203: 419-35;
Arch Hom'eop Normandie, 1962; 25: 30-53; Cahiers de Bioth'erapie, 1971; 29:
1-14).
- Oriental Medicine. According to Taoist philosophy, fibroids usually
correspond to Stagnation of Damp Phlegm, Chi or Blood, caused by emotional
stagnation, overcon-sumption of cow's milk products
or sexual intercourse at too-early an age (before 18 years,
when the body's energies are not considered mature), or emotional imbalance
during the teenage years (Gascoigne S. The Manual of Conventional Medicine
for Alternative Practitioners, vol II. Dorking, UK: Jigme Press, 1994: 415).
- Keishi-bukuryo-gan (KBG; kuei-chih-fu-ling-wan). This traditional
Chinese herbal remedy is common-ly used to treat gynaecological disorders
such as hypermenor-rhoea, dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation) and
sterility. The herbal remedy comprises five herbs: Cinnamomum cassia Bl
(Lauraceae); Paeonia lactiflora Pall (Paeoniaceae); Prunus persica Batsch
(or var davidiana Maxim; Rosaceae); Poria cocos Wolf (Poly-poraceae); and
Paeonia suffruti-cosa Andr (Paeoniaceae).
KBG has also been shown to act as an antagonist of luteinizing
hormone-releasing factor (LH-RF) and as a weak antioestrogen in uterine DNA
synthesis. In a study involving 110 premenopausal patients with uterine
fibroids, both hypermenorrhoea and dysmenor-rhoea were improved in more than
90 per cent of cases, with shrinking of the fibroids in 60 per cent (Am J
Chin Med, 1992; 20: 313-7).
Fibroids are found in some women who have abnormally heavy or prolonged
menstruation, frequent periods, persistent bleeding outside of periods, or
breast pain with marked nipple tenderness, especially in the week before a
period. Also, myoma-tous or cystic changes can be found in ovaries that may
be either small or normal in size. Furthermore, there's a definite link
between ovarian cysts and later fibroid development; indeed, such cysts, if
ignored, may become a 'seeding' site of later myomata.
Myomata can be diagnosed non-invasively by ultrasound, preferably performed
transvaginally by an experienced sonographer, along with laboratory blood
tests to exclude any other possible diagnosis.
In my own clinical experience, a tried-and-true alternative therapy, which
has been thoroughly researched for more than 40 years, is Vitex agnus-castus
(chasteberry), a shrub that grows around the Mediterranean.
Historically used to correct disorders of the female reproductive system,
the plant is mentioned in the medical writings of Hippocrates, Plinius,
Dioscorides and Galen. An extract made from its fruit (extract of agnus
castus: EAC) is said to possess corpus luteum-like effects (providing
hormonal support for pregnancy) (Hippokrates, 1954; 25: 717-9). This has
been confirmed by histological examination of the endometrium,
basal-temperature measurement and cellular examination of vaginal secretions
(Deutsche Med Wochenschr, 1954; 79: 1271).
EAC also lowers the production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in the
pituitary while gently increasing secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and
prolactin, effects that can be achieved with therapeutic doses and which are
clearly dose-dependent. EAC doesn't replace LH but, acting via central
nervous system pathways, regulates the production of ovarian hormones.
In cases of polycystic or myoma-tous ovaries detected by ultrasound, the
typical excessive bleeding, overly frequent periods, persistent acyclic
haemorrhages and similar menstrual disorders can be brought under control by
using 30 drops of EAC in water once a day (Deutsche Med Wochen-schr, 1955;
80: 936). The response of the cysts needs to be carefully monitored by
ultrasound. However, premenstrual syndromes, breast tenderness and
quick-temperedness may all be improved by the next menstrual cycle (Zeitschr
Allg Med, 1981; 56: 295).
By promoting the secretion of LH, EAC contributes to progesterone synthesis
(Selecta, 1977; 19: 3688), which also makes it of value in the successful
treatment of endometrio-sis. My own experience is that uterine fibroids
within the smooth muscle walls of the womb will cease to grow and, in fact,
shrink (as confirmed by regular ultrasound scans) with daily doses of EAC
taken for at least seven months.
Harald Gaier
Harald Gaier, a registered naturopath, osteopath, homeopath and herbalist,
practises at The Allergy and Nutrition Clinic, 22 Harley Street, London, and
the Irish Centre of Integrated Medicine, Co. Kildare (www.drgaier.com).

Vol. 20 06 September 2009


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