Last week I sat in a restaurant with a group of girlfriends. We shared food, laughter, some good gossip, and some great wine. As I looked around, I realized that we were also likely to share something else: uterine fibroids. Of the ten women sitting at the table, there was a good chance that seven of us would have uterine fibroids at some point in our lives.
Though fibroids are a common occurrence among women – affecting as many as 75% in their lifetime – an aura of mystery still surrounds them, especially when it comes to fibroid symptoms and treatment options.
There are a lot of myths floating around the internet. There are “miracle fibroid diets that shrink fibroids in 30 days,” special herbal concoctions, essential oils, castor oil packs, special yoga poses, you name it.
Distinguishing the myths from the facts can be difficult, and many women are not sure whom to trust when deciding what to do about their fibroids.
At Viva Eve we make it our priority to ensure that our patients have all of the information they need to make the right treatment decisions. Before you come in to see us, let’s dispel some of the more common myths about “all natural” fibroid treatments.
Let’s talk about some of the more widely publicized natural treatment options and the myths surrounding fibroids.
Myth: Ginger is beneficial for women suffering from uterine fibroids and can help naturally shrink fibroids
The development of fibroids is commonly associated with estrogen. These tumors can develop for other reasons, but hormone imbalance is considered to be one of the key triggers.
Ginger has a stimulating effect on the endocrine glands, which are important for ensuring hormonal balance. Hormonal balance might deprive fibroids of the excessive estrogen, but ginger cannot shrink the fibroids. Fibroids need the blood supply to stay alive and cutting off that blood supply (Uterine Fibroid Embolization is one procedure that does just that) is one treatment that can make the fibroids shrink.
There are some hormonal medications that can also reduce bleeding and decrease fibroid tumor size. Symptoms return when treatment stops. These prescription drugs are typically recommended for a maximum of six months, otherwise prolonged use may lead to early menopause-like symptoms including osteoporosis (bone loss).
Ginger cannot shrink fibroids.
The Myth: A special diet can shrink or even remove your fibroids.
Fibroids are believed to be a hormone-related disease. Therefore, consuming foods that impact hormone levels is thought to pose a risk. A diet high in meat, especially red meat, is naturally higher in saturated fat than a diet that limits these foods. Usually, if a woman’s diet is high in meat it is likely to be low in fruits, vegetables and thus fiber. Although commonly associated only with healthy digestion, fiber aids in regulating hormone levels by carrying excess estrogen out of the body. Diets higher in saturated fat have been linked to higher estrogen levels, which could worsen existing fibroids.
A healthy diet can possibly prevent you from getting fibroids in the first place or keep your existing fibroids from growing bigger, but it will not remove or shrink the fibroids you already have.
What is not in dispute is that there is no proof that diet causes or cures fibroids.
Myth: drinking beetroot juice will stop the growth of fibroids. It will also help you shrink your existing fibroids with time.
The beet is a bulbous, sweet root vegetable that you either love or hate. In the last decade or so, it has risen to superfood status. Beets are good sources of folate, potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. They are also rich in natural chemicals called nitrates. Your body changes nitrates into nitric oxide, which might help with blood flow and blood pressure. Some people who start drinking beet juice regularly discover that their urine and stools start to look reddish. This is perfectly normal, but it may be a little startling if you don’t expect it.
Beets and beet juice are a great addition to your diet. There are, however, no studies that show that beets can stop the growth of fibroids or shrink the ones you already have.
Myth: Exercise will rid you of your fibroids.
There are exercise plans out there that give you detailed plans for your daily exercise. Various books and online articles tell you why, when, where, and how you can start ‘exercising’ your way to get freedom from fibroids.
Fat is linked to elevated estrogen production. Increased estrogen levels can trigger uterine fibroid growth. Overweight women are at a higher risk of developing fibroids, with chances increasing two to three times in obese women. That’s why physicians recommend that women at risk of developing fibroids should do daily aerobic and strength training exercises to reduce stomach fat. A clinical study found that women who are physically active and athletic are less prone to have uterine fibroids as compared to less active women. Moderate exercise helps keep off the extra pounds, tones stomach muscles and shrinks the waistline. It also decreases fatty deposits, improves the cardiovascular system, lowers cholesterol and reduces high blood pressure.
If you do have fibroids, there are a few specific low impact exercises that can help with pain and discomfort a lot of women with fibroids experience before and during their periods. There are many women who suffer from menstrual cramps who swear that their fibroid pain can be relieved through yoga poses that open up the stomach.
Exercising and keeping your weight under control can possibly prevent you from getting fibroids and help with the discomfort that your existing fibroids might cause, but it will not remove or shrink your fibroids.
Myth: Castor oil packs can assist in the elimination of fibroid tumors in women
What is a castor oil pack?
A castor oil pack is a cloth soaked in castor oil that is placed directly on the skin. The cloth is covered with plastic and heated with either a hot water bottle or a heating pad. Castor oil is absorbed through the skin.
This myth is especially perplexing. There seems to be no plausible explanation for how this “remedy” can possibly affect the fibroids. It is however very messy and time-consuming. The only possible benefit that we can imagine is related to stress relief than anything else. Lying down for an hour each day in total peace and quiet does allow you to unwind and relax. This can probably decrease your overall stress level, but it will not stop the growth of fibroids or shrink them.
Effective fibroid treatment is not a myth
No natural remedy has ever been scientifically proven to reduce the size or number of fibroids. Nor can home remedies shrink fibroids or to permanently remove them.
However, if you suffer from fibroids, there are steps you can take to ease your symptoms. And there are effective treatments available to help eliminate your fibroids.