I started my journey with Endometriosis and natural healing about 2 years ago. When I first explored Endometriosis, I really didn’t know all that much about it. I simply followed what I had read in Endometriosis books or things my naturopath had said. Unfortunately, much of this information was simply not good for Endometriosis or should only be used on a short-term basis.
One of the main ones was evening primrose oil. It is funny because I didn’t see the warning signs on discovering this or how I found out about it! If you remember the article, I totally raved about evening primrose oil! Well, this is how I found out about it: I met this lady, who was in her 70s and she had severe Endometriosis. She had it so bad that she had a hysterectomy and yet, she still had daily Endometriosis pain. She was the one who swore by evening primrose oil and said she would never give it up! She claimed that it was her lifesaver! Now, being new to exploring Endometriosis and exploring things, I figured someone who had Endometriosis for so long and recommended a solution must know what she was talking about, right?
Well, what is ironic is that I simply didn’t see the obvious warning signals here: SHE STILL HAD DAILY PAIN! After the hysterectomy and everything she still had daily pain! That is a warning in itself that evening primrose oil was clearly NOT working for her! Now, I must just mention that evening primrose oil is often recommended for Endometriosis—in heaps of books!
It is only now that I can see the strong contradiction that exists with plant estrogens and Endometriosis. There is just so much misinformation and unfortunately they are constantly being recommended for Endometriosis.
Now, don’t go worrying about every plant estrogen that exists in nature because just about every plant has estrogenic properties. You want to minimise things that have a high oestrogen load on the body and anything that you may be consuming or using on a daily basis. Some plant estrogens are good for you and are needed within our diet. It is the ones that are high in plant estrogens that you need to avoid.
- Flaxseed oil
- Evening primrose oil
- Soy products
- Sesame oil
- Hops (found in beer)
- Red clover
Now, motherwort is also estrogenic but it is not as strong as the ones mentioned above.
Essentially we want to reduce them in our diet as they create MORE ESTROGEN. We are generally estrogen dominant, so the last thing we want to do is add more of these into our diet. Now, I do believe they can be beneficial on a short-term basis like 3 months but no longer than that.
I will explore this topic further for us and get some real facts on it but for now, it was just a warning about evening primrose oil and other plant-based estrogens in large quantities.
For more information in the meantime, check out this awesome website: http://www.sensiblehealth.com/Journey-04.xhtml
Some awesome information about soy: http://nourishingourchildren.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/why-eliminate-soy-and-pasteurized-milk/
They are seriously worth a read!
This Post Has 20 Comments
I am still not a fan of using Evening Primose Oil with Endo and it seems that you have already come to the same conclusion within your own experience.
Ginger is fantastic for endo – warming and soothing. You have to go with what feels right for you.
Hi Melissa, I know this is an old article, but I was just trying to see if anyone seemed to chime with this. Myself I stopped taking Evening Primrose Oil years ago, I tried it a second time and it did not suit me, I cannot quite explain how I felt like as it’s so long ago but certainly stopped taking it, it did not work for me in the way as described at all. Sure it can affect the natural hormones, but I guess it is individual bodies whether for good or not. I never saw it written anywhere, all were just saying it’s good. Ginger is ok with me, although perhaps more to other ailments/pain than endo.
Focus on your liver health. DIM is a great supplement which can really ease Xenoestrogen load.
So what would you recommend to decrease estrogen levels?
I’ve also taken Evening Primrose Oil for a while and it seemed to have regulated my period and decreased the pains accompanying it… In two weeks I’m having a doctor appointment and see how things have evolved…
Thank you for your comment Anna. It is so true that the information clashes and it seems contradictory. I am personally hesitant on any oils now other than extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. I am even weiry of omega 3 oil capsules. To me it is more about the oils becoming rancit than anything to do with oestrogen activity now.
Like your point about the 70 old lady – we don’t know what else she was doing. I guess we can all determine what works for us and trust in that. 🙂
As I read, the thing about phytoestrogens and the resulting effects on endometriosis are scientifically not entirely clear, are they?
There are some warnings out there regarding soy and soy isoflavones and there are studies out there confirming POSITIVE effects of phyotestrogens on endometriosis. What to believe?
Honestly, I don’t know if even the scientific world doesn’t know. However there seems to be more evidence for the pro-phytoestrogen-theory which says that plant-estrogens use our body’s estrogen receptors, so that our own (a lot stronger) estrogen can’t be used anymore. The now useless human estrogen is then broken down and discharged by the liver.
Personally I don’t want to panic with plant estrogens. As you wrote, Melissa, they are everywhere. One also has to keep in mind that there is not ONE phytoestrogen, but several different types of phytoestrogens. I strongly believe that each one acts a bit different in the human body, but as usual these things are not the subject of major scientifical studies.
I read a LOT of stories about women with endometriosis who swear that EPO has helped them – therefore I wouldn’t be so scared by a story of the 70 yr. old woman who has still daily pains as we don’t know much about the rest of her lifestyle. Maybe she eats heaps of wheat and red meat every day, maybe she loves milkshakes with lots of sugar and artificial flavours in them – or maybe she lives just next to an nuclear power plant, whatever.
Some food have phytoestrogens, yes, but contain so much otherwise valueable things for endometriosis women, I think it’s a bit unfair to condemn them all.
– flaxseed oil (omega 3 for good prostaglandines)
– pomegranates or pomegranate juice (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc.)
– pulses and beans generally (high in fibre and much needed protein if you avoid meat)
I guess it’s REALLY GOOD to be aware of phytoestrogens so that you can look into the matter yourself (and pay attention how you react to certain food with plant estrogens), but after that the decision of including them into your diet or not is a rather difficult one with – unfortunately – no definite answer yet.
Personally I avoid soy (and some other beans and pulses) foremost because I get incredibly bloated. *g*
That is fantastic Samina! Glad to hear it 🙂
Thanks Ruby. There seems to be some websites which say that EPO is a phytoestrogen and others that don’t. I am still not sure. I guess, I can only go on watching this lady who used it religiously and didn’t seem to find it reduced her endo. hard to say sometimes.
Good point that they might be mixed with other Phytoestrogens!
I have felt much better since I started taking starflower oil but I’m also taking a good quality Omega 3 supplement as well as turmeric so it’s likely that I’m getting more benefit from taking them together. My skin definitely looks a lot better!! 🙂
I agree with Melissa on phytoestrogens. They should be avoided. But i still highly doubt that evening primrose oil is a phytoestrogen. I have seen no evidence of this besides this woman’s journey story she posted. I asked my naturopath (who specializes in womans health and teaches a class on treating endometriosis) if EPO is a phytoestrogen and she said no, deffinately not. It is very good for pain. On the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center site (an awesome, credible place to look up herbs with lots of research back-up) it says: “Although EPO does not have intrinsic estrogenic properties, some commercial products combine EPO with phytoestrogens.” So, i think, just check the bottle to make sure it’s not mixed with some type of phytoestrogen.
Yeah, I have heard conflicting information about DIM too. Some girls said it created a “mental blank” type scenario for them. I have also heard really good things about it though and that it stops bad estrogens from entering our bodies. – according to David Wolfe who is a really well respected health advocate. It is hard to say. I would just listen to your body and if you get sore or have a bad reaction – just don’t take it. We are all so different 🙂 I know my endo pain flared up when I took one brand of DIM but was fine on a more expensive one…..?
I LOVE exclzyme though – haven’t heard anything bad or had any bad reactions from it. http://endoempowered.com/personal-experience-vitalzym-good/
I have heard much better things about Borage Oil. It does have heaps of GLA which is totally correct – good for generating the good prostaglandins 🙂 Have you felt better on them?
I think it can work well for a short time – on both the maca and EPO. I wouldn’t recommend them past 3months – from more information I have read. It is so hard sometimes cos there is heaps of conflicting information on these. The only advice I can really give is to listen to your body and read how it is feeling. If you feel better on this combination, stick with it. Test it, without it for a month and recognise if there was a difference. The only way to really know how your body reacts is to try and test…. we are all so different and at different levels with our diets etc.
Hi Mel, have you stopped taking EPO altogether now? I take Maca Root more often than EPO. I usually take the Maca for 3 weeks and then the EPO the week of my period but I also had quite heavy pain this month, so not sure what is best. Could be other factors that have played a roll too but I thought last month it worked well. Hard to always know what is helping and what isn’t. I suppose i should keep a proper food diary and take it from there.
What about Starflower (borage) oil capsules? I’ve been taking them for over 6 months as I thought they would help my endometriosis from recurring after my surgery. I prefer starflower oil to evening primrose oil as it has twice as much GLA as epo which I thought would be more beneficial in producing good prostaglandins.
I think I’ll stop taking the capsules now and do some more research! 🙂
Yes I am also confused and scared.Before I even knew that I had endo. I was taking primose oil because I workout on a daily bases.I guess I will stop,would anyone know about Dinndolylmethane I was taken this for about 2 week and broke out in hives and was put on steroids to help stop the reaction I did do some more research on this found out in large quantities can cause hives ,itching beware ladies of taken anything in large quantities and do researchon anything new. I am thinking about trying exclzyme.
I will def try that I have been wanting to do all natural anyways
Yeah, I know it is confusing – I have been confused about this one for months 🙂 . They will both help initially to lower the pain and after a few months it is good to stop taking them. I would focus more on boosting the immune system instead. Try some Siberian Ginseng or Ashwagandha.
Im so confused, I have been taking evening prim rose for the last few months and it has decreased my pain. I also though flaxseed was good for us so iv been putting it in EVERYTHING lol.