A look at the historical and unsettling relationship between black women and fibroids. Fibroids can affect all women with uteruses, but Black women are about 3 times more likely than white women to develop them. 40 percent of women have debilitating period pain. I am one of those women.
Black Women and Fibroids Part 2: Holistic Treatments and Preventative Health
Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that form during the childbearing years of a woman’s life either as a single fibroid or many— with different locations within the uterus. While they are rarely a cause for concern, they can be if they become too big or there are many present. Black women also happen to be three times more likely than white women to develop them. To read more about my journey to learning about mine, check out Black Women and Fibroids Part 1: A Mother-Daughter Story About Resources.
The insufficient conversation I had with my doctor about treatment options for my uterine fibroids could have could have ended with her suggestion to “wait until” I want to have children to see if I miscarried a pregnancy. I am grateful that it didn’t. I asked my two holistic practitioners what they thought in terms of treating and shrinking fibroids. Below are their perspectives.
My number one trusted resource is Natasha Uspensky, CHHC who is a Holistic Nutrition Counselor & Wellness Expert with a specialty in Ayurveda. She is the founder of NU Health + Wellness and the author of The Organic Beauty Blog.
I have known her for over half of my life and I have been working with her for about 10 years. She works with women all over the world treating everything from hormone to fertility to lifestyle concerns. When I asked her about what I could do for my fibroids, here is what she recommended:
WHEN CLIENTS, LIKE MYSELF, COME TO YOU WITH FIBROIDS, WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND TO SHRINK THEM?
NU: As with the holistic treatment of most any health condition, treating uterine fibroids is always a three-pronged approach involving diet, supplementation, and lifestyle changes.
Some of the most important supplements for treating fibroids are also geared towards reducing estrogen levels and creating hormonal balance. They include DIM (a cruciferous vegetable complex), Vitex (chaste tree berry), vitamin D, fish oil, and liver cleansers such as milk thistle. There’s also a great supplement called Fibro Defense that works quite well.
Lifestyle changes include a reduction (or elimination) of xenoestrogens, which means getting rid of plastics, switching to natural feminine care products, and using organic foods and beauty products and natural home cleaning products. Regular exercise is also a very important component, as is using castor oil packs, which break up the excess tissue and remove toxins from the uterine area.
WHAT ARE NATURALS A GOOD WAY TO REDUCE PAIN?
NU: All the treatments above reduce pain from fibroids as the excess estrogen is cleansed from the body and fibroids begin to shrink. Fibro Defense, in particular, is helpful. Other pain relief options are warm castor oil packs do wonders for fibroid pain, essential oils like clary sage, thyme, and frankincense (a few drops of each combined with a bit of carrier oil massaged over the lower belly), sipping on teas like red raspberry leaf, nettle, and dandelion (I like a strong concoction of all three sipped throughout menses), yoga, and acupuncture are all very effective at managing painful symptoms. But again, all of this must be combined with diet, supplementation and lifestyle changes to really work.
Both DIM and castor oil packs are used for treatment as well as prevention of fibroids and must be used until the fibroids shrink and symptoms subside. A typical dose of DIM is 100-200 mg a day (but always discuss your individual dose with your holistic practitioner). Castor Oil Packs can be performed daily or every other day for very painful cases, or 3 times a week for more mild cases. These should be continued for 30-60 days.
WHAT ABOUT CBD?
NU: Topical CBD oil hasn’t been shown to be very effective on a clinical level in treating fibroids, but some people do experience some relief from topical application. I, however, find that CBD suppositories are much more beneficial at treating the inflammation and pain. Foria Wellness makes a lovely one.
WHAT IS ONE THING THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FIBROIDS THAT THEY DO NOT KNOW?
NU: That uterine fibroids don’t just happen. More often than not, they are a result of lifelong exposure to xenoestrogens that have a toxic effect on the body. But the good news is that, more often than not, these effects can be reversed through the changes mentioned.
Reducing exposure to xenoestrogens and environmental and dietary toxins is crucial.
WHAT IS ONE THING THAT WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT OVARIAN AND UTERINE HEALTH?
NU: Every choice, from what we eat to what we put on our bodies, impacts our hormonal and uterine health (as well as all other aspects of our wellness). When we make the right choices, health follows!
CAN YOU SHARE A BIT MORE ABOUT DIET?
NU: In terms of diet, for fibroid treatment, I recommend a whole foods, organic, mostly plant-based diet full of high fiber foods such as dark leafy greens, beans, whole grains, and seeds like chia, hemp and flax. Elimination of processed sugar, meat, conventional dairy, refined carbs, caffeine, alcohol, additives, and preservatives is also really important to reducing estrogen levels in the body.
Many women who are prone to hormonal imbalance need to maintain a version of the fibroid diet for the rest of their lives to keep fibroids from coming back. That said, an initial cleanse period of 3-6 months is very effective at shrinking fibroids and eliminating symptoms. After that, the occasional glass of wine or sweet treat won’t derail everything. But the good news is, this type of whole-foods plant-based diet isn’t just good for treating fibroids, it is vital for fertility, cancer and other disease prevention, healthy weight, and lifelong health!
WHAT CAN WE LOOK OUT FOR IN TERMS OF SYMPTOMS OR THINGS DOCTORS MIGHT SAY THAT GO AGAINST HOLISTIC TREATMENT OPTIONS?
NU: Symptoms of uterine fibroids can go far beyond heavy menstrual periods and painful cramps. They can include fertility issues and gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, bloating, and abdominal pain as well. Western medicine sadly follows a path of treating the symptoms, not the cause, and most doctors will recommend surgical treatments rather than treating the underlying hormonal imbalance. I always recommend a solid 6 month commitment to the holistic approach before considering surgery, if possible.
Another trusted resource I have is Karinn Casey, a California Licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist. She is the founder of Acupop and I have been working with her for about a year to treat various health issues with acupuncture.
WHEN CLIENTS, LIKE MYSELF, COME TO YOU WITH FIBROIDS, WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND TO SHRINK THEM?
KC: When patients come to me with a fibroid diagnosis, they’re often in a lot of pain, worried, and full of questions. Am I infertile? Nope, but there are complications to consider. Do I have cancer? No still, but I can see why you might think that—tumors are scary! Is there anything I can do? Yes, let’s talk about it.
I first like to educate. Fibroids are very common— up to 80%-of-women-around-the world common, so you’re definitely not alone. But please don’t confuse common with normal—this isn’t a feature of the female experience, this is pathological and women are suffering.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH TREATMENT?
KC: In my clinic, I have a very clear treatment plan when approaching fibroids. Most commonly I’ll use acupuncture points in the lower abdomen attached to electric stimulation. The combination of acupuncture plus electricity employs a local and gentle Qi flow to the affected area for increased red and white blood cell circulation. As a Chi Nei Tsang abdominal massage therapist, I also work directly with the fibroids through bodywork, this can be extremely effective in reducing their size and breaking up stagnation.
CAN YOU SHARE A BIT MORE ABOUT DIET?
KC: Our food consumption is very important here and complicated because so many of us have little control over our nutrition sources. Staying away from diets rich in dairy, red meat, food additives, and processed oils is a good start. I could write an entire book on BPA and phthalates, but please be cognizant of using too many plastics and synthetic scents, they are affecting us in the scariest way.
HOW DOES BIRTH CONTROL FACTOR IN?
KC: When I was 18, I was diagnosed with fibroids, and went on birth control. It helped immediately, I didn’t bleed as much during my cycle which meant more energy, fewer tampons and less laundry, a pain-free sex life and the ability to focus on my education. I am so grateful to low dose estrogen birth control for that, I probably would not have graduated and perhaps made so many poor social decisions otherwise.
But what about 10-15 years later when that 18-year-old is ready to have children, freeze eggs, or start family planning? When the birth control is taken away, most commonly, symptoms come back again, because the root causes have not been addressed for all these years. Clinically speaking, I urge you to have these conversations with your MDs and holistic practitioners to see where you can take the time to address these health concerns and review your health history to help reduce future complications.
Fibroids are often regulated with a birth control pill—which can help with the heavy bleeding—but it’s not a solution.
WHAT CAN WE LOOK OUT FOR IN TERMS OF SYMPTOMS OR THINGS DOCTORS MIGHT SAY THAT GO AGAINST CHINESE MEDICINE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
KC: Birth control is not the answer, but it can make a woman’s life far more comfortable—livable—which is very important. Surgery is an option in elevated cases, but consulting a practitioner like an acupuncturist or ND first would be my recommendation as the body is strong and able to change drastically on its own.
ANY LAST THOUGHTS?
KC: The youth are strong! Please know that if you’re given a fibroid diagnosis at a young age, consider dietary and lifestyle changes as they can reduce inflammation in the lower abdomen and lead to healthier choices in the future.
For me, holistic approaches as well as non-Western options matter. I am grateful that I have access to other wellness options outside of the doctor’s office and it feels important to share this information. As long as holistic treatments and preventative wellness are not things that Western Medicine offers, the majority of people seeking treatment are not receiving all the information in a standard doctor visit with the OB-GYN. My mother didn’t. And I certainly didn’t either.
I am inspired by what I’ve learned in my own journey and feel it is important to share other methods to support our reproductive, hormonal and uterine health—especially for women who look like me since we are at a higher risk. I am encouraged to know that there is something that we can do to elevate these conversations and our health.
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Nkechi Deanna Njaka, MSc. is the founder of the creative agency NDN Integrated Lifestyle Studio as well as the co-founder of Sitting Matters, a mindful + creative lifestyle brand. She is also a meditation teacher and a 2017-2018 YBCA Artist Fellow. Nkechi majored in neuroscience and dance at Scripps College and went on to complete an MSc in Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh. With a background in neuroscience and dance, she has spent the majority of her life investigating the relationship between the brain and the body and has always felt the significance of their integration. For several years, Nkechi worked as a neuroscientist as well as a professional modern dancer and choreographer. Through this work, she discovered that mindfulness and creativity are crucial for sustaining individual and global wellbeing. When not exploring mindfulness and other wellness practices, Nkechi spends her time discovering ways to participate more fully in the arts and travel. She currently lives in SF. You can find her here: IG: @ndnlifestylist.
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This is beautiful, I am a African woman and I was diagnosed with Fibroids December of last year about 4 one being 8cm. I am only 24 years old and the OBGYN recommended surgery. I just wasn’t comfortable with having my uterus cut open then having the process done again when I am ready for child birth. Immediately I changed my diet and lifestyle. So far I have lost 40 pounds. I owe a lot to Dr.Sebi and people who write articles like this, I believe in supernatural healing and that God created us to heal ourselves. Thank you for posting this, it gives me hope and motivation.
Check out Acessa only after intense castor oil packs & going vegan for at minimum 3 months… you have tongive your body time to heal itself – a pill nor a potion is going to fix it overnight… you have to stick to something 3 to 9 months for your body to forget habits… read my other comments please
I got fibroids and bleeding for a month and a half…worst nightmare ever.They say that essential oils like Clary Clark in a tampon every night.Reduces it?
Thanks for this article. J would live to get resources on meal plans for fibroids. This is my 5th year with them and was losing hope. My tummy is extremely swollen and look pregnant most of the time
Mucus free diet – Chef Ahki Fibroid elimination recipe book – eliminate milk, dairy, meat, cheese… try to do vegan for 3 weeks and see of your body responds well… after I cut back from meat I noticed that I dont wake up puffy face in the morning also I used to have a dry stuffy nose in the morning after certain meats… Drink more clean water…
I was recently diagnosed & scared out of my mind I wouldn’t be able to have babies. Thank you for this article. It gave me a clear direction as opposed to the western medicine sites.
Hi, my name is Penny and I have had fibroids since I was 22 at least. Now I am 66 and I believe that I’m experiencing a prolapse. Approximately 1 year ago, possibly more I had a ultra sound and it didn’t show anything but I believe it was in the very earliest stage. I don’t want to get an operation if I don’t have to. I would be very grateful for any information that you could give to help me. Thanks so much, Penny
There is a practicioner in Durham NC that does intense deep womb massage also check out queen afua woman heal theyself…
hi I was diagnosed with fibroid at 26, and I was told that is big I need to be operated upon, but am scared Pls can you help on the type of diet and natural drug to take
I’ve been living with a fibroid since I’ve got like 25 I’m 45 just got married no kids fibrous covering up most of my uterus like if I’m halfway through pregnancy they want to do a hysterectomy on me I refuse I want the fibroid out of my body so bad and I need help and assistance how to do get this out of my body I want to have a child with my husband
Don’t give up! Dont let people talk you out of doing the things you know you need to do! (Maintaining stress free is also important) Manifest what you want, but first:
Cut out sugars & dairy/Red Meat & Processed Foods.
Vitex Berry and Red Raspberry leaf tea.
Womb Massages with castor oil.
Thank you for this article I would also too like to get a great meal plan and some other things that I could do to reduce my fibroids. I was diagnosed at 53 I am now 55 and they’re still suggesting that I have a hysterectomy. I would love a diet plan to help me with getting rid of my fibroids and now the 50 lb that I have gained to lose that too. God bless I hope that you can write back and help me
Thank you , Nkechi, for this incredibly informative article! I have suffered multiple miscarriages since I was 26. I am now 41. Every time, I miscarry around the same time frame which is about 6-8 weeks. I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids when I was 37. I had no idea until a miscarriage at 37., They perfomed many ultrasounds and informed me.
Recently, I got pregnant again and had been doing everything in my power to be healthy before and during the pregnancy as far as diet, exercise, supplements, low stress. I wanted this baby more than anything in the world! It was painful pretty early on as far as the fibroids go. They monitored me pretty closely and every time I went in, all my HCG levels and bloodwork was great. Embryo was visible with a yolk sac. Just about to the point of a heartbeart. I started spotting a week before I miscarried, which I did, again.
I could really use some advice, more detailed information about uterine fibroids and pregnancy. I currently visit a doctor in Western Medicine. Though i feel he knows his stuff and cares about me… he is missing the Ayurvedic knowledge, of course. He encourages me to do all I can to shrink them and educates me about surgery. He has never pushed surgery on me, in fact, years ago, he said only as a last resort. II was able to shrink them a tiny bit but then my lifestyle changed in many ways that were not healthy with a new relationship. Ended that and have been back on track for over a year now, however, my fibroids grew during those 3 years.
My doctor cannot confirm that my fibroids are the reason for my miscarriages, which makes sense, of course… however, my intuition tells me this is so. Everything else about my uterus is intact. It is easy enough for me to get pregnant. At 41, I am still very fertile. Always, I miscarry at the same time. I really would like to have children and have been contemplating myomectomy… try getting pregnant one more time… proceed with surgery first?
I know no one on here can answer my questions accurately because they are not looking at my body and health history. I just want to make the right decision. My doctor says women with my size and type of fibroids have delivered babies vaginally full term and he believes I can but of course, he is not certain.
This article, the fact that this was written and that this website exists has brought me to tears. Thank you. I have felt so alone and uncertain… still don’t know what to do but it helps reading all of your stories and advice. I am gonna seek out a doctor in natural. Eastern medicine before I make a decision. At my age, I am running out of time to have children so I want to do what I need to ASAP. I am fully aware that at 41, there is a greater chance for miscarriage and other chromosomal abnormalities but I really feel in my case, it is likely due to the fibroids. Again, no way to tell. I had a different partner with each documented miscarriage, years apart so could not be me. Being pregnany feels so wonderful… other than the incredibly uncomfortable fibroids enlarging my uterus.
If anyone has any advice for me, I welcome and greatly appreciate your reply. Specifically advice on fibroids and pregnancy.
I Tried CBD Products To Alleviate My Period Pain
40 percent of women have debilitating period pain. I am one of those women.
Research has found that over 80 percent of women will experience period pain at some point in their life, while 40 percent of women report having debilitating pain associated with their period each month. I am one of those women. Since the start of my period as a teenager, I have dealt with cramps so terrible that I’d throw up or lay curled up crying on the floor. As I have gotten older, my pain and bleeding increased, which I found out was due to the fibroids growing in my uterus.
In April of last year, I decided to have the fibroid and polyp causing my excessive bleeding and pain removed. I thought that would be the end of all of my problems, but sadly while the bleeding got better (still heavy, but better), the pain feels worse — leaving me popping 1600 mg of ibuprofen for six days each month. Research says that Ibuprofen rarely causes complications with the liver, but I can’t imagine taking that much pain medicine in such a high dose would be good for me.
There aren’t many options for dealing with chronic pain aside from pharmaceutical drugs, which got me thinking about cannabis. A couple of weeks before my surgery, I gave Whoopi Goldberg’s period pain products a try. To put it mildly, the THC in the product made me paranoid, and anxious and exacerbated the pain.
My body was numb, but the pain of my cramps was amplified. It was a bizarre feeling and an experience I look back on and laugh at now.
Even with the hilarious experience I had with THC products, I wanted to give more cannabis products a try. This time I went the CBD route and gave up my pain pills for my cycle this month, so I could really see what worked. I know that some of you reading this might say that a change of diet and lifestyle will get rid of all of my pain, but that hasn’t been my story. I have made some pretty mindful changes to my diet that have helped a lot, but the pain (and sometimes nausea) I feel is still there.
I tried a few products I’d read were great options for women with menstrual pain starting with Foria’s Relief Vaginal Suppositories made with organic-certified cocoa butter and 100mg active CBD each and their Basic Tonic on the first day of my period. When I told a co-worker I was giving these a try, she gave a little chuckle and said: “You’re willing to try anything, huh?” The answer to that is a roaring yes! As a teenager, my doctor always recommended I get a head start on my pain by taking Ibuprofen a couple of days before my period hit because once the pain starts, it’s more challenging to manage.
My cycle is pretty predictable at this point, so I know the days when the pain is going to be worse. The morning it started, and I felt cramps, I immediately inserted the suppository. I had already starting dosing myself with 0.75 ml of the tincture a couple of days before to get a head start on managing my pain — so I’d like to think both products were working together.
Once the cocoa butter suppository was inserted, I could feel a tingly sensation almost immediately, and about twenty minutes later, the pain was gone entirely. I tried the same remedy on my roughest days, and while it did help ease the pain, my uterus was like “we’re going to show this little thing who’s boss,” — and I almost reached for my pills. Instead, I upped my dosage of the tincture and added a new product to the mix, Lord Jones’ High CBD Formula Body Lotion. Like the suppository, when I applied the creamy lotion, I felt a tingly cooling sensation, and a few moments later, as my sharp cramps were at their peak, I felt a sense of relief. Every time I felt my body about to give it to me, I applied one more pump, and there was some relief, which was a pleasant surprise.
As the week went on, I gave both Foria’s Basic Tonic and Lord Jones CBD Tincture a try. If you’re wondering what a CBD tincture is and how it can help with the pain the simple answer is: a tincture is a cannabis option you can take orally, and it is known to help with anxiety, sleep issues, and can help alleviate inflammation in the body, which can help with the pain.
The jury is still out for me on whether I could solely use the tinctures in place of my pain meds since I’m still trying to figure out the right dosage, but I got some great benefits like better sleep and less anxiety.
When my period is doing its thing, I don’t get any sleep because either I’m in too much pain to sleep or I’m afraid that I’m going to wake up with blood-stained sheets — so I’m always tossing and turning. The tinctures helped me sleep through the night with ease, which never happens to me.
The Lord Jones Body LotionCourtesy of Lord Jones
The CBD products coming to market are wonderful because they’re giving those of us with chronic pain options beyond pain pills. Am I ready to throw out my bottle of 800 mg Ibuprofen? No. But, the topical options like Foria suppositories and the Lord Jones Body Lotion will be a part of my monthly pain management routine because it was nice to have something that worked on the spot that didn’t come in a small bottle with my name on it.
My final note about CBD, in general, was something I thought about a lot while trying them — the pricing. The average CBD product starts at about $40 and goes up from there, which is pretty pricey, especially for those of us using products monthly (or even daily) to help with pain caused by fibroids and endometriosis. If the industry wants to make sure everyone dealing with illness and pain can afford to use alternatives then that needs to reflect in the pricing.
All and all, I had a great experience using CBD products and can’t wait to try more! What are you all using to help with your pain each month?