One of the most common women’s health concerns is the development of uterine fibroids. It is estimated by age 50 between 20% and 80% of women will have developed fibroids, or myomas, as they are also called.

Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus (womb). Fibroids can grow as a single tumor or as many in the uterus. They are most often benign or non-cancerous. They can be as small as a seed or as big as a grapefruit and are often detectible by palpation if they are large enough. When small they are seen by ultrasound, MRI, X Ray, and CT scan. Western treatments are surgery and/or hormonal drug therapy.

There is no known cause for fibroids in Western Medicine. Researchers think that hormone levels and genetics may be two factors playing a role. They grow rapidly during pregnancy, when hormone levels are high and shrink generally when anti-hormone medication is used. Growth is also reduced once a woman reaches menopause and hormone levels drop off.

I would suggest that estrogen is the main culprit. I believe that there is a strong correlation between fibroid growth and the body’s overproduction of estrogen, a phenomenon commonly referred to as “ estrogen dominance.” This hormonal imbalance has been linked to the overuse of petroleum-based products and eating hormone-fed animal products, both of which cause women to overproduce estrogen. Estrogen feeds tissue growth and western scientific research has connected fibroids to heavily meat-based diets.

Symptoms of fibroids vary. Some women have no symptoms at all while in some cases fibroids can cause severe pain or heavy menstrual bleeding. In some cases, the fibroids put pressure on the bladder or the rectum and cause frequent urination or rectal pain. They can also cause low back pain, pain during sex, and even complications during pregnancy and delivery. They can contribute to menstrual cramps and fertility problems. If they get very big they can cause the stomach to enlarge giving the appearance that a woman is pregnant or obese and making movement difficult. Historically, fibroids have provided one of the most common rationales for hysterectomy.

In Chinese Medicine, uterine fibroids fall under two general categories of abdominal masses called Ji Ju. One of these is caused by stagnation of qi, blood and dampness that can become phlegm in the abdomen.

Emotional strain causes qi and blood to stagnate and over-consumption of damp producing food can lead to fibroids due to qi and blood stagnation.

The second type of uterine fibroids is related to yin deficiency. As women approach menopause, there is a natural decline of Kidney and Liver yin. If this yin deficiency is especially severe, the body may respond by creating more yin (or fluid). This process may become pathological. In this case, fibroids may be formed by what is termed yin stasis.

The treatment of fibroids in Chinese Medicine is very successful. It is essential for your practitioner to differentiate between fibroids due to qi, blood, and phlegm stasis and those due to yin stasis. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, abdominal massage, topical herbal applications including caster oil packs with essential oils such as frankincense and lavender and qi gong are all useful in the treatment of myomas.

The traditional literature suggests that if fibroids are smaller than a “goose egg,” the prognosis for shrinking them is very good. If they are much larger, their growth may be arrested. Qi and blood-stasis-related fibroids tend to shrink naturally at menopause, while yin stasis fibroids may grow. In either case, surgery may be avoided with Chinese Medicine.

Author's Bio: 

This article was written by Ann Wolman, LAc, one of eight fully licensed acupuncturists at the Chinese Acupuncture and Herbology Clinic, located in Asheville, NC. Founded in 1985, it is North Carolina's most accomplished acupuncture and Chinese medical clinic, with offices in three locations: Asheville, Hendersonville and Waynesville. Ann Wolman graduated from the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and has been in practice since 1997.