Wheat or Dairy? Nutritional Therapies for Endometriosis
From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO...
In last week's blog, I summarized the nutritional research correlating the gastrointestinal system (your gut) and endometriosis. I listed the top 10 dietary recommendations that I review with my patients outside of nutritional supplementation. Nutritional supplementation for endometriosis seems to be a hot area of interest in the last 5 years as well. As I mentioned last week, a wide range of natural supplements including turmeric, berberine (a component found in Chinese herbs such as Huang Lian and Huang Bai), probiotics, and a few notable others have been found to have positive effect. When patients come to see me for endometriosis, typically we are working on regulating the endocrine system to decrease painful periods, reduce heavy bleeding, and improve GI symptoms that seem to follow a pattern with their endometriosis symptoms and menstrual cycles.
The goal of a healthy endometriosis diet is to decrease circulating estrogen levels, decrease inflammation, optimize the function of the liver, and the immune system. Additionally, the goal is to help increase your energy levels, alleviate pain, and other associated symptoms. In addition to my top 10 list from last week, I would like to highlight two special food items that seem important to note for anyone dealing with endometriosis: wheat and dairy.
Milk and milk products (ice cream, cheese, yogurt etc...) naturally contain small amounts of over sixty different hormones. There is still debate as to whether testosterone, progesterone, insulin, or other growth hormones such as IGF-1 found in milk affect our body or not. However, we do know that the protein in dairy products called A1 casein, is a potential source of inflammation and culprit. In some people, A1 casein cleaves in the digestive tract to form a opiate-type molecule called casomorphin or BCM7. This molecule then stimulates the production of inflammatory cytokines.Wait you say-aren't opiates highly addictive?
This is one of the reasons why people often experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings when they stop eating dairy foods. Just try giving up your daily dose of cheddar cheese. However, the health benefits may be worth it beyond endometriosis. A1 casein has been linked to Type-1 diabetes, coronary artery disease, autoimmune diseases, as well as several other conditions in research. The good news here is that not all dairy is created equal. Potentially, dairy from goats and A2 cows (a genetic variation of cow found around the globe) does not create this inflammatory cascade in the body. Next time you're at the grocery store, try goat's milk or cheese instead or ask for any A2 dairy item.
What about wheat? Several theories related to the source of endometriosis discuss the potential of endometriosis being a complex result of an immune disorder or auto-immune disorder. Gluten disrupts immune function and also stimulates the release of inflammatory cytokines. In one study, 75 percent of endometriosis-sufferers improved after 12 months on a gluten-free diet. The good news here is that it won't take a year to reap the benefits of eliminating either of these foods from your diet. A blood test is available to test your immune response to these foods as well as every other possible food that you can imagine. Additionally, most experts recommend eliminating these food items for 30 days to see how you feel. If you've already done this diet elimination and have positive results to share as it relates to endometriosis, please feel free to comment on this blog or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO
Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery and discovered the many benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis and a Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Jessica is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). She is also a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics, a specialty certification held by fewer than 500 acupuncturists in the United States.
Jessica currently maintains a private acupuncture practice in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, which was awarded Best Acupuncture Center by Boston Magazine. Areas of specialty include women's health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. If you are interested in learning about the benefits of acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please visit the acupuncture + fertility page. New patients can book online to schedule any acupuncture service including a complimentary consult. Jessica also serves as a health care consultant for a number of integrative medical institutes. Her clients include IVF and infertility centers, functional medicine offices, orthopedic facilities, concierge practices, and green spas. Please contact OMBE for more information about these services.
Prior to her consulting work, Jessica founded an integrative health center in Boston. The eco-friendly center was one of the first twenty-five companies certified as a Sustainable Business Leader in Boston. During its ten-year tenure, the center provided services including acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, naturopathy, nutritional counseling, personal training, Pilates, and yoga. Studio offerings included mom and baby programming, Mongan Method Hypnobirthing, natural childbirth education and the Holistic Moms Network. The center was the recipient of several awards, including Mayor Menino's Green Business Award, a multiple recipient of Boston Business Journal's Best Workplace, Boston Magazine's Best of Boston Award for Massage Therapy as well as Best Eco-Friendly Massage, Eco-Beauty Bar, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Pilates, and Workout.