Acupuncture for Endometriosis

Table of Contents

Acupuncture has been practiced for centuries to treat various ailments, including endometriosis. Endometriosis is a disorder in which cells similar to the lining of the uterus grow outside the uterus. This growth is commonly on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining the pelvis. This can cause pain, infertility, and other symptoms.
Recent studies have shown that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for endometriosis. One study found that acupuncture was associated with a significant reduction in pain, improved quality of life, and improved fertility outcomes in women with endometriosis. Another study found that acupuncture was associated with a reduction in the severity of endometriosis-related pain.
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Acupuncture has been practiced for centuries to treat various ailments, including endometriosis. Endometriosis is a disorder in which cells similar to the lining of the uterus grow outside the uterus. This growth is commonly on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining the pelvis. This can cause pain, infertility, and other symptoms.

Recent studies have shown that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for endometriosis. One study found that acupuncture was associated with a significant reduction in pain, improved quality of life, and improved fertility outcomes in women with endometriosis. Another study found that acupuncture was associated with a reduction in the severity of endometriosis-related pain.

The mechanism by which acupuncture may be effective for endometriosis is not fully understood. It is believed that acupuncture may stimulate the release of endorphins, which are hormones that act as natural painkillers. Acupuncture may also help to reduce inflammation and improve circulation, which can help to reduce pain and improve fertility outcomes.

While more research can help fully understand the mechanism by which acupuncture may be effective, the existing evidence suggests that it may be an effective treatment for reducing pain and improving fertility outcomes in women with endometriosis.

Here we discuss with Julee Miller AP, DOM, FABORM, the owner and founder of Health Pointe Jacksonville. She is a Board Certified and Licensed Acupuncture Physician and Oriental Medicine practitioner in the Jacksonville area. Her extensive career includes treating professional sports injuries and pain management and being a past member of the 2004 Olympic Sports Rehabilitation Team Member in Athens, Greece.
She is also a fertility expert and a Fellow of the ABORM (American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine). Dr. Miller’s practice emphasis is treating comprehensive Women’s Health and Infertility, hormone imbalances, pregnancy, and postpartum care. She also specializes in treating difficult-to-treat chronic health issues such as insomnia, neurological disorders, shingles, autoimmune conditions, chronic pain, and arthritis.pain.

Does acupuncture work for endometriosis?

NourishDoc: Well, we will be talking about endometriosis today. We are bringing different topics every day so that, you know, sometimes it’s on women’s and men’s health, and most of the time, we focus on women’s health. So today’s topic is how acupuncture can help with endometriosis if you are struggling with it. So we have a special guest and acupuncture expert Dr. Jules Miller, she will join me in one second, and we will understand what exactly endometriosis is. Hello Dr. Miller, how are you?

Dr. Miller: Well, good morning; I’m great. How are you?

NourishDoc: I’m doing great, thank you. Thank you so much; you know this is an extraordinary, an intense topic, right? For many women, if they are going through endometriosis, and thank you so much, you know, I know you are a board-certified acupuncture physician. You focus on fertility and women’s health, so let’s start with what exactly endometriosis is. If you’d like to tell your story, please go ahead.

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Dr. Miller: Oh, sure. So, as you mentioned, I am an acupuncture physician, who owns Health Point Jacksonville, an acupuncture clinic, and I have been treating patients for the past 27 years. So I specialize in chronic pain conditions and women’s health in holistic fertility. I encourage women to feel healthy and happy in their bodies, inspiring and empowering them. It’s my life’s mission to have my patients have more good days than bad. So in that, I found myself treating fertility approximately 15 years ago, and endometriosis is one of those conditions that we treat. So it’s not necessarily specific to fertility, but it is a chronic pain condition that I see repeatedly.

What causes endometriosis?

NourishDoc: What is the cause? Why are you seeing more endometriosis now, right?

See: Acupuncture & TCM Herbs For Menstrual Cramps & Pain

Dr. Miller: Oh gosh yeah. That’s a controversial topic, and there are so many different causes of endometriosis, so I’m going to backpedal just a little bit about endometriosis and introduce it. So it is a chronic pain condition with an auto-immune component. Yeah, so it’s complex, specifically, where endometrial tissue that’s usually supposed to be in the uterus finds itself outside the uterus. It continues to grow and proliferate in that area. So it will then bind and adhere to the site; common areas that it will attach to are going to be the neighboring areas, so it’s going to be like the urinary bladder, the intestines, fallopian colon tubes, and ovaries, and it, it continues to bind on to it. It still acts, though, just like uterine tissue, so that means that it continues to thicken, grow, and try to leave the body. Yet, it can’t because it’s not in the uterus, so it’s just trapped in the area. Then, because it’s trapped in the area, it continues to proliferate and form these adhesions, which act like a spider web because of thick, dense fibrous tissue. It will just continue to grow and grow and grow because it has nowhere to go, and then it suffocates that area. So and that then causes just a whole, just a chain of events that happen that causes this chronic pain that occurs in women, so and it can happen now, it’s just so blown my mind how many women it affects, and it can happen in girls as young as eight now, all the way through post-menopause. So it’s just the wide gamut of women that it can affect. Then I’m going to throw in one more statistic, which probably everybody knows about endometriosis. If you don’t, it affects one in ten women in the United States. So it’s very, very rampant.

See: acupuncture helped me cope up with endometrial hyperplasia polycystic ovary syndrome pcos

NourishDoc: That’s crazy, and I mean that sounds scary, you know, something that’s supposed to be in a container gets out of the container in a very simple layman’s term, and course, it’s spilled out, and now there is a splatter, you know whatever the splatter and now you got to fix it.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

Dr. Miller: It’s systemic; it can be found anywhere in the body. So it’s not just that it’s going to be in the local area, but it’s been found in the liver, the lungs, and the brain; it can affect any tissue in the body. So that’s what is problematic about this condition.

NourishDoc: Okay. Well, okay, now the symptoms would be like pain, that’s what I’m assuming.

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Dr. Miller: Yes. So, correct. So the number one symptom will be chronic abdominal and pelvic pain. Still, there’s a wide variety of pain that women can experience. So it will be painful urination or bowel movements, painful intercourse, and gut dysbiosis. So that’s where it’s now infiltrating the digestive system, and many women, if not all, I think that’s probably arguable experience gut dysfunction. So there’s the endo belly, the chronic swelling and bloating, there’s going to be constipation or diarrhea, nausea, vomit, so these symptoms, you know, look like something else, look like maybe irritable bowel syndrome. So it’s hard to make that diagnosis because all these symptoms happen. Two more symptoms that we’re going to talk about is going to be migraine headaches as well as nerve and neuropathy pain. So that’s also something that’s not necessarily thought about when patients have this nerve pain. It’s going to be localized pain, it’s going to be vulva pain, maybe vaginal pain, it’s going to be rectum or hip or low back pain, and when that’s experienced by itself, perhaps that’s not necessarily caused or associated. Still, when you have multiple symptoms, maybe it’s time to start thinking about that endometrial tissue that’s now infiltrating and proliferating—so many signs.

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

NourishDoc: So, how do you diagnose? Do you do tests as a first step to understand what, you know, there’s endometriosis or something else that’s going on like IBD?

Dr. Miller: Right, so acupuncture physicians are not able to the only person that’s able to or, the only, well, I’ll go with the person, the only person that’s able to diagnose endometriosis is via having laparoscopic surgery. That’s one hundred percent. However, there are other signs and symptoms that when evaluating a patient, you say, oh yes, that’s something that we’re going to consider. Then we’ll go rifle through menstruation and see what that looks like for the patient. When there are multiple symptomologies, well, then we’ll think, well, let’s think about this, and let’s start to dial down that chronic inflammation, let’s regulate menstruation and balance those hormones and see if we can’t get a hold of that chronic inflammation so that we can improve the quality of life and then of course then I’ll refer out and suggest maybe chatting with the gynecologist and or we’re seeking a particular trained endometriosis expert which we have one here local and Jax that, I will constantly send my patients to thinking, I think these are big flags. I believe that this person needs to be evaluated further.

Acupuncture for endometriosis

NourishDoc: This is very complex, you know the way even the treatment like it’s not only acupuncture but other things are involved. That’s what I mean.

Dr. Miller: For sure. So even in my approach with my patients here, I generally treat patients with endometriosis seeking to conceive or have a baby. So that’s one of the complications of endometriosis, which affects fifty percent of patients with endometriosis, is difficulty conceiving and caring to term. So that’s generally when I see the patient first, and they may not have even had a diagnosis yet. Still, when I do my evaluation, they’ve suffered all these things. I put them on a treatment protocol; we need to think about this in the treatment process. Sometimes, because there are different stages of endometriosis, it can be treated and moderated without surgery. Still, when it gets too advanced settings, then it’s going to require surgical excision.

NourishDoc: Wow. Okay, so let’s this sounds scary and complicated, and I see many people joining; you know we are talking about endometriosis and how natural therapies can help; that’s the topic on a journal level. So you want to ask questions. So let’s go a little on the acupuncture side and how acupuncture can help with such a complicated health concern.

Is acupuncture effective for endometriosis?

Dr. Miller: Right, that’s an excellent question. So acupuncture involves the whole gamut of Chinese medicine. So Chinese medicine practitioners will look at, you know, the entire scenario as supposed to treat specific diagnoses. We also employ multiple modalities, so it’s not just using acupuncture which is very strong and helpful. Still, we also use Chinese herbal formulations as well as herbal supplementations. We utilize electric stimulation that helps break up adhesions and dial down inflammation; sometimes, we use something called moxibustion, which is the burning of a specific herb to help warm up the area and decrease inflammation; we can use topical applications too. So we utilize many different modalities to try and treat what we see. Generally speaking, it is a treatment protocol, so it’s never going to be like a one-and-done type of treatment, especially for syndromes. So we put patients on a particular program to see what kind of progress that we’re making and thus then manage the chronic inflammatory process that’s happening as well as dial down the immune system, which is overactive at this time, so it’s attacking itself, so we’ve got a couple of things that we’re trying to focus on.

NourishDoc: So you’re working with the OBGYN or some other expert? That’s what kind of what I understood.

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Dr. Miller: Well, we can. So, in the beginning, perhaps not; it just depends on what stage the patient is in. If that pain, if the patient is in such a severe stage of endometriosis, they’re having, they’re vomiting. They’re passing out with pain and missing school or work or life events; these are significant signs that if they haven’t been to their OBGYN or an endometriosis specialist hasn’t evaluated them, then I will also refer out. So we can certainly treat the same patient. Still, at some point in time, there are times that I will refer up for just advanced specialist evaluation so that perhaps to do, to diagnose and or decide if they’re a surgical candidate.

NourishDoc: Sure, sure. So it depends on the severity of the stage, right?

Dr. Miller: Correct correct. It can be well managed and moderated through the first three stages, so there are four stages, but once it gets to the fourth stage, it can be helpful. But at some point, there might need to be other alternatives as well. In my treatment and my patients, I advise lifestyle and nutritional changes to dial down further that inflammatory response, which helps appease that immune system.

NourishDoc: So now okay, so let’s talk about acupuncture and Chinese medicine and moxibustion, so the protocol is like approximately, like what how many months are you looking at?

Dr. Miller: Right. So when treating patients with this chronic condition, I will approach it in the regulation of menstruation type of category, which means that I’m looking for a patient to have regulated menstruation of just twenty-eight days, we’re looking at ovulation at a specific period, and we’re looking at four days of moderate blood flow, no clotting, their spotting, and no pain and that sounds like the unicorn of unicorns to have for menstruation. Still, it is possible; it just takes some time. So, generally speaking, the minimum amount of time it takes to do that and regulate the hormones will be approximately three months of care.

NourishDoc: Wow. Okay, and then you monitor monthly or whatever timeframe and then and all these tools that you talked about, you use all these tools right, it’s not only acupuncture right, moxibustion, Chinese medicine, everything encompasses right?

Dr. Miller: Correct as well, yup.

NourishDoc: And what are the exercises? Do you also recommend, like some kind of a, is this stress part of it? I guess that’s the truth.

Dr. Miller: That’s a great question, yeah, so stress relief techniques are something that we suggest and have our patients do as well, telling them whether or not they’re doing meditations or whether or not they’re being active, so exercise is essential as well as maybe self-care and maybe doing some yoga and just taking some time out for the person because it also chronic pain, no matter if it’s from endometriosis or you know they say low back pain or neuropathy, chronic pain also affects you emotionally and psychosocially, so trying to take care of the anxiety and depression involved in insomnia that happens too. So acupuncture is excellent at helping that, but so are life skills and specific lifestyle changes.

NourishDoc: Those things like tai-chi or qi gong or meditation yoga are any combination, right?

Dr. Miller: Agreed. Yup, deep diaphragmatic breathing, and qi gong breathing are the same, maybe just different terms but absolutely can help to decrease pain when patients are in active pain, so perhaps functional menstruation pain; I also teach them to do a dynamic release technique which helps help to release that abdominal spasm and cramping quickly, so I teach them how to do that at home as well.

NourishDoc: Okay, well, much information and great information for all the women or girls, you know, who have endometriosis and who have some pain that, if they’re struggling with some pain, you know, this particular session intends that acupuncture can help, natural medicine can help, you know that is the goal, and you know, maybe before going to the surgery you might want to explore natural therapies, right?

Dr. Miller: For sure, yeah, agreed.

NourishDoc: Yeah. Anything else you’d like to add? I mean, this is fantastic information Dr. Miller, I think.

Dr. Miller: Yeah, it is my passion to treat women’s health and regulate hormones because I do believe that menstruation is the fifth vital sign to women’s health, so if it’s not functional and you’re not being available with menstruation, then that’s a big sign, and it’s a big flag, so I like to educate women about that as well as what menstruation can look like. But I think the number one message here is that it is one hundred percent not okay to have severe menstrual pain, no matter how many practitioners or other people maybe, even in your family, that’s endometriosis be highly genetic. So it’s passed down from generation to generation. Perhaps that’s some sort of, like the family folklore, we had painful periods, take this and go to bed. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not normal; while it is common, it is not normal and very treatable. So I think that’s my takeaway message.

NourishDoc: No, I think there is hope, and that’s what, you know you are saying that, you know do not ignore the symptoms if you have pain in your any part of the abdomen or anywhere close to your uterus, you learn to take it seriously and reach out to acupuncturist such as, you know Dr. Miller or someone else close to your area.

Dr. Miller: Correct, agreed.

NourishDoc: Yeah, thank you so much for a very insightful session. I see many people are joining. I think there’s too much information we are giving, but this is essential information, you know, this is important information for all the women to understand that there is hope in natural medicine and don’t ignore it.

Dr. Miller: Very much so I agreed, and if you, ladies and women and gentlemen, anybody has any questions, I’m happy to answer; if you want to throw up a couple of questions right now, I’ll answer, or you can reach out to me directly as well, I’m sure that maybe my contact information can be provided and I’m happy to answer any question that anybody has to if they’re confused, or they have all these symptomologies, I know that when I do informative videos on my website, many patients are really, they’re blown away, they say wow I have all this all the time, and I didn’t know that was a problem, I, you know kind of experience it or I’ve gone eight years, and I still don’t know what’s causing this, and I miss school, or I can’t go to certain events. So it’s many people can help you. Perhaps one of the number one ways is to go through a Chinese medicine practitioner or acupuncturist who can help diagnose or send you to the correct area if that’s not helpful.

NourishDoc: Yes, absolutely, and people are welcome to ask questions; I see people joining; maybe they missed some of the things that we talked about, but you are welcome to reach us or and we’ll connect you with Dr. Miller, that’s not an issue and if these people have any questions about this particular acupuncture, how acupuncture can help, you know to reach out to either one of us. We are just trying to provide education and empower you; that is our daily goal. So with that, thank you so much for doing this session with us, and yes, thank you from the bottom of my heart for educating all the women out there.

Dr. Miller: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

NourishDoc: Absolutely. Thank you bye-bye.


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