Hello Pain…. I Remember You All Too Well.
I’ve been thinking lately just how far I’ve come on my three year journey to naturally healing endometriosis. As my period approached this month I didn’t really think twice about it — I assumed it would be pretty painless like the last few months.
You know what they say when you assume? 🙂
Endometriosis is a tricky, sneaky disease and she definitely reared her ugly head at me today. The start of my period was horrible! I was completely blindsided and rendered useless in a matter of moments.
It was like a canon shot off in my center. Then the contractions started and the nausea arrived. Lots went down in my body at once splurging out a pure, piercing pain that brought me to tears. Shuddering tears filled with a pure hatred for this disease wrecking havoc in my body — an unyielding pain. I didn’t know what else to do but cry.
I started up a warm bath and poured in a bunch of Epsom Salts (and some drops of tears) then sunk down in the water. The warmth helped to calm me down and after a few minutes I felt my uterus relax as well. So grateful for a moment of relief 🙂
The pain that I experienced today brought me back to a time when this was a normal occurrence. I felt like I took 100 steps backwards.
But in reality I only needed to step back twelve hours earlier where I ate a (bunch) of honey roasted cashews an hour or so before I went to bed. I believe the cashews were the cause of all of the pain I had this morning.
To prove this observation was correct I went back to the basis of endometriosis pain — prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins – The Basis of Endometriosis Pain
The information gathered below on the importance of prostaglandins is from an awesome, highly recommended book called Endometriosis: A Key to healing And Fertility Through Nutrition by Dian Shepperson Mills.
The endometrium (the tissue that lines the womb) is an important endocrine gland and secretes a family of hormones called prostaglandins (PGs). PGs are lipid (oil based) hormones that are directly responsible for most of the cramps and pain associated with menstruation and endometriosis.
Two prostaglandins in particular are problematic:
- Prostaglandin F (PGF) stimulates strong uterine contractions or cramps
- Prostaglandin E (PGE) stimulates excruciating pain
Large amounts of PGF and PGE are produced by the endometrium and also endometriosis implants spread throughout your body. The endometrium and its straying implants are very responsive to the levels of these hormones circulating in your blood.
There is a natural surge of PGF at the end of the menstrual cycle, causing the effects of the corpus luteum of the ovary to die down, signaling the start of the menstrual cycle. This helps explain why for me, the start of my period can be the most painful part.
PGF also causes increased gut motility leading to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea. This helps explain why my periods start off with significant bowel movements 🙂
Series of Prostaglandins
Not all prostaglandins are bad, however. There are three different types:
1.) Series 1 (linoleic acid) — anti-inflammatory
2.) Series 2 (arachidonic acid) — inflammatory
3.) Series 3 (alpha-linolenic acid) — anti-inflammatory
Linoleic acid is derived from vegetables oils, safflower, sunflower, hemp, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. Arachidonic acid comes primarily from dairy foods and meat. Alpha-linolenic acid is derived from fish and linseed oils.
The three different types of prostaglandins need to be kept in balance. If an excess of the wrong type of PGs are produced by our tissues, then internal inflammation and pain occurs. An imbalance causes PMS and endometriosis pain (reminder!)
This balance is dependent on the quality of fats and oil that we take into our body and our absorption of zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6, and biotin, all of which are involved in the metabolism of oils. Vitamin E is said to inhibit pro-inflammatory PGs.
Finding a Balance Through Food
Conclusion from all of this? Diet is important 🙂
I have to be careful with an overindulgence of arachidonic lionleic acid especially before my period.
Come to find out cashews contain arachidonic acids. These promote inflammation then with the surge of PGF at the end of the cycle, start to the new…. yes, I believe my misery today was because of my late night cashew fix 🙂
Here is a low-down on foods to include all the time, sometimes and those to try and avoid all together. Again, it’s all about balance and everyone is different. If you’re like me then these choices are most critical in the day(s) before the start of my period.
Foods to include:
- oily fish (and a good quality algae oil supplement)
- sunflower seeds
- cold pressed olive oil
- unrefined coconut oil
- pumpkin seeds
- hazel nuts
Foods to be eaten in moderation:
- organic butter
- roasted fresh nuts and seeds
- other cold pressed oils
Foods to avoid!
- bottled, hydrogenated vegetable oils
- fried foods
- hydrogenated margarine
On the Positive Side?
After re-reading about the important balance of prostaglandins and endometriosis pain, I popped a couple of fish oil supplements, LOL. I am feeling much better tonight 🙂
In Dian’s book she mentions that studies done with inflammatory prostaglandins outside of the womb is relatable to acid on the skin. It causes immediate inflammation and pain that lasts for hours.
The good news is our food greatly impacts this reaction. I know that I will think twice about the cashews next time 🙂
What about you? Do you notice a pain reaction when you eat bad oils? Do you find your body more sensitive before your period? Have you found success by incorporating good oils? I’d love to hear from you….