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Finding a good herbalist

Much of what is written about here, mainly being in the content of the links, is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves. However, if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here


Personal experiences

I have a close family member who has had highly problematic fibroids and, consequently, this is an area that I've extensively studied and, for many years, every opportunity I got when travelling to conferences, or when a visiting expert came to town, I would try to find the right moment to ask them privately or publicly what they thought could genuinely help resolve fibroids from the world of natural medicine.

Most gave freely of their advice and I took a number of suggestions to heart and gave them a good trial. Unfortunately, in the case of the person close to me, nothing made any lasting difference and the further I looked into the literature and also had the opportunity to work closely with people in my own practice, the more I realised that fibroids can become very imbedded and hard, if not impossible, to reduce in size.

This said, I have had a good few positive experiences with women who have had smaller fibroids whereby we have seen a reduction in size via before and after ultrasounds, along with other clear signs of improvement in their day to day health and well-being, and what I can say is that the herbal medicines that shine out to me as being the ones that have been able to make the most difference in some women have been Vitex agnus-castus and Lady's Mantle. More about them in a moment.

I also had two cases where the use of nattokinase seemed to make a positive difference. This is a traditional Japanese food-medicine that derives an enzyme from soy beans that is purported to help to break down clots and stuck tissues in the body. Unfortunately, for the two that I think it helped, there were at least 7 or 8 for whom a high-dose course over nearly 6 months made no difference and, as it is rather an expensive treatment, I can now no longer use it in good conscience given this level of response. Of course, I recognise that that was a very small sample size for a trial, but neither can I ignore the evidence from my own practice.

It also must be recognised, if not too large, that fibroids can and do shrink by themselves, through a natural kind of life-cycle of the fibroid, especially as it outgrows its blood supply. Fibroids shrinking by themselves also happens through simply getting older and having less circulating oestrogens etc. so when we are using a natural medicine approach and things get better we cannot assume this is from anything that we are doing. The starting size of the fibroid, or fibroids if there are more than one, which is common, plus the age of the woman must be taken into account when we are assessing what we are doing.

Another natural medicine that shows excellent promise on paper, but I am now less than sure about from use in practice is Indole-3-carbinole, an extract from the Broccoli plant that appears to be able to beneficially influence the metabolism of oestrogen in the body. Indole-3 carbinole, also called DIM, may help some women with some hormonal problems, but I personally cannot say with any confidence that it will help to shrink fibroids from giving it a good go with a reasonable number of women.

So, as mentioned already, the only two herbal medicines that I can now still, in good conscience, recommend as a trial to any woman suffering from fibroids are Vitex and Lady's mantle. Careful study of each of them and how best to use them is recommended and, so long as no adverse effects are felt from their use, I think at least 3 months and up to 6 months is what might constitute a 'fair trial'. How to then assess them should include at least two of the following,

1) doing follow-up ultrasounds with a 'before' measurement to compare against
2) observing any signs of premenstrual tension and the period itself, i.e. how heavy, clotty etc.
3) self-examination of the belly at the same time each cycle, e.g. 10 days after day 1 of the period

Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste-tree)

Associated problems

Alongside, or indeed instead of, Vitex and Lady's mantle, wherever possible, if there are underlying issues that may be related to the development of fibroids, this is where we should be putting the majority of our attention, because the holistic approach is at its best is in the way it can gently and naturally help the body to heal and balance itself.

A fibroid is a mass that may not easily shrink, but if we can address the imbalances that have given rise to it then we can at least prevent it from growing further or we can prevent new ones from coming into being.

If you or someone you care for has problematic fibroids then it is quite possible that there is one or more associated problem that, by virtue of being more of a functional rather than anatomical disturbance, may be much more amenable to the kind of help that herbs can give. These are the four main conditions that seem to be much more common in women who suffer from fibroids. The articles on each of them are much more comprehensive than this one and will require some careful study and thought to make practical use of them, or as suggested above, to consider finding a good and experienced herbalist to guide a personalised program throughout.


If endometriosis is in the picture, you can read a detailed article about it here

Painful periods (dysmenorrhoea)

The same trouble or imbalance that can lead to the period being much too painful may be the exact same imbalances that are giving rise to the fibroids and a detailed article on this common and distressing problem is found here

Heavy periods (menorrhagia)

Of course, the fibroid itself may be the cause of the heavy (or painful) period but, again, the same herbs and holistic approach to treating the underlying cause or causes of menorrhagia may do more to help reduce or at least stay the growth of the fibroid than anything, more here

Premenstrual syndrome

Many women who develop fibroids have a history of problems with the premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and whatever we can do to address and heal the hormonal imbalances that lead to PMS will surely help to at least prevent the continued growth of the fibroids, it may even help to shrink them. This important subject is discussed in detail here

Alchemilla vulgaris (Lady's mantle)

Surgical options

As mentioned above, holistic medicine can be great for functional problems where you are, in effect, helping the body to heal and balance itself however, by the time it exists, a fibroid is not a functional imbalance, it is a mass, albeit thankfully a benign one, and it may be beyond the body's ability to dissolve it, once it gets to a certain size.

If things are bad enough that the women's health is really being bought down by the fibroids then, if she can afford it, and if she can find a specialist that she is willing to trust, I encourage her to be open minded to a surgical option because, especially if they can find a way to help her whilst keeping her womb intact (i.e. some kind of a myomectomy), then this may be the best path ahead to clearing the slate and giving us a chance to take steps to prevent a reoccurrence in the future.

I refer you again the article on PMS, as linked above, by way of the kinds of steps that may be best to help in the vital area of prevention. 'Oestrogen-bubbles', is a description of fibroids that I have heard from a few sources to describe what appears to be one of the main causes of fibroids and the general suggestions in the article on PMS may be most useful to help stop them from coming back.

Constitutional Health Note:

Finally, you might benefit from learning about your constitution to know what kind of foods, herbs, exercises etc. will work especially well for your health in general.

Constitutional health is an old and fascinating way of understanding our differences. There's a brief introduction here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are here.

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd