Sheila Shea MA

Uterine Fibroids

UTERINE FIBROIDS
by Robin Leebardt and Sheila Shea
This project has lingered for a few years. I agreed to do a research paper for a client on Uterine Fibroids. I got some material written in rough form. Along came Robin who has a great interest in Uterine Fibroids. Her story follows in part two! Robin agreed to edit, add to my material plus write her own ‘case history.’ This is the finished product. Women and their partners will appreciate this information culled from many sources. Please feel free to give us feedback. The paper is in 5 parts: Definition, Causes, Remedies, Case Study and Footnotes.

1. DEFINITION
Fibroids are benign tumors of the uterus. They grow in various locations on and within the uterine wall itself or in the uterine cavity. Fibroids are made from hard, white, gristly tissue that has a whorl-like pattern. Less than 0.1% of all fibroids are malignant and they occur in up to 50% of women over 40.

They can reach the size of a grapefruit or cantaloupe but the majority remain marble-sized or smaller and cause no discomfort or distress. Standard medical practice gauges the size of a fibroid to the size of the uterus at various stages of pregnancy. A woman may be told that she has a sixteen-week-size fibroid if her uterus is a big as it would be if she were 16 weeks pregnant.

Fibroids do not harm other organs next to the uterus, but sometimes the position of the fibroid causes symptoms that are annoying. Susun Weed says in her book, Menopausal Years, “Large fibroids can exert pressure on the bladder, bowels, or sensitive pelvic nerves, causing a variety of symptoms including pelvic pain, frequent urination, constipation, low back pain, irritable bowels, and severe menstrual/menopausal flooding.” Andrew Weil, M.D. comments in his book, Natural Health, Natural Medicine, “They [fibroids] may make menstrual periods painful and heavy, leading to anemia in some cases. They do not turn malignant.”

2. CAUSES
A. ESTROGEN
Fibroids are hormone dependent, thriving on estrogen. Fibroids often change size during each menstrual cycle, reaching their peak during ovulation and just before the menstrual period begins. They increase in size during pregnancy when this hormone is at its highest and shrink dramatically and often disappear after menopause, when estrogen levels are at their lowest, except in women who take supplemental hormones (estrogen replacement).

B. XENO-ESTROGENS
The Washington Post printed in its June 29, 1993 issue, “Many toxins target women specifically.” The article points out that man-made chemicals can introduce estrogen-like hormones into the body thereby increasing the fibroid’s size. John McLachlan, scientific director of Olden and National Institute of Environmental Health Science says that chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorines (DDT), dioxin and other industrial by-products all have estrogen-like activity.” And T. Colin Campbell reports findings from the Cornell-China Project that “The chemical industry must also take credit for upsetting the delicate balance of female hormones as pesticides and other poisons that enter the food chain or are otherwise ingested, lodge, particularly in fatty tissues, where they mimic estrogen.”

Target sites for estrogen, McLachlan said, include bones, brain, cardiovascular system, liver, skin, uterus and vagina. Diseases related to estrogen include breast and uterine disease, including cancer, as well as endometriosis, fibroid tumors, premenstrual syndrome, reproductive dysfunctions such as infertility or lactation suppression.

http://www.mercola.com/2000/dec/31/estrogen_cancer.htm
Dr. Mercola, the author of this site, has a newsletter article entitled, Estrogen Should be Added to Cancer-Causing List Along with Other Substances.

“Estrogen, the hormone used in birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, should be listed as a known cancer-causing agent, according to the advisers to the National Toxicology Panel (NTP).

Maybe, one scientist said, this step might encourage doctors to talk with their patients about both the risks and the benefits. ‘Physicians never discuss any of these risks when they are prescribing hormone therapy,’ Michelle Medinsky, a toxicologist from Durham, NC, told the National Toxicology Program advisory committee. ‘They only discuss benefits. Listing might force it on the table.’ Medinsky said. ‘Is knowledge power or is ignorance bliss? Everyone has to make their own decision,’ she said. An estimated 16 million postmenopausal women take hormone therapy, either estrogen alone or estrogen combined with a progestin. Millions of other women use birth control pills.

The advisory panel acted after looking at studies showing that estrogen is associated with an increase in uterine and endometrial cancer and to a lesser extent, breast cancer.”

C. DIET
One’s diet can continue to feed an already existing fibroid. Various theories and opinions exist. Jackson ND and Teague ND, DC authors of The Handbook of Alternatives to Chemical Medicine, suggest that a diet high in protein feeds growths in the body, cancerous and non-cancerous. Dr. Chang, founder of the Canadian company Prime Health Products, says that soybean products promote the production of estrogen and therefore can promote an increase in the size of fibroids. Foods that promote coagulation of cells, such as dairy products, can be detrimental if taken in high quantities. Sheila Shea feels that refined sugars and starches, perhaps complex carbohydrates in general which include soy, and foods containing growth hormones, drugs and chemicals can feed the fibroid.

Robin’s personal note: I noted that after eating at an Italian restaurant, my fibroid had grown immensely the following morning. My colon hydrotherapist and I felt that the combination of eating a meat sauce with non-organic meat and questionable sauce ingredients; wine with potential sugars, sulfites and yeast; and a slice of cheese cake for desert with non-organic cheese, milk, sugar, and various chemicals promoted a feeding frenzy in my fibroid. So was it the sugars, chemicals, hormones and drugs contained in the dairy and meat or the dairy and meat itself or the combo?

D. EMOTIONS
Some experts believe that mental conflicts and spiritual stagnation play a role in fibroid development. They can grow during times of stress. A.D. Feinstein believes that fibroids are often associated with conflicts about creativity, reproduction, and relationships. Dr. Northrup asks her patients to meditate on their relationships with other people, their jobs, and how they express their creativity because she believes that there is a connection between the inability of women to express themselves honestly and fully and their fibroids. Many alternative healers have observed fibroids as excess or stagnant energy in the uterus or abdominal region.

E. LIVER, GALL BLADDER AND INTESTINAL TOXICITY
Julia Chang’s website http://www.sensiblehealth.com
describes the relationship the liver and gall bladder have to the body. The liver regulates hormones in men and women. Hormones are removed through bile via the intestines and through urine via the kidney-bladder. If they are not effectively flushed out of the body, abnormal growths can occur such as uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, breast cysts, breast cancer, prostate enlargement, or prostate cancer. Excessive estrogen is also the most common cause of painful menstruation.

The liver and intestines, organs daily detoxifying and renewing the body, cannot do their job efficiently or at all when they are overworked or blocked with excessive toxins. Liver congestion, parasites and gall stones contribute to the weakened condition of these organs and lower their productivity. The liver does not conjugate or break down estrogen when unable to process and eliminate sufficiently.

Estrogen once released from the liver into the intestines may be reabsorbed into the body if the intestines are sluggish and the walls are compromised. If a women has a slow transit time (the time it takes for food to travel from the mouth to the anus) or she is constipated, estrogen gathers in the intestines and is absorbed back into the blood stream. Therefore, higher levels of estrogen circulating through the body may have an effect on fibroid development.

Leaky gut occurs when the intestinal walls start to break down. Leaky gut offers obvious trouble to the body and reproductive area whether fibroids are present or not.

3. REMEDIES
A. SURGERY
Most fibroids can be treated conservatively by letting them be and having an examination every six months to a year or so to monitor their growth. Some doctors will want to remove the fibroid and recommend a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or a myomectomy (removal of the fibroid only). Treatment of fibroids is the most frequently cited reason for a hysterectomy. Studies have shown that there is little or no justification for this. Unless you have repeated episodes of severe bleeding that cannot be controlled with hormonal treatments or other measures, surgery is one option. It is not the only one.

B. HERBAL FORMULATIONS

Herbal remedies offer a less invasive approach. A word on using herbal formulas. Investigate whether the herbal formula will aid the body THERAPEUTICALLY or TONICALLY. Therapeutic use is for a short period of time, one to four weeks, and taken at the appropriate time of day, be it morning or evening. Tonic use is for a longer period of time, four to six months or longer to alter a deep imbalance over time.

Follow the general rule of rest followed by activity, ie, use an herb for six days, rest for one day, or use for 6 weeks, rest for 1 week, or use for 6 months, rest for 1 month. Each period of rest allows the herb to become integrated into the body and therefore become most effective.

1. The following herbal formulas are taken from the
Naturopathic Handbook of Herbal Formulas.
http://www.gaiaherbs.com/
Gaia products available to order.

http://www.naturalwoman.org/generic.html?pid=5
Lists Reed’s RX Compounding Pharmacy

a. COMPOUNDED FRAXINUS/CEANOTHUS
(40-60 drops, four times a day in a small amount of warm water.)
A uterine fibroid and cyst corrective formula. Therapeutic actions: the herbs in this compound act to remove catabolic wastes from the pelvic cavity and from uterine and ovarian tissues. These herbs accelerate metabolism and lymph drainage and promote the sloughing-off of wasted tissues.
Contents:
Fresh Mountain Ash Bark (Fraxinus americanus)
Fresh Red Root (Ceanothus americanus)
Fresh Life Root (Senecio aureus)
Mayapple Root (Podophyllum peltatum)
Fresh Helonias Root (Chamaelirium luteum)
Fresh Goldenseal Root (Hydrastis canadensis)
Lobelia Herb and Seed (Lobelia inflata)
Fresh Ginger Root (Zingiber officinalis)

b. COMPOUNDED SCUDDER’S ALTERATIVE (30 drops, three times a day)
Do not use if pregnant.
A deep tissue cleansing formula. Therapeutic actions: this formula helps to replace catabolic tissue with healthy, more vibrant tissue. It helps to restore energy through removal of obstructing waste material.
Contents:
Corydalis Tubers (Dicentra canadensis)
Fresh Black Alder Bark (Alnus serrulata)
Mayapple Root (Podophyllum peltatum)
Figwort Flowering Herb (Scrophularia nodosa)
Fresh Yellow dock Root (Rumex crispus)

c. COMPOUNDED ECHINACEA/RED ROOT (30-40 drops, three times a day)
Do not use if pregnant.
A blood and lymphatic alterative formula. Therapeutic actions: the herbs help bring changes in metabolism, repair catabolic tissue and waste, and stimulate the body’s immune response.
Contents:
Fresh Echinacea spp.
Fresh Red Root (Ceanothus americanus)
Fresh Baptisia Root (Baptisia tinctoria)
Fresh Thuja Leaf (Thuja occidentalis)
Fresh Stillingia Root (Stillingia sylvatica)
Fresh Blue Flag Root (Iris versicolor)
Prickly Ash Bark (Xanthoxylum clava-herculus)

d. COMPOUNDED ELIXIR OF VITEX (1 tsp, three times a day)
A female hormone corrective tonic. Therapeutic actions: this compounded elixir corrects imbalances of estrogen metabolism associated with excessive catechol estrogens and elevated inflammatory prostaglandins.
Contents:
Fresh Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex Castus Agnus)
Fresh Squaw Vine (Mitchella repens)
Fresh Black Haw Bark (Viburnum prunifolium)
Fresh Butterbur Root (Petasites officinalis)
Fresh Mugwort Leaf
Fresh Dandelion Leaf and Root (Leontodon taraxacum)
Usnea Lichen
Rose Hips solid extract
Concentrated Mulberry syrup
Custom Extract of Sea Vegetation and Marine Algae
Vegetable Glycerine

e. POKE ROOT OIL (rub oil on uterus/abdomen before bed.
Therapeutic actions: cleans lymph glands.)

f. BLACK COHOSH ROOT (use if tissue tension is present in uterine region)
Do not use if pregnant.

2. Other helpful herbal remedies include:
a. Carotenoids (150,000-300,000 IU daily) carrot juice, cod liver oil

b. Castor Oil packs (apply over pelvis 3-5 times per week)

c. Hot ginger water compresses

d. Sitz baths daily

e. Herbal Suppositories: White Oak Bark or Goldenseal Root or
Tea Tree Oil

f. Blue cohosh herb (caulophyllum thalictroides): 2 capsules 2xd for a month if painful periods are a problem. If this helps, continue for another month, then cut the dose in half and gradually reduce to nothing, as suggested by Dr. Andrew Weil. (p 329)

g. Anti-estrogenic brew by Rina Nissim (1 tsp or 5 ml on rising)
(Book available on amazon.com, Info might not be in English.)
Any one of these herbs is beneficial to premenopausal women dealing with fibroids. Expect noticable results with 2-4 months.
Tincture equal parts of:
Black currant buds or leaves (Ribes nigrum)
Gromwell herb or seeds (Lithospermum officinalis)
Lady’s mantle herb (Alchemilla vulgaris)
Chaste tree berries (Vitex agnus-castus)
Yarrow flowers (Achillea millefolium)
Wild pansy flowers (Viola tricolor).

h. Vitex berry tincture, 25-30 drops 2xd, may shrink small fibroids within 2 months. Dr. Susun Weed says it can be used for up to 2 years.

i. Chapparel and Yucca root extracts by Tierona Low Dog, MD
Dr. Low Dog is a Family Physician and Medical Director of the Treehouse Center of Integrative Medicine in Albuquerque NM. The clinic phone is 505.872.2611. Her assistant Rita’s phone is 505.875.1312. Dr Low Dog has recently published a book called Women’s Health, a joint project between the Integrative Medicine Education Associates (IMEA) and the American Dietetic Association (ADA). It is written primarily for physicians and retails at $94.50. Dr Low Dog has also been assigned to the President’s Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. For those who would like to study with her, she has designed a correspondence course entitled the Foundations of Herbal Medicine. The website for the course is
http://www.fihm.com
and the email is [email protected]

Dr Low Dog has a recipe for uterine fibroid reduction/dissolution.
Fill a crock pot full of chaparral and cover with water. Cook for 4 days on low and strain. Put strained fluid in crock pot again and cook for another 4 days until liquid is thick and syrupy. Set this extract aside.

Chop Yucca Root into small pieces, put 4 ounces in crock pot and add 48 ounces of water. Cook on low for 4 days. Strain root and continue cooking strained root until you have 2 inches of black syrup on bottom of crock pot. Combine the two syrups in a glass bottle, take 15 drops 3 times a day.

C. DIET

Dietary habits promote health or disease. Many women’s paths to uterine health begin with dietary changes.

Some health practitioners and nutritionists recommend avoiding complex carbohydrates. According to Elaine Gottschall in Breaking the Vicious Cycle, the complex ‘sugars’ are the major culprits in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Candida. Inability to digest the complex sugars increases the population of pathogenic bacteria and fungi which can lead to a host of intestinal and immune deficiencies. Diarrhea, constipation, pain, rectal bleeding, bloating and gas are some key symptoms. Inflamation and irritation to the gut wall can contribute to and is associated with ‘leaky gut syndrome.’ I theorize that the fibroids may thrive on refined and/or complex sugars. I speculate that damage to the gut wall may upset the flow and balance of hormones. For more information on the benefits of eating the Specific Carbohydrate Diet visit her website, http://www.scdiet.org.

Dr. Andrew Weil recommends eating a low fat diet and hormone free foods (meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products). Consumption of whole foods and avoidance of processed and refined foods (white flour and white sugar) definitely helps to keep the body’s systems healthy, thereby, making it ready to heal itself and to ward of any health problems. Vitamin E (400 IU) 2xd adds an added boost.

http://www.sensiblehealth.com
Dr. Julia Chang also identifies refined flour and sugar, deep fried foods, caffeine and ice cold drink/food as damaging to the liver and kidneys, the organs that aid in elimination of toxins. Avoid and eliminate these foods from your diet and your liver will begin to function more effectively. Soy bean products will elevate estrogen levels. Avoid overuse of soy products in order to help the liver eliminate the existing excess estrogen circulating in the body (remember, fibroids feed on estrogen). Seek a balance between progesterone and estrogen and female health will be optimal.

http://www.westonaprice.org
Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist who was amazed by his patients decline in dental health and physical health, researched for 10 years the variables between a culture’s diet and their health. His book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, explains his findings. At his website, you may read more on how ‘civilized’ nations are suffering from ‘third world diseases’ and how ‘uncivilized’ societies enjoy excellent health.

For the women of America, Dr. Price advocates high doses of Vitamin A for optimum thyroid functioning which will lead to optimum female health. True Vitamin A (retinol) is found in animal products such as cod liver oil, liver, other organ meats, butter, cream, fish, shell fish, and animal fats. The Vitamin A that is found in plants is good, too, but not nearly as potent. Dr. Price also has a section at his site called ‘Soy Alert.’ The article is eye-opening and educational.
http://www.westonaprice.org/soy_alert.htm

http://www.healthyhealing.com
Dr. Linda Page’s website article promotes sea vegetables as a way to regain and maintain a healthy female system. Sea vegetables and herbs are higher in vitamins and minerals than any other food group. Some sea vegetables available today are arame, bladderwrack, dulse, hijiki, Irish moss, kelp, kombu, nori, sea palm and wakame.

Benefits of sea vegetables:
1. high in vitamin B12 which is necessary for cell development and nerve function,
2. aids in body cleansing, alkalinizes and purifies the blood,
3. nourishes the thyroid with natural iodine. Iodine from sea plants can prevent fibrocystic breast disease, and in some cases, completely eradicate it, especially when taken with Vitamin E,
4. fight cancer and proliferation of cancer cells by supporting the immune system with a multitude of antioxidants.

Medical doctors Agatha and Calvin Thrash wrote a book entitled Nutrition for Vegetarians in 1982. In their chapter on Endocrinology they list foods that are low in estrogen-like sterols. They suggest a diet low in plant steroids for persons with cancer stimulated by taking estrogen or having a pregnancy. The suggestion might also apply to uterine fibroids. They list the following as high in estrogen-like hormones: beet roots, potato tubers, parsley roots, yeast, honey, sage and clover.
(pages 101-102)

D. CLEANSE THE INTESTINES

Cleansing, rebuilding and reflorastating the intestinal walls is a priority for foundational healing. Improving the muscle tone and peristalsis of the intestines improves elimination. Cleansing programs are available to eliminate dehydrated waste from the gut walls be it mucus, fecal or parasitic. Specific diet, herbs and supplements are used to rebuild the walls. Another key priority is implanting viable cultures of positive flora in the intestines called reflorastation. The good and balanced flora and healthy gut walls are the foundations of a healthy immune system not to mention digestion, assimilation and elimination. Colonics, colemas and enemas are all helpful in the cleansing, rebuilding and reflorastation of the intestines. See Sheila’s website for additional information.
http://www.intestinalhealthinstitute.com

E. CLEANSE THE LIVER AND GALL BLADDER

To strengthen the liver and gall bladder, Julia Chang prescribes a variety of products (Chinese herbal formulas) which she has developed to take in addition to this gall bladder/liver flush:

Prior to Day 1: Eat only whole grains and whole foods.

DAY 1: Drink two 8-ounce glasses of organic apple juice or apple cider every two hours from 8 AM- 8 PM. Eat no food and only drink water in addition to the apple juice/cider. Juice should be at room temperature.

DAY 2: Repeat Day 1. At 8:30 PM drink 4 ounces of olive oil with 4 ounces of lemon juice (or 1/2 olive oil to 3/4 cup of grapefruit juice). After sipping whole drink go immediately to bed and lay on your right side for 20 minutes. Then go to bed for the night.

DAY 3: Upon rising drink two 8-ounce glasses of warm water with juice from half a lemon. One half hour later, drink two 8-ounce glasses of prune juice. Eat softly cooked vegetables only this day. Gall stones should pass between the evening of day 2 until day 4 and the liver will be strengthened.

Many programs are available to cleanse the liver and gall bladder. Feel free to try different programs such as those at http://www.thefirstresortaz.com or http://www.drclark.net.

F. FASTING

There are many benefits to fasting, but the primary reason is to help the body and mind cleanse itself of toxins. The misconception about fasting is that one eats absolutely nothing. This is not completely true. Here are a few recipies, and remember, drinking a gallon of water a day is highly recommended!

1. The Master Cleanse or Lemonade Diet by Stanley Burroughs.

http://www.bc1.com/vitagem/Master_Cleanser.htm
The site describes the fast, how to do it, and the benefits.

2. Drink only distilled water. With this method, you will need to rest a lot and supervision is suggested. The body will effectively rid itself of any toxins and you will feel it. 10-21 days is enough.

3. Aid the body in its fasting and cleansing by giving yourself enemas or receiving a series of colonics. Colemas are an option too and they are self-administered. An internal salt water bath can also help. Take 2 level teaspoons of sea salt (sea salt only) dissolved in 1 quart of warm water…Make sure you are near a bathroom all day long if you choose to do the internal salt water bath. It has a laxative effect. The idea during fasting is to eliminate the toxins that are loosened up as quickly as possible.

4. Raw Juice Fast as described by Drs. Jackson and Teague in their book, The Handbook of Alternatives to Chemical Medicine. Drs. Jackson and Teague also recommend this raw juice diet for any growths in the body, malignant or benign. This is just one possibility of a raw juice fast.

Day 1: 6 ounces spinach, 10 ounces carrot
Day 2: 2 ounces parsley, 3 ounces spinach, 4 ounces celery,
7 ounces carrot
Day 3: 3 ounces beet, 3 ounces cucumber, 10 ounces carrot
Day 4: 2 ounces coconut, 3 ounces beet, 11 ounces carrot
Day 5: 1 pint (16 ounces) spinach
Day 6: 2 ounces parsley, 5 ounces celery, 9 ounces carrot
Day 7: 4 ounces parsley, 12 ounces carrot 4
Day 8: repeat Day 1

The combination of vegetable juices will provide the body with the nutrients it needs to revitalize its immune system and “starve” the fibroid. In addition to drinking raw juices, one slice of sourdough bread a day is complementary to the effects the juices have on the body. If hunger pangs develop only eat raw vegetables or raw fruit. Do not mix fruit and vegetables in one meal. A meal of raw fruit at lunch followed by a meal of raw vegetables at dinner is advisable. In addition to drinking raw juices, drink a gallon of water a day. The water will keep you hydrated and aid the juices with their cleansing properties.

5. Ending a fast is just as important as starting one. The key is to be conscious about ending the fast and the foods you choose to eat. This is just one idea of ending a fast,

DAY 1: The first day after the fast, begin with watered down freshly squeezed orange juice. Drink as much water and orange
juice as desired.
DAY 2: Continue with the orange juice and add vegetable broth.
DAY 3: A meal of raw fruit at lunch followed by a meal of raw vegetables, like a salad, for dinner.
DAY 4: More solid foods may be eaten from this day forward, but do not overeat. And, since your system has been cleansed, now is the best time to pay attention to your body’s reactions to the different foods you ingest. Remember to listen to your body.

G. EXERCISE

Most paths to healthy living also include a certain level of exericse. In the case of fibroids, an increase in aerobic activity is recommended by Dr. Northrup, Dr. Weil, Dr. Weed, and Drs. Thrash.

H. DEAL WITH EMOTIONAL SPIRITUAL ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE

Dr. Northrup and Dr. Weed believe that today’s women place demands on themselves that are overwhelming. The body will force you to slow down and reflect on your life choices by manifesting fibroids or other physical maladies if you are not mindful of yourself and your needs. A variety of energy work and emotional, mental and spiritual healing techniques are available to release stagnation on those planes and restore health.

1. Visualization: In a quiet moment, picture the fibroid. Imagine it decreasing in size and ask it for its purpose. Do not scold it or feel negative toward it. It is there to deliver a message. Give it a name, for you are about to give birth to an idea, an emotion, or a memory that has long been supressed.

Here is an exercise: Sit or recline comfortably. Focus on your breath, imagine you are breathing out of your uterus and vagina breathing out stagnant energy. Pause for a moment, then breathe into your vagina and into your uterus bringing in vital healing energy. Breathe out. Continue this cycle for 10 minutes.

2. Meditation: Sit or recline comfortably. Close your eyes and let all thoughts fly in and out of your mind. Do not dwell on one event. Concentrate on your breathing. Feel the balance in your body. Put every part of your body in total relaxation starting at the toes, or at the head and work all the way up or down. Practice being silent for 10-30 minutes once a day.

3. Qigong (chee gong): This is a series of movements incorporated with breathing to increase circulation and energy to the vital systems of your body, similar to tai chi. Visit the National Qigong Association website at http://www.nqa.org
to read more about their exercises and how to implement them.

4. Biofeedback
http://www.biofeedback.net/
The number one site for biofeedback information.

5. Therapy
Many forms of therapy are available.
http://www.clearpathway.net
Redirecting Self – Therapy (RST) as described in paper
Biology of Emotions: Self Help for Anxiety and Depression.
RST is my favorite and the one I use.
http://www.ieata.org/
Website for the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association.

I. ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

How do you find alternative practitioners? This is what I suggest to my correspondents. Check with family, friends and colleagues; local alternative practitioners; local health food stores and their bulletin boards; support groups; professional associations; alternative medicine schools and colleges; referral services and advertisements. Referral services are advertised over the radio, on TV, in magazines and in the yellow pages. Local and alternative tabloids provide ads too. Sometimes I do a search for the particular field. You might want to do that.

Another suggestion, is to go to (or the version in your country)
http://www.uswestdex.com
and type in the key field and call the places one by one! Good luck.

1. Moxa: Ask someone to burn moxa over the area of the fibroid while you envision heat releasing the message or excess energy in your uterus. Do this 4-6 times a week for 6 weeks. Think, “What is locked up in this fibroid?” “What can I give birth to?” These visualizations will help to release the purpose of the fibroid. Visit the website, http://www.moxage.com
to learn more about this oriental healing art.

2. Acupuncture: Eastern medicine/philosophy believes that there are meridians of energy connected to organs and systems of the body. The procedure is relatively painless; tiny and thin acupuncture needles are inserted at specific points along these meridians in order to restore proper energy flow. Acupuncture sessions may help shrink fibroids.

3. Energy modalities: Reiki, cranio-sacral, and polarity work can help to disperse dammed up energy anywhere in the body. Stories stored in our cells may be released with these therapies. Be open to the messages and mysteries of your body and its symptoms. Be eager to listen and slow to judge. What you learn may have the capacity to save your life.

Put yourself first, create a sacred space within you and around you. Start with techniques you intuitively feel most attracted to. This article gives you a variety of alternatives from which to choose and incorporate in your daily life. In your journey to vibrant womanhood, you may begin to see yourself with new and loving eyes and understand yourself with a compassionate heart and mind.

(Part 2 continues with Robin’s Story and Footnotes.)

 

UTERINE FIBROIDS (PART 2)
by Robin Leebardt and Sheila Shea
4. CASE STUDY
Sheila Shea asked me if I would share my reproductive health issues, the steps leading to the discovery of my uterine fibroid tumor, and what I’m doing now. I thank Sheila for giving me the opportunity to write this because I realized how connected my past issues are to my present. I hope as you read you find you aren’t alone, or that you have your own story you’d like to write. Many therapies will be mentioned. If you wish to read more about them, please visit the websites or write me at [email protected]

FLASHBACK
During my first semester at college in 1989, I had my first ever urinary tract infection. I learned from the campus doctor that I should be sure to urinate whenever I needed to and not hold it in. And that after intercourse, a trip to the bathroom would help flush out any sort of unfriendly bacteria from my urethrea.

In the spring of 1990, I had an encounter with an ovarian dermoid cyst. It was attached by a foot to my right ovary. It made itself known to me, apparently, by wrapping itself around my ovary. The pain was so excruciating, I could not unwrap myself from a fetal position for nearly 3 hours. A sonogram a few days later confirmed what the emergency room doctors suspected when they saw me at the hospital the few nights before.

My gynecologist wanted to remove it. I refused. He told me that if I left the dermoid cyst alone it might rupture and flood my reproductive system with toxins. I still didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of being sliced open so I asked the chances of the cyst coming back if it were surgically removed. He said that there would be a 60% chance of it returning. After that revelation I knew my answer was a definite “no” to surgery. I didn’t want to spend 60% of my life in a hospital. I was only 19 years old.

I was fortunate that my mother was training as a masseuse and had many teachers and contacts who believed in holistic medicine and alternative methods of healing. After talking to several of them, I began to understand that physical maladies are the body’s way of talking to us. It is our body’s way of telling us to shape up or else!

http://www.holisticmed.com
Visit for information about alternatives to western medical thinking.

I also consulted with naturopaths, massage therapists, Reiki therapists, and going through guided visualizations. I started to:
* practice meditation/visualization exercises,
* examine my relationships with my family and friends,
* decide to get out of a bad relationship,
* change my diet, and
* supplement my daily meals with herbal formulas and extracts.

http://www.reiki.7gen.com
Visit for more info on Reiki.

During my journey of healing from my dermoid cyst, my chiropractor, Dr. Christine Berju, advised me to receive colon hydrotherapy sessions, a gentle way of flushing out the colon of impacted fecal matter. She reasoned and understood that reproductive area growths are related to intestinal toxicity, especially in the colon. The perfect environment exists for cells to mutate for the worse when the intestines are plugged up with fecal matter and pathogenic bacteria and yeast. Dr. Berju asked me how often I had bowel movements. My answer was 1 every 2 days, sometimes 1 every 3 days. She immediately informed me that a healthy intestinal tract eliminates at least twice a day if not 3 times.
I never knew I was constipated!

I called the hydrotherapist that my chiropractor recommended. She charged $45 per session and all new clients signed on for at least 4 sessions done over the course of 7 days. The hydrotherapist explained that one session did not flush out the colon completely. Sometimes even by the fourth session, the colon was not completely free of impacted toxic fecal build up. However, it was a step in the right direction for optimal health. I understood what she was saying and why my chiropractor wanted me to do this, too. However, I did everything except the colon hydrotherapy. One reason was the money and the other – I was scared of the procedure!

Dr. Berju also indicated that diet has a significant impact on creating a sluggish colon and a predisposition toward “coagulation of cells, living and dead.” She advised me to eliminate dairy products, refined flour and sugar products, caffeine (that included chocolate), estrogen-pumped meat, increase my intake of water (not from the tap), eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and exercise regularly. Eliminating milk and almost all cereals I had grown up with and avoiding chicken and beef was quite challenging for a 19 year old! Eliminating caffeine was a lot easier. I found decaffeinated varieties of tea and drank caffeine free soda. To my surprise, after I stopped eating chocolate, I no longer craved it. I also developed an exercise regimen that made me feel great.

1991 — FALL
My new gynecologist, who knew and supported what I had decided to do, happily told me that my last sonogram (the 4th one) showed my cyst disappeared/dissolved. I had successfully discovered my cyst’s message,

‘Take care of yourself first! Love yourself and treat yourself with respect.’

I had significantly changed my outlook on life for the better and adopted healthy habits. I was beginning my junior year in college and felt ecstatic beyond words. I lived the next 8 years in relatively good health.

RECENT PAST
In August 1999 I sensed an internal mass in my abdomen. I noticed it first needing to urinate more frequently yet a miniscule amount of urine coming out. I thought it strange that if it was a urinary tract infection, the usual symptom of a burning sensation was not present while eliminating.

Another clue of internal mass in my reproductive area was a definite movement of my internal organs during intercourse. This was an odd feeling, not painful at all, but the sensation of something poking around under the surface of my skin.

1999 — FALL
Finally, I decided to get a check-up to determine the cause of the sensation I was experiencing with urination and intercourse. I knew what my doctor would say – that my right ovary was enlarged and I was to make an appointment for a sonogram at a local hospital. What did I do? I ignored this new “development” hoping it would disappear. In essence, I became an ostrich. I buried my head in the sand. Eventually, I made a sonogram appointment at the end of October.

What were the findings? I had a fibroid tumor attached by a stem to the top of my uterus. It was about the same size as my uterus. So, I had two pear-sized objects in me where before I only had one. I felt hopeless. Why again? I had a good life; I was happily married (still am), loved my job teaching band at a middle school, and practiced living a healthy lifestyle with good food and exercise (so I thought). I just didn’t understand it. Didn’t I work out all my bad habits 8 years ago? I became despondent. Apparently, my body had another message to tell me. In order to understand why the fibroid was there, I needed to do some soul searching and life-style changing, again.

My mother came to my rescue and gave me a gift certificate for 5 shiatsu sessions (a Japanese form of massage) to help me get started on my new healing journey and she shared an interesting tidbit.

My mother had her own fibroid just before she became pregnant with me. Once she had me, the fibroid disappeared.

2000 — APRIL
During April, I started to keep a close eye on my fibroid. I would lay flat on my back in bed and gently massage my belly. I could feel the fibroid changing size, shape and location. I discovered that it grew and shrank depending on where I was in my menstrual cycle. When I was menstruating or ovulating the fibroid would enlarge. All other times it would decrease in size. I did a little research on fibroids which told me that they thrive on estrogen. That was why it grew and shrunk with my cycle. I started to write in a journal and sketch my fibroid’s shape and location.

I still hadn’t changed my diet that much and exercising was sporadic. Teaching kept me quite busy. I had received 3 shiatsu sessions by now and my shiatsu therapist told me that I had a couple of weakened meridians (gall bladder and liver) and I had a bundle of energy lodged in my abdomen. By opening the meridians, energy paths of the body, she helped to rebalance me. However, my fibroid had not changed significantly or disappeared.

I was mad at myself and my fibroid a lot of the time. The shiatsu practitioner reminded me that just as a child would not respond in a positive way to anger, my body would not respond positively to rancor. She suggested that I lay in bed at night with my hands over the fibroid to be with it and to be curious and open to the message(s) my fibroid wanted me to hear. I did a lot of guessing, but nothing really seem to ring as truth. Eight years before, my ovarian cyst’s message was that I needed to pay attention to myself. I was always taking care of others and neglecting myself. I was a human doormat. This fibroid was not delivering the same message.

* Maybe it had to do with wanting a family?
* Maybe it was telling me that I was still quite toxic and not eating right?
* Maybe I had issues with not letting myself be creative, after all that is where creation begins, right?
* Maybe I agonized too much about my past, fantasized too much about my future.

Ah, now that felt closer to home! I began to realize that I was not paying attention to what I was doing NOW. I started to make “To Do” lists. I left school work at school. I added yoga to my exercise regimen. I made Tuesdays “No Television Day.” My husband and I started to cook together, play board games together and just take walks in our neighborhood together. All these changes felt right.

I was beginning to get in touch with all aspects of my fibroid’s message; the physical, the mental and the spiritual.

2000 — SUMMER VACATION AND SELF CARE
During the summer, while I was on vacation from school, I decided to dive head long into taking care of myself. July was the month for major life changing awareness; I wrote everyday in a journal, made a list of books I wanted to read, a list a movies I wanted to see, and made a conscious effort to rid my cabinets and refrigerator of chemical-filled food and re-stock them with all natural whole foods, herbal teas, fresh fruits and vegetables.

The knowledge that my body was full of toxins was the motivating factor for pursuing a total body cleansing. In the book The Handbook of Alternatives to Chemical Medicine by Mildred Jackson ND and Terri Teague ND DC, I found a seven day juice diet that was geared to eliminating cancerous and non-cancerous growths from the body. The juice diet would cleanse my blood and help my gastrointestinal tract as well as strengthen my lungs, liver and kidneys. I began (again) a schedule of regular exercise and started to consult different books on women’s health. While detoxifying, it is essential to exfoliate the largest organ of the human body, the skin. I arranged for a full body exfoliating massage.

However, I was still a bit nervous about the colon hydrotherapy sessions. I knew that my cleansing process would be complete if I flushed my colon. So I made my first colon hydrotherapy appointment. (Right on, Robin! SS)

COLON HYDROTHERAPY
Before my first session with Sheila Shea LMT, I was nervous. However, I read her web-site about colon hydrotherapy so I knew what to expect. Since I had never done it before, I was still anxious.
http://www.intestinalhealthinstitute.com

My first session with Sheila was during the 8th day of the juice fast. I knew the colonic would enhance the vibrant health I was enjoying just after 8 days; I no longer had rank body odor or rank breath, I had energy to sustain me throughout the day even though I was only drinking vegetable juices and eating raw fruits and vegetables, and I had a general overall sense of happiness. I told Sheila about my fibroid and efforts to rid my system of toxins. I felt that removing the physical toxins would be an integral part of dissolving the fibroids. However, they were not the only cause.

She understood completely and was supportive and at the same time interested in my observations of my fibroid. She knew several women with fibroids. Some kept them until they disappeared (after menopause). Some had them surgically removed like her sister-in-law. The important note in all of this is that every woman dealt with their fibroids in the manner they thought best and I was no different.

BACK TO THE COLONIC SESSION
Sheila was relaxed, friendly and answered every question I asked. That first session was at 5 pm and over the course of an hour she did about 10 in-flows and out-flows. She massaged my belly to help the water come around to the ascending side (right) and to help the water flow out. A viewing tube was clearly showing various amounts of fecal matter leaving my body; sometimes there was a lot, sometimes just clear water. On my way home I felt much relief at having had my first colonic. I did not feel dramatically lighter but I definitely felt good.

About 2 hours later while comfortably watching a movie at home, I had the urge to go to the bathroom. What came out of me was amazing – water. It was all water. I thought it strange that all the water from the session did not flow out of me. My next appointment with Sheila was in 3 days. I’d tell her about it then.

2 DAYS LATER
The night before I was to see Sheila again, I’d gone out with some friends to break my juice diet with a “healthy” Chinese dinner. Instead of celebrating my new found energy and excitement for life, within two hours I felt sluggish and drunk. I was not having an allergic reaction, this much I knew. Instinctively, I knew my system was soaking up chemicals and by-products which had been eliminated from my body not 5 days before. The most interesting thing happened later that evening; my fibroid, which had indeed shrunk over the course of the juice fast, grew to gargantuan size by the time I laid down to bed.

2ND COLONIC SESSION
The next day, I was thankful for my colonic. First, I told Sheila about the water coming out of me after our first session. She speculated that it could have been:
* muscle fatigue (no peristaltic movement) by the end of the session, or
* mineral imbalances that prevented muscles from releasing, or
* pockets of impacted matter that held the water in me or
* muscle spasms or constrictions that prevented water from passing out until they relaxed later.
Whoa!

Then, I told Sheila about the Chinese dinner the previous night. There were several possibilities for the drunken feeling and the enlarged fibroid.
* Soy products had estrogenic properties. Ah! I had tofu!
* The vegetables and sauces may have had refined sugar, cornstarch, wheat and/or monosodium glutamate (MSG): all products that the body would have a hard time digesting.

Not only did my fibroid feast on the tofu, but my intestines were bloated with products nearly impossible to digest. Sheila said in retrospect, I could have given myself an enema to relieve the bloatedness. After our colonic session, the bloatedness went away. Ever since then, I’ve watched what I eat to see if I become bloated and sluggish again.

To complete my series with her, I saw her one more time that week, and had one session in August, September and October. After my 4th session with Sheila in August, I started to have one bowel movement a day. My personal view of colon cleansing is that it is essential to have one’s colon cleansed when regular and complete bowel movements are not happening. If the body cannot rid itself of waste, the body will re-uptake a variety of toxins and cause all the other systems of the body to work overtime in a polluted environment. The body wants to heal itself when we’re awake or asleep.

Who are we to impede our body’s mission with a bad diet, a bad attitude, and bad habits?

THE AFTERMATH – THOUGHTS ON PROCESS AND HOPE
Sheila suggested that I take a look at Elaine Gottshall’s book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle which talks about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I visited her website and found an incredible network of information about diet and health. I have adopted some of her suggestions because I feel that my intestinal tract likes a certain kind of food or flour better than another. I still keep track of what seems to hard for me to digest and then avoid those foods. Or I eat them in moderation knowing the consequences and take steps to deal with the aftermath.
http://www.scdiet.org

So far I have found that certain wines (alcohol) affect my fibroid. Whole wheat is not so great for my digestion. And of course, anything with estrogenic properties (like tofu, soy sauces, hormone pumped meats) affects me so that I look like I am 4-months pregnant the following days.

I learned from another great website Sheila suggested I explore. Dr. Julia Chang focuses on the importance of having a strong liver and gall bladder because these organs detoxify the circulatory (blood) and lymphatic systems. Most ailments will heal with a healthy colon, liver and gall bladder.
http://www.sensiblehealth.com

Stories the Body Reveals
I am still on my journey. In October, I had an opportunity to receive a Cranio-Sacral session with a woman whose life is dedicated to helping others discover the messages and stories locked in their bodies. These therapists work with the rhythm of the cranio-sacral fluid in your spine in order to help the body to heal itself of whatever ails it. I knew that she would help me tap into the spiritual and emotional aspect of my fibroid.
http://www.upledger.com
Visit for more information about this wonderful therapy.

During our session, two stories came to light The first one is connected to my beloved dog, Bear, who my mom and I decided to euthanize in 1994. I somehow still feel responsible for his death. Is this why my fibroid has attached itself to my uterus? Maybe its message is about life – giving and taking it.

The second story is related to a period of 4 years of my childhood when I was sexually abused. Ambivalence about love emerged. I wanted to be loved but I didn’t want to be abused. Yet, I could not say yes to one and no to the other. I thought the two were inseparable. This ambivalence has shown itself in my adult life in past relationships that were abusive.

I know there are probably other stories and messages that I need to remember and deal with in the very near future.
* I plan to continue eating chemical-free foods, fresh fruit, fresh
vegetables, continue with colon hydrotherapy as well as shiatsu and
cranio-sacral therapies.
* I am taking the steps to help myself lead a healthy and rewarding life.
* I am working on all three levels of being human: the physical, mental
and spiritual.
* I live each day doing the things that are important to me and
* I know the fundamental law of life is change.

Appearance and Reality
It really was quite dramatic the way my body changed with the fibroid’s appearance. At first I had a difficult time with my belly rounding out. Up until the late summer/early fall of 1999, I had a flat abdomen. When it rounded out, I couldn’t stop thinking about it or looking at myself in a mirror with disappointment. I realized that the days of sporadic exercise and poor eating habits had to go.

I began to do a lot of abdominal exercises and found that yoga demanded a lot of strength. I also learned that weak abs can be an indicator of a weak back, so I incorporated back exercises into my workout regimen. It took me one whole year to stop worrying about how my belly looked, about how I looked. I see now that my body is changing and have learned to accept it instead of fighting it.

Life at 30
I have just turned 30 and the events in my life, good and bad, have helped me to become the person I am today, physically, mentally, and spiritually. With self-reflection and meditation I am aware of the fact that I still fall into the valleys of procrastination and self-doubt, but with a positive mental attitude, as well as the love and encouragement from my husband, family, and close friends, I know the peaks of joy and self-contentment are always attainable.

To everyone who reads this, begin today with this thought: imagine yourself healthy and vibrant, be flexible and flowing, be open to the new and changing, flow with life easily and effortlessly. Every thought you have is creating your future. Here’s to a loving and meaningful future for all of us!

5. FOOTNOTES
1. Northrup, Christiane MD, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing (New York NY: Bantam Books rev. ed. 1998) p183

2. Weil, Andrew MD, Natural Health Natural Medicine (1990) pp328-9

3. Weed, Susun, Menopausal Years (Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing 1992) p11-12

4. Feinstein, AD, “Conflict over Childbearing and Tumors of the Female Reproductive System: Symbolism in Disease,” Somatics, Fall/Winter, 1983.

5. Weed, Susun, Menopausal Years (Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing 1992) p.11-12

6. Northrup, Christiane, MD, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing (New York NY: Bantam Books, rev. ed. 1998) p189

7. Naturopathic Handbook of Herbal Formulas, a Practical and Concise Herb User’s Guide (Ayer, MA: Herbal Research Publications Inc, 4th ed 1995) p17

8. Herbal Handbook of Herbal Formulas, 4th ed (Ayer, MA: Herbal Research Publications Inc 1995)

9. Jackson, Mildred ND and Terri Teague ND DC The Handbook of Alternatives to Chemical Medicine (Novato CA: New World Library, rev. ed. 1997) p34-35

10. Weed, Susun, Menopausal Years (Woodstock NY: Ash Tree Publishing 1992) p12

© 2001 Sheila Shea All Rights Reserved
© 2001 Robin Leebardt All Rights Reserved