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Non-prescription help for endometriosis pain relief

Jun. 24, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Padma Lakshmi ("Top Chef"), Susan Sarandon ("The Big Wedding"), Whoopi Goldberg ("The View") and another 100 million women worldwide contend with endometriosis, a condition in which endometrial cells (that line the uterus) grow outside the uterus, causing adhesions, scarring, severe pain and a 30 percent to 40 percent risk of infertility.

Even though 10 percent of all women develop endometriosis, we're just beginning to understand the causes: possibly a combination of immune-system misfires, exposure to environmental toxins (like hormone disrupters in plastics), plus a genetic predisposition. Effective nonmedical treatments are emerging, but until recently, only hormone therapy, pain pills and surgery were offered, at a cost of $22 billion a year!

Our suggestions:

Stress reduction. Life stressors can aggravate immune-system misfires and amplify pain, so it's important to meditate regularly (RealAge.com has instructions). Also, acupuncture, biofeedback and massage may ease stress and discomfort.

Vitamins E (1,200 IU of mixed tocopherols) and C (1,000 mg) daily. One study reports a 43 percent reduction in everyday pain and a 25 percent reduction in painful sex within eight weeks. Check with your doc if you are taking a statin or have smoked, as this amount of vitamin E may cause problems.

Eliminate all trans fats and boost your intake of omega-3s. Eat salmon and ocean trout two to three times a week and take 900 IU of DHA from algal oil daily. In one study, women with the highest intake of trans fats were 48 percent more likely -- and those with the highest intake of omega-3s were 22 percent LESS likely -- to develop endometriosis!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.