Q & A: Shrinking uterine fibroids alternatively

by Jackie Hart, MD

Alternative HealthQ: Are there any alternative ways of treating or shrinking uterine fibroids?

A: A uterine fibroid is a noncancerous collection of smooth muscle fibers and other material that is often referred to as a "tumor," even though it is benign. Fibroids are very common, affecting 20%-50% of women. The most common symptoms are pain in the pelvic region, severe menstrual cramps, a feeling of pressure in the bladder, rectum or lower back, and excessive and inappropriate vaginal bleeding. Other, less common symptoms include pain during intercourse, frequent urination, and urinary urgency (a sense that you have to urinate when you dont). Some women with fibroids have no symptoms at all.

Common conventional treatments include a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus), removal of the fibroids while keeping the remainder of the uterus intact (called a myomectomy), or hormonal treatments to either stop bleeding from the fibroids or halt the menstrual cycle.

While there are no known proven alternative therapies for fibroids, some experts offer explanations for fibroids that have to do with a persons "energy." Carolyn Myss, PhD, author of Anatomy of the Spirit,* says that fibroids are related to not bringing fantasy images to light and to keeping secrets about our creative selves, by which I believe she means that these thoughts are deeply and unconsciously suppressed, such that the person is not aware that she is having certain creative desires. Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Womens Bodies, Womens Wisdom,* proposes that fibroids occur when women put life energy into relationships, jobs, or other situations that they have moved beyond, outgrown, or completed.

Dr. Northrup suggests the following regimen as an alternative treatment for fibroids or to be used in conjunction with conventional treatments:
  • A low-fat, high-fiber, vegan diet (a type of vegetarian diet that contains no animal products, including dairy, meat, fish, and poultry)
  • Moderate aerobic exercise at least 20 minutes three times per week
  • A B complex vitamin supplement (Dr. Northrup does not specify amount; I generally tell people 100 mg per day)
  • A supplement of 1000 mg/day each of methionine, choline, and inositol (I am not sure why or how this may help)
  • A multivitamin with 600 mg magnesium
  • A form of treatment to free blocked "energy," such as acupuncture, energy balancing, Reiki, massage therapy (particularly Shiatsu), Tai Chi or Qi Gong.
  • Castor oil packs to the lower abdomen three times a week, during which time you should pay particular attention to what you are thinking, feeling and visualizing
  • Writing in a journal regularly as a way to express what you would like to create in your own life, noticing where you get stuck or blocked (in other words, when you tell yourself "you cant do that" or "you cant have that," etc.)
Whatever you decide together with your doctor, I hope that you feel it is your choice. As Dr. Northrup points out, just recognizing that you have a choice can be a big step in the healing process.