Fibroids are tumors that usually develop in the uterus and, by nature, are not cancerous. They may, in some cases, make sexual intercourse painful, cause cramping, and prevent or endanger pregnancy. According to TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine, fibroids occur due to the blockage of energy that is expressed in the form of tumors. The TCM modality of acupuncture is used to help remove the energy blockage and thus remove the fibroids. Most people who use acupuncture use it for the alleviation of pain although the treatment has a wide range of uses, fibroid treatment being one of them. Talk to your doctor or primary healthcare provider before trying out a new treatment.
Western Medicine and Fibroids
The symptoms of uterine fibroids include painful sexual intercourse, irregular or heavy menstruation, increased urination, constipation, cramping and bleeding between periods, and a fullness sensation in the stomach. It may possible for fibroid sufferers to not experience any symptoms at all although they may need to monitor the fibroid’s development and observe the size of the tumor and signs of cancerous growth. Conventional medicine has no idea what causes the formation of fibroids although doctors suggest that the growth may be related to estrogen production. In the United States, about 20% of women suffer from uterine fibroids at some point in their lives.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Fibroids
TCM practitioners believe that acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine may help reduce the development and/or size of fibroids. According to traditional Chinese medicine, fibroids may arise due to a number of factors. They include an imbalance in the function of the organ systems or qi (life energy), certain types of disharmony, stagnation of qi, spleen qi deficiency, and yin deficiency. Each case of uterine fibroids is unique although usually the acupuncturist may treat specific acupuncture points that are related to the uterus and blood stasis problem.
Acupuncture’s effectiveness for the treatment of fibroids has little support when it comes to scientific studies. Because of this, the NIH or National Institutes of Health advises that acupuncture be used more as a complementary form of treatment (as opposed to a stand-alone therapy) to certain Western modalities for the treatment of fibroids. For the relief of pain, the institute endorses acupuncture as a main treatment for the relief of pain. Study done at the Bethune International Peace Hospital in 1995 revealed that acupuncture was able to significantly decrease the number of malignant mammary tumors in mice. A report from the National Cancer Institute stated that in seven studies in which animals were administered with acupuncture therapies indicated acupuncture’s positive effects on cancerous conditions; four of the studies showed direct and indirect benefits of acupuncture as a type of anti-cancer therapy.
For the Relief of Pain
For fibroid suffers who want to continue the use of conventional therapies for their condition, acupuncture can be utilized as an adjunct (complimentary) therapy for their ongoing treatments in order to lessen the pain and discomfort caused by their condition. Acupuncture is a very effective pain alleviation technique especially when used in combo with herbal therapy, moxibustion, and other TCM modalities.
Cynthia Chamberlain is a licensed acupuncturist in Overland Park, KS.