What are your choices?
What you eat can be crucial because it can help to control excess levels of oestrogen that can encourage the fibroid to grow. And if you need to have surgical treatment because a fibroid is preventing conception, for example, then it is crucial that you start eating well as soon as can, even before the surgery, in order to prevent a fibroid from regrowing after it has been removed.
Your liver detoxifies harmful substances, such as toxins, waste products, drugs and alcohol. It also processes the hormones that your body produces and renders them harmless. It is supposed to deactivate oestrogen, but if your liver is not functioning efficiently. You can develop an accumulation of oestrogen because it is not being excreted properly. Again, this will encourage the growth of a fibroid.
The supplements recommended below have been studied in clinical trials and have been found to be effective in connection with fibroids. For best results, you should take them over a period of three months, at the end of which you should be reassessed in order to monitor improvements and changes and then adjust the supplement programme according to your new condition.
The approach for controlling the excess bleeding from fibroids involves undertaking the same programme which would be suggested for heavy periods (menorrhagia). The idea is to use vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids to control the main symptoms (heavy bleeding), while you use dietary changes to help control the growth of the fibroids
Multivitamin and Mineral
A good quality multivitamin and mineral would form the foundation of your supplement programme to make sure that you are getting a 'little bit of everything'. You then add in those nutrients in slightly higher amounts which are known to be helpful for fibroids.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant that generally helps to protect your cells against damage. It helps cells reproduce normally and is also needed for red blood cell production. Vitamin A deficiency has been found in women with heavy bleeding. One study showed that 92 percent of women prescribed supplemental vitamin A found that their heavy bleeding was either cured or alleviated.
The B vitamins are also crucial for the conversion of linoleic acid to GLA (gamma linolenic acid) which is necessary to produce these beneficial prostaglandins. The B vitamins are required to convert Omega 6 oils into a form that can be used by the body to produce the 'good' type prostaglandins. Without this conversion, your body will more of the 'bad' prostaglandins which will increase the amount of bleeding at each period.
Vitamin C and bioflavonoids help to strengthen the capillaries in the body, which can reduce heavy bleeding. Taken as a supplement, vitamin C has also produced excellent results for many women with heavy periods. One study showed that taking 200mg of vitamin C with bioflavonoids, three times daily, reduced bleeding in 87 percent of the women tested.
This mineral is vital for the healthy functioning of the reproductive system and for hormone balance.
If you are bleeding very heavily, you may run the risk of becoming anaemic. Common symptoms of anaemia include fatigue, loss of appetite, constipation, irritability and pallor, among other things. If these symptoms seem familiar, see your doctor who will arrange tests. When you are tested for anaemia, the lab measures the level of iron available in your red blood cells (haemoglobin). However, iron is also stored as ferritin in other parts of the body, such as the spleen and liver. When your doctor orders tests, make sure that both your haemoglobin and ferritin are checked, as it is possible to be iron deficient even if your haemoglobin levels are normal.
Iron deficiency is a bit of a double-edged sword. If you bleed heavily throughout your periods, you will be more likely to be iron deficient. However, one of the symptoms of iron deficiency is also an increased risk of heavy bleeding. Iron helps the blood vessels to contract, which is need to slow down the flow during your periods.
If tests suggest that you are iron-deficient, take extra iron (as amino acid chelate or citrate) at 14mg per day. Vitamin C is essential for the body to absorb iron, so for maximum absorption take 1000mg (1 gram) of vitamin C with your iron supplement ON AN EMPTY STOMACH. Avoid taking iron and vitamin C alongside any other supplements you may be taking.
Avoid taking iron in the form of ferrous sulphate (also called iron sulphate), which is less easily absorbed by the body. Only 2 to 10 percent of the iron from this type of iron supplement is actually absorbed by your body, and even then, half is eliminated, causing blackening of your stools and constipation.
Ferrous sulphate is classed as an inorganic iron. Organic irons are much more easily absorbed and do not affect the bowels in same way. Look for iron in the form of ascorbates, malates or amino acid chelates (it will say this on the label); otherwise, iron-rich herbal formulas such as Floradix can be purchased from your healthfood shop.
Try to avoid drinking Indian or regular black tea with your meals, which blocks the uptake of iron from your food. Similarly, phosphates, found in fizzy soft drinks, will prevent iron from being absorbed by the body. Herb teas and fruit juices are fine.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
EFAs can be an important means of controlling heavy bleeding during periods.
One of the drugs used for menorrhagia, mefanamic acid, works by controlling 'BAD' prostaglandins, which can increase the flow of blood. It is possible to mimic the effects of this drug by making changes to your diet - in particular, to your intake of EFAs.
Both red meat and dairy produce contain something called arachidonic acid. This substance encourages the production of a 'BAD' type of prostaglandin (called PGE2) that leads to increased blood flow, and a reduced blood-clotting ability. The result? Heavier periods. In fact, research has shown that women with menorrhagia have higher levels of arachidonic acid, causing more PGE2 to be made.
What this means in practice, is that women with heavy periods should ideally consume less arachidonic acid, which is found mainly in animal-based foods. The other goal is to increase levels of essential fatty acids, which create the 'GOOD' type of prostaglandins. Beneficial prostaglandins help to reduce abnormal blood clotting, and they are produced from certain unsaturated fats, called essential fatty acids. EFAs are found in nuts, seeds, some oils (linseed/flaxseed, for example) and oily fish (including mackerel and salmon).
The supplement programme below should be taken for at least three months in order to achieve best results
Your supplement plan
*High doses of vitamin A are only problematic if you are planning a pregnancy. If so, keep vitamin A to 2500 iu per day.
At the end of three months you should reassess your condition and adjust your supplement programme accordingly.