Endometriosis & Adenomyosis | Herbal Pain Killers
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Most people with endo and/or adeno will at some point wonder if the pain killers they take so frequently are OK to take so much. The trouble is, there isn't any natural pain killers available over the counter in a pharmacy in the UK. Many women will need something stronger than the pain relief herbs can provide safely.
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There are a lot of strong pain killers in the herbalists dispensary, but they often have a fine line between effective and deadly. Therefore, you'll only be able to access them via. your herbalist who can teach you how to use them safely.
if the pain killing herbs I'm about to mention help you to reduce your need for medications, then that can only be a good thing in the long-run, even if they can't cure it altogether.
It's important to understand a key factor which doesn't usually apply to drugs:
The strength of the herb depends not on its anodyne capacity but on its suitability to the individual.
WHAT I USE
I've found herbs with no known anodyne ability to be pain killing simply because it helped balance or alleviate my tissue state, Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) to be precise. You can find this in our Inner Goddess Drops. Passionflower and Chamomile are less well known pain killers as they relieve the muscular tension which pops up around pain, making it worse. I have found mild relief from these in the past. Crampbark is another, with stronger traditions for period pain, but it only works a little on me. Belladonna (do not take this without herbalist support) doesn't have any effect on me and it's one other strongest pain killers a herbalist can prescribe.
FOR ME, THE NATURAL THINGS WHICH MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE ARE:
- Heat applied externally
- Effleurage of the abdomen with relaxing essential oils
- Evening primrose oil
- Avoiding sugar
- Avoiding stress
Mefanamic acid (a prescribed medication in the UK) completely alleviates my pain for 8 hours.
WHY THESE WORK FOR ME
I've found that avoiding sugar (inflammatory) and consuming evening primrose oil (anti-inflammatory) helps even if I only do this for the week preceding my period. I have tried paracetamol but rather than it eradicating the pain, it only numbs it a bit and it makes me feel woozy so it's not even worth it.
However, mefanamic acid works a charm. It's a non steroidal anti-inflammatory. It works by reducing the production of prostaglandins (which cause pain). That's what cutting out sugar and introducing evening primrose oil does too. So it's likely that I make too many prostaglandins.
WHY IT MIGHT NOT WORK FOR YOU
In endometriosis this is only part of the picture. The prostaglandins produced is because there is bleeding tissue where it shouldn't be. Without treating that as well you're fighting a losing battle. But it would be dangerous of me to offer advice over a blog on such things. So back to pain relief.You need to find what works for you. It took me years to find what helps me. Every time I saw a herbalist I sped up the process significantly. If you can afford one I'd highly recommend it. If you cant, try things in a systematic way.
- Try relaxants one month.
- Try anti-inflammatories the month after that
HAVING A DRUG HAS HELPED MOST, AND I HARDLY TAKE IT
For maximum effect give each thing a 3 month trial period before trying the next. The key breakthrough in my pain has been my ability to not worry about it. Now I know I have a pain killer that works, I don't spend 2 weeks worrying about when my period will happen. As a result, the pain is far less when it does come. Which means that since getting my prescription over 12 months ago I have only taken 4 tablets of the 60 I was given. I totally understand that this might not be the situation for you with endo/adeno. But I just want to say, it's OK to take medication if you need it.
Things to try
- Relaxants; Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita), Crampbark (Virburnum opulus), Lime blossom (Tilia ornata)
- Anti-inflammatories; White Willow Bark (Salix alba), Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
- External agents; massage and heat.
- Womb tonics; Raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus), Lady's mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)
My symptoms have not been diagnosed as endo because I don't want to have a laproscopy. My pain isn't bad enough or incapacitating enough for me to want an invasive procedure before at least trying to have babies. I treat myself well and my pain is controllable. I know it isn't getting worse, but better, whatever it is. But for those of you who do have endo and/or adeno go easy on yourself. It's not nice taking pain killers all the time but you do what you have to to get by. At least you can help protect your stomach from the worst effects of the pain killers by consuming tummy friendly bacteria and herbs if none of the above helps in any way.
Get the herb guide
I have written mini-monographs for the herbs recommended in this blog so that you can find the one which might suit you best. SistAs. Their mission: to connect people with their local plants promoting empowerment, autonomy, freedom and diversity in health care. Medically trained herbalists with a love and interest in the so called witching herbs of old, they have worked and played together for many moons exploring all that the plants have to share.