by Katie Edmonds
Proud Endometriosis Sister
I’ve always been told there is no cure for endometriosis. From my initial diagnosis at 24, my well-meaning doctor made sure I understood. Every endo book I read reiterated the same. Not only was there no cure, but I was certainly en route to a lifetime of pain, hormonal insanity, systemic inflammation, chronic fatigue, fertility issues, and an enormously bloated endo-belly all-around. There didn’t seem to be a solution. All I could think was how this shouldn’t happen to anyone, especially women with their entire lives, hopes and dreams still in front of them.
Like so many women before me, endometriosis took over my life. Ruined it, more like. Endo stole my energy, my vitality, my successful business, my fitness, my happiness. But as challenging as all of our paths are, this story is really about hope, and how you can find a silver lining in unexpected places. For me, the silver lining was infertility issues and knee pain, issues that sent me seeking knowledge on how to nourish and move my body in new ways, all day long.
This combination of radically new dietary shifts (see ya endo-diet), stress-response shifts, and body alignment work changed my life so completely that I was amazed to find that I had accidentally healed myself. My endo pain and endo belly were gone. My chronic fatigue had vanished. All of this “endo- stuff” I thought I had to live with for the rest of my life had disappeared, and two years after I started this deeply healing journey my husband and I were excited to find out we’d been blessed to naturally conceive a baby of our own.
Although every woman’s body is different and no approach will work for every person, I encourage you to check out my website to see if these suggestions resonate with you, your endo needs, and your very unique endo journey. I’m excited to walk with you on this shared journey to better health.
When I found myself healing from the inside out, I wanted to share this renewed hope with endo girls everywhere. When you are in such a terrible place and find an escape route, how can you possibly leave all the other prisoners behind?
What I found through my research and work as a nutritional therapist is this: endometriosis itself may not be curable because, just like autoimmune disorders, once endo genes are turned on you can’t necessarily turn them off. What you can treat, however, is nearly everything else associated with endo, symptoms that I thought I was married to for life. Once we start treating these associated symptoms - digestive distress, chronic fatigue, etc - it’s amazing to watch how the endometriosis can get better as well.
That’s why I started Heal Endo, a free website providing my comprehensive guide and unique approach to feeling better. To better understand how this works, here is an example 5-step approach to healing that I use in my practice, and it all starts in the gut:
1) Heal the gut: The first symptom to focus on is the infamous Endo Belly. Scientists now know that nearly every chronic disease begins in the gut, and endometriosis is no exception. The extraordinarily painful bloating us endo-girls regularly get is a sign that something’s very wrong. Without a properly functioning digestive system, it won’t matter how much expensive, pastured, organic food you’re eating if you can’t absorb the nutrients. Many of us also deal with deeper digestive issues such as SIBO, dysbiosis, HCL deficiency, IBS, and more. Healing the gut will start to calm the immune response - the root cause of that systemic inflammation - and start healing anew. Truly, working on this piece alone will offer profound benefits to the average endo-warrior.
2) Nutrient-dense diet: Eat the most nutrient-dense diet you possibly can. Although the traditional “endo diet” is helpful in many ways, it can quickly become one of the most nutritionally void diets on the planet as one that cuts out gluten, soy, dairy, meat, sugar, and caffeine without saying what to replace them with. That’s why I recommend a nutrient-dense diet that increases nutrients while eliminating blood sugar spikes. This often includes foods that previously scared - maybe even terrified - us such as grass-fed meat and organs, raw dairy, pastured eggs, small cold-water fish, bone broths, fermented foods, organic veggies, and lots of ancestral fats. Because every endo-body is different, each diet will of course be very personalized (so please don’t hate me for saying the word “dairy”) but the goal is to find the right combination of ancestral, healing foods for your own body, and then proceed to eat as many of them as possible. This is so different from any other “diet” where the focus is on cutting things out: this diet is about stuffing our cells to the fullest!
3-5) Get ready to move, think, and live differently!: Although diet will have a huge impact on reclaiming your life, for some of us endo-girls it’s not enough. It certainly wasn’t for me. We often have terribly tight, inactive, underused cores and pelvises that, even if we do yoga 3X a week, won’t budge in the face of all the sitting we do in our lives. Nor will your diet be able to mitigate the 80,000 chemicals hidden in so many of our house and body care products. Reducing exposure to chemicals is utterly important, even if it difficult at first. All of these elements combined with reducing chronic stress, are key. Chronic stress can forever keep a woman in the vicious endo-flair cycle. Truly, to heal endo we need to learn to move better all-day-long, reduce stress, and reconnect to what really matters in life: other people, our deeper selves, and nature.
Endometriosis is a challenging disease to tackle, and many women suffer years of pain without resolve. Some of us come to believe we simply have to accept this new life. I’m here to offer hope: The more you learn about this disease, the more you'll see it's not solely confined to your pelvic cavity, and by treating your whole body, you may finally find solutions you previously thought were impossible.