Benign fibroid tumors, or myomas, of the uterus are present in 30 to 50 percent of women in the United States[i] and are most often diagnosed when a woman is in her 30s or 40s.
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Though there are well-established dietary and hormonal reasons that so many women have myomas, the baseline energetic patterns that result in fibroids are related to blockage and stagnation of Chi (“vital force”), or Qi, in the pelvic cavity.
Fibroids give us an extraordinary opportunity not only to connect to the creative energy of our wombs but also to map out the ways we are living our lives in terms of how we nourish our bodies and minds (with food and emotions), the kinds of relationships that we nurture, with ourselves and others, and our places in the world (both internal and external).
Female Energy Anatomy
Women’s bodies naturally have deeper and stronger connections to the Earth’s energy, which has a very giving and nourishing quality. Mother Earth has the capacity to hold and nurture us, just as females of most species are endowed with a gift for nurturing. Women’s energy is a “drawing-in” type of energy, which takes in or gathers the natural energy of the Earth to an energy center called Lower Dan Tien, or “Cinnabar Field,” located about three fingers’ breadth below the navel. That is the area where the uterus resides. I invite you to try the following simple exercise to become aware of the close connection that we share with the Earth:
- Choose a spot in your house or garden in which you feel safe and comfortable.
- You may want to take off your shoes and socks, provided the floor or soil is not damp or cold.
- Spread out your feet hip-width apart and gently soften your knees. We call this the Warrior stance, but don’t worry: we are not going into any battle—we just use the warrior’s spirit to make peace and bring joy into our wombs!
Now close your eyes and just pay attention to the rise and fall of your chest. With each exhalation, you will feel that your body becomes heavier and heavier and your feet will stand flatter and flatter on the floor.
- Bring your awareness to the bottom of your feet, around the ball of each foot.
- Feel “roots” growing from the bottom of your feet all the way down to the center of the Earth.
- As you breathe in, allow for the nourishing energy of the Earth to gush up through your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Allow this golden-like energy to gather in your uterus. Some of us may experience a “tickle” in the uterus when we become aware of earthly energy flowing up.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Female Anatomy
Chinese medicine extensively uses the concept of Chi (pronounced chee and also written as “Qi”). Chi is often translated as “vital force.” In the Chinese language, it means “steam coming from cooking rice,” “breath,” and “air.”
Chi flows in your body as an invisible current, energizing, nourishing, and supporting every cell, tissue, muscle, organ, and gland. When Qi flows freely, the body’s natural self-healing abilities are activated, allowing internal stability and harmony to occur. You may call upon your “drawing-in” gift to allow the healing energy of the Earth to gush up so that your uterus may flourish and true health and well-being can be restored.
A simple way to become aware of the vital force called Chi is by doing this simple exercise:
- Go into the same Peaceful Warrior stance described in the previous exercise.
- Call upon the power of the Earth through your feet and allow inspiration to pour through the top of your head from Heaven.
- Calm your mind by observing the rise and fall of your chest.
- Place both your palms together as in prayer position and rub one against the other. Feel your hands as the meeting place between Heaven and Earth and just allow for your own healing energy to manifest through your palms.
- Some of us will feel heat, cold, or a tingling sensation arising from the palms. Others may perceive even a scent coming from their hands.
- You may want to rub for 1 minute, 10 minutes, or half an hour. Be gentle. Relax your shoulders. You do not need any force for rubbing. Above all, have fun with it and be attentive to the sensations that may arise.
- After rubbing your hands, gently and with intention, place your hands on the area between your navel and the pubic bone. This way you will allow your own vital force to penetrate and envelop the uterine fibroid.
Hormones and Uterine Fibroids
Hormonal imbalances are another reason a woman can develop fibroids. Hormones are powerful chemical messengers that circulate through your bloodstream to specific target cells where they generate a wide range of biological responses. Think of hormones as the “prime movers” of your physical and emotional well-being. In the human body, hormones influence almost every cell, organ, and function.
Since the uterus is sensitive to a hormone called estrogen, any dietary approach that counteracts estrogen dominance often works for fibroids, which are estrogen sensitive as well. Organic fruits and vegetables, if available and affordable, are always the best choice.
I usually recommend a diet centered on:
- whole foods
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- nuts and seeds
- whole grains
- good quality proteins and healthy fats
Eating a diet low in high-glycemic carbohydrates, such as sugar and starch, will help. “White” foods like sugar and starch increase insulin, which changes the way estrogen is metabolized, creating compounds that are more likely to cause cellular inflammation, fibroid symptoms, and enhanced growth of existing fibroids.
Foods and beverages thought best to be avoided, because of either their low fiber content or their history of promoting fibroid growth, include:
- dairy products
- red meat
- fried fatty foods
Other types of hormones that can be quite dangerous for mammals in general and for our female bodies in particular are xenoestrogens. These synthetic compounds have been introduced into the environment by industrial, agricultural, and chemical companies and consumers only in the last 70 years or so. They are concentrated endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are found in our food, soil, and air. Xenoestrogens are capable of mimicking our body’s estrogen, attaching to estrogen receptors in our bodies. Learning how to avoid xenoestrogens is another way to prevent and reduce the recurrence of fibroids.
Chinese Medicine Anatomy
The heart encompasses the mental activity, the emotions, and the functions of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, which, in Western medicine, are the master glands that control our hormonal dance. The heart is also where our spirit resides.
The kidneys represent the genetic code inherited from our parents—the “stuff” we come with. Kidneys, in Chinese Medicine understanding, are related to the production of gametes, eggs, and sperm themselves. The kidneys, represented by the element of water, are our source of wisdom.
The womb is the arena where water (our genetic code) and fire (our destiny) meet. The uterus offers the potential for life, be that of a human being, a project, a new point of view . . . just about anything that a woman chooses to give birth to.
When the heart (our emotions, our mental activity) is aligned with the kidneys (our essence, our potential), Qi flows unimpeded, and we can bring life and healing into our wombs. A question worth asking would be “How is my ‘potential’ aligned with my ‘destiny’ in my day-to-day life?”
Fibroids present us with a great opportunity to explore our lifestyles, our nutritional habits, our emotions and thoughts, and our relationship to ourselves and others. We have the choice to deepen our connection with our creative wombs, and we also have the choice to reduce the size or presence of fibroids by exploring different healing modalities:
- Herbal Medicine
- Exercise: Any kind of exercise you feel comfortable with will help. I personally like Chi Kung, or Qi Gong, for its added benefits of releasing stress and tension.
- You also have the choice to have the fibroid removed. I suggest that you do your best to keep your uterus. Having a myomectomy (fibroid removal) does not necessarily mean that they will have to perform a hysterectomy (uterus removal).
- You can also treat fibroids with hormones.
- And last but not least, you could think of taking the “watch and wait” approach, especially if you are about to enter menopause, your second spring!
Whichever approach you choose, always keep in mind that the uterus is energetically related to our innermost sense of self and our inner world. It is symbolic of our dreams and all that we want and need to give birth to . . .
Let’s honor our wombs by listening to their messages!!!
The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing during the Change, 2nd edition, by Cristiane Northrup
Diet for a Strong Heart: Macrobiotic Dietary Guidelines for the Prevention of High Blood Pressure, Heart Attack, and Stroke by Michio Kushi
[i] Lepine, L. A., et al. (1997). Hysterectomy surveillance — United States, 1980–1993. MMWR, 46, 1–15.
About Yamin Chehin, L.Ac, Dipl O.M: Yamin makes use of her master’s degree in Oriental medicine, which includes herbal medicine and acupuncture, to help her patients find their own healing potential. She has her private practice in Los Angeles, California. You can visit her website at www.healingcycles.net.