Endometriosis is a pelvic inflammatory disease causing pelvic pain and infertility. It is an estrogen-dependent disease, made worse by increased environmental estrogens. In endometriosis, uterine tissue can be found outside the uterus. Endometriosis occurs during the reproductive years and is progressive. One-half of women with infertility have endometriosis.
Kudzu herb produces an isoflavone, puerarin, an aromatase inhibitor which relieves endometriosis. We discuss the role of COX-2 enzyme in endometriosis and that blocking the enzyme treats endometriosis. Stress and prolactin (PRL) levels play a part in endometriosis. Reduction of PRL blood levels can be therapeutic. We report on how genetically modified organism (GMO) foods and their herbicides increase incidence of endometriosis, worldwide.
Okamura, S., et al, studied the use of Kudzu in endometriosis. Kudzu (Pueraria montana or lobata,) an Asian herb from the bean family, was brought to the U.S. for medicine and as food for animals. It is a traditional medicine used for alcohol abuse.
Isoflavones are a type of flavonoid chemical found in the bean family. Kudzu is our best source of puerarin, an isoflavone which reduces the conversion of testosterone to estrogen by blocking the aromatase enzyme, an enzyme necessary for estrogen production. Kudzu relieves endometriosis by acting as an aromatase enzyme inhibitor to reduce excess estrogen.
Uterine endometrial tissue contains excessive aromatase and abundant estrogen. Excessive estrogen is believed to be responsible for endometriosis, endometrial cancer and uterine fibroids.
Flavonoids and isoflavones, such as puerarin, are found in plants and are anti-estrogenic, anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant. Isoflavones are readily absorbed into breast and ovary tissue and are used as natural estrogen replacement therapy (ERT.) Genistein and daidzein flavonoids reduce the risk of advanced endometriosis.
Phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) are anti-estrogenic and estrogenic, depending on the dosage and the length of exposure of the cells to the chemicals. One study showed that plant estrogens to be anti-estrogenic at low doses and estrogenic at high doses (hormesis.)
Endometrial cancer is estrogen-dependent. Synthetic aromatase inhibitors treat breast cancer. Puerarin, an herbal aromatase inhibitor, works against estrogen-dependent cancer.
A study, by Li, Y., et al, tested whether puerarin could inhibit aromatase and reduce estrogen in cells. The results were that puerarin does reduce aromatase activity in endometrial cancer cell cultures which express excessive aromatase enzyme. Endometriosis can be treated with puerarin from Pueraria lobata due to aromatase enzyme inhibition activity.
The inflammatory cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme may play a role in endometriosis. The COX-2 enzyme increases the production of prostaglandins, which cause cell proliferation, apoptosis, angiogenesis and tumor invasiveness.
COX-2 inhibitors reduce angiogenesis and cell proliferation. Previous studies suggest a difference between endometriosis of the uterus and of other parts of the body. This study was to evaluate angiogenesis and proliferation in different parts of endometriosis lesions from various parts of the body.
Slides of cells were studied for increased proliferation. The tissues were tested for proliferation. COX-2 over-expression was found to be associated with increased levels of proliferation. Most endometriosis lesions show COX-2 over-expression. Endometriotic lesions become cancers more often in the ovary than in other locations.
COX-2 inhibitors may be therapeutic for endometriosis. Animal studies of COX-2 inhibitors show some benefit from COX-2 inhibition. COX-2 inhibitors are “potentially useful” in human endometriosis. Natural COX-2 inhibitors include echinacea, hops, and nettles.
Prolactin (PRL) is a hormone with over 85 functions. Estrogen and stress stimulate PRL secretion by the anterior pituitary gland. Breast feeding and breast stimulation are the strongest promoters of PRL secretion. Regulation of PRL levels is controlled by dopamine in the blood vessels of the pituitary. Elevated PRL levels (hyperprolactinemia or hyperprolactinaemia) can block ovulation.
Lima, AP., et al, studied whether stress could cause endometriosis. To determine stress levels, PRL and cortisol were tested in blood, peritoneal fluid and follicular fluid in women without endometriosis and in women with endometriosis and infertility.
Wang, H., et al, wrote a review of hyperprolactinemia (high prolactin levels) in endometriosis-related infertility. The fact of the connection is known; but, the definite cause of the relationship between high PRL levels and infertility is not known.
Serum cortisol and PRL were most elevated in infertile women with severe endometriosis. Serum PRL and cortisol in women with mild endometriosis didn’t vary much from fertile women without endometriosis. The high levels of cortisol and PRL seen in severe endometriosis could be related to infertility. High levels of cortisol and PRL seen in stress could cause development of endometriosis.
PRL levels may be used as a marker for endometriosis. Increased PRL is due to production from endometrial tissue outside the uterus, only. The symptoms of endometriosis are pain and infertility. 20% to 50% of patients with infertility have endometriosis. The incidence of infertility seems to be related to the severity of the endometriosis.
Some infertile patients with endometriosis have hyperprolactinemia (high PRL levels.) Some doctors suggest PRL suppression to treat infertility. Results of PRL suppression studies are variable. PRL levels can be reduced by dopamine agonists, such as Vitex agnus castus (chasteberry,) tyrosine, and phenylalanine, and by 5-lipoxyenase inhibitors, such as Boswellin, an Ayurvedic herb. Studies are needed to see if they reduce endometriosis and infertility in human subjects.
The question raised by Aris, A., et al, is whether the increased incidence of endometriosis in the past decade is the result of environmental estrogen toxicity. The recent increase in the incidence of endometriosis coincides with the rapid increase of genetically modified (GM) foods in diets around the world.
Genetically modified foods introduce the metabolites of antibiotics and foreign abnormal proteins into the human body. The health risks of these has not been studied adequately. The metabolites of an antibiotic like Roundup are known to have estrogenic effects.
There are, already, a large number of estrogen-like chemicals in our environment which alter the frequency of hormone-related diseases in males and females in humans and many other species of animals. Bispenol A is a chemical found in plastics which has received a large amount of attention and study for its estrogen activity.
De Vendomois, JS, et al, review the debate on genetically modified products (GMOs) and the health risks of eating GMO products and using them for animal feed. No epidemiologic studies show that these products are safe. The GMO industry studies ignored abnormalities not seen in both sexes. GMO related abnormalities are mainly endocrine- and gender-related. GMO industry studies did not test long enough to see whether endocrine- and gender-related cancers developed. Some of the products have been shown by non-industry studies to have endocrine effects. In view of the estrogen chemicals from such products as Roundup, these products may be increasing the worldwide epidemic of endometriosis by increasing the already high levels of environmental estrogen.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR FOR: prolactin blood levels.
NOTE: Read about vitamin D and women’s reproductive health.
Aris, A., et al. Hypothetical Link Between Endometriosis and Xenobiotics-Associated Genetically Modified Food. Gynecol Obstet Fertil. 2010 Dec;38(12):747-53. Universitaire de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. Summary #463. PMID: 21111655.
De Vendomois, JS, et al. Debate on GMOs Health Risks After Statistical Findings in Regulatory Tests. Int J Biol Sci. 2010 Oct 5;6(6):590-8. CRIIGEN, Paris, France. Summary #458. PMID: 20941377.
Horn, LC., et al. Cyclooxygenase-2 Expression, Ki-67 Labeling Index, and Perifocal Neovascularization in Endometriotic Lesions. Ann Diagn Path 2009 Dec;13(6):373-7. University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany. Summary #352. PMID: 19917472.
Li, Y., et al. Decreased Expression of Aromatase in the Ishikawa and RL95-2 Cells by the Isoflavone, Puerarin, is Associated with Inhibition of c-jun Expression and AP-1 Activity. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Dec;46(12)z;3671-6. Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China. Summary #390. PMID: 18848966.
Lima, AP., et al. Prolactin and Cortisol Levels in Women With Endometriosis. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2006 Aug.;39(8):1121-7. Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brasil. Summary #353. PMID: 16906287.
Okamura, S., et al. Pueraria Mirifica Phytoestrogens Improve Dyslipidemia in Postmenpausal Women Probably by Activating Estrogen Receptor Subtypes. Thoku J. Exp Med. 2008 Dec;216(4):341-51. Gunma University, Maebashi, Japan. Summary #441. PMID: 19060449.
Wang, H., et al. The Role of Prolactin- and Endometriosis- Associated Infertility. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2009 Aug;64(8):542-7. Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China. Summary #350. PMID: 19624865.