Immune Treatment for Endometriosis

endometriosisEndometriosis is not a hormonal condition. It’s affected by estrogen but is not caused by estrogen or “estrogen dominance.”

Instead, endometriosis is a whole-body inflammatory and immune disease, and possibly a microbial disease.

What does that mean for treatment?

For one thing, it means that contraceptive pills and injections are the wrong tools for the job. Although hormonal birth control can sometimes relieve symptoms of endometriosis, it is not evidence-based medicine for the disease.  Likewise, “hormone-balancing” natural treatments such as Vitex do not do much, if anything, for endometriosis. 

The future of endometriosis treatment is immune treatment

Causes of immune dysfunction in endometriosis

Researchers are still debating whether endometriosis is, in fact, an autoimmune disease. At the very least, endometriosis has a strong autoimmune component and can be safely described as a disease of immune dysfunction.

Immune dysfunction is at the heart of what is going on with endometriosis. For example, immune dysfunction is what prevents the immune system from clearing up endometrial lesions. It’s also what promotes the growth and invasion of those lesions.

So, the big question is “what is causing the immune dysfunction?” And it looks to be a combination of the following factors:

The bacterial contamination hypothesis of endometriosis

Women with endometriosis have a high level of gram-negative bacteria in the pelvic microbiome and researchers think that the toxin LPS (lipopolysaccharide) from those bacteria could play a role in the development of the disease.

The most likely source of gram-negative bacteria in the pelvis is translocation from the gut. In other words, the movement of bacteria or bacterial toxins from the gut, which is more likely when there’s small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) causing intestinal permeability.

👉 Tip: The link with IBS, SIBO, and nickel allergy could be why a low FODMAP diet relieves symptoms of endometriosis.

LPS stimulates macrophages and other immune cells to release inflammatory mediators.

There are a few more lines of evidence that bacteria could be a driver of endometriosis:

None of this means that bacteria directly cause endometriosis; only that bacterial toxins can drive or worsen the disease in combination with other factors.

One possible scenario is this:

  • The presence of endometriosis lesions.
  • PLUS an immune system that is vulnerable to dysfunction either because of genetics or epigenetic changes from toxins (or both).
  • PLUS the natural surge in estrogen that occurs with the menstrual cycle.
  • PLUS an irritant such as nickel allergy or the LPS toxin.

So, in addition to surgical removal of the endometriosis lesions (which I support), what are the best ways to treat the underlying immune dysfunction that drives endometriosis?

Treating the immune dysfunction of endometriosis

Have you tried immune treatment for endometriosis? Share your story.

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