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Endo, herbal medicine, and me

I’m a big fan of alternative therapies as I am “that person” with all the weird side effects. The person that often has Drs go “hmmm, I’ve not seen that before” – by the way Drs, that is NEVER reassuring! I am however also someone that likes to see the evidence for something being I give it a try, especially when it comes to medicine. For that reason, treating my endo with herbal medicine makes sense to me.

Herbal medicine gets a bad rap sometimes but modern herbal medicine is really modern science, but with more traditional medicines. It is very much grounded in a solid evidence base, and in fact, many of our modern medicines have been created on the evidence around herbs. For me, I prefer to use the herbs in a more traditional way as it sits better with my personal values, and I experience fewer side effects.

My experience of herbal medicine started with my sister, Laura. She is a medical herbalist in the UK, and qualified some years ago. She completed her degree extramurally and attended regular clinic sessions, lectures, and so on in London. As I was living nearby, she stayed with me, and of course used me as a guinea pig to perfect most of her examination techniques! As her practice developed, so did her specialism with treating endo and I learnt a lot through her for day to day management.

After my first laparoscopy (when they officially diagnosed me with endo), she recommended some herbs that might be helpful. I was given a prescription by a wonderful herbalist at Wellington Apothecary and found that most of my symptoms pretty much disappeared.

Over the last few years I stopped the prescription I was on and continued to have 2-3 years pain-free. Gradually the pain came back with new symptoms and when I trailed the old prescription, things weren’t quite right so the herbalist recommended I seek a new gynae referral. I ended up having another laparoscopy and it turned out that it wasn’t endo that was the main issue this time, but polyps. I am now on a new prescription and am feeling amazing!

Many people assume that because herbal medicine is an ‘alternative’ therapy, it is safe, however herbs can be just as dangerous as any other medicine. It’s just as important to find a reputable medical herbalist, as it is a GP, gynae, or any other specialist. A good starting point is the NZAMH to help find a registered medical herbalist in your area. Personally, I’ve had great experience over the past few years with the herbalists at Wellington Apothecary and continue to visit them.

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