Endometriosis is a chronic condition characterized by growth of endometrial tissue in sites other than the uterus, most commonly in the pelvic cavity, but also in other parts of the body.
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress.
There is preliminary evidence to support acupuncture as an effective treatment for endometriosis, with one small sham-controlled trial and a few comparative studies against Western medication, though further research is needed to confirm this.
It has been shown that acupuncture treatment may specifically be of benefit in people with endometriosis by:
providing pain relief – by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to the release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.
reducing inflammation – by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.
regulating levels of prostaglandins
combining acupuncture with Chinese herbal medicine for endometriosis has been shown in animal studies to down-regulate the abnormal increase of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) levels that is associated with ectopic activity of endometrial cells. The treated rats had reduced areas of ectopic tissue. MMP-2 is required for the anchoring of the placenta to the uterine wall in pregnancy, but over-production can lead to endometriosis.