In Nigeria, a surprising new treatment for uterine fibroids is becoming increasingly popular. Nigeria’s online news platform Pulse reports that the use of a vegetable-based diet rich in fiber is becoming increasingly attractive as fibroid patients testify of surprising changes.
Fibroids are noncancerous growths that commonly develop in the uterus during a woman’s 30s and 40s, and can range in size, from as small as an apple seed to as large as a grapefruit. Though they’re typically asymptomatic, fibroids can cause such symptoms as abdominal pressure, pelvic pain, bladder issues, rectal pressure, or even prolonged menstrual bleeding heavy enough to cause anemia.
Though these cases of extreme symptoms are uncommon, thousands of women undergo a hysterectomy, or removal of the uterus, each year. As it’s the only fully curative treatment for fibroids, the hysterectomy is the most common surgical procedure used to treat uterine fibroids.
However, many patients often prefer to preserve their fertility, and instead seek out alternative procedures, such as MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery, uterine artery embolization, myolysis, or radiofrequency ablation. Some websites and consumer health books also promote untraditional uterine fibroid treatments, such as enzymes, hormone creams, or homeopathy, although there’s been no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of such techniques, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The new treatment method in Nigeria uses specific dietary restrictions to combat the growth of fibroids. As Pulse reports, vegetable-based diets can help treat uterine fibroids because plant foods contain substances called phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens. These substances reportedly bind themselves to the same cell receptors as estrogen, thus blocking the hormone’s ability to affect the cells. Without an excess of estrogen causing the uterus to grow, fibroids will supposedly shrink substantially in about two weeks.
Foods rich in phytoestrogens include soy products, nuts, and seeds.
Additionally, it’s important to avoid certain foods when on this diet. Abstaining from sugar, caffeine, and saturated fat is a big part of the diet, which means cutting back on items like coffee.