Fibroids are benign tumors that usually grow on the muscular wall of the uterus. They are not cancer. Up to 80% of women get them by age 50. Most don’t even know it because they don’t cause symptoms. But when they do, watch out. Excessive menstrual bleeding, prolonged periods and severe pain are common symptoms. When fibroids disrupt life, you want relief—yesterday. Medical solutions include taking drugs that block hormones in the short term as well as surgical interventions up to and including hysterectomy. These not only have risks and side effects but, except for hysterectomy, they often don’t solve the problem permanently—fibroids grow back.
Naturopathic physician Andrew Rubman, contributing medical editor for Daily Health News and founder and medical director of the Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicine in Southbury, Connecticut, believes that there is a better way to prevent and treat fibroids and, perhaps, avoid the knife. He often recommends the supplement Fibrovera to his patients. (Dr. Rubman endorses the product but receives no financial compensation from the manufacturer.)
HOW FIBROIDS GROW
Before we get to solutions, let’s look at how fibroids grow. Essentially, it’s the natural process of wound healing and scarring gone awry. “Uterine fibroids and even dense breasts contain dysfunctional tissue made up of a great deal of fibrin—scar tissue,” explained Dr. Rubman. “Fibrin is a nonvital material, a temporary fix. If the body has inflammation that persists beyond a certain point, it’ll throw in a little fibrin to stabilize it in order to come back to the problem to fix it later.” Fibrin is involved in creating blood clots that stop bleeding when you are injured, for example, so it has a beneficial purpose, he explained. “But if the inflammation isn’t controlled, fibrin keeps on getting heaped up.”
Hormonal imbalances contribute to the development of excess fibrin. A leading hypothesis is “estrogen dominance,” in which a woman’s body produces too much estrogen and too little progesterone. This hormonal imbalance can trigger inflammatory responses including excess fibrin deposition, which can accumulate as abnormal tissue growth in the uterus as well as the breasts. “It creates an environment that will generate scar tissue like fibroids or dense breasts,” he explained.
HOW FIBROVERA WORKS
Fibrovera was designed to address many of the underlying conditions that give rise to fibroids. It is a formulation of botanicals and enzymes that supports hormonal balance, reduces inflammation and helps the body break down and rid itself of excess fibrin, a process called fibrinolysis. Active ingredients include…
• Diindolemethane (DIM). This is a compound found in cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli) that improves estrogen metabolism and helps to prevent the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. It is available as a separate supplement. “After prescribing DIM alone, I have seen symptomatic improvements in women being treated for fibroids,” said Dr. Rubman.
• Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). This steroid hormone may help the body produce more progesterone. While high doses can cause side effects such as irregular periods, the very low dose included in Fibrovera is safe for long-term use, said Dr. Rubman. It works synergistically with DIM to help with hormonal balance.
• Enzymes. Fibrovera contains several enzymes that help break down fibrin, including serrapeptase (originally found in silkworms), bromelain (from pineapples), papain (from papayas) and nattokinase (from fermented soybeans).
• Calcium and magnesium. These essential minerals play a role in reducing pain.
• Gamma linoleic acid (GLA). This fatty acid is a strong anti-inflammatory and helps relieve the severe PMS-related symptoms that are common in women with fibroids.
• 5-hydroxytryptophane (5-HTP), a vitamin B-6 precursor to the brain neurotransmitter serotonin. Too little serotonin may interfere with progesterone synthesis. Fibrovera also contains pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P), another vitamin B-6 precursor that helps in the synthesis of serotonin.
• Dong Quai. This traditional Chinese herb produces a relaxing effect on the muscles in the uterus.
• Milk thistle seed, dandelion root and hyssop flower. These botanicals support healthy liver function, improving the liver’s ability to metabolize the hormones that support fibrin breakdown.
IS FIBROVERA RIGHT FOR YOU?
As with any drug or supplement, there are caveats. While there is research behind many of the ingredients in Fibrovera, the product itself has not been studied directly for the reduction of uterine fibroids. While Dr. Rubman is aware of no side effects with Fibrovera, he cautions that the supplement may be inappropriate for anyone who is taking a blood-thinning medication or has a blood-clotting disorder. “Fibrin is important for clotting,” he noted. As with any and all interventions, emphasizes Dr. Rubman, the first place to start is by having a discussion with your doctor. It’s always a good practice to let all your health-care professionals know of all the medications and supplements you are taking.
If you’re considering Fibrovera, be sure to address lifestyle as well, Dr. Rubman emphasized, including avoidance of environmental toxins (especially endocrine disrupters such as BPA-containing plastics), an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise and stress reduction. According to the National Institutes of Health, there is evidence that some pesticides may promote growth hormones that promote fibroids…that dairy foods may be protective…and that green tea may inhibit the growth of fibroid cells. For more about lifestyle approaches, watch “Managing Fibroid Tumors.”
In his own practice, Dr. Rubman has found that for some of his patients taking Fibrovera, excessive menstrual bleeding and pain were no longer an issue, and no progesterone therapy or surgery was needed.