Dairy and Pelvic Pain

In Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy by Stephanie Prendergast1 Comment

By guest blogger Jordan Hoffman 

Stephanie here: In the late summer and early fall of last year I began experiencing increasingly painful periods. I was bleeding very heavily, taking up to 12 Advil per day without relief, and was very concerned about what was happening in my reproductive tract. Our LA clinic opened in May and therefore I didn’t have a gynecologist here. I knew if I did they would suggest that I take oral contraceptives, which I do not tolerate, or get an IUD, which I did not want. One of my patients told me Jordan Hoffman, an LA-based acupuncturist, and this weeks guest blogger, helped her resolve recurrent yeast and urinary tract infections. I set up an appointment and expected to receive acupuncture treatments for my symptoms. Instead, we discovered some interesting things that correlated with my gynecological demise.

Our LA clinic became very busy very fast. I was eating on the run and in between patients. My diet changed in that I started eating easy, low prep things like packaged string cheese, cottage cheese, salads with cheese, yogurt, etc. I was exhausted and drinking triple the amount of coffee I used to. I was also eating chicken sausage, chicken in salad, chicken everything because it was easy.

Jordan told me I needed to take out dairy and chicken, replace coffee with tea (caffeine is okay, coffee is not) and take an individualized herbal supplement that he made for me. My first thought was that he was definitely trying to make me miserable. I love cheese, and I am from New Jersey, I have been a coffee drinker my entire life.  However, I was uncomfortable enough that I would  take this experiment on for a month and time would tell.

It worked. The next month I had NO cramps. I did not even know my period was coming. I have now been through four cycles successfully, even though I do drink one cup of coffee a day now (sorry Jordan!). This experience taught me that diet can have a profound influence on our bodies. Dietary modifications are  low-risk with possible significant therapeutic benefit. In this week’s blog Jordan will tell us why.

Okay, take it away Jordan!

Thanks Steph! Simply put: cow milk is for cows, goat milk is for goats, and human milk is for humans. Every species produces milk specific to its own species’ needs and digestive capabilities. And every species stops drinking its own milk after infancy.

Except humans.

Not only do we drink other animals’ milk but we are lead to believe from an early age: “Milk—It does a Body Good!” And yet, every day I see patients with profound and wide-ranging ill effects from consuming any and all dairy products in any quantity whatsoever. As such, ZERO dairy is the only amount of dairy that is fit for human consumption. Almond, soy and rice milks are very good substitutes.

This article is going to focus on dairy and its role in various medical conditions that may lead to or worsen pelvic pain. No matter the origin, chronic musculo-skeletal imbalances can lead to organ dysfunction and chronic organ dysfunction can certainly lead to musculo-skeletal imbalances.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome– Chronic Constipation

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common catch-all diagnosis for alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea with accompanying cramping and pain. Stress is often the default cause given to IBS. But while it can definitely play a role, stress does not cause problems alone. Rather, it exacerbates pre-existing ones. Stress plus the pathogens introduced to the gut from dairy can lead to IBS.

Dairy is a known allergen that can cause constipation, especially in children (1). You can easily do an Immunoglobulin E (IgE) blood test to check for food allergies, like to dairy. Yet, in many instances, patients have brought me their allergy tests showing no IgE response to dairy. Puzzled, I did some more research. IgE is the most likely or common immune response from our body to an allergen. But it is by no means the only response. In fact, an allergy to cow milk showing up as constipation may not even be mediated by IgE (2), revealing a less than complete picture painted by those tests.

Sixty percent of the protein content in dairy is casein, which when introduced to our digestive system becomes Beta-Casomorphine (BCM). Casein is used to make glue. Ever wonder why the logo used for Elmer’s Glue is a cow? Casein. Now notice the second part to that word: “morphine.” Just like opiate drugs, BCM can exert a numbing and paralyzing effect on our intestinal motility (3), and an analgesic and addictive response in our brain and nervous system compelling us to want more. Casein can also trigger a histamine response (4) in our intestines leading to more inflammation and irritation which can lead to more constipation.

Another aspect of dairy that can lead to chronic constipation is in its bacteria load. Pasteurization occurs at 162 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds. Yet, to sterilize water we are advised to boil it at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for several minutes. There are bacteria that can survive pasteurization. In fact, the United States allows for a somatic cell count (SCC) of up to 750,000 per ml (5). Whether those cells are active pathogens like Mycobacterium Avium Subspecies Paratuberculosis (MAP) (6) or E. Coli (7), or non-active due to effective pasteurization, our immune system still recognizes them as foreign and kicks in to gear with an inflammatory response.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) has historically placed the main focus of each meal on animal protein, and doesn’t even take into account the glass of milk on the side, the cheese along with the protein, or the ice cream for dessert. Severe inflammatory bowel diseases like Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease are linked to the over-consumption of animal fats and the under-consumption of fiber (8), which is absent in all forms of animal protein but abundantly present in beans, peas and lentils—superior sources clean protein. Such diets can even compromise our intestinal clearance of bacteria, mentioned earlier, leading to further inflammation (9).

Hormone Dysregulation

One of the simplest ways to link food choice and the pelvis is that everything flows downhill, especially when it comes to hormones, urogenital and reproductive health. While many of our environmental pollutants can exert an adverse effect higher up the endocrine system chain at the pituitary level, the first place I tend to look for culprits is diet.

Cows are fed and bred to lactate throughout their pregnancy with particular elevated milk production in the latter half of gestation. As such, even regardless of whether they are injected with exogenous hormones, the cows’ own hormones can show up in its milk. Dairy products you consume account for 60-70% of all dietary sources of estrogen (10) with at least 6 different hormones also being found in milk, including progesterone, and testosterone (11). One way we excrete hormones from the body is through stool. Studies show that there is a direct correlation between fecal weight and fecal estrogen content (12). And with the constipating effect of dairy, we now can see yet another link between chronic digestion dysfunction and hormone dysregulation.

For men, this undue influence on their endocrine function can show up as erectile dysfunction (also an indication of atherosclerosis aided by the cholesterol in dairy), low sperm counts and ejaculatory volume (13), and testicular and prostate cancers (14). For women, this can show up as irregular and painful periods, endometriosis (15), Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (16), and breast and ovarian cancer (17).

Where to begin

Accepting the truth about dairy flies in the face of American identity and all we have been conditioned to believe since we were kids about this primary food in the SAD. But don’t believe me and the research I have done or the results I have seen with patients. Believe yourself. Come off dairy, all forms completely. Read labels. Ask questions in restaurants. Go dairy-free for at least 4 weeks and then if you are still curious, introduce it and only it in a meal and see how you feel the next couple of days. Most of my patients will immediately feel poorly—stomach aches, sinus congestion, knee pain, etc. For some, it may only clog the arteries of their heart or disrupt their menstrual cycle, both of which take time to reveal themselves. Let the decision to cut out dairy come from your own personal experience guided by critical thinking and a willingness to experiment with self-awareness and truth.




Jordan Hoffman is a California Licensed Acupuncturist, a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine and Nationally Board Certified in Chinese Herbology, specializing in Addiction, Internal Medicine, Pain Management and Nutritional and Lifestyle Counseling.  He maintains his acupuncture practice in West LA and Canoga Park, CA.  For more information, please visit http://www.JordanHoffmanAcupuncture.com.






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  1. Wow ty for this article! I am so addicted to dairy and can’t seem to give it up even though I experience many negative symptoms from consuming it. Nasal congestion, constipation, body odor, painful periods, pelvic and bladder pain. I knew about casein being the protein in dairy but never anything beyond that. Now it makes sense why I am so addicted to something that causes mean ongoing pain. This is a real eye opener ty again.

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