You just found out you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Now what?
PCOS is a condition that affects 12-18% of women of reproductive age and causes symptoms such as excess hair (hirsutism), fertility problems, Acne, hair loss, weight gain, and increased anxiety and depression.
In some cases, a woman doesn’t make enough of the hormones needed to ovulate. When ovulation doesn’t happen, the ovaries can develop many small cysts. These cysts make hormones called androgens. Women with PCOS often have high levels of androgens. This can cause more problems with a woman’s menstrual cycle. And it can cause many of the symptoms of PCOS.
When it comes to treatment, unfortunately yet we don’t have any permanent cure for this problem. While many women successfully manage their symptoms solely with medication and hormone therapy, some prefer to supplement traditional treatments with more holistic remedies, while some opt for entirely natural alternatives.
If you’re looking for alternatives to traditional treatments, there are several evidence-based therapeutics and herbs that have been shown to be effective in PCOS.
Magnesium: Magnesium is vital for hormonal balance, and most women are deficient in this essential micronutrient. Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity, reduces inflammation, and supports adrenal function, all essential actions for managing PCOS symptoms and treating the root causes of PCOS.
Almonds, cashews, spinach, and bananas are PCOS-friendly foods rich in magnesium.
Chromium: Studies have confirmed the powerful effects of chromium in increasing the metabolic action of insulin, which helps boost insulin sensitivity. This means a decrease in male hormones and fewer symptoms for those suffering from PCOS.
Foods rich in chromium include broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, barley, and oats. In fact, just one serving of broccoli provides 53 percent of the daily chromium requirements of 25 mcg to 35 mcg/day
Omega-3: Flax seeds are a very good source of fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and lignans, a protein that reduces the number of available testosterone in our body. Flax seeds help in utilizing the glucose and insulin in the body, canceling out most of the side effects of PCOS
Fish oil can actually improve insulin sensitivity. In fact, studies have shown that increasing omega-3 intake increased insulin sensitivity by up to 43 percent.
This means the body produces less insulin, and that equates to less androgen production
Selenium: Selenium is important for improving liver function. The liver’s job is to help the body detox excess estrogen and environmental estrogens (phytoestrogens). When the liver gets the support it needs, excess estrogen get flushed out form the system
Sources: Brazil nuts, tuna fish, brown rice, chicken, eggs, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, beans, oatmeal, mushroom, spinach, Milk and yogurt, bananas, cashews, and lentils
Zinc: Testosterone levels can be either high or low in PCOS. Zinc helps to balance out testosterone. Zinc, in combination with magnesium, has also been shown to reduce inflammation in women with PCOS
Sources of zinc are Shellfish (oysters), Meat (beef, bison, lamb, turkey), Legumes (black beans, azuki beans), Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), Whey protein
Vitamin D and Calcium: Vitamin D is a hormone that’s vital to your endocrine system. Vitamin D deficiency is common in women with PCOS. Vitamin D and calcium may improve regular periods and help you ovulate.
Other Herbs available in our kitchen:
Licorice: Licorice has a long history as a medicinal plant and it can have a powerful impact on PCOS. One study found that licorice caused a significant decrease in total serum testosterone in healthy women by how the body metabolizes it..
You can take licorice root as a supplement, or you could make your own licorice root tea by adding it to boiling water and soaking for 10 minutes. Drink the tea twice a day for best results.
Fenugreek: Fenugreek is a medicinal herb that has some seriously strong effects on hormone regulation.
A 2013 study treated women with PCOS with a combination of either fenugreek seeds with metformin or a placebo with metformin.
They found that fenugreek seeds had significant effects on restoring regularity of menstrual cycles
Cinnamon: This condiment is a proven cure for type 2 diabetes. It also has the ability to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance. Studies also state that this spice increases the odds of conceiving
Turmeric (curcumin): The active compound in turmeric is called curcumin. Curcumin may be promising for decreasing insulin resistance and as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Tulsi: As the ovulation process does not take place in PCOS, excess androgen is floating around leading women to have excessive facial hair growth and acne, and trouble conceiving. Tulsi can control androgen production and reduce insulin levels. It’s also an excellent antioxidant. Boil Tulsi in water and have it early morning for better results.
Bitter gourd and Ivy gourd: These gourds have a potential effect on dropping insulin levels by inhibiting glucose uptake, suppressing key glucose-producing enzymes, and supporting the function of the pancreas in insulin secretion
Amla: The Indian gooseberry is a fruit that is adept at controlling blood sugar levels and improving fertility in women. Amla is also rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. It’s also a very good cleanser as it flushes out the toxins in the body and thus, aids in weight reduction. Take an amla and squeeze out its juice in a glass.
Probiotics: Probiotics don’t just help with your digestion and gut health. They can play an important role in treating PCOS. They can also reduce inflammation and regulate sex hormones like androgen and estrogen. Consider taking probiotic supplements and eating probiotic foods, like kimchi and kombucha.