Natural remedies for PCOS treatment

When I first started practicing Naturopathy 25 years ago, I rarely saw a patient with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Today, it's estimated that 10 to 20% of women have PCOS – that’s up to one in five women. Yet, it's so rarely talked about and almost 70% of women go undiagnosed.  

What is PCOS?

‘Polycystic’ literally translates to ‘many cysts’ — meaning there are many partially formed follicles on the ovaries, which each contain an egg. These rarely grow to maturity or produce eggs that can be fertilised.

For years, many people automatically assumed PCOS was exclusively an ovarian syndrome, but it is now recognised as a systemic endocrine and metabolic syndrome. This means that we now know there are multiple contributing factors that can cause someone to develop PCOS.

What causes PCOS?

Experts are unsure of exactly what causes PCOS, but they believe genetics are likely to play a role. For example, women with PCOS are more likely to have a mother or sister with the condition. In other women, PCOS only occurs when they are overweight. 

It is apparent that the main problem underlying PCOS is a hormonal imbalance which causes the ovaries to make extra androgens (male hormones). This can be caused by insulin resistance, low-grade inflammation and chronic stress (elevated cortisol).

How do you know if you’ve got PCOS?

  • The first sign of PCOS is usually a lack of ovulation, meaning you will stop getting your period.
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Elevated insulin
  • Increased androgens – male hormones
  • Acne
  • Increased hair
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Infertility

What to do if you think you might have PCOS

First, get tested. A doctor will be able to diagnose you with PCOS by testing your Pituitary and Ovarian Hormone levels and Circulating Androgens. I would also suggest testing for DHEA, fasting glucose and insulin, thyroid hormone, lipid panel and vitamin D.

Next, come and see a Naturopath to determine the underlying causes of your specific PCOS. As this condition can be caused by so many different variables, it’s important to sort out exactly what’s going on for you.

In the meantime, one thing you can do is try to reduce your body fat and up your exercise regime to begin to control your body’s insulin resistance.

Herbal medicines to manage the symptoms of estrogen and androgen dominance coupled with progesterone deficiency are extremely beneficial in helping to rebalance hormone levels and to encourage healthy ovulation. This is particularly the case in lean women diagnosed with PCOS.  Herbal medicines can also help with another common cause – elevated cortisol levels, caused by long-term stress. My favourite herbs for treating PCOS include Chaste Tree, Licorice, Peony, Withania and Tribulus. Two herbs useful for insulin resistance are Gymnema and Cinnamon.

From a dietary point of view, adopting a low-glycemic diet with healthy protein will help to balance insulin levels. Coffee should be avoided, as it has been shown to increase estrogen levels (which are already high in women with PCOS). 

Are your hormones going crazy? Are you looking to get back to optimum health and wellbeing?

Click here to download our free guide containing tips on managing female health and hormones naturally, including the real secrets behind every diet that works, effects of hormones on weight, the impact of the pill on fertility and how to manage stress naturally.

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Specifically designed to improve insulin resistance with nutrients like Chromium, B Vitamins, Manganese and Zinc. Also contains the herbal extract of Gymnema, which has been shown to be beneficial for reducing sugar cravings. 

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