PCOS is a complex and largely misunderstood endocrine condition, mainly affecting a woman’s reproductive system. It is a very complicated condition, involving and affecting multiple body systems, not jut the reproductive system. Diagnosed largely based on hormone testing and ultrasound, PCOS is becoming increasingly common and is one of the most common causes of female infertility. PCOS is characterised by long or completely absent menstrual cycle, infertility, acne, excess body and facial hair, weight gain and problems with blood sugar regulation including insulin resistance.
Medically, the treatment is the oral contraceptive pill, however, this is not an option for those wanting to conceive, and at its best, really only provides a band aid solution, masking the underlying hormonal imbalance.
My approach is to ideally run a salivary hormone profile to accurately assess your hormones. This accuracy ensures treatment is very specific, therefore much quicker to act. There are specific herbs to manage the increased testosterone levels, decrease the length of your cycle and stimulate and support ovulation naturally.
Given that PCOS has a high incidence of blood sugar and insulin regulation difficulties leading to weight gain and difficulty losing weight, processed carbohydrates and sugar really are your worst enemy:(. Consumption of processed carbs and sugars leads for further increase your insulin, which in turn massively decreases the body’s ability to burn fat, leading to extra fat storage. And given that PCOS patients have much higher levels of oestrogen, and oestrogen is stored in body fat, excess body fat is just creating a lovely home for oestrogen to be stored. Essentially losing weight and burning fat will cause that excess oestrogen to be detoxified out of the body, as well as significantly improving the body’s blood sugar regulation.
Specifically, B vitamins, chromium and anti oxidants are high in the list of important nutrients as they play a huge role in blood sugar regulation by facilitating carbohydrate metabolism. Magnesium is also very important, much for the same reasons, but also for its positive effect on muscles and the nervous system. Stress negatively affects cortisol production, leading to further weight gain and hormone disruption.
As mentioned above, medical management of PCOS is the oral contraceptive pill, which might be convenient in the short term, but keeping in mind, although you are “bleeding” on the pill once the sugar pills commence due to a drop in progesterone, you don’t actually ovulate. Once off the OCP, many symptoms return, sometimes worse.
This is where herbs come into their own. Herbs can and do, specifically target particular hormonal imbalances such as elevated levels of testosterone (which cause the hairiness and acne) excess oestrogen production and decreased oestrogen clearance, improve your body’s own progesterone production, help with mood and energy and of course, can initiate once absent ovulation.
What I would really like to point out also, is that each and every woman with PCOS is very different, therefore, there is no generic treatment protocol that is the same for every woman. I pride myself on individualising treatment, thus achieving the best possible outcome. Having overcome my own PCOS primarily with diet has dramatically changes my life. I went from long 40-50 day cycles, excruciatingly painful periods and marked fatigue, to a completely regular, 28 day cycle, ZERO pain and heaps more energy. Just based on the principles above. Now, 6 years on, I don’t even need any herbs at all, just good old fashioned clean diet and basic nutritional support.