PCOS Natural Treatment Alternatives
PCOS Natural treatment can provide relief for women suffering from symptoms such as weight gain, excess hair growth, acne, irregular periods and infertility.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone disorder characterized by the accumulation of numerous fluid-filled cysts on the ovaries.
These cysts develop over time as the ova (eggs) fail to mature, then release during the menstrual cycle. This causes multiple immature ova to be visible on ultrasound, which are mistakenly called cysts.
Even though it isn’t always officially diagnosed, women suffering from PCOS know they have it due to all the negative symptoms.
Over the past few years, our understanding of how PCOS develops has changed the way this hormone disorder is treated. We are now going back to natural treatments because they have better results and fewer side effects.
Natural treatments for PCOS can address the root causes of this difficult condition. Women are noticing exceptional results using a diet plan, lifestyle adjustments, and supplements to treat PCOS.
Here are the top 25 effective PCOS Natural Treatment:
PCOS Natural Treatment #1: Cinnamon
Researchers from Columbia University have found that cinnamon supplementation can help improve menstrual cyclicity in women with PCOS. Plus, a pilot study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility indicates that this herb can help reduce insulin resistance in women with PCOS.
Other studies have indicated that cinnamon has a positive effect on sufferers of polycystic ovarian syndrome by slowing down the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestines. This causes glucose to be introduced to the bloodstream at a more moderate pace, thereby blunting the insulin response that occurs (a).
-Add one teaspoon of cinnamon powder to a glass of hot water. Drink it daily for a few months or until you are satisfied with the results.
-Alternatively, you can take this herb in supplement form after consulting your doctor. It is usually suggested to take one capsule (1,000 mg) three times a day.
-You can also include this spice in your diet by sprinkling cinnamon powder on your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter sandwich and on other foods.
Note: You need not take more than two teaspoons of this spice per day. If you are taking this herb to combat insulin resistance, consult your doctor first as it may lower your blood sugar level.
PCOS Natural Treatment #2: Flaxseed
Flaxseed can also be used to combat PCOS as it helps decrease androgen levels. It contains lignans that increase the production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) that binds testosterone in the blood, thereby preventing it from wreaking havoc in the body.
Plus, being high in fiber, flaxseed helps slow down glucose metabolism and lower cholesterol levels. The omega-3 fatty acids in this superfood also reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease.
-Mix one or two tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds in a glass of water. Drink it daily for a few months or until you are satisfied with the results.
-Also include ground flaxseeds in your diet regularly by adding it to your smoothies, soups and salads.
PCOS Natural Treatment #3: Spearmint Tea
Spearmint tea can also help deal with PCOS due to its anti-androgenic properties. A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that drinking spearmint tea can help reduce hirsutism, or excess body hair, by reducing free and total testosterone levels and increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels.
-Boil one cup of water in a pan.
-Add one teaspoon of dried spearmint leaves.
-Let it simmer for five to 10 minutes.
-Strain and drink this tea twice daily for a few weeks.
Natural Treatment #4: Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is also beneficial for dealing with PCOS because it helps control blood sugar and keeps your body from producing too much insulin. Less insulin means less testosterone. Plus, it will help you lose weight and improve your overall health.
-Mix two teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water.
-Drink it daily in the morning and before meals. Continue for several weeks or until you see improvement.
You can gradually increase the dosage of apple cider vinegar to up to two tablespoons per glass, two or three times a day. If the taste is too strong for you, mix the apple cider vinegar with orange or any other fruit juice.
PCOS Natural Treatment #5: Fenugreek
Fenugreek promotes glucose metabolism in the body and improves insulin resistance. This in turn helps balance your hormones. It may also help lower cholesterol, aid weight loss and promote healthy heart functioning.
-Soak three teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in water for six to eight hours.
-Take one teaspoon of the soaked seeds along with some honey in the morning on an empty stomach.
-Also, take one teaspoon of the seeds about 10 minutes prior to lunch and one teaspoon prior to dinner.
-Continue this treatment daily for a few weeks or until you see improvement.
You can also include fenugreek seeds and leaves in your regular diet.
Natural Treatment #6: Saw Palmetto
This herb acts as an anti-androgen, blocks 5-alpha-reductase activityand reduces the conversion of the testosterone into a more active form called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This in turn may help prevent hirsutism or excessive hairiness in women with PCOS. It also helps thinning hair grow back.
Naturopaths often suggest this herb for the treatment of PCOS because it helps correct the hormonal imbalance.
Take 320 mg of standardized saw palmetto extract daily for a few months. If you are taking a liquid extract, take one teaspoon per day.
Note: Make sure to consult a licensed naturopathic physician before taking this or any other herbal remedy for PCOS to ensure safe and effective use of the herbs.
PCOS Natural Treatment #7: Chasteberry
Chasteberry, also called vitex, is another popular herb for relieving the symptoms of PCOS and treating infertility due to a hormonal imbalance.
Used for thousands of years by various civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea to help alleviate female reproductive issues, it is been discovered once more as a natural way to treat symptoms caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome.
It is a great hormone-balancing herb and is also used as a remedy for menstrual problems.
Boil a cup of water and add one teaspoon of fresh or dried chasteberries. Let it steep for about 10 minutes. Strain and drink this tea daily for a few weeks or months, until you see improvement. Discontinue its use once you are satisfied with the results.
Alternatively, you can take this herb in supplement form. For proper dosage and suitability, consult your doctor.
Natural Treatment #8: Fish Oil
Being loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil helps reduce androgen and improve insulin sensitivity. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that omega-3 fatty acids can improve the symptoms of PCOS by balancing androgen levels.
Plus, including fatty fish in your diet or taking fish oil supplements can help decrease inflammation, reduce body fat, fight against chronic diseases, and may even be a way to treat hair loss associated with PCOS.
There is no standard daily dosage for fish oil supplements. You can take one to three capsules two or three times a day or as suggested by your physician.
PCOS Natural Treatment #9: Licorice
Italian researchers have found that licorice root can help reduce serum testosterone in women with PCOS. The researchers believe that the glycyrrhizin in this herb inhibits an enzyme that is required for testosterone production. Licorice can also be used as an adjuvant therapy for hirsutism.
Plus, licorice root promotes ovulation and aids liver detoxification. The liver removes toxins and excess hormones and thus helps with hormonal balance.
-Add one teaspoon of dried licorice root to a cup of boiling water. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes and then strain it.
-Drink this tea two or three times daily for a few weeks.
Alternatively, you can take this herb in supplement form. You can take one-quarter to one-half teaspoon of licorice tincture two or three times a day for a few weeks. Make sure to consult your doctor to find out the proper dosage for your case.
Note: Licorice root may not be suitable for those suffering from high blood pressure or heart, kidney or liver disease. It may also have an effect on blood glucose levels.
Natural Treatment #10: Holy Basil
Holy basil, also known as tulsi, can help reduce the symptoms of PCOS due to its anti-androgenic properties. It will help manage insulin levels and aid in weight loss. Basil is also an excellent stress reliever, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
-Consume eight to 12 holy basil leaves daily in the morning.
-Another option is to drink basil tea a few times daily or take this herb in supplement form. For proper dosage, consult your doctor.
Follow either of these remedies for a few months.
Note: Holy basil tends to lower blood glucose levels, so take this herb carefully if you are taking diabetic medications. The herb may also slow blood clotting and interact with anticoagulant drugs.
PCOS Natural Treatment #11: Chromium
The mineral chromium also helps with insulin signal transduction. Chromium is supported by accumulating evidence for enhancing the metabolic action of insulin and decreasing total cholesterol and LDL. As a result of this, greater blood sugar control can be realized in patients that take this supplement. It has the greatest benefit on obese, insulin-resistant individuals.
It is recommended to take 200-1,000 mcg of chromium picolinate per day.
While supplementation is advised due to the difficulty of finding this mineral, you can boost the overall effect by consuming onions, tomatoes, and oysters, as they have been shown to contain the most chromium out of all the widely available foods on the market today (b).
Natural Treatment #12: Tea
Consider ingesting moderate amounts of tea (Camellia sinensis) and/or coffee (Coffea arabica) due to caffeine’s well-documented ability to improve insulin sensitivity, taking 1 to 6 g daily of cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) for its ability to improve insulin resistance and reduce fasting blood glucose — activities exhibited in human trials — or 200 to 400 mg of alpha-lipoic acid to reduce insulin resistance and oxidative stress.
The traditional anti-diabetic Indian herb gymnema has been shown in experimental models to lower blood sugar levels by preventing glucose absorption, and that fish oil may also benefit PCOS patients due to its reduction on serum triglycerides.
Don’t go overboard with drinking tea or coffee however. While caffeine has been documented as being beneficial to insulin sensitivity, as it boosts estrogen levels as well (c). A study has shown that women consuming 4 to 5 cups of coffee per day have been shown to have 70% more estrogen in their body during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, a fact which makes it that much harder for women that are suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome to conceive. As a result, be sure to limit your caffeine to less than 150 mg per day. Tea can have wildly different amounts in one cup from one brand to another, so be sure to check the label for the amount of caffeine contained within the blend that you are drinking.
PCOS Natural Treatment #13: Manage Stress Levels
An important yet perhaps less-recognized aspect of PCOS treatment is managing a patient’s stress levels. In response to stress, the adrenals release cortisol, inducing an elevation in prolactin and increased androgen synthesis, which in turn leads to menstrual cycle dysregulation, especially anovulation, characteristic of PCOS. In fact, botanical PCOS treatments should first address stress and that adaptogenic herbs “should be given primary consideration.
The following herbs are helpful adaptogens for PCOS treatment: ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), ginseng (Panax spp.), licorice, rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides), rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), and schisandra. These adaptogens improve resistance to stress through [modulation] at the adrenal level.
In addition to herbal treatments designed to reduce stress levels, those affected by polycystic ovarian syndrome should make an effort in their daily lives to address the top sources of stress that they face everyday, and incorporate activities into their daily life that help manage and reduce stress. By resolving ongoing issues that lead to releases of cortisol and androgen, and adopting activities that help reduce the levels of these hormones, such as exercise, meditation, and mindset adjustments, patients that are treating PCOS naturally can reduce the impact of the daily disruptions in their life on the health of their reproductive system (d).
Natural Treatment #14: Yoga
Various mind-body therapies are recommended as a PCOS natural treatment, including yoga, guided visualization, hypnosis, biofeedback, and aromatherapy for decreasing stress hormones and improving blood pressure and blood sugar. A recent study conducted in India and published in the July 2012 issue of the International Journal of Yoga found that a daily hour-long yoga and meditation program improved anxiety symptoms in teenage girls with PCOS. There are a wide variety of yoga poses to help with PCOS.
PCOS Natural Treatment #15: Eating A Healthy, Balanced and Low Glycemic Diet
Eating nutritious foods would keep your body fit and healthy, thereby promoting quick recovery from PCOS. Avoid binging on unhealthy foods (caffeinated, fatty, fried, sugary, canned and preserved foods) that can aggravate the symptoms of PCOS. Opt for whole grain, vegetables, fruits and dairy products (the low fat varieties) to provide your body with the essential nutrients it needs to recover from the symptoms of PCOS.
Eating a low glycemic diet would effectively prevent sudden spikes in the blood sugar levels which could otherwise aggravate the symptoms of PCOS. Examples include vegetables, fruits, pulses, whole grains and oats etc.
Natural Treatment #16: Protein
Add foods like eggs, fish, legumes, milk products and soy to you regular diet. These foods would effectively provide relief from the symptoms of PCOS and prevent recurrences. Including proteins in your diet is a great way to lose weight with PCOS, boost your metabolism, and improve overall health.
Legumes are especially effective at improving signal transduction of cells with relation to insulin sensitivity, which can lead to better utilization of glucose and reduction of future insulin responses. As a result, the level of free insulin in the body goes down, thereby reducing conflict between it and vital functions in the female reproductive system (e).
PCOS Natural Treatment #17: Diindolymethane (DIM)
This particular element is very effective in reducing the testosterone levels in the body, an action that would automatically curb male dominant features and regulate the estrogen levels in the system. DIM is found in abundant quantities in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower etc.
Natural Treatment #18: Omega 3 Fatty Acids
These nutrients are very instrumental in reducing the androgen levels in the body in addition to improving insulin sensitivity. Omega 3 Fatty acids are available as supplements, although you can always opt for foods like fish oils, almonds, salmon, walnuts, flax seeds, halibut and soy etc. if you wish to opt for the natural sources.
PCOS Natural Treatment #19: Soy Isoflavones
One of the main effects of PCOS in women is irregular ovulation (also called as anovulation) which may in certain cases, cause infertility.
Soy Isoflavones contain properties that exhibit the same characteristics of a drug called Clomid which is usually prescribed to regulate the menstrual cycles, thereby reducing the symptoms of PCOS to a great extent. Excellent examples include soy nuts, miso and soya beans etc.
Natural Treatment #20: B Vitamins
Foods rich in Vitamin B help to reduce the symptoms of PCOS by reducing the androgen levels in the body and boosting the overall performance of the hormonal system. This, in turn, reduces hormone imbalances which has a profound impact on PCOS and its symptoms. Daily inclusions you can try out include nuts, whole grains and skim milk.
The B vitamins are very important in helping to correct the symptoms of PCOS naturally. PCOS is a very complex hormonal and systemic metabolic disorder. Adequate levels of these vitamins may improve the following PCOS disorders: acne, depression, diabetes, hair loss, heart disease, hirsutism, hormone imbalances, infertility, miscarriage risk, and obesity.
Vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B6 are particularly useful for controlling weight problems caused by PCOS:
- Vitamin B2 helps to turn fat, sugar and protein into energy;
- Vitamin B3 is a component of the glucose tolerance factor (GTF), which is released every time blood sugar rises, and Vitamin B3 helps to keep the levels in balance;
- Vitamin B5 has been shown to help with weight loss because it helps to control fat metabolism;
- Vitamin B6 is also important for maintaining hormone balance and, together with B2 and B3, is necessary for normal thyroid hormone production.
Any deficiencies in these vitamins can affect thyroid function and consequently affect the metabolism. The B vitamins are also essential for the liver to convert ‘old’ (which are not required in any metabolic process) hormones into harmless substances, which can then be excreted from the body.
Here is a more detailed look at how specific B vitamins help treat PCOS symptoms:
Biotin is a member of the B-complex family of vitamins. It improves disordered glucose metabolism by stimulating insulin secretion in response to blood sugar and by improving the liver’s ability to process glucose. Biotin appears to improve insulin resistance. Biotin is crucial for proper hair and nail growth. In high doses, biotin can be effective in restoring head-hair growth, with no known side effects.
Folic Acid (Folate)
Folate and folic acid are forms of the same Vitamin B. Folate is found naturally in food and folic acid usually found in vitamins. Folic acid is required for DNA synthesis and optimal neurological function. It works in tandem with Vitamin B12. Folic acid may be helpful in reducing homocysteine, which is a metabolic byproduct that is too high in some PCOS women, especially if they are taking metformin medication.
Vitamin B6 is involved in numerous metabolic processes, blood sugar metabolism being one of the important processes affected by PCOS. Vitamin B6 affects receptors for estrogen, androgen, and progesterone. Vitamin B6 is required for the synthesis of serotonin. Mild deficiency of Vitamin B6 in PCOS women is common.
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin commonly found in a variety of foods such as fish, shellfish, meats, and dairy products. Vitamin B12 is necessary for DNA synthesis and neurological health. It works in conjunction with folic acid. Vitamin B12 is bound to the protein in food. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach releases B12 from protein during digestion. Once released, B12 combines with a substance called intrinsic factor before it is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Unfortunately, metformin (glucophage) and other PCOS medications may make Vitamin B12 absorption more difficult. Metformin dosage for 12 months leads to a great depletion of B vitamins. This can be overcome by ‘burns’. Burns are tiny pieces of protein food, which are eaten in tiny amounts every 15 minutes. It improves the Vitamin B level in the body and helps the struggling PCOS slimmer to shed unwanted pounds (as it improves protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism).
PCOS Natural Treatment #21: Inositol
Considered as a derivative of Vitamin B, Inositol is often prescribed in the form of supplements for women with PCOS. It can effectively control the symptoms of PCOS by reducing insulin resistance and improving insulin sensitivity. Some of the natural sources of Inositol include brown rice, nuts, wheat germs, brewer’s yeast, cabbage and oats etc.
PCOS Natural Treatment #22: Water
Water is considered essential to flush out free radicals and other harmful organisms that could potentially cause hormonal imbalances which in turn would cause PCOS or aggravate an existing condition.
Drink at least 10 glasses of water every day if you have PCOS. Include plenty of watery fruits and vegetables to your diet to provide your body with enough water to ease off the symptoms of PCOS.
PCOS Natural Treatment #23: Controlling Your Weight
If you are overweight or obese, you stand stronger chances of contracting conditions like hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, all of which can cause PCOS and aggravate the symptoms of an existing condition.
A healthy weight would enable your body to fight off PCOS and its symptoms effectively with little or no external aid. Losing weight would also effectively reduce the androgen levels in the body, thereby restoring ovulation and regulating the menstrual cycles. This in turn would curb infertility, a common complaint among women suffering from PCOS.
PCOS Natural Treatment #24: Exercising Regularly
Many women may not know it but regular exercises can help treat PCOS and its symptoms effectively. In addition to helping you lose weight, regular exercises can improve insulin sensitivity and regulate menstrual cycles to a great extent. Moderate amounts of exercise are often recommended for women with PCOS.
Although walking is considered as the best form of exercise for women with PCOS, you can also opt for jogging, running, skipping, swimming, biking and weight training in order to get relief from the condition. Even household activities like sweeping, climbing the stairs, cooking, cleaning, dusting and gardening etc. can act as effective exercises to combat PCOS and its symptoms.
An easy way to do this is to drastically overhaul your carbohydrate consumption. The vast majority of people that eat a North American diet eat far too many simple, or white carbohydrates. Easily defined as carbohydrates that are primarily derived from processed grains and sugar, these can be eliminated by avoiding white bread, sweets, and any other products that are found to have processed grains. By replacing your carbohydrate consumption with multi-grain sources, quinoa, millet, brown rice, buckwheat, specific types of artificial sweeteners (we recommend Erythritol and Stevia) and non-grain alternatives such as coconut bread/flour, you can enjoy the same old treats that you had before simply by making some strategic adjustments to your diet.
At the same time, begin to add in sources of protein to your diet along with many kinds of saturated and unsaturated fats from natural sources (contrary to popular opinion, fatty acids are essential to hormonal balance), as these will replace the calories in your diet that normally come from the white carbs that you have relied on until now.
In general, keeping a close eye on the glycemic index of the food you are eating will tell you whether or not they will cause your insulin levels to spike as a result of eating them. By avoiding foods with a high glycemic index, you can avoid triggering an aggressive insulin response by your body, which is the cause of many of the problems that polycystic ovarian syndrome is famous for (f).
Once you have identified a core group of foods that have a low glycemic index, be sure to consume less than 100 grams worth of carbohydrates from them on any given day. This number can be higher if you have a healthy body weight or are thin, but for those that identify is overweight or obese, this is a good hard number that will aid you with your weight loss efforts.
A quick list of foods that are low on the glycemic index that you can begin crafting a meal plan around include most lean meats, vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, and kale, fruits such as grapefruits and apples, and nuts such as almonds and walnuts.
On the other side of the line, foods that you should begin attempting to cut out of your diet include sugar, jams, white potatoes, pancakes, pasta, white processed bread, all kinds of soda, and most alcoholic beverages.
Obviously, this is just a partial list, and there are exceptions and work-arounds that you can do to include foods that are similar to the above in your adjusted diet. However, it is safe to assume that what you currently eat from the forbidden list are probably some of the biggest contributors to your PCOS issues, so take the brave step of beginning to slice these products out of your life, substitute in the whole foods that are low on the glycemic index, and then you can begin to think about ways to include PCOS friendly alternatives to the treats that you have grown to love over the years.
When you are planning your meals, be sure to add a couple of significant snacks in between the normal three meals that you have per day. Doing this will prevent your body from going into fasting mode, which reduces your metabolism (g). With your new meal regimen, your overall rate of metabolism will be higher, making it easier to lose weight, and thereby reduce the negative effects of obesity on your polycystic ovarian syndrome.
PCOS Natural Treatment #25: Avoiding Negative Lifestyle Habits
If you want all of the above mentioned remedies to work, then there are certain sacrifices you need to make on the lifestyle front. For starters, you need to quit smoking altogether as regular smoking can increase the androgen levels in the body and restrict ovulation.
You would also need to stop drinking alcohol or at least minimize its intake. Alcohol can cause dehydration and sudden hunger pangs in addition to preventing the liver from detoxifying harmful radicals that could lead to hormonal imbalances which in turn could lead to PCOS.
Bonus: Extra Natural PCOS Natural Treatment Tips!
- Keep your weight in check as it will help reduce the level of male hormones in your body. Losing just 10 percent of your body weight can help bring your periods back to normal.
- Engage in regular exercise to help control your weight and also regulate insulin.
- Incorporate more fiber-rich foods like whole-grain products in your diet, as it slows down the digestion of sugars, and it breaks down estrogen in a manner that results in the formation of less androgen.
- Increase your dietary intake of B vitamins, especially vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B6, to help reduce PCOS symptoms. A good multivitamin will provide a little bit of everything.
- Ensure that as much of your food as possible comes from organic sources, as meats and vegetables that come from non-organic sources often contain steroids or the remanence of pesticides, both of which can negatively impact a patient suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (i). They create synthetic estrogen compounds that continue to inhibit the normal function of the female reproductive system. Replacing these foods with organic sources will help restore a more natural environment for fertility within the patient’s body.
- Look into taking vitamin D if you are found to be deficient in it. Vitamin D plays a central role in glucose metabolism in the body, and it has been shown to restore normal reproductive function in some women after a supplementation regimen was started according to past studies (j). Those looking to increase their vitamin D stores can easily get it by exposing themselves to sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes per day, and by increasing their intake of eggs and whole fat yogurt.
- Those looking for another solution to help reduce inflammation in their body might want to check out Royal Jelly. Shown to have anti-inflammatory properties by past scientific studies, this byproduct of bee-hive activity can aid those suffering from PCOS, as it reduces the symptom that only exacerbates this frustrating condition (k).
- Reorganize your meals so that the most calories you consume at any given meal occurs at breakfast. According to a study that gave its test participants a breakfast that contained 980 calories, a lunch that contained 640 calories, and a dinner that contained 190 calories, glucose and insulin levels dropped, and testosterone levels fell, thereby increasing the quality of life for the polycystic ovarian syndrome patients that adopted the specially-designed diet (l).
- Start taking magnesium supplements, as this mineral has been shown in studies to have a positive effect on resting glucose and insulin levels. A deficiency in this mineral has been shown to have a predictive effect in the development of type 2 diabetes, so there may be some crossover with regards to treating the causes of PCOS (m).
- Quit smoking; women who smoke have been found to have higher androgen levels.
- Avoid the use of plastics in food consumption, preparation and storage.
- Do not drink water from a plastic container.
- Take prescribed birth control pills after consulting a gynecologist.
- Acupuncture therapy has also been found to be beneficial for improving hormone levels.