5 Natural Ways to Manage Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal disorder, which causes the improper functioning of a woman’s ovaries. It is said to be the most common of the female reproductive endocrine disorders. According to the NHS, approximately 1 in 10 women in the UK have this condition.
A diagnosis of PCOS is given to a female of reproductive age if she presents with at least 2 of the 3 following conditions: Irregular periods, Elevated levels of male hormones in the body (Excess Androgens) and Polycystic ovaries
The signs and symptoms of PCOS vary from person to person, but commonly include:
- Fertility problems and difficulty becoming pregnant
- Excessive growth of body hair, noticeably on the face, stomach, back or chest
- Difficulty maintaining a healthy weight
- Excessive acne, thinning hair
- Skin tags or small pieces of excess skin on the neck or armpits
Women with PCOS may also be at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other complex condition. While there is no cure for this condition in Western Medicine, there are certain natural remedies for PCOS in Chinese Medicine that have been found to be effective for alleviating not just the symptoms of PCOS but also get to its root cause.
Top 5 Natural Remedies For PCOS
1) A low glycemic index (low GI) diet and warming foods
As most women with PCOS have some degree of insulin sensitivity, eating a low glycemic index (GI) diet will help to manage their insulin levels. This is because low GI carbohydrates cause blood sugars to rise more slowly, and this directly affects the levels or insulin hormones circulating in the body.
A high level of insulin in the blood can directly trigger an increase in the levels of the male hormone testosterone by the ovaries. When there is an elevated level of testosterone in the female body, it can upset the delicate balance of hormones and lead to unwanted PCOS symptoms such as excess hair growth, acne and irregular periods. Thus, it is important for females with PCOS to try to manage their insulin levels through diet.
Foods to limit:
- Refined white flour, white pasta, and white rice
- Foods that are high in sugar content and simple carbohydrates, such as cookies, sweet baked goods, soda, juice, granola bars and certain breakfast cereals
- Processed foods such as chips and luncheon meats
- Red meat.
In Chinese Medicine PCOS is a “cold and damp” disease, which is why Traditional Chinese Medicine Experts recommend food with warming properties such as:
- Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables such as celery, carrots, kale, ginger, red onion, mushroom
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel
- Lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, seafood, legumes and tofu
2) Regular exercise
Regular exercise helps to naturally improve blood sugar levels and lower insulin levels in women with PCOS. A 2011 meta-analysis of five randomized controlled trials and three cohort studies reported that moderate intensity physical activity showed improvements in insulin resistance, ovulation and weight loss. According to this meta-analysis and others, the particular frequency, type and duration of exercise matters less than just the act of exercising regularly and consistently. Thus, it is recommended that women with PCOS should engage in any physical activity that they find enjoyable as this makes it more likely that they will perform it regularly.
3) Herbal supplements for PCOS
Herbal supplements are one of the top recommended natural remedies for PCOS. Approximately two out of five women with PCOS report that they have tried herbal medicines. Plant-based medicines contain biologically active compounds that have the potential to alter reproductive endocrinology in women with PCOS. The following herbs are popular for treating PCOS and may improve symptoms:
- Vitex agnus-castus (chasteberry) for PCOS
The chaste tree has been utilized for thousands of years for many women’s health issues, including menstrual disorders.
In a study including 96 women with menstrual irregularity and infertility, menstrual cyclicity was significantly improved for women treated with Vitex agnus-castus in the form of drops, compared to placebo. Another study which included 67 women with sub fertility showed improved menstrual cyclicity following treatment with Vitex agnus-castus) compared to placebo.
- Chinese motherwort for PCOS
Chinese motherwort, also known as Yu Mi Cao which means “good for women”, is a popular Chinese herb used to alleviate gynecological disorders. It has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which may help treat amenorrhea and facilitate menstruation.
- Black cohosh for PCOS
Phytoestrogens such as Actaea racemose, formerly known as Cimicifuga racemosa, may be useful in inducing ovulation for PCOS. A 2013 study of 100 women with PCOS-related infertility showed that Actaea racemosa supplementation may help to increase progesterone levels and endometrial thickness and this may consequently improve pregnancy rates.
- Green tea extract for PCOS
A recent systematic review has outlined the potential therapeutic effects of green tea extract for PCOS, due to its potent content of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.
A study conducted on overweight women with PCOS showed that the consumption of 500 milligrams of green tea extract twice daily for 12 weeks led to decreased fasting insulin levels, weight loss and decreased levels of testosterone.
The scientific research studies that were conducted on the herbal supplements mentioned above suggest a potential link of their use to improved PCOS symptoms. However, it must be noted that the authors conclude that additional studies are needed to provide stronger evidence to prove the efficacy of these herbal treatments for PCOS symptoms.
4) Acupuncture for PCOS
Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese medicine, where sterile single use needles are strategically placed on the body and then activated through general and specific movements. Acupuncture is safe, drug free and painless natural remedy for PCOS. Several studies were assessed in a 2020 meta-analysis to reveal that acupuncture is a promising treatment for PCOS. A number of studies reported that female participants saw improvements in menstrual regularity, as well as reductions in luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone levels after undergoing acupuncture treatments for a few months.
5) Lifestyle changes for PCOS
Being overweight or obese can cause metabolic disturbances in the body, which exacerbate all aspects of PCOS. Therefore, women with PCOS are advised to adopt long-term healthy eating behaviors. This includes meal planning, preparing healthy meals at home regularly especially warming meals. These behaviors will help them better regulate their food choices and calorie consumption in order to maintain a healthy body weight. Adapting your lifestyle habits is one of the best natural remedies for PCOS.
Managing stress levels is important for women with PCOS, as the diagnosis of PCOS is linked to significant psychological burden and the increased risk of depression and anxiety. Elevated stress levels may lead to an increase in cortisol levels, which negatively impact insulin resistance.
Improved sleep hygiene is also an important lifestyle change that women with PCOS should adopt in order to manage their symptoms. Sleep hygiene is the application of behavioral and environmental advice that promote sound sleep. Many studies show that women with PCOS have a significantly higher prevalence of poor sleep and sleep disorders compared to healthy individuals. Chronic sleep problems are directly linked to depression, insulin resistance, cardiovascular diseases and weight gain.
Chinese Motherwort (Yi Mu Cao)
Yi Mu Cao or Chinese Motherwort is a popular Chinese herb to balance women’s hormones. Chinese Motherwort Medicine can be used to balance overall hormones due to its ability to soothe blood stagnation. It effectively helps with irregular menstrual cycle, amenorrhea, postpartum abdominal pain, heavy flow with clots, fixed abdominal masses, fertility and traumatic pain. This powerful herb can also be used for targeted relief and support with fibroid and endometriosis.
Black Cohosh tablets by GinSen are formulated for perimenopause and menopause. This powerful herb reduces any imbalances in the hormone estrogen and provides relief from symptoms including hot flashes, mood swings, cramps, vaginal dryness, and excessive sweating. By getting to the root cause, Black Cohosh tablets support transition through menopause, calms the mind and eases stress.
For more information about how Chinese Medicine can help you with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), book your free consultation with our Chinese Medicine experts today
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our clinics website: GinSen where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.