Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal disorders in women of reproductive age. PCOS occurs when a woman's body produces higher levels of androgens (male hormones) than normal. Symptoms may include irregular menstrual cycles, ovarian cysts, weight gain, acne, thinning hair on the head and excess facial and body hair.(1) While the causes of PCOS are not entirely understood, high insulin levels and low grade inflammation both appear to play a role in stimulating the production of excess androgens by the ovary and adrenal gland. Obesity may increase the risk or severity of PCOS and its complications, which can include infertility, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and high blood pressure.(1)
Conventional treatment of PCOS often consists of birth control pills to help women have regular periods, reduce androgen levels and help manage acne. The blood sugar lowering medication Metformin may also be prescribed. Women seeking natural treatments for PCOS may wonder about diet, lifestyle measures, and the best supplements for PCOS. In this post we will explore various lifestyle strategies and natural supplements for PCOS. Be sure to talk with your doctor before trying complementary or alternative treatments, to discuss possible side effects or drug interactions.
Natural Treatments for PCOS
Eating a higher protein, whole foods, anti-inflammatory diet such as the Mediterranean diet can help ensure a steady intake of the healthy fats, fiber and minerals that help balance blood sugar, insulin levels and inflammation. Green Tea may also help improve insulin resistance and weight management in women with PCOS.*(2)
Moderate exercise and lifestyle changes that support stress management and adequate sleep can help manage contributing factors. A yoga, meditation or relaxation practice, consistent bedtime and good sleep hygiene, especially turning off screens an hour before bedtime, can help.
Inositol is a B vitamin-like compound that may help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance to promote normal ovarian function.*(3) It has been found to help with fertility in some cases of PCOS, and may be beneficial in the transport of cholesterol out of the liver to help maintain already normal-range cholesterol levels.* Because it promotes healthy neurotransmitter metabolism, Inositol may also help reduce daily stress and occasional anxiety.*
d-Pinitol (or D-chiro-inositol):
d-Pinitol is another naturally occurring compound that may help support and maintain ovarian health in women by increasing the action of insulin.*(4) Supplementation with d-Pinitol along with Vitamin D3, Chromium and dietary modifications have been demonstrated to be potentially effective approaches to support a normal, healthy glucose metabolism, reduce body mass index (BMI) and stabilize insulin resistance.* Regular use of these strategies helps promote, maintain, and support ovarian health and normal blood sugar levels, resulting in overall positive benefits.*
Vitex is a powerful clinical tool to support hormone balance in women with PCOS.* Through it’s dopaminergic effects, Vitex helps maintain healthy prolactin and LH (luteinizing hormone) levels during the monthly menstrual cycle to help promote ovulation, progesterone production and menstrual regularity.* Vitex also helps support breast comfort and a normal healthy attitude and mood during the menstrual cycle.*
What is Berberine? This potent plant alkaloid that may be derived from herbs such as Barberry, Goldenseal and Oregon Grape. Berberine benefits range from immune effects to supporting regular and normal bowel function, as well as promoting normal glucose and lipid metabolism.* Berberine helps maintain healthy blood sugar balance, and promotes cardiovascular health by helping to maintain cholesterol and triglyceride levels that are already in the normal range.* It has demonstrated beneficial effects on obesity, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome in animal and clinical studies.* Berberine’s low risk of side effects, insulin-sensitizing effects, and potential for reducing the cardiovascular risk factors of waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and dyslipidemia make it one of the best herbal supplements for PCOS.*(5) While berberine does have many health benefits, it should be noted that Berberine is contraindicated in pregnancy.
Vital Nutrients Women’s Health category includes a full selection of supplements designed to support female hormonal balance and general well-being for every age and every stage in life, including Vitex 750, Berberine 500mg, d-Pinitol, and Inositol Powder, which readily dissolves in water and has a slightly sweet taste.*
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.