I’ve been talking a lot about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and I even discussed 7 signs of PCOS in a recent post. Many of you are probably wondering if there are ways to approach PCOS using natural methods. While there are more natural approaches to PCOS than I’ve listed here, here are a few of the most important.
Natural Approaches to PCOS
PCOS can become a serious–sometimes debilitating–issue for many women. It can also spur a wide variety of health concerns. This is why it is important to implement preventative strategies, such as increasing vitamin and herb intake. While no means exhaustive, here are the four natural approaches to PCOS.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
For many women, a diagnosis of PCOS is fueled by excessive body weight and obesity. With this correlation firmly established, maintaining a healthy body weight is key. Excess body weight can drive insulin resistance, a disorder related to the cells’ inability to respond to insulin. Losing a healthy amount of body fat percentage can not only help correct insulin resistance and reduce type 2 diabetes risk, but can also decrease overactive hormone levels.
2. Get Good Nutrition
Without complete and balanced nutrition, PCOS is only one problem you may have to deal with. In humans, prolactin enables women to produce breast milk, and PCOS often causes prolactin levels to elevate. That said, B6 can help balance these prolactin. B vitamins are also important in adrenal hormone production; the adrenal glands produce hormones like estrogen and progesterone. When the adrenal glands produce more (or less) hormones than needed, conditions like PCOS can occur. Making sure you get enough chromium is also important when it comes to proper blood sugar regulation. This mineral may also help decrease insulin resistance.  There’s also some evidence to suggestion getting enough iodine is also on the list.
3. Herbal Remedies
Herbs are natural tools helpful for maintaining overall good health, and this statement is no less true for approaching PCOS symptoms. While there are many Western plants that can help, studies suggest that Eastern herbs should not be overlooked.  Two Western herbs that are believed to be especially beneficial for PCOS are saw palmetto and chasteberry.
Excess testosterone levels in the body can cause women with PCOS to see an increase in acne and hair growth. Saw palmetto may help promote balance of these levels. Taking the herb can lead to lower levels of circulating testosterone in the body which can address symptoms of acne, male pattern hair loss, and facial hair growth. 
Chasteberry is also thought to be one of the most helpful herbs in PCOS.  It inhibits prolactin synthesis and raises progesterone levels. Low progesterone levels are known to contribute to ovarian cyst formation.
4. Extra Supplements
Inositol is a compound that occurs naturally in the body, and studies suggest that two of the nine variations—myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol—are beneficial for women with PCOS.   Myo-inositol, for example, decreases insulin and insulin resistance, decreases testosterone, and can help promote regular ovulation. Found naturally in a variety of foods, this form of inositol is also available in supplement form.
Fiber is another way to help decrease insulin resistance. In addition to choosing foods high in fiber, taking a fiber supplement can help you reach your daily goals.
It’s important to make good lifestyle choices if you have or think you might have PCOS, and these four tips can help. Do you have advice not listed here? Feel free to share it in the comments below.
- American Botanical Council. Treating PCOS Naturally. 2013 March; 10 (3).
- Arentz, Susan et al. Herbal medicine for the management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and associated oligo/amenorrhoea and hyperandrogenism; a review of the laboratory evidence for effects with corroborative clinical findings. BMC complementary and alternative medicine 14.1 (2014): 1
- Pastore, R. Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens). Pastore Formulations.
- Meletis, C. D., & Zabriskie, N. Natural Approaches for Treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Alternative & Complementary Therapies, 12(4), 157-164.
- Unfer, V. Effects of myo-inositol in women with PCOS: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.Gynecological Endocrinology (Impact Factor: 1.3). 02/2012; 28(7):509-15. DOI: 10.3109/09513590.2011.650660.
- Clements, Rex; Betty Darnell. Myo-inositol content of common foods: development of a high-myo-inositol diet. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1980; 33 (9): 1954–1967.