Natural Treatments For PCOS
To Relieve Symptoms
PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a health issue estimated to affect one in ten women, according to OASH. In women with PCOS, the ovaries produce androgens (a male sex hormone) in abnormally high amounts.
Often, numerous cysts form on the ovaries, thus giving the syndrome its name. However, it's important to note that having ovarian cysts doesn't mean you have PCOS. Likewise, not every woman with PCOS will develop cysts.
- Irregular periods (including missed periods not attributed to pregnancy)
- Cysts on the ovaries
- Excessive body hair
- Unexpected weight gain
- Thinning hair
These symptoms can negatively affect your quality of life in a variety of ways. For example, excessive body growth and acne can significantly decrease self-confidence. In addition, battling with infertility while trying to get pregnant could cause severe mental health strains.
PCOS Natural Treatment Options
While there's no known cure, there are several natural treatments for PCOS. These treatments can help manage symptoms and increase your quality of life. Continue reading to learn a few of the best natural ways to heal PCOS symptoms.
1. Nutritional Supplements
Taking certain nutritional supplements can help manage the symptoms of PCOS. A few proven supplements include inositol, zinc and selenium.
A 2019 study proved Inositol is as effective as Metformin for insulin resistance, improving fasting glucose levels and balancing testosterone. Inositol is a type of sugar sometimes called Vitamin B8. It is so effective that some hope Inositol will become a standard alternative to Metformin.
This PubMed study shows that women with PCOS tend to have lower circulating zinc levels. Natural treatments for PCOS include supplements like zinc. Zinc supplementation has been shown to help women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome control excessive hair growth on the face or body. It may also help stop or manage hair loss.
Another PubMed study suggests that those with PCOS have lower selenium levels than women without the syndrome. These same studies indicate a supplement containing selenium may help with a range of PCOS symptoms, including:
- Balance hormone levels
- Improve inflammatory markers
- Manage hair loss
- Reduce PCOS-related acne
2. Herbal Supplements
A few herbal supplements have been scientifically proven to help naturally manage PCOS symptoms. Chasteberry, bromelain, and maca root are among these herbal supplements.
There's strong evidence that chasteberry can help manage missing or infrequent periods in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, as shown in this PubMed study. Additionally, it could help with infertility, reduce testosterone levels, and manage a healthy weight in women with PCOS.
Bromelain is an enzyme naturally occurring in pineapples. It has anti-inflammatory properties that some suggest could help people with PCOS.
Besides improving inflammation markers, bromelain may also help promote fertility. This is thanks to the blood-thinning properties of bromelain that could potentially increase blood to the uterus. In turn, increased blood flow could increase fertility.
Maca Root is a plant grown in the Andes Mountains that is a mainstay in Peruvian cooking. The root belongs to the same family as cauliflower, kale, broccoli and cabbage.
In Peru, Maca Root has been used in traditional medicines for centuries. Traditionally, it is used to boost fertility, increase energy and boost the sex drive. Recent studies have shown Maca Root to be helpful in natural PCOS treatment when used alongside other supplements.
Recent PubMed studies have shown irrefutable proof that exercise can improve menstrual and ovulation frequency in women with PCOS. In turn, this can boost fertility for women who are hoping to conceive.
Current recommendations are for 150 minutes of physical activity each week to see improvements. While this may sound like a lot (especially for those who aren't currently active), it works out to be just about 22 minutes of exercise each day.
If you aren't already physically active, starting slow is essential. While 150 weekly minutes is the recommendation, adding even 30 minutes to your routine at first can help. Then, as your body becomes used to your current exercise routine, slowly add ten to 20 minutes each week until you reach or exceed current guidelines.
It's normal to feel like traditional exercises like weight lifting, treadmills and stationary bicycles are tedious. But don't let this get in the way of being more physically active. There are many other activities you could incorporate into your routine instead.
A few examples of fun physical activities include:
- Taking a dance class (like ballet, ballroom, or even Zumba)
- Enrolling in a martial art's school (of any discipline)
- Participating in an adult's organized sport league
- Playing active games with your children, if applicable (like freeze tag)
- Bicycling in nearby national or state parks
- Canoeing or kayaking
- Rollerblading, skateboarding or ice skating
- Snowboarding, skiing, or sledding (manually)
- Taking a boxing or self-defense class
You can keep things varied (and more exciting) by using two or more of the ideas above. For example, you might enroll in a martial arts class for Tuesdays and Thursdays while participating in Wednesday evening Zumba classes. Then, you may choose something fun for one or two of the remaining days that week.
Making positive diet changes can prove helpful for women with PCOS, especially when used alongside other natural options. Basic guidelines focus on eating fresh produce, whole grains and plant-based proteins. At the same time, you should limit processed foods, sugars and trans fats.
However, there are a few special considerations you should make. Using an anti-inflammatory diet (or including anti-inflammatory foods in your diet) can be helpful. Additionally, you'll want to consider any other pre-existing conditions you may have.
This ASRM study has shown an anti-inflammatory diet is beneficial for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Specifically, this particular diet has been shown to:
- Facilitate weight loss
- Lower bad cholesterol
- Decrease blood pressure
- Improve inflammation markers
If following a strict anti-inflammatory diet is difficult for you, increasing your intake of inflammation-fighting foods can also help. However, it's still important to avoid sugary or processed foods to reap benefits.
A few examples of anti-inflammatory foods to include in your diet are:
- Olive oil
- Collard greens
Work With a Registered Dietician Nutritionist
Remember, these are only basic guidelines. Alongside PCOS, you may have other health concerns that warrant specific diet changes. The best thing to do is work with a registered dietician nutritionist (RDN).
An RDN can create a personalized eating plan for you that will manage your PCOS and any other health concerns. For example, if you have heart disease or diabetes, there are specific dietary rules to follow. An RDN can also help you lose weight, if necessary, to help manage your conditions.
A 2020 study shows probiotics help improve hormonal and inflammatory markers for women with PCOS. The purpose of probiotics is to restore balance to the gut by repopulating healthy bacteria naturally found there.
Inflammation in the body is a significant concern for those with PCOS, so any natural treatments to reduce these markers are highly suggested. Even better is that probiotics have numerous health benefits extending past PCOS management.
A few health benefits of regular probiotic consumption include:
- Reduced frequency of diarrhea
- Improved bowel regularity
- Prevention of H. pylori colonization in the stomach
- Prevention and treatment of vaginal and urinary tract infections
- Reduced instances of eczema (especially in children)
Probiotics have also been proven beneficial in managing irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease.
To incorporate probiotics into your daily routine, you can take a supplement and increase foods that naturally contain probiotics into your diet. A combination of the two will be most effective.
A few foods naturally containing probiotics include:
- Miso soup
- Soft cheeses (like Gouda)
- Sourdough bread
- Acidophilus milk
- Sour pickles
One excellent idea is to combine probiotic-containing foods with anti-inflammatory ones. By combining two natural treatments for PCOS into one meal, you could see faster or better results. Below are a few examples of how to do that.
Snack: Yogurt with fresh berries
Snack: Sourdough bread topped with a soft cheese and tomatoes
Lunch: Salad with spinach, kale, tomatoes, and a soft cheese
Lunch: Miso Soup with a side of almonds
Supper: Salmon (cooked with olive oil) on a bed of spinach, with sourdough bread and a bowl of mixed berries
Supper: Seared tuna with collard greens, sliced tomatoes, and sour pickles
Try These Natural Ways To Heal PCOS
While there's no known cure, natural treatments for PCOS can help manage symptoms and increase your quality of life. Using multiple natural treatment options together will prove most effective. Consider adding a natural supplement from Knowell to your routine to get started on the path to PCOS management today.