Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition where hormone imbalance and insulin resistance lead to symptoms such as irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, acne, and ovarian cysts. Elevated testosterone is often the culprit for many of the symptoms, but imbalances in estrogen, progesterone, insulin, and blood sugar can be present as well.
Conventional treatment for PCOS often utilizes oral contraceptive pills, which can help artificially regulate menstrual cycles with exogenous hormones. One benefit of this approach is the withdrawal bleed that comes with stopping these hormones once per month. Sometimes in PCOS, patients will go for months without ovulation or having a natural period, and the birth control pill will assist in stimulation menstruation, which is an important process to maintain the health of the uterine lining. The birth control pill also increases a hormone called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which binds to free testosterone and makes it less active, often decreasing testosterone-related symptoms such as acne, hair growth, and irregular cycles. The drawback to this treatment is that the underlying hormone imbalance is not addressed, and symptoms often recur once the pill is stopped. Additionally, the birth control pill can produce side effects in some users, and is not a feasible solution for anyone trying to conceive.
A Naturopathic Approach to PCOS
A naturopathic approach to PCOS involves treating the hormone imbalance directly through diet, lifestyle, and natural medicines. Since blood sugar dysregulation and insulin resistance play a major role in PCOS, nutritional counselling around stabilizing blood sugar is an incredibly important part of treatment. Focusing on foods that support healthy hormone production is a must as well. For example, spearmint tea is a lovely dietary addition that can help lower testosterone. From a lifestyle perspective, regular exercise is beneficial for balancing blood sugar and reducing stress.
Natural supplements are also useful in managing PCOS. Herbal medicines such as licorice and vitex act as hormone balancers to help restore regular menstrual cycles. Myo-inositol is a secondary messenger compound that balances hormones and blood sugar, while also producing a calming effect. Chromium can be helpful for assisting blood sugar stabilization. There are many avenues of natural options, and the most beneficial treatment involves selecting specific medicines that pertain most highly to each individual’s unique presentation of PCOS.