We all know that diet is the answer to practically every health issue. Similarly, taking a good look at your food and seeing what modifications you can make is one of the most excellent methods to help control PCOS symptoms. PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is one of the most common endocrine illnesses, characterised by a hormonal imbalance among many women. The cause of PCOS is various hormones affecting the ovaries, such as oestrogen, progesterone, and androgen.
Medical treatment for PCOS is not always conclusive. In addition, research shows possible side effects of conventional medical management of PCOS. Thus, lifestyle modification with dietary changes by the PCOS symptom is the best way to manage this disorder. Although lifestyle alterations and nutritional supplements may help you control these factors and alleviate your symptoms, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for treatment. Always consult your doctor before considering any alternative medicine if the condition worsens.
This article talks about everything you should know about PCOS.
What is PCOS?
PCOS or Polycystic ovary syndrome is prevalent in today’s world among women post-puberty. It affects women of all ages and is considered a hormonal disorder. It also falls under the category of metabolic disease. PCOS is the secretion of excessive male hormones in women, disrupting their reproductive or menstrual cycle.
Studies say that the symptoms vary from clinical outcomes like infertility, acne development, hirsutism, weight gain and male pattern baldness or hair thinning. Other symptoms of PCOS are declining health status by developing metabolic disorders like diabetes, insulin resistance and weight gain.
Symptoms of PCOS
- Irregular periods: Women with PCOS also have weak ovaries and irregular menstrual cycles. Sometimes they get frequent periods, like once in 15 days. Furthermore, the period cycle may delay for months. They might have a period only once in 3 months.
- Menstrual cramps, extreme pain during periods and heavy bleeding are severe indicators of PCOS. The ovaries are weak, and the functioning is abnormal. Due to delayed periods, the uterine line aggregates for a long time, and when it bleeds, the flow will be heavy.
- Elevated levels of male hormones are the main symptoms of PCOS. In addition, blood tests can detect various hormone levels in the blood.
- Ovarian cysts develop due to hormonal imbalance. They are fluid sacs present on the ovaries. They might be harmless in some cases, while these cysts rupture and cause pain in some cases.
- Unwanted and unexplained facial hair growth and hair growth on chest, stomach and back, and other body parts, a condition called hirsutism.
- Balding and thinning of hair happen in a pattern such as male baldness.
- Obese people have a higher risk of developing PCOS. Similarly, due to PCOS, weight gain is inevitable.
- Headache and acne are some symptoms of PCOS due to hormonal changes. Male hormone secretes more oil, leading to acne.
- Skin darkening in patches in certain parts like the neck, breasts, and underarms.
Herbs for PCOS
There is a wide variety of herbs and spices that are both beneficial and non-toxic. They are more capable of dealing with PCOS. Given below are some of them.
The use of cinnamon occurs in many savoury and sweet dishes. It reduces blood sugar levels. Thus it is known as anti-diabetic. It is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Both these attributes of cinnamon make it a perfect food component for the management of PCOS. Studies show that cinnamon also helps solve fertility issues and reduces insulin resistance. It also stimulates the production of female hormones such as progesterone and reduces the male hormone testosterone, balancing the hormonal activities for managing PCOS. Overall, cinnamon helps in regularising the menstrual cycle.
You can consume cinnamon by mixing it in warm water. You can also use it with tea, juices and soups. The use of cinnamon is in many Indian dishes, especially desserts.
Basil is an excellent herb with good medicinal properties and antioxidants. They have anti-inflammatory properties. Basil, also known as Tulsi, is anti-androgenic, keeping the male hormones under control. This factor helps in PCOS management. It controls excessive hair growth in the face and body. Basil also regulates blood sugar levels. It reduces cholesterol levels and keeps weight in check, a significant factor for PCOS.
You can consume basil leaves as such. For example, you can infuse it with tea. In addition, you can put basil leaves to infuse drinking water.
Turmeric is known for its healing properties. In addition, it boosts immunity for general health. Turmeric also regularises the menstrual cycle. Also, it is helpful in weight loss. In addition, research reports that the curcumin in turmeric possesses anti-inflammatory properties controlling cholesterol levels and sugar levels. It also improves insulin resistance aiding people with PCOS.
You can consume turmeric with warm water. You can also mix it with milk. The use of a pinch of turmeric is in almost all Indian dishes.
You can alleviate PCOS symptoms by consuming ashwagandha. It is also known as Indian ginseng. This herb aids in stress management by lowering stress-related psychological and physiological indicators, serum cortisol levels, and food cravings. As a result, eating habits improve, and they pave the path to weight loss. Ashwagandha can also help you manage your PCOS-related hair loss and regulate your blood sugar levels.
Ashwagandha is available in powder form. You can add it to juices and shakes.
The use of fenugreek helps in diabetes management by reducing blood sugar levels. A study concludes that fenugreek also manages insulin levels and improves insulin resistance. In addition, drinking fenugreek water helps in weight management.
Fenugreek can benefit our body if consumed raw, or you can soak it overnight and drink that water every day.
Shatavari is an effective herb in decreasing PCOS. It works on follicular development and ovulation. Additionally, it does a critical job maintaining a proper menstrual cycle and regular blood flow. It contains calcium, zinc, and other nutrients essential for enhancing fertility.
Shatavari is available in powder form to mix with tea, juices and soups.
Ginger is effective against many microbial diseases. It has antibacterial and anti-viral properties and is also rich in antioxidants. In addition, it has components like gingerol, zingerone, etc., that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent reducing the inflammations caused by PCOS and other diseases. Ginger also relieves period pain and cramps, as research concludes.
The use of ginger is in many dishes. Ginger is grated, and you can extract its juice. You can mix this juice with water, tea and such beverages.
Liquorice roots are also essential in PCOS management and have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, they regulate blood sugar levels.
Maca roots are another set of herbs that enhance fertility. They regulate the hormones in the body and treat the imbalanced hormones that lead to PCOS.
Medical Intervention for PCOS
Some drugs can also treat PCOS, apart from lifestyle and other dietary changes. They are used to control weight, hair growth and other symptoms. They also address the hormonal imbalance. Some of the drugs used for PCOS treatment and management are birth-control pills, insulin-sensitising pills, hormonal pills, weight-loss pills, antidepressants.
What Causes PCOS?
Female hormones responsible for the menstrual cycle are oestrogen and progesterone. However, women also produce a limited amount of male hormone androgen. Studies suggest that people with PCOS have excessive androgen and testosterone and low progesterone levels, leading to ovulation problems. If this condition persists, it might lead to severe cases of infertility. You may call this cause of PCOS hyperandrogenism.
When there is an imbalance in luteinising hormones (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH), they cause PCOS. These hormones are involved in the ovulation process. Ovulation is the process of releasing eggs every month from the women’s ovaries. FSH is responsible for the ovary to stimulate the production of follicles that contain and protect eggs. LH stimulates the release of eggs from the ovary.
Some research indicates that genes and family history might be responsible for PCOS. For example, if a mother has PCOS, there is a high chance of the female child contracting the same disorder through genes.
Studies conclude that women in the overweight or obese category are the primary victim of this disorder. About 80% of women with PCOS are obese. Also, obese people are more prone to inflammation, producing elevated androgen levels.
Insulin resistance is one of the major causes of the imbalance. Studies show that about 60-70% of women with PCOS are insulin resistant. Due to improper usage of insulin and insulin resistance, the body forces more insulin production. It stimulates the production of male hormones in females. Therefore, it is the connection between insulin resistance and PCOS development.
These hormonal imbalances are due to various factors like stress, food changes, medications, birth pills.
How to Diagnose PCOS
- For the initial diagnosis, a simple physical examination is necessary to recognise the symptoms like checking for facial and body hair, weight gain, acne formation, hair thinning, etc.
- Blood tests can monitor the hormone levels and identify any imbalances in the hormones leading to PCOS.
- A pelvic exam can diagnose any issues with the ovary. This test also identifies problems with the uterus and other reproductive parts. Similarly, ultrasound scans also diagnose these factors.
Risks of Having PCOS
- PCOS may seem like an average hormonal imbalance related to the reproductive system. But it has other profound implications too. A serious PCOS case ultimately leads to infertility. Difficulty in ovulation and irregular menstrual cycle makes it hard for women to get pregnant. Even if she gets pregnant, foetal development is a complicated process.
- Endometrial cancer is another serious risk associated with PCOS. It is due to a thin lining of the inner uterine wall that causes heavy bleeding in the case of PCOS.
- Studies conclude that PCOS also leads to metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity, etc. In addition, elevated levels of cholesterol and blood pressure are also risk factors of PCOS. These imply developing heart disorders and stroke.
The most effective way to properly control PCOS and lower the severity of the condition is by following and leading a healthy lifestyle. Eating balanced and nutritious food, keeping a healthy body weight, becoming as active as possible, and avoiding harmful activities like smoking and drinking are all part of a healthy lifestyle. In addition, a balanced diet will guarantee that you get the necessary nutrients.
A good and balanced diet can maintain and balance hormone levels. Natural foods, free from processing steps, preservatives and additives, are suitable for people with PCOS. Furthermore, artificial sweeteners, high sugar products and other refined products are worse for this condition. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes rich in minerals and vitamins are good for managing PCOS.
Studies state that carbohydrate-rich foods collapse the hormone system—intake of proteins aid patients with PCOS. Whole grains and legumes are rich sources of protein. Fibre-rich foods like beans, lentils are also helpful. Inflammation is one of the causes of PCOS. Thus, incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, nuts and seeds, are beneficial for people with PCOS.
Due to heavy bleeding for people suffering from PCOS, they are at risk of developing iron-deficiency anaemia. It can be compensated through iron-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, dates, dried fruits and seafood. similarly. Magnesium is a PCOS-friendly component. Foods rich in magnesium are bananas, almonds and cashews.
Research suggests that apart from these naturally available foods, supplements can also be beneficial for treating and managing PCOS. Some of them are Inositol, chromium, zinc, etc. It helps boost the endocrine system of the body and regulates hormone levels.
Losing 10-20% of your total weight will significantly impact PCOS. In addition, weight loss helps to regularise the period cycle. According to studies, it also improves the infertility condition. In addition, you can regulate hormonal imbalance better in a reasonable weight frame. Therefore, managing obesity, in turn, controls diabetes and other metabolic disorders too.
Moderate to high Intensity activity can help you lose weight. It also improves your mental wellbeing and emotional state. In addition, physical alertness helps fight depression better. It also enhances insulin resistance conditions.
PCOS can upset a women’s period cycles and make it difficult to reproduce. Undesired spike of male hormones leads to various PCOS symptoms. Lifestyle modification and dietary changes are crucial in PCOS management.
Hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance are the leading cause of developing PCOS. Weight reduction can treat PCOS. Diet and physical activity are two successful ways of shedding weight.
Dietary changes, which includes high quantities of fruits and vegetables and other herbs and spices, can control PCOS to a certain level. If these natural ways don’t provide a solution, you can approach medications under a doctor’s prescription.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which herbs can cure PCOS?
A. You can consume various herbs to cure PCOS. These include cinnamon, basil, and turmeric. In addition, ashwagandha, fenugreek, and Shatavari also help you with its treatment.
2. Can I reverse my PCOS?
A. There is no cure for PCOS. However, overweight and obese women should balance their hormone levels through weight loss. Treatment is available, but it only helps manage symptoms.
3. Can herbs heal PCOS?
A. Yes, herbs can help heal PCOS. They manage symptoms of increased body hair, acne, and irregular periods.
4. What herbs are good for ovaries?
A. Numerous herbs enhance the health of your ovaries. These include ginger, cinnamon and basil. In addition, turmeric, ashwagandha and fenugreek are also excellent.
5. Does turmeric affect ovulation?
A. Turmeric boosts ovulation. In addition, it also helps you fight depression, anxiety, and troubles due to stress. Hence, a regular intake is essential for your reproductive and mental health.
6. Is turmeric water good for PCOS?
A. Yes, turmeric water is good for PCOS. In addition, it has an active ingredient called curcumin which is helpful in the reduction of insulin resistance. In addition, it also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
7. Which cinnamon is good for PCOS?
A. Ceylon cinnamon is perfect for PCOS. It reduces blood sugar levels and has anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, it solves fertility issues and increases insulin resistance.
8. What are the first signs of PCOS?
A. The first signs of PCOS are related to your menstrual cycle. If you have irregular, missed or less frequent periods, you may suffer from it. Furthermore, other symptoms are weight gain, acne excess hair growth, and hair loss on the scalp.