PCOS AlternativesMay 9, 2015 Written by JP [Font too small?]
PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is estimated to affect between 5 – 10% of girls and women of childbearing age. Signs of PCOS vary, but are typically characterized by several of the following symptoms: acne, abnormal menstrual cycles, hair loss and/or excessive body and facial hair growth, infertility, mood disorders, ovarian cysts, overweight and sleep apnea. The commonality among most of these symptoms is an overproduction of male sex hormones (androgens) emanating from the ovaries. Insulin resistance is another factor in PCOS. Therefore, the conventional treatment of this prevalent condition usually involves birth control pills to moderate sex hormone concentrations, diabetes medications to improve insulin sensitivity and fertility aids for women who have difficulty getting pregnant.
In addition to medications, many endocrinologists recommend a low calorie diet and exercise to their PCOS patients. The primary goal is weight loss. Even small reductions in body weight can make a difference in normalizing blood sugar and menstrual cycle. Still, this is often not enough to be considered as a standalone treatment. Fortunately, there are alternatives to medications which many conventional doctors rarely prescribe.
For starters, a bit more about the general recommendations made by allopathic physicians. Recent studies describe particular ways to get the most out of a PCOS diet and exercise regimen. Specifically, a low carbohydrate diet appears best for lowering body weight, fasting glucose, insulin and intermuscular fat. Also of note, a current publication in the journal Advanced Biomedical Research determined that avoiding dairy and starches enhanced fat oxidation aka “fat burning” in overweight women with PCOS. As far as exercise goes, it doesn’t have to be over-the-top. As little as 60 minutes of aerobic exercise, thrice-weekly for 12 weeks, is enough to significantly lower multiple risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease. Those living with PCOS are much more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease than the population at large.
Mind-body therapies and nutritional supplementation should be considered when diet and exercise aren’t enough to mitigate PCOS symptoms. Two trials published in December 2014 and March 2015 report that electroacupuncture can be as or more effective than exercise and a hormone-based medication. Positive changes in body weight, hormonal profiles and ovarian volume were documented. Supplemental dosages of several minerals may, likewise, reduce health threats relating to PCOS, such as high triglycerides and insulin resistance. The minerals in question include calcium (with Vitamin D), chromium, selenium and zinc. In an 8 week calcium trial, a daily dose of 1,000 mg was administered in addition to 50,000 IUs of Vitamin D weekly. The trace mineral studies utilized 1,000 mcg/day of chromium picolinate, 200 mcg/day of selenium, and 50 mg/day of zinc. These dosages of chromium, selenium, Vitamin D and zinc are higher than what could reasonably be attained in a natural diet.
Lastly, if additional support is needed, herbal remedies may be a powerful adjunct to other modalities. An example can be found in the February 2015 issue of the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. In it, marjoram tea, a traditional “medicine” or a placebo tea was given to a group of patients with PCOS. Blood samples were taken at the beginning and end of the one month experiment. During the study period all of the participants drank the respective teas twice-daily. The test results revealed that those ingesting marjoram tea had lower levels of DHEA-S, an adrenal hormone, and fasting insulin. Both of these effects are consistent with a normalization of hormonal profiles. The authors of the trial expressed optimism based on their preliminary findings. They urge additional research to confirm their conclusions. You can be sure that I’ll keep an eye out for just such confirmations and other research that may help put an end to the suffering caused by PCOS.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – A Lower-Carbohydrate, Higher-Fat Diet Reduces Abdominal and … (link)
Study 2 – Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Plasma Lipoproteins in Overweight and … (link)
Study 3 – Efficacy Comparison Between Electroacupuncture and Dyne-35 in … (link)
Study 4 – Serum Anti-Müllerian Hormone and Ovarian Morphology Assessed … (link)
Study 5 – Effect of Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation on Menstrual Cycle … (link)
Study 6 – Calcium Plus Vitamin D Supplementation Affects Glucose Metabolism … (link)
Study 7 – Effect of Chromium Supplementation on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in … (link)
Study 8 – Metabolic Response to Selenium Supplementation in Women with … (link)
Study 9 – Effects of Zinc Supplementation on Markers of Insulin Resistance & Lipid … (link)
Study 10 – Effect of Marjoram (Origanum Majorana) Tea on the Hormonal Profile … (link)
Low Starch/Low Dairy Diet Increases Fasting & Postprandial Fat Oxidation
Source: Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014 Nov; 39(11): 1237–1244. (link)
Tags: Exercise, Insulin, PCOS
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Women's Health