Skip to main content

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition many women struggle with. But while it’s a common hormonal disorder (prevalence is 1 out of 10 women worldwide), the cause is said to be unknown. That alone can be distressing, but it’s just the beginning. PCOS can cause a range of symptoms, which may be life-altering. Is there hope? YES! PCOS may be common, but it isn’t normal. The key is finding what’s causing hormonal imbalance and reducing the impact of those stressors. 

What is PCOS?

According to Mayo Clinic, PCOS is an endocrine disorder that commonly affects women of reproductive age. With PCOS, the ovaries can develop small sacs of fluid around their outer edges called cysts. The fluid-filled cysts contain immature eggs called follicles, but the follicles don’t regularly release eggs. [1] 

The result is that women with PCOS have either infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods. They may also build up excess male hormones (androgens) like testosterone. Elevated testosterone levels can lead to some characteristic signs of PCOS, like acne, hair loss, and excess facial hair –even just a random long hair on your chin.    

The hormone and metabolic imbalances that result from this condition affect multiple body systems leading to a variety of unpleasant and sometimes devastating symptoms.  

Symptoms of PCOS

The main symptoms of PCOS center around the menstrual cycle and the impact of dysregulated blood sugar levels. While there are many common symptoms, they vary from woman to woman. Here are some common symptoms of PCOS: 

  • Irregular periods or no menstruation (amenorrhea) 
  • Lack of ovulation 
  • Ovarian cysts 
  • Insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome 
  • Hirsutism (excess hair growth on the face and body) 
  • Infertility 
  • Oily skin and acne 
  • Thinning hair 
  • Weight gain/obesity 
  • Depression or mood changes 
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding 

It’s important to note that not all women with PCOS experience each one of these symptoms. The severity and combination of symptoms can vary widely. Keeping track of your symptoms can help healthcare providers in the process of diagnosing PCOS. 

How is PCOS Diagnosed?

There’s no one definitive test to diagnose PCOS. Instead, your healthcare provider will generally discuss symptoms and health history. If PCOS sounds like a possibility, they may recommend one or more of the following: [2] 

  • Pelvic exam – A pelvic exam checks for masses or growths on the reproductive organs. 
  • Blood tests – Blood tests can measure hormone levels, glucose tolerance, cholesterol, and triglycerides. 
  • Ultrasound – Ultrasounds can evaluate the ovaries and check the thickness of the uterine lining. 

Meeting two out of three criteria is now required for diagnosing PCOS: 1) Irregular or infrequent ovulation, 2) excess male hormone activity, and 3) polycystic ovaries (diagnosed via ultrasound). [3] Once PCOS is diagnosed, your practitioner may recommend more testing to check for complications. 

The Fireman vs. The Carpenter in Healthcare

At The Wellness Way, we talk about the mainstream perspective on healthcare versus our perspective, as the “fireman approach” versus the “carpenter approach.”

Mainstream “fireman” doctors have two tools (treatment options) to take care of people: an axe and a hose. The axe represents cutting things out during a surgical procedure. The hose represents using medications to extinguish the “flames”: inflammation, pain, and other symptoms.

Wellness Way doctors are more like carpenters: They assess the body’s current state with testing and then create a personalized plan to rebuild using nutrients from foods and supplements. Sunshine, rest, and positive relationships are some common natural therapies that support the body in healing.

While these things are considered “complementary medicine” or “alternative medicine,” scientific research backs up their effectiveness in supporting the healing process.

Mainstream Medicine’s Approach to PCOS

Mainstream medicine claims the cause of PCOS is unknown. Conventional treatment of PCOS focuses on managing symptoms, lowering androgen levels, balancing blood sugar, and aiding weight loss. These goals may be achieved via a low-calorie diet, exercise, and medications.   

Common Medications For PCOS

Common medications given for PCOS include: [4] 

  • Oral contraceptives: Birth control pills are given to manipulate a woman’s menstrual cycle, lower androgen levels, and reduce acne. (Whether they are effective at these things is another conversation).
  • Diabetes medications: Diabetes drugs like Metformin may help lower insulin resistance and androgen levels in PCOS. 
  • Fertility drugs: Drugs like Clomid and Serophene can trigger ovulation, manipulating the cycle and possibly reducing PCOS symptoms. 
  • Anti-androgen drugs: Medications like Spironolactone may help reduce PCOS symptoms by lowering male hormones. 

Medications may help with symptoms by synthetically manipulating women’s hormones, reducing blood sugar, or promoting fertility. However, they all have adverse side effects and may cause other health problems over time. The side effects are often why women seek out natural remedies and herbal medicines for PCOS. 

What Causes PCOS? Traumas, Toxins, and Thoughts

The body isn’t programmed for illness–there is no PCOS gene that says you’re guaranteed to develop it. PCOS comes from the way the body reacts and interacts with its surroundings. If you eat something you’re allergic to or encounter toxins, the body does what it’s supposed to; it protects itself by ramping up the immune response and becoming inflamed. Inflammation is part of the healing process, but chronic illnesses and imbalances may develop when the body is constantly under some form of stress (traumas, toxins, or thoughts). 

Traumas (Physical Stressors)

Traumas or physical stressors can be acute or chronic. Chronic subluxations in the spine can inhibit nerve and blood flow to the small intestine, leading to dis-ease.  Other potential traumas may include: 

  • Concussions  
  • Car accidents/Whiplash 
  • A fall  
  • Physical abuse 
  • Surgery 

The initial physical trauma may lead to biochemical stressors, like an infection following surgery or medication following an injury. 

Toxins (Biochemical Stressors)

Toxins are biochemical stressors that may be either natural or synthetic. 

  • Nutrient deficiencies – Several key nutrient deficiencies are common in women with PCOS: calcium, potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin C. [5]  
  • Sugar – Not only can sugar create or aggravate nutrient deficiencies, but it also acts like a toxin in the body, raising inflammation. [6] 
  • Toxic metals – Lead, mercury, arsenic, barium, and cadmium exposures are all associated with an increased risk of PCOS. [7] 
  • Endocrine-disrupting chemicals – Bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, and other chemicals mimic naturally made hormones and may lead to PCOS and other hormone issues. [8] 
  • Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs) – AGEs are created during the browning process of cooking. They can interfere with metabolism and lead to insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, worsening PCOS and contributing to related conditions like type 2 diabetes. [8]
  • Poor Indoor Air Quality Off-gassing and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) used to sterilize materials in new cars, mattresses, and carpets can create chronic toxicity in the body.
  • Hormone Therapy – Taking synthetic hormones can also aggravate PCOS symptoms, as estrogen dominance is already one of the imbalances associated with PCOS. 

Anything that compromises the integrity of the gut lining, leading to a “leaky gut,” can lead to chronic inflammation and hormone imbalance, leading to PCOS.

Thoughts (Emotional Stressors)

Emotional stress is not to be underestimated. It’s as powerful as physical and biochemical stressors in triggering dis-eases. Our thoughts can be influenced by the following:  

  • Relationship issues 
  • Financial stress  
  • Watching the news (fear/worry)  
  • A feeling of overwhelm due to significant life changes, like a recent marriage, a new baby, graduation, a divorce, or even moving to a new city.  
  • Holding a grudge/pent-up anger  
  • Grief/feelings of loss 

The cumulative effect of these traumas, toxins, and thoughts can create inflammation and increase the risk of dis-ease in the body and brain.   

The Wellness Way Approach to PCOS: Natural Solutions

At The Wellness Way, we dig deeper to solve the health challenges others can’t. We don’t just address symptoms; we run tests to find out what’s going on behind the scenes.   

Important Tests For Assessing Your Gut, Hormone, and Immune Health

Here are some commonly recommended tests at The Wellness Way:  

Your Wellness Way practitioner will order tests based on what he or she considers most relevant based on your health history. 

Dietary Changes for Women with PCOS and Hormone Imbalance

It’s critical to, first and foremost, lower inflammation so the gut can heal. One study even concluded that PCOS is a form of low-level chronic inflammation. [9] Eliminating sugar, avoiding your food allergies, and following a personalized nutrition program can go a long way toward reducing inflammation and promoting hormone balance. These are some additional guidelines for inflammatory conditions.

  • No sugar or processed foods – Both increase inflammation. Balancing blood sugar is critical for overcoming insulin resistance and allowing the body to heal.  
  • Overall low carbohydrate, non-inflammatory diet of organic whole foods.  
  • Gluten-free, mostly grain-free – Gluten is known to aggravate the gut lining, contributing to chronic inflammation in the gut and brain. [10] 
  • No cow’s milk dairy products – Goat and sheep’s milk products may be better tolerated –and even beneficial for gut inflammation. [11]  
  • Avoid high omega-6 vegetable oils, like corn, canola, soybean, cottonseed oil, sunflower, grapeseed, and others, which can alter the omega-6 to omega-3 balance to be more inflammatory. [12] Instead, use fruit oils like olive, coconut, avocado, and palm oil; or animal fats like beef tallow, bacon grease, and duck fat. 
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages – Popular alcoholic drinks compromise the intestinal lining and increase inflammation. Believe it or not, alcohol is also very high glycemic, meaning it aggravates insulin resistance and PCOS. [13]  
  • Personalized nutrition, based on your food allergy test results, can help lower systemic inflammation and allow the body to return to balance. 
  • Nutrient-dense foods: Specific foods like Liver/organ meats, sauerkraut, and micro greens help add nutrition. 
  • Focus on antioxidants – Including things like turmeric, green tea, berries, dark chocolate, and foods high in polyphenols can lower oxidative stress and keep inflammation under control. 
  • Omega-3-rich foods – Wild-caught salmon, herring, sardines, walnuts, and ground flaxseeds supply omega-3 fatty acids and help lower inflammation. [14] 

Diet is paramount, but supplements can help the body heal the digestive tract. 

Potential Supplements for Women with PCOS and Hormone Imbalance

Every patient is different, but evidence-based supplements used at The Wellness Way for those struggling with hormonal, digestive, and immune imbalances may include the following:  

  • Aloe vera – Aloe gel may be protective against PCOS as it restores ovarian steroid levels. [15] 
  • Gymnema – Gymnema is excellent for balancing blood sugar levels and modulating insulin levels, which can greatly improve certain PCOS symptoms. [16] 
  • Licorice – Licorice has anti-androgen (testosterone-lowering) and estrogen-like qualities, which are especially beneficial for PCOS. [17] It’s especially beneficial when combined with White Peony (Paeonia lactiflora). [18] 
  • Chaste Tree – Chaste tree is also known as Vitex (vitex agnus-castus). Its ability to increase progesterone and balance testosterone levels makes it a helpful herb for PCOS patients. [19] 
  • Black Cohosh – Black cohosh may improve hormone regulation while also supporting fertility. [20] 
  • Dong Quai – Dong Quai is a crucial herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for supporting women’s health. It may be helpful for those with PCOS. [21] 
  • Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha is a popular treatment for PCOS is Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. It may reduce PCOS symptoms by lowering elevated cortisol levels and normalizing the cycle. [22 
  • Spearmint – Spearmint has anti-androgen properties and helps balance the atretic follicles with graafian follicles, ultimately reducing cysts and improving PCOS symptoms. It may be used as a tea or essential oil. [23] 
  • Inositol Inositol plays a role in insulin signaling and can improve insulin sensitivity, ovarian function, and menstrual regularity. Several studies support its use for PCOS. [24] 
  • NAC – N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) helps raise levels of the master antioxidant glutathione in the body. It has improved ovulation, fertility, insulin resistance, and lipid profiles (cholesterol levels) in some women with PCOS. [25] 
  • Cinnamon – Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood glucose, improving metabolic issues related to PCOS. [26] 

Everyone is different – herbal remedies that work for one person may not work for another. This is due to body chemistry, including genetics, allergenic responses, and unique contributing causes to PCOS.  

Lifestyle Changes to Support Women with PCOS and Hormone Imbalance

Other natural treatments for PCOS are lifestyle changes and other complementary therapies that bring balance to blood sugar and hormones, such as the following: 

  • Regular chiropractic care – Chiropractic care helps improve blood flow and nerve flow while decreasing overall physical stress on the body. It also supports balance in the autonomic nervous system and hormone levels.  
  • Weight loss – Losing 5 to 10% of body weight can help lower the burden on the body and alleviate some PCOS symptoms.  
  • Physical activity Regular exercise has been shown to promote balanced blood sugar levels, a healthy body weight, a positive mood, and cardiovascular fitness.  

Be a well-informed patient! In this “Quick Tips” video (pre-cursor to ADP), Dr. Patrick Flynn shares how to overcome PCOS naturally:

Here are some additional resources for learning more about PCOS: 

Educational Resources for PCOS and Hormone Imbalance

Videos & Webinars Related to PCOS and Hormone Imbalance

Overcoming PCOS: Discover a Healthier Approach | TWW Quick Tips
High Testosterone in Women | The DPF Show | Episode 65
PCOS, Endometriosis, Circumcision | The DPF Show | Episode 69
Testosterone & Estrogen | A Different Perspective | Episode 134 

Articles to Support Those with PCOS and Hormone Imbalance

How Do You Know if Your Hormones Are Messed Up?
Silent Symptoms of PCOS: 9 Signs to Watch For

CONNECT WITH US!

We invite you to connect with us! Find an event at a clinic near you! Follow us on social media. Tune in to A Different Perspective each Saturday morning LIVE to get cutting-edge training directly from Dr. Patrick Flynn. Set up a no-obligation health consult with one of our doctors today. The best is yet to come! Think differently – and THRIVE. Reach out to a Wellness Way clinic today to get thorough testing and start on your health journey. We are here to help! 

References

  1. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
  2. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic
  3. Revised 2003 consensus on diagnostic criteria and long-term health risks related to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – PubMed (nih.gov)
  4. PCOS Treatments — PCOS Awareness Association (pcosaa.org)
  5. Quantitative assessment of nutrition in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – PubMed (nih.gov)
  6. Impact of sugar on the body, brain, and behavior – PubMed (nih.gov)
  7. Exposure to multiple toxic metals and polycystic ovary syndrome risk: Endocrine disrupting effect from As, Pb and Ba – PubMed (nih.gov)
  8. Polycystic ovary syndrome and environmental toxins – PubMed (nih.gov)
  9. Polycystic ovary syndrome and circulating inflammatory markers – PubMed (nih.gov)
  10. Mood disorders and non-celiac gluten sensitivity – PubMed (nih.gov)
  11. In vitro evaluation of immunomodulatory activities of goat milk Extracellular Vesicles (mEVs) in a model of gut inflammation – PubMed (nih.gov)
  12. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids – PubMed (nih.gov)
  13. Treating PCOS Naturally: Clinical experience and scientific evidence support medicinal herbs, nutritional supplements, and lifestyle interventions to treat symptoms of this common female endocrine disorder – American Botanical Council (herbalgram.org)
  14. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in primary Sjögren’s syndrome: clinical meaning and association with inflammation – PubMed (nih.gov)
  15. Aloe barbadensis Mill. formulation restores lipid profile to normal in a letrozole-induced polycystic ovarian syndrome rat model – PMC (nih.gov)
  16. Gymnema – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics
  17. Licorice: From Pseudohyperaldosteronism to Therapeutic Uses – PMC (nih.gov)
  18. The synergistic effect of Paeonia spp and Glycyrrhiza glabra on polycystic ovary induced in mice – PubMed (nih.gov)
  19. The effects of Vitex agnus castus extract and its interaction with dopaminergic system on LH and testosterone in male mice – PubMed (nih.gov)
  20. Systematic Review of Black Cohosh ( Cimicifuga racemosa) for Management of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome-Related Infertility – PubMed (nih.gov)
  21. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Disorder of Reproductive Age, Its Pathogenesis, and a Discussion on the Emerging Role of Herbal Remedies – PMC (nih.gov)
  22. Effect of combination of Withania somnifera Dunal and Tribulus terrestris Linn on letrozole induced polycystic ovarian syndrome in rats – PubMed (nih.gov)
  23. Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial – PubMed (nih.gov)
  24. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms & Nutritional Strategies. – Life Extension
  25. Polycystic ovaries and herbal remedies: A systematic review – PMC (nih.gov)
  26. Herbs as a Source for the Treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Systematic Review – PMC (nih.gov)

STAY CONNECTED TO WELLNESS

Subscribe to our newsletter for health tips & updates.

+30k
Join the community

Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Leave a Reply