PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a common endocrine disorder affecting about 20% of all women between the ages of 18-44. PCOS symptoms can cause chronic discomfort and lead to more serious conditions. This article gives simple, actionable methods to improve your quality of life and protect your fertility. Learn the best natural remedies you can use to cure PCOS.
One of the most common modern-day ailments among young women is PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This condition has its roots in the endocrine system, a network of glands and organs throughout the body. This system controls the creation and secretion of all the body’s hormones.
Hormones are responsible for major important bodily functions including: childhood growth and development, metabolism over the life, and sexual reproduction.
PCOS is a specific syndrome that develops in young females due to hormonal imbalance. You may be surprised to discover that all women naturally possess some male hormones, such as androgen and progesterone. But, when male hormones and insulin (the body’s main hormone responsible for muscle development) are found in excess, PCOS can result.
Insulin is also responsible for how we assimilate sugars. When the body is out of balance, the cells can become resistant to the actions of insulin and cause blood sugar levels to rise. Insulin resistance, or the inability to recognize insulin and process it correctly, is a common factor in PCOS.
An excess of the male hormone androgen can cause small cysts to develop on the ovaries. These little fluid-filled pockets create discomfort in some women, plus, they can block egg production and regular egg release. Left untreated, PCOS can result in high blood pressure, diabetes, and difficulty in getting pregnant.
Common Symptoms of PCOS
The most common symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular menstrual periods and cycles
- Pelvic Pain
- Acne and oily skin not associated with puberty
- Excessive Body Hair Growth
- Weight Gain and Inability to Lose weight
- Mood Swings
Why Do Some Women Get PCOS?
Although there is much research on the syndrome, it’s still not 100% clear exactly why PCOS occurs. Common theories include genetics and eating habits. Some hereditary PCOS is said to manifest in those who have a history of diabetes in their family, are diabetic themselves, or have an inability to regulate insulin in their bodies. Additionally, overweight women are more likely to get PCOS.
Other expressions of PCOS are not insulin related by heredity, but are related to poor dietary habits that create insulin imbalance. Either way, modern medicine is not very clear about how to avoid getting PCOS or how to resolve it.
To date, there is not one test that can effectively diagnose PCOS. Rather, a series of tests may reveal its presence. Those tests might include pelvic exams or a variety of blood tests.
What Does Traditional Medicine Say About PCOS Causes?
Ancient medicinal systems, define PCOS as stemming from hormonal imbalance that has specific origins. For example, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) identifies PCOS symptoms as either related to kidney deficiency or to emotional stress that causes liver stagnation, high blood pressure or diabetes.
Similarly, Ayurveda, the ancient healing system of India, identifies PCOS as a kapha disorder. Kapha is one of the elemental humors of the body that determine overall health. Kapha is an earth and water humor, and when it is out of balance, it can manifest in disorders such as PCOS, that involve body sluggishness, weight gain, inability to lose weight, and slow metabolism.
How To Control and Manage PCOS
Both modern medicine and traditional medicine agree on one major point:
Lifestyle changes can help control and manage PCOS.
If you have moderate to severe discomfort in any of the above symptoms, it’s recommended to have a doctor’s check-up to determine if you are suffering from PCOS.
Some doctors suggest taking birth control pills as a PCOS treatment, with the hope of balancing the menstrual cycles. Although it might have a positive effect of relieving some symptoms in the short term, taking birth control could cause trouble down the line. This is a serious issue if you decide to become pregnant.
Taking birth control pills can also have other damaging effects on the body. So, if you want to avoid more trouble later in life, choose either a naturopathic, Ayurvedic or TCM practitioner, or an herbal specialist who can offer you effective natural remedies other than birth control medication to cure PCOS.
If you have already received a diagnosis of PCOS, there are numerous natural remedies that you can use to reduce symptoms and regain vitality. One of the first recommended actions to offset PCOS is to decrease androgens naturally.
This can be accomplished by avoiding certain foods, choosing other beneficial foods, exercising (the right way for PCOS – see below), taking natural remedies, and by reducing stress that raises cortisol levels and aggravates PCOS symptoms.
Before we continue, it’s important to note there is not one test to verify PCOS, and there is not one definitive solution to the syndrome. So, managing and controlling and curing PCOS is a very individual process.
We offer suggestions below, but everyone with PCOS does not have to follow each and every suggestion! It is very much a DIY trial and error process to control your individual symptoms. So, try out some of the remedies provided. If they don’t work for you, move on to another on the list. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that everything listed below is a “must have” to get relief!
Natural Remedies for PCOS – Diet
Fortunately, PCOS is rarely a life-threatening condition. Therefore, remember that you are in control of how you manage your symptoms and you can choose a routine that works for you.
1. Choose An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Inflammation is at the root of most health issues, so it’s not a surprise that switching to an anti-inflammatory diet will greatly help to relieve PCOS symptoms. We have an entire article about how heart issues can be resolved with an anti-inflammatory diet, and those points also apply for PCOS.
Here is a list of foods to avoid:
- Fried foods
- Sugary fast food snacks
- Fast food meals containing hydrogenated oils and lacking nutrition
- Excessive sugar of any kind
- Dairy products in high quantities
If you experience uncomfortable PCOS symptoms, try eliminating the foods listed above for at least one month to see how your symptoms decrease. Then, one by one, occasionally add them back into your diet to see how they affect you. Most people with strong PCOS symptoms experience relief when they avoid these foods in their diet.
Choosing to increase the amount of whole foods that you eat will help to cure your PCOS symptoms and manage the condition.
The next points will show you which whole, anti-inflammatory foods you should include in your diet.
2. Eat Foods Rich In Zinc
One of the main aspects of PCOS is inability to manage insulin. This is often due to imbalance in the thyroid gland, that is key to ensuring proper blood sugar levels. Many women with PCOS have under-active thyroid glands and zinc is excellent for helping regulate the thyroid.
Women with PCOS often find that an increase of zinc in their diet can diminish symptoms such as excess hair growth and acne and help them cure their PCOS.
Foods rich in zinc include:
- brown rice
However, if you don’t regularly eat zinc-rich foods, you should consider taking a zinc supplement. This zinc supplement ✓ contains zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and a probiotic, all of which are excellent for curing PCOS. As mentioned above, this essential mineral can relieve many PCOS symptoms such as acne, irregular ovulation, hair loss, hair growth in places you don’t want, all while improving hormonal balance.
3. Eat More High Fiber Foods
Foods that are high in fiber help to balance hormones by regulating blood sugar.
Include more foods in your diet, such as:
- whole grains
- fresh vegetables
4. Drink Warm Honey and Lemon Water
Honey helps to improve immunity, cleanse the digestive system and reduce acidity, which is important to relieve PCOS symptoms. Honey is an amazing anti-oxidant-filled natural substance. In fact, it’s so amazing that we have an entire article all about honey, so check that out, and you’ll be sold on adding natural honey with lemon juice and water to your PCOS-defeating diet!
Warm honey and lemon water should be taken first thing in the morning before any other food or drink. Simply add a teaspoonful of honey to warm water, plus the fresh juice of one-half lemon. Drink this every day for wonderful health benefits, including weight loss.
Note: If you suffer from gastritis, you should avoid this remedy.
5. Drink Apple Cider Vinegar and Water
Alternatively, you can drink a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water first thing in the morning. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has a wealth of health benefits, and one of the most important is its ability to help manage blood sugar levels. This is incredible for managing PCOS and can help boost your reproductive potential.
Simply mix about 2 tablespoons of ACV with a half cup of water, and drink on an empty stomach. You can also add a teaspoon of honey. Always choose the most natural and least processed ACV you can find; raw, organic ACV, which includes the cloudy “Mother” culture is best.
6. Drink Spearmint Tea
Lovely, minty spearmint tea is well known for its numerous health benefits. Although anyone can benefit from drinking a soothing cup of spearmint tea, it’s an especially powerful natural remedy for curing PCOS.
Spearmint is calming and helps to relieve tension and anxiety. That’s important for women with PCOS because stress increases PCOS symptoms. Spearmint is an anti-androgenic herb – that means spearmint tea inhibits testosterone production, while improving follicle growth in the ovaries.
Spearmint is a known anti-inflammatory herb, also wonderful for aiding digestion and relieving water retention. Drinking two cups of spearmint tea per day is suggested for maximum benefit.
7. Drink Green Tea
With a high level of anti-oxidants, and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, green tea can help to reduce PCOS symptoms.
If you replace sugary drinks with herbal teas, such as green tea and spearmint tea, you will be well on your way to curing your PCOS symptoms.
Green tea is beneficial to:
- balance hormone levels by reducing testosterone
- reduce ovarian cysts
- help balance metabolism (green tea contains caffeine that helps in weight loss, but far less caffeine than coffee!)
- protect the liver by helping it to eliminate toxins
- promote weight loss by burning fat
If your PCOS symptoms are very strong, you’ll probably gain more benefit by taking green tea supplements, such as green tea extract capsules ✓ because you would have to drink a huge amount of green tea to see significant results! But drinking green tea will always bring health benefits, so it will stay on our suggestion list for women with PCOS.
Superfoods And Herbs That Decrease Androgens Naturally
The following list is not exhaustive, but contains some of the best natural remedies for curing PCOS. If you are currently under a physician’s care or have questions about natural remedies, please consult with a qualified practitioner before using these remedies.
1. Reishi Mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms are medicinal mushrooms (not for cooking and not for getting high!) that have some amazing health benefits! They are so noteworthy that we thought they deserve their own article on how medicinal mushrooms can relieve even intense inflammatory conditions, like fibromyalgia.
Reishi mushroom is one of the most powerful members of the plant kingdom for PCOS because it is anti-androgenic and reduces testosterone.
In addition to these fantastic qualities, reishi also reduces all types of inflammation, regulates menstrual cycles, and is great for boosting immunity and preventing cancer. Reishi is most often taken in powder form, and we recommend this reishi powder ✓ because it is made from the fruiting bodies of the mushroom plant – the part that contains the most medicinal value.
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic adaptogenic herb that has been used for thousands of years to resolve various health difficulties. Adaptogenic herbs relieve stress, and, again, stress is one of the factors causing PCOS symptoms.
Taking ashwagandha is one of the best natural remedies to cure PCOS, because it regulates the endocrine system and increases insulin sensitivity, which will help process glucose more easily.
Other wonderful health benefits of ashwagandha for women with PCOS are:
- boosts immunity
- aids sleep
- helps balance sexual disfunction that results from hormone imbalance
- combats inflammation
Ashwagandha is most easily taken as Ashwagandha capsules ✓.
Turmeric is one of our favorite herbs of all time, so it’s no wonder that turmeric also helps to cure PCOS. PCOS sufferers benefit from turmeric’s active component, curcumin, which is nearly unsurpassed for counteracting not only inflammation, but also depression.
Plus, turmeric is heart healthy, an important factor for PCOS suffers who are at risk of cardiovascular disease due to hormone imbalance.
Turmeric is excellent for pain relief (due to its anti-inflammatory actions) and is great to take as calming turmeric golden tea beverage before bedtime to encourage good sleep. Note: If avoiding dairy for PCOS, substitute with plant-based milk, like almond or oat milk.
If you take turmeric as a supplement, its bio-availability is enhanced (especially for women with PCOS metabolism issues) when it is combined with black pepper, so we suggest this quality organic turmeric supplement ✓ for controlling PCOS. It also contains other herbs that are great for PCOs, such as reishi mushrooms and ashwagandha.
Hint: You can always add a little turmeric to your food when you are cooking (turmeric is what makes Indian curry yellow) and get an extra little punch of turmeric goodness every day.
4. Stinging Nettle Root
Stinging nettle root is another powerful herb for balancing the endocrine system. Nettle root contains plant compounds that decrease the levels of free testosterone in women with PCOS. When the levels of testosterone drop, so do the uncomfortable PCOS symptoms, such as acne, unwanted hair growth and irregular menstrual cycles.
NOTE: Although stinging nettle leaf also has great medicinal value, for curing PCOS, stinging nettle root is the one you want!
Stinging nettle root capsules ✓ are the easiest way to take this supplement.
Inositol is a vitamin-like compound that is sometimes referred to as “Vitamin B8” even though it’s not really a vitamin. It’s a substance that occurs naturally in foods that are rich in fiber, such as beans, citrus fruits, brown rice, cantaloupe among others.
Inositol is very effective in reducing androgen levels in women suffering from PCOS. It is calming, so is helpful in minimizing stress and anxiety. Because it can cause drowsiness, it should be taken at night before bed. Inositol helps preserve fertility and can be a game-changer, if used along with the lifestyle and dietary adjustments listed in this article.
It comes in varied forms, and these excellent inositol capsules ✓ are great for reversing PCOS symptoms, such as irregular periods. It helps to reduce cravings for sugar and for overeating in general, which is key to maintaining proper weight for the sake of fertility.
Natural Remedies for PCOS – Lifestyle Changes
As much as we are tired of hearing it, exercise does play a vital role in our health! Especially when it comes to managing PCOS symptoms, the right kind of exercise can make a huge difference in how you feel.
1. Low Intensity Exercise
Walking or slow cycling can reduce cortisol levels in the body, which is excellent to minimize insulin resistance and inflammation.
2. High Intensity Exercise
We’ve all heard for years that ‘more is better’ when it comes to exercise, but this is not true for resolving PCOS. Endurance exercises such as jogging distances, high intensity spin classes or other intense workout routines raise cortisol levels. When a woman has PCOS, her ability to regulate insulin is out of balance, so this type of exercise can actually lead to weight gain from excess fat storage.
To improve insulin sensitivity (which will help to reduce PCOS symptoms) short periods of high intensity interval training (HIIT – lifting weights or doing sprints) is best, rather than endurance exercises (running, for example). These exercises should be done for no more than 20 minutes, while ensuring a rest period before beginning another round of exercise.
3. Soothing Yoga Exercise Routines
Yoga is a great tool to control and manage PCOS symptoms. In this case, it’s important to avoid trendy high intensity yoga and choose a yoga program that is relaxing and calming. Traditional stretching exercises known as yoga asanas, plus breathing exercises known as pranayama, are known to soothe anxiety and stress and help to balance the endocrine system.
This is perfect for those suffering from PCOS! Practicing yoga regularly (15-60 minutes, several times per week) can:
- Provide better sleep
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Stimulate the pituitary gland
- Improve insulin and cholesterol levels
- Help balance the thyroid gland
- Boost metabolism
- Relieve pelvic congestion and ease menstrual (period) pain
To get started, here’s a great 15 minute routine for PCOS to start your day:
4. Keep A Daily Food Journal
Get a new notebook or journal and start noting the foods that you eat during the day. At the end of the day, pay attention to how you feel. As you continue to notate your diet, you will begin to realize which foods affect your PCOS symptoms negatively.
You can also add your activity/exercise routine notes to the journal. Over time you’ll determine how (and which) exercise helps your PCOS symptoms.
5. Take Some Time In Nature
It’s always a good idea to step away from the stressors of life and enjoy some quiet time by yourself in the beauty of nature. When you’re out there, notice the silence, the calm, and the wonder that is all around you in the natural world. Walk barefoot on the earth and feel the grounding influence. If you can connect more to the rhythms of nature, you can also help your body to become more in tune with its own natural rhythms.This will will help you come to a place of more balance and wellness.
PCOS is a complicated syndrome, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to using natural remedies to cure PCOS symptoms. However, you can get relief from the sometimes debilitating symptoms by following some simple lifestyle and diet guidelines.
Getting in touch with our own bodies and listening to what they tell is is always a good thing! Learning to recognize your wellness and discomfort patterns will put you on the path to wellness.
With regular good habits over time, you’ll surely see results!
If you have PCOS and are currently trying to get pregnant with no success, you can check out this resource that focuses on diet to help your fertility naturally:
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