PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a hormonal disorder that can affect women throughout their reproductive years. It is characterized by high levels of androgens (male hormones) in the body, resulting in abnormal hair growth, acne and weight gain. Additionally, women with PCOS face an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Although there is no cure for PCOS, it can be controlled. Some simple home remedies and lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of PCOS and reduce complications.
Symptoms of PCOS
PCOS produces a variety of symptoms. These symptoms may vary between women. Not all women will have all symptoms. The symptoms of PCOS are often similar to other medical conditions, such as thyroid disease and Cushing’s syndrome. Common symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Hirsutism — irregular hair growth in typically “male” locations such as the chest, back, and face
- Obesity or weight gain, especially with weight around your waist
- Hair thinning or male-pattern baldness
- Skin tags — excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
- Pain in the pelvic area
Your doctor will be able to determine symptoms that you can’t, such as androgen levels in the blood or high cholesterol levels.
Home Remedies for PCOS
Although PCOS can be treated with standard medications and treatments, there is always the risk of potential side effects that could cause unnecessary harm to the body. In these cases, you can opt for certain home remedies that offer the same benefits of standard medications, but without any potential side effects. Here are 8 effective home remedies for PCOS.
Fenugreek promotes glucose metabolism in the body and improves insulin resistance. This can help balance your hormones. It may also help aid weight loss and lower cholesterol.
- Soak 3 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in water for 6-8 hours. Take one teaspoon of the soaked seeds along with some honey in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Continue this treatment daily for a few weeks or until you see improvement.
- You can also include fenugreek seeds and leaves in your regular diet.
Cinnamon is a very effective home remedy for PCOS and its symptoms. It can help normalize the monthly menstrual cycle and can also curb sudden hunger pangs owing to its high fiber content.
- Sprinkle some cinnamon powder on the snacks you eat.
- You can also add some cinnamon to your dishes every day.
- Alternatively, you can consume a tablespoon of cinnamon after every meal for best results.
Flaxseed helps decrease androgen levels, and this is a good thing when combating PCOS. It contains lignans that increase the production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) that binds testosterone in the blood, thereby preventing it from wreaking havoc in the body.
Flaxseed also helps lower cholesterol levels and slow down glucose metabolism. The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
- Mix 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseeds in a glass of water.
- Drink it daily until you are satisfied with the results.
- You can also add it to your salads, smoothies, and soups.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is very beneficial for dealing with PCOS because if effectively helps reduce insulin resistance and keeps your body from producing too much insulin. Less insulin means less testosterone. When consumed in moderate quantities, it can also help you lose weight and improve your overall health.
- Mix 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water.
- Drink it daily in the morning and before meals.
- Continue until you see improvement.
5. Spearmint Tea
Spearmint tea can help deal with PCOS due to its anti-androgenic properties. A study found that drinking spearmint tea can help reduce hirsutism by lowering testosterone levels and increasing follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels.
- Boil one cup of water in a pan and add one teaspoon of dried spearmint leaves.
- Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Strain and drink this tea twice daily for a few weeks.
6. Saw Palmetto
Naturopaths often suggest saw palmetto for the treatment of PCOS because it helps correct the hormonal imbalance.
- Take 320 mg of standardized saw palmetto extract daily for a few months.
- If you are taking a liquid extract, take one teaspoon per day.
Note: Make sure to consult a licensed naturopathic physician before taking this or any other herbal remedy for PCOS to ensure safe and effective use of the herbs.
Chasteberry, also called vitex, is another popular herb for relieving the symptoms of PCOS and treating infertility. It is a great hormone-balancing herb.
- Add one teaspoon of fresh or dried chasteberries to a cup of boiling water.
- Let it steep for about 10 minutes.
- Strain and drink this tea daily for a few weeks or months, until you see improvement.
- You can also take this herb in supplement form. Consult your doctor for proper dosage and suitability.
8. Licorice Root
Licorice has a blocking effect on dihydrotestosterone. Blocking this chemical can lower your testosterone levels.
- Boil a cup of water and add one teaspoon of dried licorice root.
- Let it simmer for about 10 minutes and then strain it.
- Drink this tea two or three times daily for a few weeks.
Note: Licorice root may not be suitable for those suffering from high blood pressure or heart, kidney or liver disease.
Lifestyle Changes for PCOS
Quit smoking. If you currently smoke or use other tobacco products, quit as soon as possible. Quitting “cold turkey” or all at once is great if you can manage it, but if that proves too difficult, opt for a Nicotine gum or patch treatment that allows you to ease off your addiction gradually.
Improve your eating habits. Eat a more balanced diet filled with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. You should also consider making alterations to your diet that can help keep your blood sugar levels in check.
Lose weight. Weight management is important for women with PCOS. You do not need to lose weight if your body mass index is already considered “normal” or “healthy,” but if you are overweight, even a small decrease in your weight can help balance your hormones.
Stay active. Regular exercise can help you maintain your weight, but in addition to that, physical activity itself can help your body lower blood sugar levels and improve your symptoms.
- Focus on cardiovascular exercise instead of strength training exercises.
- Even a small amount of exercise can help a great deal. If you have difficulty fitting exercise into your schedule, start by walking 30 minutes a day on four to seven days each week.
The Best Diet for PCOS
Stabilizing blood sugar levels through a balance diet, including whole foods, is the key to treating PCOS naturally. Sugary foods should be banished. In order to follow the best PCOS diet, the following basic tips should be considered.
- Avoid or limit dairy products
- Avoid sugar
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Avoid additives, food chemicals and preservatives
- Reduce your intake of saturated fats
- Balance low GI carbohydrates with sufficient protein
- Include essential fatty acids in your diet
- Include phytoestrogens in your diet
- Drink enough water