Nisha is a 21-year-old college graduate who is currently looking out for job opportunities. She is 5 feet tall and weighs 100 kgs. Although she was slim when she was young, after puberty hit her, she started to gain weight. It was during her junior college that she was bullied and called names. She was even fat-shamed by her college mates. Initially, she thought it was because of her unhealthy eating habits but as time passed by, she has other issues such as irregular menses and appearance of facial hair. This is when she consulted a gynecologist who after few tests told her that she was suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome. Currently, she is on medications for hormonal imbalance and also maintains a strict diet and exercise routine. She has lost around 10 kgs, which lead to a significant difference in her condition.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common endocrine disorder affecting around 4-6% of women of reproductive age. It is characterized by high levels of androgens (male hormones), hirsutism (abnormal hair growth) and abnormal menstrual cycle due to hyperinsulinemia (high levels of insulin in the blood). Women with PCOS are at an increased risk of reproductive abnormalities, and two-thirds of them also have metabolic problems such as obesity, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance. This is the reason why women with PCOS are at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The treatment of PCOS is aimed at managing symptoms such as obesity and hyperinsulinemia. In this article, we shed light on some of the common foods which act as herbal remedies to control and manage PCOS and are backed by research studies.
Home Remedies For Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Diet plays a key role in the management of various health problems including PCOS. There are certain foods which are loaded with the wellness of nutrients as well as medicinal properties. Some of the common ones are available in our kitchen cabinet. Here are some of the common home remedies that can help curb PCOS.
1. Cinnamon (Dalchini)
Cinnamon is a very common spice used in Indian cuisine. It imparts a distinct flavor and taste and is widely used in soups, biryanis, and pulav. However, not many know that this spice has anti-PCOS and anti-diabetic properties. The spice is known to improve metabolic factors in women with the condition as well as help in the management of health complications caused due to PCOS.
According to a 2018 study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cinnamon not only decreased the levels of insulin but also caused a significant reduction in total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL-cholesterol ) and triglycerides. Cinnamon was also found to act on the body mass index and aid in weight loss, which is one of the key management approaches for PCOS. It is also found to aid in regulating the menstrual cycle who took cinnamon supplements (1.5 g/d) for 6 months.
How To Take It: Add one teaspoon of cinnamon powder to a glass of hot water and drink it daily for a few months. You can also include this spice in your diet by sprinkling cinnamon powder on your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, sandwiches, and salads. If you are planning to take cinnamon supplements, do consult your doctor to know the pros and cons of it.
2. Flaxseeds or Alsi
Flaxseeds are known to be loaded with fibre and this is the reason, they are used to treat constipation. But in addition to this, these seeds can also improve the symptoms of people suffering from PCOS. Flaxseed oil is rich in a compound known as lignan which is shown to lower the levels of androgen in men and help in the treatment of prostate cancer. As PCOS is accompanied with hirsutism (excessive hair growth), amenorrhoea (no periods) and obesity, which are caused due to excess level of androgens, these seeds are known to help in the management of the condition. A 2007 case study revealed that flaxseed supplementation (30 g/day) caused a significant improvement in total and free serum testosterone levels. Moreover, it also reported an improvement in hirsutism.
How To Take It: Mix one or two tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds or alsi in a glass of water and drink it daily. Also, include powdered flax seeds in your diet regularly by adding it to your smoothies, soups, and salads to make the most of these healthy seeds.
Apple cider vinegar is widely used by people as a weight loss remedy. It is also a popular remedy for hair and skin care. However, what is surprising about this popular remedy is that it can be used to control the symptoms of PCOS. Insulin insensitivity is one of the known causes of PCOS. It is also known to cause irregular menstruation which in turn can lead to infertility. However numerous studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can act as a home remedy for PCOS along with medications. This is because it improves insulin resistance in patients with PCOS. A 2013 study conducted in this regard, revealed that vinegar decreased the levels of luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone thereby restoring ovulatory functions and improve insulin sensitivity in people with PCOS.
How To Take It: It is advised to dilute apple cider vinegar in the ratio of 1:8 to reap its weight loss benefits. This means add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to 8 teaspoons of water and drink it on an empty stomach. Do this regularly for effective results.
Here’s more on the health benefits of apple cider vinegar (Link to Ayush Page).
4. Fenugreek (Methi)
Fenugreek is widely used as an herbal drug due to its medicinal properties. The role of fenugreek in the prevention and control of diabetes is well-known. The seeds not only improve glucose control but also improve insulin resistance, which is the key to controlling PCOS. It may also help lower cholesterol, aid weight loss and promote healthy heart functioning. Studies have shown that the intake of fenugreek for around eight weeks showed an improved insulin sensitivity in people with PCOS. Moreover, it was reported to regulate the menstrual cycle and aid in the management of the condition.
How To Take It: Soak three teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in water for six to eight hours. Take one teaspoon of the soaked seeds in the morning on an empty stomach. Also, take one teaspoon of the seeds about 10 minutes prior to lunch and one teaspoon prior to dinner on a regular basis to manage the symptoms of PCOS at home.
5. Spearmint Tea
Spearmint tea can also help deal with PCOS due to its anti-androgenic properties. Drinking spearmint tea can help reduce hirsutism or excess body hair, by reducing free and total testosterone levels and increasing Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. According to a 2014 study, spearmint tea caused a reduction in the level of testosterone hormone in blood in women with PCOS. It also decreases the degree of hirsutism due to its effect on the male hormone.
How To Take It: Drink spearmint tea twice a day to control PCOS at home. To make this tea, add 2-3 spearmint leaves in a cup of boiling water. Allow it to boil for 5 minutes, cool and strain it. Drink it on a regular basis for effective results.
Remember that these home remedies for PCOS can help improve the symptoms of PCOS when taken on a regular basis. But these remedies should not act as a replacement for medicines used to improve the condition. Also, consult your doctor before following these remedies for effective results.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
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