PCOS is a serious health condition caused by hormonal imbalance in women. (6) In the 21st century, this disease has emerged as a rising concern affecting over 10 million women across all age groups.
This disease progresses silently with noticeable symptoms emerging in the later stages of this disease. As women traditionally tend to overlook early signs and health problems sidelining them in favor of family and work concerns, this condition tends to progress undiagnosed and untreated for a long time.
‘Polycystic’ literally means multiple cysts. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome often develop multiple cysts in their ovaries; however, it is important to keep in mind that not all women suffering from PCOS develop cysts.
This disease can be both physically and mentally debilitating as it can cause internal issues such as uterine bleeding and also adversely affect your external appearance by causing acne breakouts and excessive chest and facial hair.
- Causes of PCOS
- Symptoms of PCOS
- Preventing PCOS
- Home Remedies for Managing PCOS
- Method 1: Apple Cider Vinegar
- Method 2: Chasteberry
- Method 3: Cinnamon
- Method 4: Iodine
- Method 5: Flaxseeds
- Method 6: Saw Palmetto
- Method 7: Blackstrap Molasses
- Method 8: Castor Oil Pack
- Method 9: Spearmint Tea
- Method 10: Diet
- Tips to keep in mind
Causes of PCOS
The exact cause is not yet known, though genetics may play a role in increasing your chances of getting PCOS. Other factors that may play a role include:
- High levels of insulin in the bloodstream or insulin resistance.
- Low-grade inflammation that causes polycystic ovaries to produce androgens.
- Hormonal imbalance including raised levels of testosterone, LH, or luteinizing hormone, and low levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).
- Low levels of progesterone lead to irregular periods.
- In some rare cases, raised levels of prolactin, the hormone that stimulates lactation during pregnancy, also cause PCOS.
- Genetic factors: People with certain genes and those with a family history of PCOS are at higher risk.
- Smoking: Women who smoke have been found to have higher levels of androgens as compared to non-smokers.
Symptoms of PCOS
Listed below are the most typical symptoms of PCOS. If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, book an appointment with your doctor today.
- Irregular periods or no periods at all.
- Abnormally heavy bleeding during periods.
- Excess levels of the male hormone androgen.
- Hair loss or thinning on the head.
- Hirsutism or excessive hair growth on other areas, especially on the face, chest, back, stomach, fingers, thumbs, and toes.
- Depression or mood swings, often accompanied by anxiety.
- Difficulty getting pregnant or multiple miscarriages.
- Some women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
- Oily skin or acne
- Sleep apnea especially in women who are overweight.
There is no known or sure shot way to prevent PCOS; however, you can lower your risk by eating right and maintaining a healthy body weight or BMI to help treat polycystic ovary syndrome naturally. (4)
Home Remedies for Managing PCOS
PCOS is a serious health condition with serious complications; if you have been experiencing any of the symptoms described above, we recommend getting a gynecological appointment as soon as possible for official diagnosis and early commencement of treatment.
If this condition is left undiagnosed and untreated, it has severe complications such as infertility, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In the long-term scenario, it can even cause endometrial cancer. (5)
For proper diagnosis, you first need to get blood tests done to check your insulin levels and then more detailed reports to check your hormone levels.
You will also have to undergo a pelvic exam and an ultrasound to check for cysts in your ovaries to help treat polycystic ovary syndrome naturally.
Method 1: Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar can be called an elixir for health as this golden liquid, rich in potassium and acetic acid, works to keep your body in excellent health by lowering your blood sugar and LDL or bad cholesterol levels.
It even boosts your metabolism and can be used most effectively for weight loss as obesity will only make your PCOS symptoms worse.
Additionally, this natural vinegar also has potent anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties, which help control PCOS complications. (3)
However, most importantly, apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties, which work to bring down the low-grade inflammation associated with the occurrence of PCOS in women. (9)
For best results, get organic apple cider vinegar with ‘the mother’ as it contains all the beneficial bacteria that boost your immunity. You can also learn how to make homemade apple cider vinegar here.
Single-Step Treatment: Dilute apple cider vinegar in water and drink daily
- Pour out 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of warm water.
- Stir with a spoon to mix well.
- Drink diluted apple cider vinegar the first thing in the morning; if you have never had it before or have a sensitive stomach, start with 1 teaspoon daily and then gradually work your way up to 1 tablespoon.
- Additionally, in case you are suffering from severe abdominal pain or cramps, you can dilute 2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water and slowly sip it to get relief within an hour.
- In case you are feeling bloated or heavy, you can drink 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a glass of warm water for immediate relief.
Drink diluted apple cider vinegar everyday without fail for at least a few months to successfully shrink the cysts in your ovaries. However, you must continue with this treatment for the rest of your life to keep the symptoms of PCOS from recurring.
Method 2: Chasteberry
Chasteberry or vitex agnus-castus, also known as monk’s pepper, comes from the chaste tree, most commonly found in the Mediterranean region, Southern Europe, and Central Asia.
The medicinal properties of this natural herb have been known since the time of Ancient Greece, and it has been extensively used in traditional Western medicine to treat menopausal and menstrual issues in women. (10)
Chasteberry helps regulate your hormone levels and also PCOS-related complications such as irregular or abnormally heavy bleeding and painful menstrual cramps.
Single-Step Treatment: Take chasteberry supplements to manage PCOS
- Take between 800 mg and 1200 mg of Chasteberry supplements daily divided into 3 equal doses. Continue this treatment for the first 3 months to control and treat PCOS. (8)
- After 3 months, lower your daily dosage to 400 to 500 mg per day.
Once you start taking the chasteberry supplements, you will find relief from cystic pain within the first or second week itself. Continue with long-term treatment to prevent your PCOS symptoms from flaring up.
Method 3: Cinnamon
This sweet spice is not just ideal for flavoring sweets but can also be used as a sugar substitute in tea or coffee and also helps in the management of type II diabetes by lowering insulin resistance.
As high insulin levels are a major causative factor in the development of PCOS, cinnamon can prove to be a highly effective remedy for managing polycystic ovaries as it helps normalize insulin levels.
Try to get the good quality organic Ceylon cinnamon powder and not the cheap cassia cinnamon for positive and effective results.
Things you’ll need:
- Organic cinnamon powder (lowers insulin resistance) – 1 teaspoon
- Raw honey (to improve taste) – 1 teaspoon
- Warm water – 1 glass
Step 1. Add cinnamon and honey to a glass of warm water
- Take a glass of warm water.
- Add 1 teaspoon of organic cinnamon powder.
- Add 1 teaspoon of raw honey as well.
Step 2. Mix well and drink daily
- Stir the ingredients to mix them well.
- Drink 1 glass daily to control and manage your PCOS symptoms.
Also, try to include a pinch of cinnamon powder into your regular diet; sprinkle some over your daily yogurt or cereals; you can sprinkle a little to flavor your soups and broths.
Method 4: Iodine
Iodine is an essential nutrient that helps regulate the functioning of your body’s endocrine glands. In fact, its deficiency can result in serious disorders, and taking iodine supplements is also beneficial in the management of hypothyroidism. (2)
As far as polycystic ovaries are concerned, doctors have reported several cases where women suffering from PCOS showed symptoms typically associated with an underactive thyroid, yet their thyroid tests came back normal.
In such patients, iodine supplementation has been shown to drastically improve PCOS-related symptoms.
Single-Step Treatment: Take iodine supplements to manage PCOS
- The recommended daily limit for iodine is 150 mcg for adults; you can adjust your iodine supplements accordingly. (7)
- Use iodized salt in your daily cooking to boost your iodine levels naturally.
- You can also increase your iodine levels via consumption of sea vegetables such as seaweed that are rich in iodine and several other essential nutrients.
- Brown seaweeds such as kelp and bladderwrack have the highest iodine content; you can buy dried sheets of these seaweeds, roast them in the oven, and crunch on them as healthy snacks.
- You can also buy kelp or bladderwrack supplements from the market; just ensure that you do not exceed the prescribed daily limit of 150 mcg for iodine.
Method 5: Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds are highly nutritious and will boost your overall health in addition to helping you manage your PCOS symptoms; these seeds are high in fiber and also provide relief from constipation.
Flaxseeds are rich in lignans that contain estrogen; therefore, these healthy seeds help decrease androgen levels in your body, while simultaneously increasing your SHBG or sex hormone-binding globulin levels that help reduce the effects of testosterone.
These seeds are also a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and lower LDL or bad cholesterol levels in your body, thereby lowering your chances of developing heart disease due to PCOS symptoms.
Single-Step Treatment: Mix ground flaxseeds in a glass of water and drink
- Add 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds to a glass of water.
- Mix well and drink daily; preferably in the morning on an empty stomach.
- You can also make ground flaxseeds a part of your daily diet; just sprinkle some over your soups or salads; you can also add some to your cereal or daily smoothies.
As PCOS itself is a long-term disease, we recommend that you follow the above remedy on a regular basis for a considerable period of time to help treat polycystic ovary syndrome naturally and keep its resultants complications such as high blood pressure in check.
Method 6: Saw Palmetto
This natural herb is extracted from the berries of the saw palmetto plant; it has long been used in traditional Native American medicine to treat urinary tract problems among others.
This herb is especially beneficial for PCOS sufferers as it has anti-androgenic properties that help reduce the growth of excess hair in irregular places.
Saw palmetto works to counter estrogen dominance, which may inhibit DHT or dihydrotestosterone clearance from the bloodstream leading to irregular hair growth on the face or chest in women.
Single-Step Treatment: Take saw palmetto supplements
- For PCOS, you can take 320 mg of standard saw palmetto extract daily.
- If you are going for liquid tinctures or extracts, it is recommended that you take 1 teaspoon per day.
Take saw palmetto supplements for a few months to restore hormonal balance and suppress the worst of your PCOS symptoms and complications.
Method 7: Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses are a by-product of the process via which sugarcane juice is refined into the white crystallized sugar we use on an everyday basis.
This rich black liquid is rich in iron, essential nutrients, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium that help compensate for the vitamins lost due to heavy or abnormal menstrual bleeding, a common complication of PCOS.
You can combine it with raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and kill two birds with one stone.
Things you’ll need:
- Blackstrap molasses (contains iron) – 1 tablespoon
- Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (anti-inflammatory) – 1 tablespoon
- Warm water – 1 glass
Step 1. Add blackstrap molasses & apple cider vinegar to warm water
- Take a glass of warm water.
- Add 1 tablespoon of organic blackstrap molasses.
- Add 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar as well.
Step 2. Stir well and drink daily to manage the symptoms of PCOS
- Stir well with a spoon to mix everything together.
- Drink this concoction daily in the morning to control PCOS symptoms.
Consume 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses on a long-term basis to keep up your strength and prevent nutrient-deficiency while dealing with PCOS.
Method 8: Castor Oil Pack
If you suffer from frequent abdominal or pelvic pain because of inflammation caused by PCOS, you can use a castor oil pack for relief. In fact, castor oil can also be used to shrink uterine fibroids with regular use.
The application of heat and castor oil helps reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation; thereby enabling effective detoxification of your body’s systems.
Single-Step Treatment: Soak a folded towel in castor oil; warm it and apply
- Pour organic castor oil in a bowl with a broad mouth.
- Fold a piece of flannel cloth and soak it in the castor oil, submerging it completely.
- Squeeze out any excess oil and place the oil-soaked cloth on your abdomen or the pelvic region.
- Place a hot water bottle on top to apply heat and soak in the benefits of the warmed up castor oil.
- As using the oil-soaked cloth can get a bit messy, you can also place it inside a ziplock bag and then place it on your abdomen.
You can use a castor oil pack on a regular basis to reduce internal inflammation and also to get pain relief during bouts of abdominal or pelvic pain.
Method 9: Spearmint Tea
Spearmint leaves have powerful anti-androgenic properties that work to reduce excessive hair growth in unusual places, as described in the symptoms above.
Drinking spearmint tea regularly helps reduce your testosterone levels alongside increasing beneficial hormones such as LH or luteinizing hormone that triggers ovulation and FSH or follicle-stimulating hormone that ensures a proper maturation of ovarian follicles.
This is a fairly simple and safe remedy to regulate your hormone levels naturally to alleviate the most embarrassing symptoms of PCOS.
Single-Step Treatment: Drink spearmint tea daily to manage PCOS
- Take a cup of hot water and steep a spearmint tea bag in it for 10 minutes.
- Remove the tea bag and let the tea cool down a little.
- Drink 1 to 2 cups of spearmint tea daily.
- You can also use fresh spearmint leaves to brew more powerful tea; just add a handful of fresh leaves to a cup of hot water and let them steep for at least 20 minutes. Afterward, strain out the leaves and enjoy your fresh cup of spearmint tea.
Drink spearmint tea on a daily basis to help control and improve your PCOS symptoms.
Method 10: Diet
Your diet and lifestyle play a vital role when it comes to managing and preventing PCOS. What you eat affects your body’s functioning and overall health, so you have to eat healthy to stay healthy.
- For starters, you can adopt a healthier lifestyle by cutting out all junk food, processed foods, and refined food items entirely from your diet.
- You can instead opt for whole grains, brown rice, and healthy sources of protein such as grass-fed beef, organic chicken or turkey meat; fish and seafood are particularly recommended as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Avoid milk and other dairy products as they can increase the level of testosterone in your body, further worsening your PCOS.
- Include more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet; buy them from your local farmer’s market and not the supermarket where most of the produce comes from cold storage. Also, avoid having canned or tinned fruits and vegetables as they are low in nutrition and contain artificial preservatives that may prove to be harmful.
- Avoid foods with a high glycemic index such as white rice, mashed potatoes, rice cakes, muffins, cakes, donuts, or any other sugary sweets/candies, pumpkin, crackers, and fruits like melon, and pineapple. (1)
- Go for healthy snacks, you can munch on sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia, flax, and hemp seeds. As far as nuts are concerned, you can go for cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, and Macadamia nuts.
- Reduce sugar and starches from your diet, reduce carbohydrates, and go for more protein in your daily diet; you do not have to necessarily go for animal protein; vegetable proteins in the form of beans and legumes are far healthier. When buying, give preference to dried varieties over tinned or canned ones.
- Cook using healthy oils such as olive oil, and consume healthy fats such as eggs, avocados, and healthier nut butter such as almond or walnut butter.
Tips to keep in mind
- Exercise regularly to control obesity and boost metabolism to help treat polycystic ovary syndrome naturally.
- Get regular gynecological check-ups done for early diagnosis and treatment.
- You can also include fenugreek seeds in your daily diet to help lower your blood sugar levels naturally.
- Glycemic Index and Diabetes. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html. Published 2018.
- Du D, Li X. The relationship between thyroiditis and polycystic ovary ... International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3832324/. Published 2013.
- Gopal J, Anthonydhason V, Muthu M, et al. Authenticating apple cider vinegar's home remedy claims: antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties and cytotoxicity aspect. Natural Product Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29224370. Published December 2017.
- Legro RS. Evaluation and Treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Endotext. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278959/. Published January 11, 2017.
- Can PCOS lead to cancer? Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pcos/more_information/FAQs/cancer.
- Ndefo UA, Eaton A, Green MR. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Review of Treatment Options ... Pharmacy and Therapeutics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737989/. Published June 2013.
- Office of Dietary Supplements - Iodine. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/.
- Niroumand MC, Heydarpour F, Farzaei MH. Pharmacological and therapeutic effects of Vitex agnus-castus L.: A review. Plant Review. http://www.phcogrev.com/article.asp?issn=0973-7847;year=2018;volume=12;issue=23;spage=103;epage=114;aulast=Niroumand. Published 2018.
- Wu D, Kimura F, Takashima A, et al. Intake of vinegar beverage is associated with restoration of ovulatory function in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23666047. Published May 2013.
- Jazani AM, Maleki RF, Kazemi Ahasan, et al. Vol 15, No 2 (2018). Journal of Service-Learning in Higher Education. http://journals.sfu.ca/africanem/index.php/ajtcam/issue/view/137. Published 2018.