While dealing with poly cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is definitely a multi-faceted issue, and each woman has their own symptoms and root causes, there are a few things that may help get it under control. While there are often medications recommended, natural remedies for PCOS are very helpful at reducing symptoms! Throughout the years, I’ve been able to use natural methods to reverse the effects of PCOS and have gone on to have regular cycles and get pregnant.
photo credit- neirfy
It took me many months to finally figure out what my body needed (and what it didn’t want!) but I’m now able to better balance my hormones and I know what some of my specific symptoms require to get rid of them. Since going from ovulating once, maybe twice, each year to regular cycles, let’s just say I’m a bit enthusiastic about changing our diets and how we treat our bodies!
Ten natural remedies for PCOS
1. Consume good fats
The consumption of good fats is pivotal in your body producing and balancing hormones. Did you know that your body can’t produce progesterone without cholesterol? And yes, while our bodies do produce a small amount of cholesterol on their own, the consumption of it is important for proper balance. When we talk about good fats, we’re talking about those that aren’t highly processed:
- Butter – best if found raw from pasture-fed cows as it’s higher in the fat-soluble vitamins so pivotal for fertility. Next best is going to be pastured butter from pastured cows, then organic butter, then regular butter (though toxins remain in the fat of animals so I prefer to always choose organic when it comes to animal fats) If raw, butter is best uncooked.
- Lard/tallow – the fat from pork or cows is another natural fat that is both high in nutrients and easy for our body to use. (best for frying/baking/cooking)
- Coconut Oil – another good fat, made of medium chain fatty acids, is used primarily for energy and not for storing. It also lends a pleasant flavor and slight sweetness to dishes. Best used only lightly heated for the most health benefits, though it also has a high smoke point and can be useful for sauteing and frying.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – from the first pressing of the olives, this oil has a stronger flavor yet is full of heart-healthy benefits and well suited to dressings and dips. Best when used uncooked.
Be sure to stay away from processed vegetable oils: canola, soybean oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, etc.
2. Avoid factory meat and animal products
Because estrogen dominance is very often associated with PCOS, it’s best to stick with organic animal products as conventional animals are often given hormone shots and the excess estrogens are stored in the fat and meat. Ingesting hormones is causing major issues with our bodies, whether it be PMS, infertility, or menopause. The more organic/grass-fed meat we can buy the better off we’ll be.
Organic isn’t always the answer as many large organic farms just feed organic grain instead of allowing them to eat their natural diet (grass), but if that’s all you can find – it’s better than conventional!
3. Avoid refined sugars and grains
Sugars are the thorn in the side of any woman who is dealing with PCOS. It’s basically a double whammy – it depletes the body of nutrients and it causes insulin resistance which causes unbalanced hormones. Cutting out all refined sugars and flours is extremely important!! Cutting back on your consumption of even unrefined (or natural) sugars is also important as any type of sugar affects the body’s insulin production. Some women, especially those with moderate to severe PCOS find that eating a primal diet is needed to reduce and even eliminate symptoms.
Need help cutting out sugar? Check out the Sugar Detox Challenge!
4. Choose natural women’s products
Used by women every month, conventional pads and tampons are actually not great for the body. Tampons contain something known as dioxin which is both carcinogenic (causing cancer) and inhibiting to fertility. Disposable pads prohibit airflow and can cause the area to be a breeding ground for bacteria, though they are better than using tampons.
The best options for menstrual products are going to be:
- reusable, fabric pads (available on Amazon),
- organic tampons,
- menstrual cups like the Diva (available on Amazon) or Moon cup (available on Amazon)
- Thinx period panties – other brands are now available as well – but these are a great way to eliminate any menstrual products as the underwear actually absorbs the blood.
5. Be aware of xeno-hormones
Mimicking estrogen in our bodies, xeno-estrogens are found in plastics, many beauty supplies, cleaning products, and pesticides. Once in the body, they disrupt the hormone balance causing our bodies to be confused on how many natural hormones to make. And the higher the estrogen in the body, the lower the progesterone, causing major problems with fertility.
Choosing organic produce, making your own cleaners and beauty supplies, and using glass instead of plastic will go a long way in reducing your exposure to these chemical hormones.
6. Avoid soy
While the jury is still out on how soy affects hormones production due to the phytoestrogens in it, it’s still on my do not eat list. What happens in the body is this: your natural estrogens go floating around the body, produced by organs and fat cells. Once they come across an estrogen receptor, they fit into it like a specific key fits into a lock – no other hormone will fit in that receptor. Plant-based estrogens are basically the same shape as natural estrogens and they fit in these receptors.
Some people/nutritionists/doctors say that these plant-based estrogens cause excess estrogen in the body since they take up the space the natural estrogens should, causing the natural ones to move around the body looking for a place to go. Others say that plant-based estrogens can reduce the amount of estrogen your body produces over time as the body gets signaled that there is enough in the system.
But most holistic health professionals I’ve spoken with say that the plant-based estrogen particles in soy (isoflavones) are different from other plant-based estrogens and they recommend no one consume unfermented soy. I’ve also heard way too many stories of damage caused to people’s health from moderate soy consumption, infertility is one of them.
7. Take care of your liver
Your liver is responsible for taking excess and old hormones out of the body. If it’s overworked because of over consumption of processed and sugary foods, it won’t be able to keep up and do all of its work – so the excess and old hormones stay. taking time a few times a year to gently cleanse the body is very beneficial as well as increasing your consumption of liver friendly foods like lemon, beets, and garlic. You could also prepare your own liver cleanse tincture, or purchase pre-made liver support herbal capsules (available from Beeyoutiful) to help boost liver function and get rid of toxins.
8. Avoid food preservatives
Chemicals placed in food to preserve or enhance flavor are harmful to anyone, but especially those who deal with some sort of health issue. They cause an issue with insulin production and also slow down the liver, giving it more to do. Cutting out processed foods is the easiest way to lower consumption of chemicals like MSG, Aspartame, and the multitude of colorings and chemical flavorings used.
9. Use herbs/natural supplements to regulate ovulation/menstruation
Herbs and whole foods based supplements can be very effective when regulating the menstrual cycle. Drinking a fertility tea every day will nourish your body with nutrients as well as naturally balance hormones. Supplements like vitamin B complex can increase progesterone production and lengthen the luteal phase. Medications aren’t always needed to do the job when natural products can do it just as effectively!
Sometimes a progesterone cream (like this one from Beeyoutiful) may be helpful in the short-term as well, just be sure to buy a bio-identical cream that contains natural ingredients.
10. Practice Lunaception
Lunaception is the practice of sleeping in complete darkness except for 3 nights out of your cycle/month. Darkness is closely tied to hormone production and when we sleep in a room with light pollution from street lamps, nightlight, and alarm clocks, it can disrupt the natural rhythm of hormones while we sleep.
To practice lunaception, you need to sleep in complete darkness (cover the windows with heavy curtains, cover your alarm clock, etc) from the first day of your period until your cycle day 13 when you would use a dim night-light on days 13, 14, and 15, then sleep in darkness until your next months day 13.
Of course with PCOS, cycles aren’t always regular! But lunaception may actually help regulate them over the course of a few months. The easiest way I found to do this was google the moon cycles and base my “nightlight” nights on the day before, the day of, and the day after the full moon. The rest of the time I sleep in darkness. After a while, more quickly if you take some of the above advice as well, you should find that you ovulate at the full moon and experience menstruation at the new moon.
Bonus #11. Control your insulin levels
If you’re following numbers one and three above, this gets a bit easier! But as a hormone, insulin can greatly affect your reproductive hormones. When you eat a diet that helps to balance your insulin levels (fasting glucose around 85 and after eating should not go above 130) it facilitates weight loss which can greatly reduce symptoms of PCOS! (estrogen is stored in fat, so the less we have, the lower our risk of being estrogen dominant)
An easy way to do this is to grab a glucose meter and test your blood glucose levels for a week, every morning before you eat and then both one and two hours after you eat. You’ll be able to see how your body reacts to certain foods and you’ll know how many carbohydrates it can handle at one time.
Losing weight with PCOS can be difficult, but it is possible, and balancing your insulin response is one way to help you meet your goal.
There are a lot of natural treatment options for PCOS – but there is no need to stress about it! Simply start implementing some of the above options and I promise you’ll begin to see positive changes.