The 10 Best Supplements For Treating PCOS Naturally

The-10-Best-Supplements-For-Treating-Pcos-Naturally

Women make up the largest patient base in my telehealth functional medicine clinic. Often this is due to the unfortunate reality that many women are dismissed by their conventional doctors and their symptoms are chalked up as “normal”.

But just because something is common doesn’t mean it is normal. One of the biggest health problems I see facing women today is PCOS. This chronic hormone-related condition can affect everything from weight to fertility but is typically met with birth control and other solutions that act as a bandaid to cover up symptoms - while ironically contributing to more symptoms.

Instead, functional medicine offers a natural solution with many supplements available that can do wonders for a person’s health. So before we dive into the best PCOS supplements, let’s learn a little bit more about what this condition is in order to understand how supplements can help alleviate this condition.

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What is PCOS, symptoms, and causes

Polycystic ovarian syndrome - more commonly referred to as PCOS - is a hormonal condition that affects women typically between the ages 15-44 in their prime childbearing years. While the number of women diagnosed with this condition is on the rise, unfortunately a lot of women with this condition don’t even know it, leaving them struggling with symptoms and no real answer as to why.

PCOS is characterized by small, fluid-filled sacs that grow inside the ovaries. This ends up impacting female hormone levels as the ovaries control their production and can result in missed ovulation every month.

In order to get diagnosed with PCOS you have to meet the following symptom criteria:

  • Ovarian cysts
  • Low levels of female hormones, estrogen and progesterone
  • High levels of the male hormones, androgens
  • Irregular or skipped periods

Other common symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Excess hair growth: this can occur on places more common for men to grow hair such as the face, chest, and back
  • Obesity: The majority of people with PCOS are considered overweight
  • Acne: A rise in androgen hormones can lead to excess oil production and acne
  • Thinning hair: While excess hair growth in other areas is a problem, high male hormones can lead to thinning hair on the head
  • Painful periods: Heavy, painful periods can be a result of a buildup of uterine lining that happens when periods aren’t happening as frequently

At this time, researchers don’t fully know what causes PCOS but it is believed to be correlated with chronic inflammation and insulin resistance - thankfully two things that can be managed through lifestyle changes.

The effect of PCOS on health

Even if you don’t struggle with the everyday symptoms of PCOS such as acne, painful periods, or hair growth, if not managed this condition can lead to additional long-term health problems that have their own set of uncomfortable symptoms.

1. Infertility

Since ovulation is usually halted due to fewer female hormones and higher androgen levels, this can lead to infertility since there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize. If you are someone who wants to have a family, this is something to keep in mind when starting your healing journey to address PCOS.

2. Cancer

If you have PCOS and irregular periods, your risk for endometrial cancer is increased due to a buildup of uterine lining.

3. Metabolic syndrome

Since PCOS is so closely tied with insulin resistance and high blood sugar you are also likely to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These can ultimately cause heart disease and diabetes if left unchecked.

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Natural treatment options

Thankfully, there are many things that you can do naturally to mitigate your symptoms, get your hormone levels back on track, and put PCOS into remission. These are some of the most foundational.

1. Diet

In functional medicine, we understand just how powerful diet is to your overall health. Knowing that PCOS is correlated with high blood sugar and obesity, a diet focused on addressing insulin levels through reduced sugar consumption and clean, whole foods higher in fat and protein would be one way of addressing PCOS-related ovarian cysts.

2. Exercise

Exercise is important for more than just physical appearance. When it comes to hormone health, physical activity like strength training and cardio have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity. (1)

Best supplements for PCOS

Since the body is so interconnected there are many supplements that could be considered PCOS supplements for their ability to improve pathways associated with hormone health, inflammation, and blood sugar balance. However, the best PCOS supplements have been studied extensively in correlation with PCOS for their ability to directly improve symptoms. 

1. Myo-inositol

One of my all-time favorite PCOS supplements is Myo-inositol. This supplement has been shown to reduce the size of polycystic ovaries (2) and increase egg quality (3) — two of the main causes of PCOS-related infertility. Myo-inositol is so effective that in one controlled trial, researchers found that women with PCOS taking myo-inositol supplements achieved a natural pregnancy rate of 30% over a 6-month period compared to just 18% on metformin, a diabetes drug that has become the go-to treatment for PCOS in the conventional medicine world. (4)

2. Curcumin

We can do everything under the sun to improve our health, but if our inflammation levels are still high, chances are we are still going to struggle with ongoing health problems, including PCOS. Curcumin - the main compound found in turmeric - is a powerful anti-inflammatory that has wide-reaching effects on multiple inflammatory health problems.

The Curcumin from my supplement line includes the extensively studied cucrumin extract BCM-95, which further enhances the absorption of curcuminoids when compared to conventional curcumin supplements that have poor absorption in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, quick metabolism, and rapid elimination from the body.

2. N-Acetyl-cysteine

Often called NAC, N-acetyl-cysteine is a plant antioxidant found in onions. It has been used as a drug since the 1960s and with multiple studies looking at its ability to help boost fertility. One study found that NAC was able to improve both oocyte and embryo quality in women with PCOS. (5) NAC can also help improve insulin sensitivity.

3. Chromium

Chromium is an often overlooked micronutrient with deficiencies being linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance and high triglyceride levels. Supplementing with chromium can be a simple way to improve the function of blood sugar receptors. (6)

4. Zinc

Zinc isn’t just for fighting off a cold. In cases of hormone health in relation to PCOS, zinc works to increase your follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) that promotes ovulation, and in turn, progesterone production.

5. Fish oil

Another one of my favorite PCOS supplements, fish oil can help attack PCOS from multiple different angles. Studies have shown that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can help manage blood sugar levels while also working to drive down inflammation to improve ovulation and other PCOS symptoms. (7)

Unlike other fish oils that can be hit or miss in terms of bioavailability, The Omega+ from my supplement line The Collection is formulated with MaxSimil® monoglyceride fish oil that has a three times greater EPA+DHA absorption rate than an equivalent dose of other leading fish oils.

6. COQ10

Short for coenzyme Q10, CoQ10 is found in every cell in the body and can positively improve fasting blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity, and testosterone levels in those with PCOS. (8)

7. Probiotics

Like many other health problems, researchers have also correlated PCOS with leaky gut syndrome and bacterial dysbiosis in the gut. (9) Probiotics are an easy way to restore your microbiome health as studies have found that supplementation was able to restore both hormone and inflammation levels in patients with PCOS. (10)

The Probiotic from my supplement line The Collection contains 100 billion CFUs per capsule of four strains of beneficial bacteria, including the extensively studied HN019 strain of Bifidobacterium lactis.

8. Resveratrol

This powerful antioxidant can be found naturally in foods like berries and grape skins. Supplementation has shown promise for managing PCOS due to its ability to support healthy inflammation levels, regulate the production of androgens, and improve insulin sensitivity. (11)

9. Vitamin D

This nutrient is utilized by every single cell of your body and plays an important role in fertility but it is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in America. Regular supplementation can help women with PCOS by improving menstrual regularity and fertility rates. (12)

Consulting a functional medicine professional for PCOS treatment

When it comes to your health, especially hormone problems, every person is different. Since your biochemistry is unique to you, your triggers and symptoms are going to manifest differently than someone else. The same can be said for natural remedies - what works for one person might not work for you.

That’s why working with a functional medicine practitioner can be your best course of action when addressing PCOS. In my clinic we look at your entire health case including diet, emotional triggers, and lifestyle factors that could be contributing to your health problems in order to come up with the best natural solutions. By getting to the root cause of your PCOS we can recommend the best PCOS supplements and other changes to facilitate happy and healthy hormones.

If you are ready to take the next step on your PCOS healing journey, check out our telehealth functional medicine clinic and our consultation process.

As one of the first functional medicine telehealth clinics in the world, we provide webcam health consultations for people around the globe.

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References:

  1. Borghouts, L B, and H A Keizer. “Exercise and insulin sensitivity: a review.” International journal of sports medicine vol. 21,1 (2000): 1-12. doi:10.1055/s-2000-8847
  2. Ozay, Ali Cenk et al. “Different Effects of Myoinositol plus Folic Acid versus Combined Oral Treatment on Androgen Levels in PCOS Women.” International journal of endocrinology vol. 2016 (2016): 3206872. doi:10.1155/2016/3206872
  3. Ciotta, L et al. “Effects of myo-inositol supplementation on oocyte's quality in PCOS patients: a double blind trial.” European review for medical and pharmacological sciences vol. 15,5 (2011): 509-14.
  4. Raffone, Emanuela et al. “Insulin sensitiser agents alone and in co-treatment with r-FSH for ovulation induction in PCOS women.” Gynecological endocrinology : the official journal of the International Society of Gynecological Endocrinology vol. 26,4 (2010): 275-80. doi:10.3109/09513590903366996
  5. Cheraghi, Ebrahim et al. “N-Acetylcysteine improves oocyte and embryo quality in polycystic ovary syndrome patients undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection: an alternative to metformin.” Reproduction, fertility, and development vol. 28,6 (2016): 723-31. doi:10.1071/RD14182
  6. Richard A Anderson, Nanzheng Cheng, Noella A Bryden, Marilyn M Polansky, Nanping Cheng, Jiaming Chi, Jinguang Feng; Elevated Intakes of Supplemental Chromium Improve Glucose and Insulin Variables in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes 1 November 1997; 46 (11): 1786–1791. https://doi.org/10.2337/diab.46.11.1786
  7. Yang, Kailin et al. “Effectiveness of Omega-3 fatty acid for polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Reproductive biology and endocrinology : RB&E vol. 16,1 27. 27 Mar. 2018, doi:10.1186/s12958-018-0346-x
  8. Izadi, Azimeh et al. “Hormonal and Metabolic Effects of Coenzyme Q10 and/or Vitamin E in Patients With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.” The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism vol. 104,2 (2019): 319-327. doi:10.1210/jc.2018-01221
  9. Lindheim, Lisa et al. “Alterations in Gut Microbiome Composition and Barrier Function Are Associated with Reproductive and Metabolic Defects in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A Pilot Study.” PloS one vol. 12,1 e0168390. 3 Jan. 2017, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0168390
  10. Shamasbi, Sevda Gholizadeh et al. “The effect of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics on hormonal and inflammatory indices in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” European journal of nutrition vol. 59,2 (2020): 433-450. doi:10.1007/s00394-019-02033-1
  11. Banaszewska, Beata et al. “Effects of Resveratrol on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Trial.” The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism vol. 101,11 (2016): 4322-4328. doi:10.1210/jc.2016-1858
  12. Ott, J., Wattar, L., Kurz, C., Seemann, R., Huber, J. C., Mayerhofer, K., & Vytiska-Binstorfer, E. (2012). Parameters for calcium metabolism in women with polycystic ovary syndrome who undergo clomiphene citrate stimulation: a prospective cohort study, European Journal of Endocrinology, 166(5), 897-902. Retrieved Oct 11, 2022, from https://eje.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/eje/166/5/897.xml

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BY DR. WILL COLE

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Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.

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