Hello, fellow PCOS’ers!
I hope you don’t think that I have forgotten or abandoned you in light of my current pregnancy! In fact, it makes me even more eager than ever to continue to talk through the issues surrounding PCOS. I hope that I can offer encouragement, as I keep sharing about the lifestyle changes that I have made and the natural ways that I have been able to address PCOS, as I really believe that God has used these changes to bring healing and allow me to conceive and carry these precious babies.
To get back into this series, I thought I would answer some questions that landed in my email a while back, since I think that they are relevant to many of you:
1) Do you take anything for your PCOS?
I have never been on Metformin or any other specific PCOS medication, although I did do a brief stint on birth control pills at the beginning of my diagnosis, before I began to learn more about the natural options available to me.
Here is a brief list of some of the natural remedies/supplements I have taken over the years. At some point, I will post about these things in more detail, but for now I will list some of the things that I have taken:
- Natural Progesterone Cream– This was one of the earlier supplements I took- I think it helped somewhat, though I’m not sure that I would go this route again
- Seed Cycling– This is a method of using ground seeds (like sunflower, sesame and flax) along with healthy oils (flax and evening primrose oil), during the two different parts of the cycle (Days 1-14 and Days 15-28). This was recommended by my previous Naturopath and I think that it did help to promote regulation of my cycle. Here is an article on what seed cycling is all about.
- B vitamins, especially B6– The B vitamins are important for hormone balancing, especially B6. This is a good supplement for anyone with hormonal imbalance, and also helps in early pregnancy as well.
- Essential Fatty Acids– At first, I took Flax Oil, because that is what I had heard and read the most about. Over the years, I have come to believe that Cod Liver Oil can be an even better choice, although I think that both are beneficial for their Omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for hormone balance and which most of us are lacking in.
- Vitex or Chasteberry (same herb, different names)- This is a herb which can be taken as a capsule, a tincture or a tea. I have taken it in capsules to be cheaper at times, and also in tincture form, which is more expensive but also more effective. This herb is commonly used to support hormone balance and regular cycles. It takes about 1-3 months to begin to be effective, but after that time, I found it to be one of the most helpful things that I took, as far as seeing obvious effects in a more regular cycle and ovulation.
- Homeopathics– I will have to try to research exactly what these were, but my Naturopath had me on a series of homeopathics, which I took on Days 1, 7, 14 and 21 (each one was different).
- Rhea’s Herbs Female Correction– I didn’t actually get to take this, as I had bought it to begin right before I found out I was pregnant. Obviously, I can’t vouch for it’s effectiveness, but it is a high quality herbal tincture, using herbs that have traditionally been used for female hormone balancing.
2) If not, do you just follow the Nourishing Traditions book?
Although I’ve tried the above-listed things, the most important thing that I have done (in my opinion) is to make huge dietary changes. I have spent the past 6-7 years slowly making these changes, such as decreasing and cutting out refined sugars and grains, increasing my fruit and vegetable intake (and moving towards organic to avoid pesticides), dropping all conventional meat, dairy, and eggs (replacing them with grass-fed, free range and organic), and moving to completely un-processed and un-packaged foods.
Though I have only been using Nourishing Traditions for the last couple of years, I have seen the most change during this time. I really believe that my body especially needed the high-quality proteins and fats that this book encouraged me to make a bigger part of my diet (through grass-fed meats, free-range eggs, wild fish and fish oil, grass-fed and raw dairy, coconut oil, etc.), and that they have played a role in improving my hormone balance.
3) Do you have the insulin problem (insulin resistance) and if so, how do you deal with it?
I do have insulin issues, although mine are not as pronounced as some
women’s. This may be because I have been able to maintain a healthy
weight, ever since I began to drop the junk foods I had been accustomed
to eating and turned my diet to focus on whole foods instead. I think
that keeping my weight maintained is crucial for improvement with
Other things that I have done, or would recommend for those who especially struggle with this area are:
- Avoid all refined sugars and grains, as these are the worst offenders for insulin and blood sugar imbalances
- When eating anything with sweeteners, even natural sweeteners,
eat some protein and/or fat with it (such as a piece of cheese, a few
spoonfuls of yogurt, a glass of milk, a handful of nuts or seeds) at
the same time, as this helps to maintain more steady blood sugar
- Try using supplements such as Chromium and Cinnamon (both readily
available at any health food store), which support healthy blood sugar
and insulin levels
- Get active! I notice that I have more difficulty with my blood
sugar balance during seasons when I am less active, such as in the
winter. Any sort of exercise or activity is beneficial, whether it’s
going to the gym or for runs, or simply taking a walk or doing some
gardening (or even vigorous housework!). Every little bit helps, and the more regular, the better.
4) What advise would you give me to treat PCOS naturally?
My biggest pieces of advice would be to:
- Avoid conventional/pharmaceutical treatments, such as birth control
pills or Metformin or others. I do know some people who have used Metformin
briefly to start getting their insulin under control and begin to lose
some weight, and then get off of it once they have seen some progress.
This is one way to use Metformin more sensibly, although I
cannot think of any way that birth control pills will contribute to
long term healing or balance. Generally, I would say to avoid these and
instead begin to pour your efforts into lifestyle changes.
- Begin with your diet. Here are my Top 3 nutritional changes
that I would recommend to anyone starting out and looking for a few
things to begin to change. Some great reads to get your going are The Maker’s Diet
and Nourishing Traditions,
which will help to explain a lot of the why’s behind what they are
suggesting. Don’t expect to make all of the changes at once, but pick
one or two things and get started!
- Try to find a reputable Naturopath. There are so many wonderful
supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies, etc. out there that can
really make a difference, but unless you have a lot of time to spend
really digging into the research yourself, it can be a bit overwhelming
at first. By seeing someone who works with these issues regularly, you
reap the benefits of their experience and recommendations and it gives
you a great starting place.
- Bring it before the Lord. We don’t deal with this on our own, but
only with the help and grace of our good God, who knows us and our
bodies intricately. I am grateful to God for the teaching and resources
that He has brought my way, and also for the continual reminders to
bring all of my efforts back into submission to Him. I am learning to
trust Him as my Healer, and not myself or anything natural that I do.
Are there any particular concerns or questions that you would like to have answered? I definitely do not have all the answers, but I’ll try my best! If you have been dealing with PCOS naturally, I’d love to hear some of the natural things that you have tried and the dietary changes that you have made!