Shaun Ward MSc ANutr
Polycystic ovary syndrome is the most common female reproductive endocrine disorder and is estimated to be experienced by ~20% of women.
This syndrome is primarily caused by insulin resistance, and can unfortunately lead to a lot of health problems, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
There are currently a lot of treatments for polycystic ovary syndrome such as contraceptive pills and hypoglycaemics, but they often come with nasty side effects .
Due to this, a lot of research has gone into trying to find nutritional supplements and herbal medicines that can act as alternatives.
As women with polycystic ovary syndrome often display very high levels of insulin resistance, oxidative stress, as well as various endocrine issues, these supplements usually aim to treat these specific areas.
Many scientific reviews have clarified the potential therapeutic role of inositol for treating polycystic ovary syndrome .
As an essential structural component of cell membranes, inositol is needed for cell membrane signaling functions including those involved in neurological signaling and insulin signal transduction.
With potential to improve insulin insulin signaling in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue, it may have a knock-on effect to reducing the pathogenic role of insulin resistance .
A range of inositol doses suggests it may improve the metabolic profile in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, and more importantly reduce hyperandrogenism, ovulation, and pregnancy rates .
It is hypothesized that the glycan content of inositol essentially mimics insulin’s stimulation of testosterone synthesis in a concentration dependent manner.
By using this alternate signaling pathway, insulin’s stimulation of ovarian androgen synthesis is preserved even in the face of glucose intolerance .
Researchers even state that women with polycystic ovary syndrome are better off taking inositol as opposed to some prescription medications, evidenced by a 30% higher pregnancy rate in women with polycystic ovary syndrome supplementing with inositol supplements for 6 months, compared to women who are prescribed metformin .
2. Green Tea
Green tea, a popular beverage in Asia, has been found to positively impact energy metabolism and potentially the hormonal system.
The catechins within green tea are speculated to be the active component.
Although there are numerous catechins, the most influential is probably epigallocatechin gallate - which cannot be obtained in appreciable amounts from any other food source
Catechins work by inhibiting an enzyme that would otherwise degrade adrenaline - called catechol-0- methyltransferase .
Thus, by increasing adrenaline production it can increase thermogenesis, fat metabolism, energy expenditure. These combined effects have managed to reduce bodyweight by ~5% after 3 months in moderately obese patients .
However, In women specifically with polycystic ovary syndrome, green tea treatment for 3 months reduced bodyweight by ~2% .
Such weight loss has improved reproductive function, increased sex-hormone binging globulin, and decreased free testosterone and hyperinsulinemia .
In animal studies, green tea supplementation has also managed to lower fasting glucose levels, insulin levels, and total cholesterol levels .
3. Salacia Reticulata
Salacia Reticulate is a plant species that has been used for centuries in India and Sri Lanka as part of traditional medicine.
It is usually consumed in powder form or as part of various teas, especially one known as Kothala Himbutu which has interestingly been effective in treating type 2 diabetes .
It is proposed that the herb has a short term effect on lowering glucose absorption and insulin secretion, this being a useful treatment for aiding blood glucose regulation .
Accordingly, studies find that increasing doses of salacia reticula extract cause malabsorption of carbohydrates and are at least partially responsible for the decreased glycemic and insulinemic responses.
However, a major concern with such a supplement that reduced nutrient absorption is that there is a serious chance of people developing gastrointestinal symptoms, such as flatulence and stomach distention.
Things Keep In Mind When Using Supplements For PCOS
Although supplements may help improve symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, unless the diet is set up in a way to control blood sugar and insulin levels, they are unlikely going to have a positive effect by themselves.
A more sustainable solution for anyone wanting to achieve genuine long-term solutions to this issue is to follow a polycystic ovary syndrome diet and make this their primary treatment intervention.
Supplements can be added to such a diet in order to potentially enhance the positive effects.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common female reproductive endocrine disorder that is mainly caused by insulin resistance.
An appropriate calorie-controlled diet is suitable to avoid excessive insulin levels, however some supplements may help this syndrome by aiding glycemic control.
The best supplements for this purpose are inositol, green tea, and salacia reticula.