Herbal remedies for polycystic ovary syndrome can be safe, effective ways to fight PCOS symptoms. Learn about herbs for PCOS and how to find an herbalist.
- Herbal remedies for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are an effective way to treat symptoms of this complex endocrine disorder.
- Herbal remedies correct the root causes of PCOS as well as many health problems associated with them.
- Research shows that herbs normalize hormone levels, improve menstrual cycles, and increase conception rates.
- Sound Cycle can help you find a professional herbalist to treat your PCOS symptoms.
Herbal remedies for polycystic ovary syndrome are an effective treatment option for PCOS symptoms. PCOS is a complex endocrine disorder that affects 5-15 percent of women and others with a uterus who are of menstruating age. Professional herbalists customize herbal remedies for polycystic ovary syndrome based on their individual needs.
What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
When most people hear the term polycystic ovary syndrome, they assume that PCOS impacts only a woman’s reproductive system, resulting in cysts forming in the ovaries. Most people don’t realize that PCOS disrupts multiple systems and functions throughout the body or that a woman can have polycystic ovary syndrome without ovarian cysts.
A diagnosis of PCOS requires that at least two of the following three conditions are present:
- Chronic absence or decrease in the frequency of menses. Experts consider zero to three menstrual periods per year possibly indicative of PCOS.
- Polycystic ovaries. Lumps may form on the ovaries due to eggs not maturing and releasing. Cysts are visualized with ultrasound imaging.
- High androgen levels. High testosterone levels, severe acne, male pattern baldness, or hair growth on the face can indicate high androgen (male hormone) levels.
Health issues associated with PCOS
PCOS is a syndrome, a collection of systems that can’t be attributed to a single clear cause. For that reason, PCOS symptoms involve many parts of the body. Women with a history of PCOS can continue to be affected during and after menopause.
The following health concerns are often related to PCOS:
- Liver damage
- Sleep apnea
- Insulin resistance, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes
- Obesity and overweight
- Dyslipidemia, which includes high levels of unhealthy and low levels of healthy cholesterol
- Body image issues
- Baldness and hair growth in unexpected places
- Thyroid issues
- Pain due to inflammation
How herbs can help with PCOS symptoms
Herbalists help women who have PCOS by creating formulas that often include herbs that support the following:
- Hormone balance. PCOS impacts many hormones — not just reproductive hormones — throughout the body. Herbs can help balance them.
- Blood sugar regulation. Insulin resistance, one of the three major hallmarks of PCOS, can be improved with herbal therapy.
- Cycle regulation. Herbs can regulate or restore the menstrual cycle and improve fertility.
- Liver support. A healthy liver is essential for hormone balance and the elimination of excess hormones.
- Reducing inflammation. Inflammation is involved in almost all disease processes; therefore, controlling it is critical to overall wellness.
- Stress reduction. High stress levels promote anxiety and interfere with hormone balance. Herbs can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Herbal remedies for polycystic ovary syndrome
Countless herbs may be employed to bring about these improvements. A few herbs are used only during certain phases of the menstrual cycle, while others are taken every day. An herbalist can make recommendations regarding specific herbs, amounts to use, and timing. Herbal blends may need to be modified over time.
- Hormone balancing herbs: Spearmint, licorice, peony, tribulus, and black cohosh are believed to improve hormonal balance.
- Blood sugar regulation: Cinnamon, ginger, and licorice root are used to improve insulin resistance.
- Liver support: Burdock, dandelion root, milk thistle, and burdock root may support liver function.
- Reducing inflammation: Licorice root, turmeric, and basil are often used to treat inflammation.
- Stress reduction: Passionflower, catnip, and linden are all commonly used for stress relief.
What does the research say?
There’s not a great deal of scientific research available on herbalism yet. However, studies do exist that have concluded that herbal remedies can be helpful for PCOS symptoms.
For example, a 2017 study found that herbal treatments increased the occurrence of menses among overweight women who had PCOS.
The researchers evaluated two groups of women. Women in the first group followed a low-fat diet and increased their exercise levels. The second group followed the same diet and exercise protocol but also received herbs.
These are the results of that study:
- The menstrual cycles of the second group were 42 days shorter than those of the first group. Cycles occurred every 63 days among the second group and only every 107 days among the control group.
- 55% of the group that received herbs had menstrual cycles that were normal in length compared to only 24% of the control group.
- Rates of conception among the herb-treated group increased.
- Positive hormone balance was restored among the women who consumed the herbs. Estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels increased while insulin levels decreased.
Herbs may improve pregnancy rates
A study published in 2019 examined women who had PCOS and had difficulty becoming pregnant. Researchers divided the women into three groups.
- Group 1 received a fertility drug.
- Group 2 consumed an herbal blend of spearmint, cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel.
- Group 3 received both the drug and the herbal blend.
All three groups experienced improved menstrual cycle patterns and pregnancy rates. But the women in groups 2 and 3 also had increased antioxidant levels, vital for overall health.
The herbs used in the study included:
- Tribulus leaf
- Licorice root
- White peony
- St. John’s wort
Again, more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions, but studies such as these are very promising.
Customizing herbal remedies for PCOS
Herbalists develop treatments according to an individual’s specific PCOS symptoms. For example, a woman may have difficulty getting pregnant and present with high androgen levels and rare menses.
An herbalist would recommend a different formula for her than for a woman who has pain from ovarian cysts and embarrassment due to the growth of excessive facial hair.
The need for customization is one reason why consultation with a professional herbalist is crucial.
Herbal remedies are safe when you work with a licensed professional
Herbs are valuable tools in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS is a complex condition, so it’s essential to consult with a professional herbalist before beginning an herbal regimen. Your herbalist will also offer ideas to support your treatment, including nutrition and lifestyle recommendations.
A certified herbalist is also knowledgeable about herbs that may interact with any medications you may be taking or interfere with other forms of treatment.
Sound Cycle can help you find relief from the symptoms of PCOS. Follow our blog to learn more about this complex condition.
Visit our provider directory to find an herbalist for PCOS near you.