Along with healthy diet and lifestyle habits, herbs can play a very powerful role in helping women to achieve their health goals in managing the hormonal condition, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Herbs and herbal extracts can be helpful in balancing blood sugar levels, regulating hormones, reducing stress, nourishing the adrenal glands, optimizing the body’s detoxification pathways, and managing inflammation levels. Working with a skilled herbalist or naturopath is recommended, so that he or she can best determine which combination of herbs and dosages are most beneficial for you.
Here is a list of key herbs that can have a positive effect in PCOS:
• Cinnamon, gymnema and berberine (from goldenseal or Oregon grape root): These herbs help to balance blood sugar levels, address insulin resistance, and can improve one’s lipid profile. Because PCOS is a condition caused by insulin resistance and increases a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease, addressing blood sugar balance is a top priority.
• Ginseng, schisandra, aswhagandha, rhodiola, and maitake mushroom: These herbs are examples of adaptogens, which help the body manage stress. This is so important because when under stress, the body produces excess cortisol, which increases blood sugar and insulin levels, increases prolactin levels, leads to androgen excess and menstrual cycle dysregulation, increases inflammation, and leads to sleep disturbance. Because adaptogens have a balancing effect on the body, they can also help to regulate blood sugar levels and support many other areas of one’s health.
• Licorice, white peony, tribulus, chaste berry, black cohosh, blue vervain, and saw palmetto: These herbs are considered hormone regulators because they help to increase progesterone secretion, balance LH:FSH, decrease testosterone, and decrease prolactin levels. As a result, they can increase ovulation and fertility in women with PCOS.
• Milk thistle and dandelion: Supporting the liver helps to ensure healthy detoxification and promotes hormone balance. By boosting the body’s detox and elimination pathways, one can reduce the levels of environmental estrogens that may be a contributing factor in PCOS. And, because women with PCOS have a higher risk for developing fatty liver disease, supporting liver health is very important.
• Turmeric: Stress, toxins, intestinal permeability, and inflammatory foods can cause chronic immune activation and inflammation. As a result, this can impede ovulation, disrupt hormone receptors, and stimulate adrenal androgen production. Not only does the herb turmeric have potent anti-inflammatory properties, but it is also a great herb for supporting detoxification and promoting cardiovascular health, as well.
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