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PCOS: The Mystery Revealed


High DHEA and testosterone levels are suggestive of PCOS...... But what exactly is PCOS and how is it treated?


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition experienced by women of fertile age that encompasses many symptoms. Women with PCOS may experience male pattern hair growth (hirsutism), hair loss, elevated androgen levels (testosterone and/or DHEA), blood sugar dysregulation, obesity & difficulty losing weight, infertility, irregular menstrual cycles and complications from ovarian cysts.


PCOS is the most frequent cause of anovulatory infertility and the syndrome may affect up to 10% of females of childbearing age. With a frequency so high, it's no wonder that PCOS may be a common diagnosis. Often times, women with PCOS may experience symptoms for years, seeking the care of multiple specialists for different medical concerns and carrying multiple diagnoses - and you may be the first to make the PCOS connection. A diagnosis of PCOS requires 2 of the 3 criteria:

  • Oligo-ovulation or anovulation
  • Clinical and/or biochemical signs of hyperandrogenization
  • Ultrasonographic evidence of polycystic ovaries

When testing salivary hormones, PCOS is a consideration when results indicate elevated androgen levels (DHEA and/or testosterone), estrogen dominance or anovulation (low progesterone level). While PCOS is a syndrome that involves multiple symptoms, the key to assisting patients is treating any underlying insulin resistance. Mainstream medical options include metformin and surgery but significant success may be obtained from lifestyle modifications including increased exercise and the adoption of a low glycemic load diet. In addition to diet modifications, there are many nutritional and botanical options that may be beneficial in balancing blood sugar and promoting ovulation including:


Fenugreek

Reduces blood sugar and insulin following a meal, and lowers cholesterol including LDL, and total cholesterol as well as triglycerides.
Recommended dosage: 1500 mg BID


Guar Gum

Lowers cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure and helps to regulate appetite.
Recommended dosage: 2.5 g QD


Apple pectin, Beet powder and Oat fiber

Slows the absorption of glucose in to the blood stream which reduces spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. This is especially beneficial if supplemented at the same time as the ingestion of simple carbohydrates.


Milk Thistle

Lowers fasting glucose, as well as mean daily glucose levels and fasting insulin levels.
Recommended dosage: 200-400 mg QD


Chromium

An essential part of the glucose tolerance factor, chromium works with insulin to move glucose into the cells.
Recommended dosage: 200-600 mcg QD


Vitamin D

Has been shown in studies to improve insulin sensitivity more efficiently than Metformin.
Recommended dosage: 2000-5000 IU QD
Regulating Menses


The following herbal formulas can be used to help stimulate ovulation. The two formulas are to be used alternately, with formula I during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle and formula II during the luteal phase.


Formula I (Used on days 1-14)

(4) Cimicifuga racemosa (Black cohosh)
(4) Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste berry)
(4) Angelica sinensis (Dong quai)
(4) Medicago sativa (Alfalfa)
Recommended dosage: 1 tsp BID


Formula II (Used on days 15-28)

(2) Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste berry)
(4) Mitchella Repens (Partridge berry)
(4) Smilax regelii (Jamacian sarsaparilla)
(2) Pulsatilla (Pasque flower)
(4) Diascorea mexicana (Mexican yam)
Recommended dosage: 1 tsp BID

  

Please Consult with your Health Practitioner before embarking on any program.

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References:

Marjan Attaran, MD, et al. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. April 2011. www.mdconsult.com
"The Clinical Importance of Vitamin D (cholecalciferol): A Paradigm Shift with Implications for All Healthcare Providers." Vasquez A, Manso G, Cannell J. Alternative Therapies Sept/Oct 2004;10(5):28-37.

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The Canary Club is an educational advisory group with a team of medical advisors headed by Richard Shames, M.D.