By Neha Sahu (Founder of PCOS School @lookgoodinpcos)
PCOS is an endocrine disorder that needs a holistic right shift in diet & lifestyle to live a symptom-free life. It is the most common disorder in women which is characterized by hormonal imbalance. When several hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and androgen start affecting the ovaries, it leads to PCOS.
There is a number of protocols that you have to follow to manage your PCOS. You may have never realized but one solution to your PCOS woes is right in your kitchen. Incorporate everyday herbs and spices in your PCOS diet and see the results.
“Why do I love herbs so much? Because they have made a seriously profound difference in my life & I am sure in lives of many other women too,” says Neha
There are certain herbs that can help you improve and feel better.
Top 4 Herbs to include if You Have PCOS
- Cinnamon– Cinnamon or dalchini is a favourite kitchen staple in Indian households and for good reason. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties. Thus, it can lower blood sugar and cholesterol and improve insulin sensitivity in women with PCOS. In one 2007 study of 15 women with PCOS, significant reductions in insulin resistance were seen after taking cinnamon for just 8 weeks! Reducing insulin resistance is very helpful for regulating menstrual cycles which are often very unpredictable and irregular in PCOS. A 2014 study also suggests that using cinnamon improves menstrual cyclicity as well. Therefore, you have got good amount of reasons to include this in your daily diet.
- Spearmint– One study found that women with PCOS who drank two cups of spearmint tea per day for 30 days reported a reduction in male hormones and therefore facial hair. However, it may take longer to see significant changes in facial hair. Beyond androgens, the study showed that spearmint also influences ratios of LH and FSH, two pituitary hormones that regulate activity in the menstrual cycle, including follicle development and ovulation. If that is not enough, let me tell you that it is delicious too & can be your favourite add-on to a snack time.
- Licorice– Licorice is a fabulous medicinal herb for so many reasons. It is also well-known for balancing blood sugar, and insulin resistance is a major part of PCOS- even lean women with PCOS often have nearly undetectably insulin resistance. Licorice also helps with estrogen balance in the body, which can be beneficial for regulating ovulation. Lastly, licorice is anti-inflammatory, supportive to the immune system and works as an adaptogen to help with the stress response. So, you definitely have enough reasons to include this in your diet.
Note that Licorice is not suitable if you experience hypertension aka high blood pressure.
- Turmeric– This herb has been used in eastern medicine for centuries to alleviate conditions such as depression and for its anti-inflammatory properties. The main active compound, curcumin seems to be responsible for the wide-ranging benefits. Curcumin has been shown to stabilise blood sugar and reverse cellular insulin resistance by increasing the number of insulin receptors and improving the receptor binding capacity to insulin. Curcumin also acts on the liver to decrease the activity of enzymes that release sugar into the blood while increasing activity of enzymes that store sugar. Turmeric is also great at supporting liver and gallbladder function, therefore supporting our digestive function and the detoxification of environmental toxins and ‘used’ hormones like oestrogen and testosterone.
While you are trying everything else to manage your PCOS, be it your diet, be it your regular workouts, following a circadian rhythm, managing sleep, stress, etc. Why not consider adding these herbs especially when they have scientifically proven evidence attached to them. These could do wonders to your PCOS health when taken in the right dosages & for the targeted symptoms.
There are many reasons to include these herbs in your diet, however, you can also be allergic to certain herbs if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or in general too. Therefore, before consuming any new herb, it’s always a good idea to consult a medical practitioner to be safe.
You can consume & enjoy these herbs in the form of tea, organic powders, or through high-quality supplements in the form of tablets or capsules too. You can get help on the dosages with your doctor or the local pharmacist.