You may have read my previous post about my struggle with my syndrome and how I treat PCOS naturally with juicing. Even after the overhaul of my diet (moving to a low-glycemic diet and juicing for one meal per day), I was still noticing problematic symptoms of PCOS. My most noticeable and menacing symptom was my persistent hirsutism. I also experienced difficulty losing weight when I strayed from my diet even the slightest degree.
What is PCOS?
If you are unacquainted with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), it is the most common endocrine disorder affecting up to 20% of women of reproductive age. PCOS can occur when there is an imbalance of hormones and a surplus of insulin in the blood. Insulin resistance causes elevated levels of estrogen and androgen (male) hormones. Vice versa, elevated levels of estrogen and androgen hormones cause insulin resistance. High hormone levels lead to high insulin levels and the syndrome feeds itself. This leads to a woman’s body being overloaded with hormones and insulin. In turn, this can lead to irregular menstrual periods, the absence of menstrual periods, hirsutism, painful acne and obesity. PCOS causes women to have increased risk of developing hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It also causes more than 75% of cases of anovulatory infertility (infertility caused by hormonal imbalance).
I started using inosoitol after diet changes and exercises weren’t enough to cure/put my PCOS into remission. Seeking out advice from fellow PCOS-sufferers who discussed their treatments, I noticed that many kept referencing inositol to treat PCOS.
Metformin vs. Types of Inositol
The reasoning behind treating PCOS with inositol is the same that is behind as using Metformin. The main difference is that inositol occurs naturally in food. Inositol is found naturally in fruits, grains, beans and nuts. Both Metformin and inositol act as a glucose sensitizer, which causes cells to absorb glucose when it is initially released. This prevents the release of more glucose, which is one component continuing the cycle of high blood sugar levels, insulin resistance and high hormone levels associated with PCOS.
In one Google search, I found a wealth of information in numerous studies on treating PCOS with inositol. In one study, one group of women suffering from infertility due to PCOS were given a combination of 4000 mg of myo-inositol (generally referred to as inositol) and 400 mg of folic acid while another group was given metformin. The hypothesis of the study was that women suffering from PCOS had a deficiency in inositol levels and by increasing inositol consumption, issues associated with PCOS would be lessened. By taking inositol with folic acid, one group of the study participants showed lower levels of insulin and 65% had ovulation restored. Of the group who were given, 50% had ovulation restored. Additionally, 18% of women who took inositol were able to get pregnant vs. 11% in the Meformin group.
On a side note, if you take Metformin, you may not want to swap it with inositol yet. A study on mice showed an increase in life expectancy and human trials will begin in 2016. Researchers are expecting it to show the slowing of aging and the increase of life expectancy. Some are even (prematurely) calling it an “anti-aging” drug.
Other studies conducted giving patients inositol showed results such as:
- an increase in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) resulting in weight loss
- decreased insulin, triglycerides, testosterone, and blood pressure levels
- decreased androgen hormone levels
- sudden appearance of menstruation and regular menstruation
I also read about the benefits of taking D-chiro inositol in conjunction with myo-inositol. A study was performed regarding metabolic disorders using myo-inositol and D-chiro inositol as a treatment. Women with PCOS are at risk of developing metabolic disorders due to metabolic, hormonal and ovarian dysfunctions associated with PCOS. Women who took a 40:1 ratio (consistent with the levels found naturally in plasma) of myo-inositol and D-chiro inositol versus myo-inositol alone saw a greater improvement in metabolic functions. The author of the study states:
“The combined administration of MI and DCI in physiological plasma ration (40:1) should be considered as the first line approach in PCOS overweight patients, being able to reduce the metabolic and clinical alteration of PCOS and, therefore, reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.”
It is interesting to note that myo-inositol and D-chiro inositol are a part of the Vitamin B family. There are also nine different types (or stereoisomers) of Inositol. With the combination of myo-inositol and D-chiro inositol, your body is able to produce all types of inositols that it needs.
How I am Treating PCOS with Inositol
Fortunately, myo inositol and D-chiro-inositol are relatively inexpensive and available on Amazon. Not surprisingly, folic acid is as well. There is also a product called, Pregnitude, which combines myo-inositol and folic acid into one packet. Pregnitude is supposed to help increase the likelihood of conception, which makes sense considering that studies have shown an improvement in menstruation and ovulation. I, however chose to buy the myo-inositol and folic acid separately, because I would need to double the Pregnitude dosage in order to mimic the intake used in the first study previously mentioned. With Pregnitude, my treatment would have become very expensive very quickly.
I started treating PCOS with Inositol by mimicking the study taking 4,000 mg myo-inositol, 100 mg D-chiro inositol and 400 mcg folic acid. Within just a few days, I noticed that I was able to lose weight more quickly. However, juicing has been helped me reduce my water weight the most. With inositol, I was also able to eat a little bit more leniently in regard to the glycemic index without it affecting my hirsutism, acne or weight.
In addition to my diet and supplement plan, I also do plenty of cardio and strength training to treat my PCOS. Studies have shown that strength training and cardio can decrease insulin resistance, lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels and fight abdominal fat, which increases the the total amount of insulin in the body and the risk of developing diabetes.
I have been using this treatment in the same dosage for the past five months and my results have not weakened. However, I admit that I have grown more and more accustomed to the leeway that I have with my diet. With this, I have slipped into allowing myself some bread or candy in small portions. Overall, I am still losing weight at a slightly better rate than previously. But, I know that I could be doing better if I were more disciplined.
Even though treating PCOS with inositol has significantly helped me, my PCOS remains persistent. I still experience hirsutism, but that is a combination of genetics and PCOS. All women in my family experience hirsutism, but I experience the worst. Painful periods have also remained constant, but now I stem the pain a bit with cardio. Cardio used to do nothing to lessen my pain during periods. So, the fact that it is working now means that there has been progress! but I admit that they’re somewhat less painful now as compared with a year ago. I believe that greater results will come with dietary discipline as well. That is my next step in the coming months.
I now understand that treating my PCOS will take quite some time. Such is the case when a condition is currently deemed incurable. However, many women have seen drastic improvements, remissions and some even claim that their syndrome has been cured. So, I know that there is always more for me to do until I achieve those those results.