Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
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Testosterone is a male-dominating hormone and is responsible for developing sexual characteristics in males such as body hair and deepening of the voice. Patients with PCOS have a high level of testosterone and this is the reason why such patients have some male characteristics such as facial hair. Although a small amount of testosterone is present in all healthy females, when the hormone is produced in excess amounts, it creates havoc in the whole female body. The increased secretion of testosterone in the female body is triggered by an increased level of insulin. Most of the insulin is secreted in the body is in response to carbohydrate intake, so diet and lifestyle changes are the initial therapy for PCOS. By reducing foods that trigger a high insulin response, such as processed foods and grain carbs (like rice, roti, bread, etc.), and increasing foods that don’t cause a high insulin response (such as cheese, butter, green vegetables, etc.), several PCOS symptoms can be reduced dramatically. Natural anti-androgen foods can also be incorporated into the diet to reduce the levels of testosterone and reduce PCOS symptoms.
Soybean, also known as soya, contains phytoestrogens and isoflavone which help in regulating the level of androgens. A study conducted to analyze the effect of soy phytoestrogen on PCOS patients concluded that soy phytoestrogen significantly reduces the level of testosterone after a 3-month therapy. However, please make sure that the soy you buy is sourced from a very good, high quality, traditional Korean or Japanese store. Soy contains certain chemicals that can be very harmful to human beings and traditional societies like those in Japan and Korea have perfected fermenting techniques to remove these toxins from soy before including them in the diet.
Flax seeds are also rich in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are compounds that resemble oestrogens and therefore, mimic them. Women with PCOD often have excess oestrogen sensitivity and when phytoestrogens from flax occupy the oestrogen receptors in the body, it blocks the activity of excess oestrogens and gives relief from PCOS symptoms. In a case study, a 31-year old woman was supplemented with 30 g of flaxseed per day. The testosterone levels were reduced with a reduction in facial hair.
A study concluded that vegetarian women have a low level of androgens as compared to omnivores. It was suggested that this could be due to a high intake of plant foods such as green vegetables by vegetarians.
Green tea contains a variety of antioxidants that help to reduce oxidative stress. Green tea also contains polyphenols and phytochemicals that result in lowering the androgen levels. In a study done on 70 women suffering from PCOS, it was found that consumption of green tea decreased insulin resistance and reduced the level of free testosterone.
Nuts such as walnuts contain a high quantity of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These help to reduce the level of androgens. A study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of walnut and almonds in lowering testosterone. Both were effective in reducing testosterone level by increasing the level of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).
Red Reishi mushroom has a high level of anti-androgen activity. It blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by inhibiting an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. In women who have issues of cystic acne and facial hair, it is this potent form of testosterone, called DHT, that is the main culprit. Red Reishi mushroom is a potent inhibitor of 5-alpha reductase as concluded by a study.
Licorice contains phytoestrogen which mimics the effect of estrogen and relieves the symptoms of menstrual irregularities in patients with PCOS. In a study done in 2004 by Armanini et.al, licorice significantly lowered the level of testosterone in females.
Marjoram herb is known for balancing the hormone and to overcome menstrual irregularities. One study showed that this herb improves insulin sensitivity and lowers the level of androgens.
Red clover contains isoflavones that help to reduce the level of androgens. Beck et al concluded that phytoestrogen present in red clover can treat menstrual disorders and reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Spearmint has a lot of benefits related to PCOS. It reduces the level of testosterone and increases the level of LH and FSH. A study done on 42 volunteers demonstrated and confirmed the anti-androgenic property of spearmint.
Cinnamon helps manage the blood sugar level by improving insulin sensitivity. A study on 45 women was done by Kort et al in 2014 confirms the efficacy of cinnamon in improving menstrual cyclicity.
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