Inositol and its beneficial effects on PCOS have been studied extensively for the last two decades. The term “inositol” includes nine closely-related naturally-occurring chemicals. When it comes to inositol and PCOS, we usually talk only about two of them – myo-inositol and D-chiro inositol.
Inositol And PCOS – How Does It Work?
At the basic level, PCOS is really all about a phenomenon called “insulin resistance (IR).” This means that your body does not respond to the action of insulin, the main anabolic hormone of the body.
Inositol performs two key functions in the body. First, it is responsible for the proper binding of insulin with its receptors. Second, it is vital for the signaling that occurs once insulin binds to its receptors. In essence, it helps improve body’s response to insulin.
Insulin resistance in PCOS is because of problems in the metabolism of inositol in the body. This explains how inositol supplementation can help improve the metabolism of women with PCOS.
Clinical studies have shown that inositol provides the following benefits:
- Restores normal ovulation (regular release of eggs)
- Improves pregnancy rate
- Reduces rates of miscarriages
- Lowers levels of male hormones
- Lowers “bad” lipids in the blood
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increases levels of progesterone
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Induces weight loss
- Improves hirsutism (excess hair growth)
- Reduces acne
- Promotes hair growth
- Prevents gestational diabetes
- Protects fetus from birth defects
- Improves quality of oocytes (eggs)
Now, what could be better news than the fact that inositol supplementation can restore normal ovulation? Need proof? Check out this study where the use of a combination of myo-inositol and folic acid improved ovulation in 70% of women with a pregnancy rate of more than 15%.
There’s another connection between inositol and PcoS. Inositol has an effect in reducing anxiety, panic attacks, and depressive symptoms. We know how depression is a major problem in women with PCOS. Taking inositol supplementation can also help them with their mental health.
How Much Inositol Should You Take and How?
The study that I shared earlier used a combination of myo-inositol and folic acid. The dosage was 2000 mg myo-inositol and 200 microgram folic acid, twice a day.
Some experts suggest a combination of myo-inositol and D-chiro inositol in the ratio 40:1. Researchers who used this combination found that only the combined therapy was able to improve quality of egg and embryo as well as pregnancy rates. If you take 2-4 grams of myo-inositol, you should take 50-100 mg D-chiro inositol.
Does Inositol Have Any Side Effects?
Most women with PCOS do not experience any side effects of inositol. Dosages as high as 30 grams were well tolerated and side effects of the digestive system were seen in less than 5% of the women. Some women may have side effects like nausea, tiredness, dizziness, and headaches. Studies also show that women can safely take inositol at dosages of 4 grams per day during pregnancy (from conception to delivery) without any adverse effects on the child.
Does Inositol Interact with Other Drugs?
There are no adverse drug interactions with both D chiro- and myo-inositol. However, myo-inositol may improve the action of serotonin-boosting drugs like Prozac®, Luvox®, Paxil®, etc. and migraine medications like Amerge®, Axert®, etc.
Inositol And PCOS: The Final Verdict
A recent review of 12 studies assessed the effectiveness of myo-inositol and D chiro-inositol for PCOS. The review concluded that these two compounds improved several of the hormonal and reproductive disturbances of PCOS. It also concluded that inositol was a safe and effective therapy for PCOS.
Since they are compounds naturally produced by our body, they do not have any side effects and are completely safe. All of the research on inositol is promising. It offers a hope for many women with PCOS as a first step in reversing their condition and getting their health back.