PCOS is short for polycystic ovarian syndrome.
By Sue Visser Vibrations April 2012
Women complain about: hirsutism, acne, weight gain, menstrual upsets, ovarian cysts and infertility. These are well known symptoms of what we call the polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. But what is the real culprit?
Desperate women from many parts of the world continue to ask me for help when medical treatment does not help to alleviate the conditions it causes like facial hair and menstrual upsets. What is this monster?
What is the cause and what is the cure?
Symptoms of PCOS are ambiguous because they can overlap with other ailments. There is no single remedy that can treat the whole cluster of PCOS symptoms. The presence of DHT(dihydrotestosterone) is the most obvious abnormality and it is the easiest one to detect in blood or urine tests to confirm a diagnosis. This potent male androgen is made out of free testosterone. Normally DHT stays dormant in the female body because the 5 alpha reductase enzyme that releases it is shut off. So far so good. Then what unleashes the action of this enzyme in the liver that then manifests as beard hair, male pattern balding, adult acne, skin cysts and a gruff voice? Note that I am only pointing out masculinisation for now. Any ideas?
Insulin resistance has the centre stage.
Let us look at the most common characteristic of both men and women with DHT out of control: Insulin resistance! This is why weight gain and high triglycerides are also common symptoms although they cross over with many other ailments. The main cause is from overloading the digestive system with too many simple carbohydrates at one sitting. Micronutrient deficiencies of iodine, chrome, zinc, essential fatty acids, enzymes and vitamins are also to blame.
With insulin resistance and a deficiency of nutrients such as melatonin and betasitosterol, the 5 alpha reductase enzyme slips out of control and starts to unleash the dreaded DHT! But there is another terrible thing that happens to testosterone in insulin resistant individuals; an excess of oestrogen. The aromatase enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone into oestrogen, as and when it is needed. But not in insulin resistant individuals. It just keeps on making estradiol. Ironically this is a very feminine hormone!
Oestrogen dominance in males and females.
It is confusing for ladies to be oestrogen dominant with masculine features. But insulin resistant males who become oestrogen dominant also develop more breast tissue and bulk up around the belly, buttocks and thighs. They bloat up, suffer from water retention and blood clotting. The excess oestrogen also causes the male prostate gland to enlarge. Females with the same hormonal abnormalities differ at this point only. They have problems with menstruation and ovulation and in some cases ovarian cysts and then we call it the polycystic ovarian syndrome. I would prefer to define it as an abnormality in males and females alike: hormonal havoc due to dietary disorders!
The crossing over of PCOS symptoms is complex.
Hirsutism: beard type hairs growing on the lady’s face or breasts. Not all ladies with hirsutism (dark hair on face, back or chest) have PCOS. Many older women pluck out the odd beard hairs, especially in later life. South American, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ladies may have black facial hair present without affecting the ovaries or their hormonal status quo. DHT stimulates hair follicles to produce thick, black hairs; especially on the face.
Balding of scalp hair on the crown of the head or at the sides of the temples is also due to DHT. Hair loss can be symptomatic of low stomach acid, stress or a thyroid hormone deficiency. Malnutrition or malabsorption and also microbial or parasitic infestations can cause hair loss. Hormones that are active during pregnancy prevent hair loss that is then shed post partum. Not all hair loss is connected to DHT activity within the follicle as it is in PCOS. DHT causes the hair follicle to shrivel and die in places.
Infertility can be caused by: low progesterone or insufficient follicle stimulation or lutenising hormones that affect menstruation or the ability to conceive. There are many other factors such as: endometriosis, malnutrition, emotional disturbances, toxins, heavy metal poisoning, xenoestrogens (foregin chemicals that exert oestrogenic effects), electro-smog or other forms of radiation and even parasites. Some ladies with PCOS have babies easily and suffer from a beard instead! Plant based hormones form vegetables, legumes and herbs can cause infertility. When too many of these are consumed they behave like contraceptives. Peas contain an antifertility agent called m-xylohydroquinone. In Tibet when dietary intake of peas exceeded 20% it made 50% of the women infertile.
Ovarian cysts are usually caused by unopposed oestrogen. (A by product of the testosterone.) Other types of cysts may be present, such as those filled with blood that are called chocolate cysts. Parasites like flukes, giardia lambellus & gardinella organisms or pockets of bacteria and toxic residue may gather around an ovary. The body tries to enclose the ovary to shut off the resultant invasion, thus forming cysts.
Aggressive behaviour and a deeper or gruff voice, is often just part of your genetic make up. Ladies who suffer from hypothyroidism may also develop a deep, gruff voice, and a coarser skin with thinning hair. Mood swings, low blood sugar, PMS and depression affect them too. They also slam doors!
Loss of insulin sensitivity or syndrome X is not exclusive to PCOS and most people who eat badly are obese and or diabetic. The symptoms of gluten intolerance that can overlap with PCOS are: weight problems, moodiness, depression, menstrual upsets, loss of scalp hair, infertility or spontaneous abortions and insulin resistance.
Bad skin, pimples and acne on the face or back. Cyst-like lesions especially on the neck. DHT stimulates the secrecion of sebum from glands present in the skin. It is an oliy substance. An greasy scalp and seborrhoea or dandruff is also due to excess sebum. Hormones that are active during puberty can affect the skin. But acne can also be caused by bacterial infections such as acne vulgaris.
Menstrual problems: irregular cycles, too long, too short, spotting or skipping. Being on hormonal contraception or HRT can play havoc with menstruation in all women of all ages even without PCOS. Low blood sugar can also affect menstrual problems. But low blood sugar can also affect: fatigue, asthma, allergies, digestive disorders, heart problems, headaches, sweating, panic attacks, neuraliga, tinnitus and libido issues.
Oestrogen dominance: bloating, water retention, sore swollen breasts, blood clotting and moodiness. Free testosterone converts into prolactin and potent forms of oestrogen such as estradiol or 17-methylhydroxyestradiol. Oestrogen dominance in PCOS may affect ladies who take hormone supplements if the liver is unable to metabolise excess progesterone or oestrogen. In just about every PCOS complaint I deal with progesterone-based blends of contraceptive pills and synthetic hormone analogues have been used. The liver cannot always break them down, so they build up in the blood stream.
Section 2 (771 words)
The PCOS protocol to deal with DHT and insulin resistance.
The aim is block, bind and deflect dihyrotestosterone and restore insulin sensitivity. This protocol has delivered excellent results over the years, to the surprise of many doctors! But please discuss this with your practitioner. Many natural remedies mimic the effects of drugs you take and your prescription may need adjustment.
An overload of DHT or dihydrotestosterone may be burdensome to females, but it is deadly for men! This protocol for PCOS helps to deactivate the 5-alpha reductase enzyme that makes DHT. We welcome both women as well as men with prostate problems to use this strategy to help control DHT. There are also a few suggestions to help deal with particular problems. Not everybody has these but you all need to cotrol DHT and insulin resistance.
1 An adequate zinc intake helps with both male and female acne, insulin resistance, hair balding and for infertility. (Also male prostate.)Take 30 – 60 mg zinc per day.
2 Chrome supplements and herbs such as Sutherlandia and Gymnemia Silvestere improve insulin sensitivity. Speak to your health shop for suitable products to purchase.
3 To improve glucose uptake: boil up 1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder in 1 cup of water. When cool, strain it and take 1-2 teaspoons of the liquid with every meal. This mimics the action of some drugs used for type 2 diabetes and medication many need to be reduced.
4 To keep the testosterone in firm bondage take supplements of 200mg beta-sitosterol. As an alternative you can juice up 2-4 tablespoons of fresh pumpkin seeds straight from the pumpkin with water and other fruit or herbs in an electric blender goblet and sieve them. This method is very quick and potent.
4 The remedy Agnus Castus (Chasteberry), especially for females, knocks DHT and testosterone off hormone receptors. It is more effective in tincture form because it enters the bloodstream directly from fine blood vessels in the mouth. Is is excellent for acne, moodiness, insomnia and menstrual problems. It reduces prolactin that causes sore breasts. For some ladies it can reduce facial hair. It balances progesterone and often results in a pregnancy! (In my research with chewing a piece of red sweet potato we raised progesterone. We used the cessation of menstruation as a marker for progesterone efficacy: too much prevented ovulation, just the right amount caused menstruation or conception.)
5 Take Saw palmetto supplements. They help to prevent the formation of DHT. Do not take excessive doses because new research suggests that it also blocks the activity of beneficial testosterone in men.
6 Iodine is essential. Bromine present in grain based foods such as bread and other carbohydrates depletes our iodine. Supplement with 2-3 drops of Lugol’s iodine. Iodine deficiency is a primary cause of ovarian cysts, thyroid imbalances and fibrocystic breast disease.
7 Take plenty of antioxidants in supplement form: vitamin A, C and E. Try some of the newer combinations that contain ALA (alphalipolic acid, selenium and herbal compounds.) Selenium is important for thyroid hormones especially if you no longer respond to Eltroxin.
8 Take a good multivitamin supplement. B vitamins are essential to break down excess oestrogen in the liver. Extra vitamin B6 will reduce prolactin.
9 ake 5 HTP known as hydroxytryptophan. 100 mg a day delivers adequate serotonin (for depression) dopamine (to reduce prolactin) and melatonin (to prevent excess testosterone from converting to bad oestrogen).
10 Nettle root supplements also help to bind testosterone and block the receptors. The herb powder mixed with mint oil into a paste can block the effect of DHT on face hair follicles and on balding scalps.
11 Take liver supplements like milk thistle, choline and inositol. Do a regular liver and gall flush so that a build up of steroid hormones, especially oestrogen can be eliminated. People who eat less fatty foods and more green and fibre rich foods expel more oestrogen.
12 Take supplements of cod liver oil. It is rich in vitamin A and D and will help to reduce inflammation and clear the skin. 10 minutes a day in God’s sunshine is the best vitamin D supplement.
13 Avoid food that may be causing autoimmune reactions and low grade inflammation that causes cortisol excesses. This is a vital key to losing weight and balancing hormones. Substitute with fresh fruit, salads and vegetables. Blood type diets exclude the foods that cause these and other hormonaly disruptive or weight gaining effects
14 Eat less carbohydrates and more lean protein, especially fish that is rich in Omega 3 oil at every meal to help to block enzyme activity. It will also improve your insulin activity and balance blood sugar.
15 Cut out gluten (wheat, rye, oats and barley) and reduce the starches and sugars. Symptoms of gluten intolerance overlap with hormonal imbalances and some symptoms of PCOS.
(Extra for website?)
Clinical Gynaecologic Endocrinology and Fertility by L Speroff, Robert H. Glass, Nathan G. Kase. Fourth edition 1989. Williams & Wilkins.
The Cure for all Diseases by Hulda Regher Clark 1995. Promotion Publishing.
Low blood Sugar by Martin Blood. 1995. Thorsons.
The Food Pharmacy by Jean Carper. 1989. Simon & Schuster.
Low level inflammation . High carb insulin resistance . High levels Lutenising hormone.
High carb low healthy fat
How a low carb diet reverses PCOS
Infertility causes discussed his and hers