Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
An open letter about PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
The most frequently reported complaints I receive come from women who already know they suffer from PCOS because they search for information about the polycystic ovarian syndrome on the internet. Many other letters arrive, reporting similar seemingly unrelated symptoms: acne, depression, bad temper, menstrual irregularities, and weight problems. Sometimes it is only a query about a few chin hairs or a fertility problem that makes me suspicious. I hear about ladies who have had cysts surgically removed, only to have them return and still, they are not diagnosed with PCOS.
Most patients as well as doctors are unaware of the unique relationship these conditions have to testosterone metabolism. Not all symptoms are present in every case, but the central issue involves cysts that form on the ovaries. Hence, only females can suffer from poly (many) cystic ovaries or PCOS as it has been dubbed. Ironically, this is caused by the activity of a male hormone (androgen) called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that is made in the liver, due to a metabolic error. Normally DHT is only active in males during puberty to bring about the deepening of the voice, grow a beard, develop a hairy chest and groin and to complete maturation of the reproductive system. After that, it is no longer required. DHT only emerges when the liver fails to restrain its formation. As to why females should fall prey to DHT activity is an enigma, a bizarre kickback from Adam.
Because DHT produces these masculine characteristics in women it also opposes ovulation, upsets the menstrual cycle and causes infertility. Insulin resistance rears its ugly head in both sexes and the pre-diabetic symptoms and weight gain often confuse the overall diagnosis of a DHT intervention. This is especially the case when adult acne is also present along with moodiness and depression. Often the balding of the scalp or the sprouting of beard hairs is treated separately in a beauty clinic. Symptoms that are treated in isolation are thus not included in the whole story.
The clincher usually only comes when constant complaints of menstrual irregularities are reported and cysts are diagnosed on the ovaries: either as a result of an ultrasound scan or pelvic examination. Even then, some ladies are only given a prescribed hormonal treatment to improve their menstruation and they go home with the acne, weight gain and the embarrassment of facial hair as separate problems. Excessive weight gain is usually the outcome. One lady under such treatment from two specialist endocrinologists in this country gained over 30kg, lost most of the hair on her head and developed excessive, coarse hair all over her body. Are we so bedazzled by modern drugs that common sense eludes us? She was seriously depressed and I was asked not to publish her correspondence.
When ladies who complain of acne I prick up my ears! Aha, over twenty, you have menstrual difficulty? Yes. How is the weight? They usually have problems. After that, it’s easy as they all admit they slam doors! Gotcha! At this stage, Chaste berry (Agnus Castus) performs its miracles. This wonderful herbal remedy is a time honoured squelcher of testosterone. Also known as Monk’s Pepper, it was used to calm down young priests in the monasteries of old. Chaste berry has a particular affinity for knocking off testosterone and especially the more active form we call DHT from cell receptors. This has an immediate effect on both males and females who suffer from an overriding DHT signal. It shuts it down. I have even used Chaste berry drops to calm down an unruly toddler who was being a total beast to his mother!
Next, are, the complaints of cysts appearing on the ovaries. Infertility and menstrual difficulty go hand in hand with the problem and often the acne and moodiness hit the same individual. Chaste berry is a herbalist’s dream come true – to have such a clear symptom picture and a remedy that fits so well! A good working knowledge of the full metabolism of testosterone and its more powerful form, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is eventually the only way we can confront all the ailments that are associated with the polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Unfortunately, herbs and hormones are not that effective in dealing with insulin resistance (weight gain), male pattern baldness and hirsutism – the thick black hair that pops out where it shouldn’t. A beauty therapist who gives her customers Chaste berry says that it definitely lessens the profusion of facial hair. Bless her! She is probably sorting out their infertility and depression at the same time. We joke about the number of babies that have been born to so-called infertile couples and nicknamed: Agnes or Angus! When progesterone was a bit low and one mother conceived on Sweet potato the baby was called: Sweetie.
I have received reports from skinny people as well as morbidly obese individuals about PCOS. From far and wide, around the world, desperate ladies have contacted me for help. Many of them have been on hormonal treatments and are so fed up they seek help from Natural resources. There is no magic pill the doctor or anybody else can give you to take away this condition. At best, we have a few herbal warriors to help and fortunately most of you can lay your hands on Chaste berry and Saw palmetto in your country. The fresh pumpkin pips are universal and we use them to inhibit the formation of the DHT as pumpkin sterols control the 5-alpha reductase enzyme in the liver. I find the fresh pips taken and juiced with other fruit really work the best. To keep the DHT in its bound form within the bloodstream, we use nettle root powder or ground up flax seeds.
Insulin resistance has to be treated with strict dietary measures, for it is here, that the whole syndrome comes to the fore. PCOS does not just happen, it is not a disease you can catch. It is strongly rooted in a metabolic error that involves the liver. Eating excessive carbohydrate constantly overwhelms the liver’s enzymatic functions. It is then unable to stifle the conversion of testosterone into DHT. In older males, this causes untold havoc to the prostate gland.
At a topical level, this conversion also takes place in the hair follicles of the scalp where it causes them to atrophy. The hair can no longer grow and male pattern baldness develops. A hereditary factor also determines one’s vulnerability to this condition – even in some unfortunate females. At the same time, grizzly beard hairs begin to sprout out of control. It is ironically cruel to have to cope with unwanted body or facial hair concurrent with uncontrollable loss of scalp hair. However, if chunks of hair fall out of the scalp in other areas; the cause may be due to a thyroid problem or stress and the depletion of B-vitamins.
Once again, the tangle of DHT complaints can become intertwined with a thyroid error. In such cases, we have to include a boost to the thyroid once a clearer picture emerges. Blood tests have told me nothing, as many ladies report that thyroid tests came back normal. Oh no, your cold hands, dry rough skin and thinning hair tell another story, as does the fatigue, hatred of exercise and sneaky weight gain. It is thus that often we have to treat a thyroid problem and PCOS simultaneously.
If you suspect you may have this problem, it is easy enough to take your morning temperature and finding it too low; you can follow my advice for thyroid treatment. As part of your treatment, we have to find a suitable diet for you and eliminate the metabolic troublemakers you may be eating as cherished daily foods. I can but make suggestions and may be on the other side of the world, but the results speak for themselves. I find that the blood type diets work best for such individuals. It is not a case of total prohibition – something nutritionists do not agree with, by the way, but more a case of offering a balanced selection of foods that will not disrupt your metabolism or your hormones.
Oestrogen overload overwhelms the thyroid hormone in both males and females. Your blood type is sensitive to foods that can also inactivate thyroid hormones on cell receptors. Foods that are rich sources of phyto-estrogens will cause constant bloating and weight gain. The list of these baddies depends on your blood type as their effects differ from one blood type to another.
Most people do not know how oestrogen is made. Do you? It comes from the breakdown of testosterone! That’s not good news for women’s libbers, eh? We both use testosterone and it converts to oestrogen in our fatty tissues. So much for that oestrogen from the ovaries! Males often have excessive oestrogen floating around due to this conversion, known as aromatisation. Unfortunately this type of oestrogen makes one more prone to cancer as it is predominantly estradiol and estrone. This excessive estrogen influx happens when men are deficient in zinc and it happens especially when they take steroids. Zinc does not make them sexy, but it stops them from competing with the fairer sex. Some men have boobs bigger than ours and then write to me and complain!
One last problem that overloads the bandwagon, I find, is oestrogen. In both men and women! Due to misunderstanding and often blatant misdiagnosis, most people who complain with their strings of woes to me have become the victims of hormonal abuse. We have to be able to determine what hormones we need and how to adjust them in relation to imbalances that are present. Here again, blood tests tell us nothing about which hormones are active on cell receptors. Sadly these barrages of blood tests people flaunt at me give no early warning of cancer rearing its ugly head, either.
I could weep, when blood type O or B non-secretors suffering from cancer boast about their new-found vegetarian diet, full of soya beans. Not only do soya beans wreak havoc with these people – they have trypsin inhibitors that turn a blind eye to tumour growth! It is time to find out for yourself, how to fix these problems. Better still, is to learn more about how your problems came about in the first place and to get a step ahead. There is plenty more about hormones on this website and I have compiled many pages of study notes to help you. Together, we can find a way to manage your condition with a good diet, sensible supplements, herbal remedies and lifestyle changes. Wherever possible I try to recommend a good doctor or therapist to help you.