The holistic treatment of PCOS is varied depending on the type, severity and your personal situation. While I do work extensively with nutrition and herbal medicine, I also have a strong focus on deep emotional and spiritual healing where I believe there may be held trauma or blocks within your body.
- Balance/repair insulin resistance
- Weight management
- Rebalance and restore menstrual cycle
- Clear acne and reduce hair growth
- Balance and support mood/stress
- Restore energy and vitality
- Restore ovulation and menstruation
- Change relationship with body and cycle
I use herbal medicine and supplements for PCOS when required.
Nutrition & Dietary modification: Minimising inflammatory foods .
Food and PCOS can be tricky because insulin resistance affects our hunger and cravings so deeply, it can make it harder for women suffering from PCOS change their eating patterns. Insulin resistance basically means that your cells are resistant to the action of insulin. Insulin unlocks cells and allows glucose (sugar) inside. When you are insulin resistant, the insulin key doesn’t open properly, and your cells don’t get the glucose they need. When your cells don’t get the glucose they need, they become starved. Starving cells will crave sugar and carbohydrates, because this is your body’s preferred energy source. But because that sugar can’t get inside cells properly, and because insulin is a hormone that tells the body to store fat, you are unfortunately more likely to gain weight. This basically creates a negative feedback system that is not easy to break.
I will often break this with my clients through ‘swapping’ out potential inflammatory/high sugar aggravators and change their choices to foods that still give your body the ‘hit’ it needs but at the same time balance your blood sugar. I do not encourage restrictive eating with my dietary programs but more a medicinal eating approach.
While some clinics encourage intense cardio and weight training I tend to look at the exercise aspects more person to person. If my client is exhausted and their stress hormones are through the roof, suggesting a boot camp/f45 type of exercise may cause more stress, anxiety and exhaustion. This type of exercise can be great for PCOS, muscle mass can be increased through strength and resistance training which actually improves your blood sugar regulation and can reduce stress hormones. However, if you are exhausted and stressed and the idea of walking into one of these classes creates more stress and anxiety then I might suggest we start slow with gentle walks in the sunshine and nervous system movement like Pilates, yoga or dance.
Stress + Anxiety
One thing I notice with all of my PCOS clients all of have in common is that they all are experiencing chronic underlying stress (even if they aren’t aware of it) and are most often they are in a constant state of fight or flight or survival mode. We’ve all heard of the fight or flight response and when we are under constant stress, even if low level this response can stay active in the body.
The hormone cortisol is directly linked to the fight or flight response we all experience when we are stressed. Your body will actually use progesterone to produce cortisol, stressing your adrenal glands to produce more progesterone for normal hormonal balance. In many women, this balance cannot be maintained, progesterone levels will drop, and oestrogen dominance will emerge. In addition, certain hormones produced by the brain which can be particularly affected by stressful periods include LH, FSH and prolactin; which are often the very culprits for menstrual cycle irregularity in PCOS women.
Sleep, Rest + Meditation
I find that most of my patients with PCOS spend a great deal of energy focusing on their diet and exercise regimen, but tend to neglect one of the most important aspects of health when it comes to PCOS sleep and rest. The majority of patients with PCOS experience increased hunger and carb cravings when they are tired. There are real physiological reasons for this which I’ll discuss below. But fatigue and increased hunger are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to inadequate sleep.
One of the first things I work with my patients is getting them adequate sleep and rest. The first treatment I might use is to tell them to simply stop. Stop, breathe, sleep, REPEAT.