This time of year, the comforting smell of cinnamon is everywhere – in baked goods, your pumpkin spice latte, scented candles, and potpourri put out to welcome holiday guests. And, guess what? If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), you can harness this cinnamon tide to your advantage. Cinnamon is shown to reduce insulin resistance, which is thought to be a leading cause of PCOS.

In fact, there are all kinds of natural ways you can help to minimize the symptoms of PCOS and enhance your chances for fertility. Here is the scoop on cinnamon, and four other ways you can use nature’s bounty to help control your PCOS symptoms.

  1. Just add cinnamon. Like we mentioned above, cinnamon has been shown to improve the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance. In a study done by Columbia University, women with PCOS who added cinnamon extract to their diets had more regular menstrual periods than those who were given the placebo. In fact, two of the women in the trial ended up conceiving in the middle of it. Try adding cinnamon into your diet, especially when you eat carbs. It’s a natural and inexpensive remedy. NoteMake sure you are using real cinnamon. Many common “cinnamon” brands use a different species of plant, called Cassia, which is not the same as true Ceylon cinnamon. Make sure your cinnamon is made from Ceylon cinnamon to reap the full benefits.
  2. Regular exercise. Exercise is a beneficial addition to any lifestyle. It is healthy for the mind, body and spirit. In addition to keeping off unwanted fat, and lowering the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, it seems to restore ovulation in obese women with PCOS. Huber-Bucholz and colleagues found that steady and non-dramatic weight loss, as the result of exercise and healthy lifestyle changes, “…led to a reduction of central fat and improved insulin sensitivity, which restores ovulation in overweight infertile women with PCOS. Lifestyle modification is the best initial management for obese women seeking to improve their reproductive function.”
  3. Chaste tree berry (Vitex agnus-castus). Chaste tree berry has been used safely for thousands of years to aid female hormone imbalance. Often, women with PCOS have low progesterone levels during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle. This can result in the formation of ovarian cysts. Chaste tree berry, or chasteberry, works with both the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands to trigger the production of lutenizing hormone (LH) and to mildly inhibit the production of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This re-balances estrogen and progesterone levels and can improve menstruation and ovulation. Chasteberry has also been shown to improve acne, chronic inflammation and hair loss.
  4. Saw palmetto. When a woman has PCOS, her body converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a more potent form of the male testosterone hormone. This causes symptoms such as acne, unwanted hair growth, and scalp hair loss. Saw palmetto helps to disrupt this conversion process, lowering high testosterone levels and helping to restore a healthier female hormone balance.
  5. Gymnema (gymnema sylvestre). This herb has been used as an anti-diabetic, a hypoglycemic, and a lipid lowering agent to support weight loss. These same properties can help with the insulin resistance that is a primary cause of PCOS. Proper gymnema supplementation may be able to replace the pharmaceutical drug Metformin.

If you have polycystic ovary syndrome, and are interested in treating it naturally, bring this list to your healthcare provider to begin discussing your options. Never take any supplements without consulting your doctor. Contact Overlake OBGYN to learn more about natural remedies for treating PCOS.