What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – or polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) – is a gynecological disorder whose prevalence seems to have increased considerably among women in the last few years. Many young girls and middle-aged women are suffering from this syndrome which is marked by the appearance of multiple cysts on ovaries and disturbances in monthly menstrual cycles. The exact cause of PCOS remains unknown to modern science even as the genetic link is being scrutinized for its causative role.
PCOS has the potential to adversely change your life! Once diagnosed with this disease you will naturally want to learn more about it. The hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems related to PCOS can cause infertility issues and may affect your health. PCOS is a very common disease that affects around 2-26% of women worldwide. It is recognized as an endocrine disorder which results in an imbalance of multiple hormones including greater androgen levels, disrupted folliculogenesis, and insulin resistance.
PCOS affects the pituitary-ovarian hormones causing infertility due to ovulation difficulties, menstrual problems, excessive body hair growth, obesity, hair loss, deeper voice, acne, and oily skin in a female.
The exact etiology behind polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is still unknown. Since it is a multifactorial polygenic condition, it requires multi-modal management for its treatment. PCOS can be triggered by various factors that include stress, metabolic disorders like diabetes, hypothyroidism, bad dietary habits, and some genetic factors.
Modern medicine available for PCOS provides a short-sighted approach that can manage only the symptoms of PCOS, rather than providing permanent relief. Ayurvedic approach for PCOS treatment involves a skillful combination of Ayurvedic medications, Ayurvedic Panchakarma, dietary modifications along with Yoga, and exercise. All of which complement each patient’s unique body type (or Prakriti), and thus help treat the disease.
How does Ayurveda view PCOS?
According to Ayurvedic principles, our body is made up of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas which are biological energies found throughout the human body. Any imbalance in these doshas can lead to harmful effects or disease conditions in the body. The reproductive health of women is maintained by Shukra dhatu which consists of both male and female hormones. Any imbalance in these hormones can result in infertility or reproductive health issues. Similarly, in women, vitiated doshas (doshas affected by impurity and disruption) can affect the efficiency of Shukra dhatu causing PCOD through excess production of male hormones and thus leading to the formation of cysts and PCOD.
Hormonal imbalances treatment in Ayurveda is corrected through Pramehghna, Vyayama, Yakritotejak drugs for the estrogen clearance Vatakapha nashaka drugs for the proper follicular genesis and ovulation and koshta shuddi to regularize your tridoshas. Thus, balancing the tissue nutrition by rectifying the imbalance of doshas that govern the body. Ayurvedic therapy not only helps in controlling PCOS, but it also helps in restoring the health and well-being of an individual.
Some common PCOS symptoms include:
– Menstrual disorders
– Abnormal hair growth on the face
– Hair fall from the scalp
– Weight gain
– Insulin resistance
Scientific studies in Ayurveda for PCOS
1. A study named Clinical efficacy of Vamana Karma with Ikshwaaku Beeja Yoga followed by Shatapushpadi Ghanavati in the management of Artava Kshaya.. The clinical study was carried out on 15 patients clinically diagnosed with PCOS, with an aim to evaluate the clinical efficacy of Ayurveda in the management of Aartava Kshaya (loss of menstrual fluid) which is the most common symptom of PCOS. The patients were initially treated with Vamana Karma (therapeutic vomiting) using Ikshwaaku seed formulation, after which they were advised to follow Samsarjana Krama, (post-therapy dietary regimen for revival). The patients after completing Vamana karma and Samsarjana Krama were given Shatapushpadi Ghanavati 2 Vati, 500 mg for 45 days twice a day with lukewarm water.
After 2 months, the patients were clinically assessed on various parameters like blood sugar Body weight, BMI, WHR, USG, Menstrual irregularities, Acne, and Hirsutism. Significant results were reported that showed improvement in menstrual irregularities, and body mass index, reduction of non-dominant follicles, weight loss, lowering the fasting blood sugar level and Hirsutism was found.
2. In another case study titled Clinical efficacy of Ayurveda treatment regimen on subfertility with PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) w. s. r to the polycystic ovarian syndrome..
A total of 40 patients suffering from PCOS were selected and were treated with ayurvedic therapies which included Shodhana, Shamana, and Tarpana. The treatment was carried out in 3 stages for a duration of 6 months. After 6 months the results revealed that sub-fertility due to PCOS can be cured successfully by using the Ayurveda treatment regimen.
Real world outcomes from PCOS / PCOD patients
Home remedies for PCOS
Following certain home-remedies are the safest approach to be followed, instead of popping a pill which may have adverse side effects. Below mentioned are some of the natural alternatives that can help tackle PCOS.
– Flax seeds for PCOS– consuming flax at least 10-20 gm.daily, incorporated into your food can bring down the levels of androgen.
– Coconut oil– The saturated fatty acids present in coconut oil can promote fat oxidation and help lose weight in overweight and obese women suffering from PCOS.
– Anti-inflammatory foods– like turmeric, onion, green leafy vegetables, ginger, and pomegranate incorporated into your daily diet can help lose weight and bring the hormone levels to normal.
– Fenugreek seeds – Consuming 3 spoons of soaked fenugreek seeds helps in maintaining the levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH).
– Low-fat milk is recommended. Boil milk before drinking. Drink it warm. This makes it easier to digest. Do not take milk with a full meal or with sour or salty foods. Add a pinch of turmeric or ginger to the milk before boiling it. This helps to reduce the Kapha increasing qualities of the milk.
– Lighter fruits, such as apples, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple and papaya, and pears, are recommended.
– Sweeteners: Honey is excellent for reducing Kapha. Reduce the intake of sugar products, which increase Kapha.
– Beans are recommended. Nuts should be avoided.
– Grains such as barley, chickpea, and millet are recommended. Do not take too much wheat or rice, as they increase Kapha.
– Spices are recommended only in moderate quantities.
– Vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes should be avoided as they can cause weight gain.
– Negative feelings like stress and tension should be avoided. Do not undertake physical or mental work beyond your capacity.
– Limit the use of contraceptives.
– Follow an active lifestyle, yet the exercises should be according to one’s capacity so as to not aggravate any dosha. Both excessive fasting and overeating are harmful. Follow a lifestyle that will not aggravate any dosha.
– No smoking, drinking alcohol and using narcotics. These substances aggravate menstrual disorders and should be avoided.
Conventional and modern treatment is often associated with substantial cost and may cause various side effects, such as gastrointestinal symptoms, irregular menstruation, increased insulin resistance, and weight gain. In contrast, the costs and side effects associated with Ayurvedic treatment are minimal in comparison to modern medicine. Ayurvedic therapy for PCOS helps cure the signs and symptoms of PCOD naturally and deeply. It helps balance the hormonal imbalance that occurs in PCOS by maintaining the levels of rasa and rakta dhatus in the body. The herbal remedies help nourish the reproductive system of a female by detoxifying, cleansing and boosting fertility. Hence, a wide number of patients suffering from PCOS are opting for Ayurvedic treatments.