Natural Treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Health WomanIt is unfortunate that many women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome are not aware that there are natural ways to help. This is a condition where the ovaries produce cysts. While this issue in itself may or may not cause problems, the symptoms that accompany this condition can be very unpleasant.

Some of these symptoms can include excess facial or body hair, irregular periods, absent periods, infertility, miscarriages, acne, mood swings. There can also be other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, blood clots and even cancer of the uterus.

The first self help action would be to make sure that you have a diet low on carbohydrates

Every time you eat something sweet or starchy, namely a carbohydrate, it is broken down into glucose which causes your blood sugar to rise. Your blood sugar level is normally well controlled by a system of hormones. If it gets too high, your pancreas produces insulin, which brings your blood sugar level down again. But continually eating high carbohydrate meals and snacks can make your body’s cells become less sensitive to insulin, so that more and more is required to do the job.

Having a high level of insulin in your bloodstream eventually makes your ovaries and adrenal glands over-produce male sex hormones. These high levels of male hormones can cause the symptoms of extra body hair, acne and moodiness and increase your risk of heart disease. They also interfere with the normal release of hormones from the pituitary gland in your brain, which regulate the process of ovulation and the production of female sex hormones in your ovaries. This can cause absent or irregular periods and infertility.

If you are diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, you may be prescribed a high-oestrogen contraceptive pill to replace the oestrogen that your ovaries should be producing. You may also be given an anti-diabetic drug such as metformin to make your cells more sensitive to insulin. If your symptoms also include acne, a steroid cream may be prescribed.

All of these medications can have unpleasant and even dangerous side effects. The contraceptive pill can cause weight gain and depression and has been linked to an increased risk of blood clots, heart disease and high blood pressure – conditions you may already have as a result of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

We also know that prolonged use of steroid creams causes thinning of the skin and suppression of the immune system (BMA New Guide to Drugs and Medicines, 2001).

The first step you should take to relieve symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) should involve cutting down on carbohydrates (starches). Doing so will mean that your insulin levels will naturally fall and other hormones in your body will gradually begin to balance out again.

Reduce all refined sugar products from your diet, such as cakes, confectionery, sweet drinks, honey and starchy foods such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Make sure that you drink about 2 litres of water a day, to flush away harmful toxins that will be released as your body breaks down fat.

What about supplements or herbs?

I prefer to leave this to an experienced practitioner as every case is different – however here are some ideas.

The amino acid glutamine is reputed to improve blood sugar control. Chromium is also a very popular mineral utilised for balancing sugar levels – therefore assisting with polycystic ovaries.

The B vitamins are also important in helping to correct the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). B3 is a component of glucose tolerance factor, B5 helps to control fat metabolism and B6 helps balance hormone levels.

Taking the above measures may assist symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) resulting from high insulin levels and unbalanced sex hormones. However there is no substitute for being under the care of an experienced Naturopath who will take your full history and prescribe the most effective herbs and vitamins in your individual case.

The information provided on this website is for educational purposes. It is not intended to replace advice from your health practitioner. Do not embark on any treatment without proper supervision.

Sleep Better Tonight – Or Risk Depression!

Insomnia can lead to depression and cause many other health issues, including chronic tiredness, lack of concentration, increased stress levels.

Sleep difficulty, called insomnia, can have many causes, including stress and anxiety and may be the first indication that your lifestyle needs adjusting. It coud be diet related, stress related, due to worrying thoughts.

Your mind turns to your busy day tomorrow and you wonder, “How will I get through the day without sleep?

However don’t despair, there are many natural strategies to help remedy sleeping problems

While your Naturopath would be your best solution, and you can be assisted with Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Nutrition, relaxation techniques and dietary and lifestyle changes, we can discuss some possibilities here to further help you understand how Naturopathy can help insomnia.

First of all, we do need good quality sleep Tissue repair, rest and the restoration of vital organs and body systems occur during sleep. Periods of insomnia can impede these processes, not only leaving you feeling unrefreshed mentally, but physically you will not feel optimally functional.

During times of stress and emotional difficulty, more strain is put on the physical and emotional reserves, increasing the need for proper sleep.

It’s during these times that you need assistance with natural therapies.

So what is insomnia?

Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or to remain asleep for the required length of time, that your body needs for proper rest and regenaration.

Insomnia falls into three sub categories:

Initial Insomnia: Difficulty in falling asleep, most commonly due to emotional disturbances such as anxiety, stress, depression, illness and pain.

Sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome (involuntary muscle twitches that disrupt sleep) and sleep apnoea fall under the category of initial insomnia.

Sleep apnoea is a condition in which breathing stops periodically during sleep. This condition is usually seen in people who are overweight and sleep on their back.

Middle Insomnia: Waking during the night, again usually due to emotional disturbances such as anxiety or depression and may also be associated with pain.

Early Morning Awakening: Falling asleep occurs normally, but you wake early and cannot sleep again or fall into interrupted, unrefreshing sleep.

This is common in elderly people, who require less sleep, but may also occur as a symptom of depression or anxiety.

It may be difficult for you, without the help of a naturopath to determine the reasons for your insomnia.

However here are some suggestions from the natural therapy point of view:

Herbal Medicine

In addition to their medicinal properties, herbal teas are very useful due to the overall calming effect a cup of warm tea brings.

Following is a list of herbal sedatives and nervous system tonics commonly used to treat insomnia:

  • Passionflower
  • Lemon balm
  • Chamomile
  • Skullcap
  • Valerian
  • St John’s Wort
  • Vervain

Nutritional Medicine

A vitamin B complex supplement in the mornings can help to support the nervous system to assist generally with stress throughot the day, making sleep better at night.

When cramping or muscular pain is the cause of insomnia, a magnesium supplement is useful in reducing muscular spasm.

Diet considerations:

Tryptophan is an amino acid found in foods such as turkey, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, bananas, corn and dairy products. Tryptophan facilitates the production of serotonin, a chemical that is believed to have a role in relaxation and this in turn could assist sleep quality.

Meal size is an important consideration when taking measures to improve sleep. Avoid having a rich, heavy meal at night as a large amount of energy is diverted into the digestion rather than into rest.

The process of digesting a large meal activates the nervous system. Try not to eat less than two hours before bed.

An easily digested protein such as tofu plus a carbohydrate and vegetables makes an ideal dinner. Limit or exclude from your diet refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white bread.

Avoid caffeinated drinks and be aware of where caffeine may be found: coffee, tea, cocoa, cola drinks, energy drinks and chocolate are the main culprits.

Avoid Stimulants!

Caffeine is a stimulant that raises blood pressure and heart rate, directly working against the potential for a restful sleep.

Similarly, the nicotine in cigarettes is also a stimulant – this is despite the claim from many smokers that smoking helps them relax, which is only a temporary feeling of relaxation.

Alcohol is a type of drug that depresses the nervous system and is also not recommended to be consumed at any time. Insomnia is an additional reason to avoid alcohol.

Exercise

Regular aerobic exercise that raises the heart rate and causes you to sweat, such as cycling, swimming, dancing, team sports, aerobics, brisk walking or jogging at least four times per week for 30 minutes can be beneficial for insomnia.

How do I choose a good naturopath?

Medical SymbolThis question is as old as Naturopathy itself. It is understandable that when we want to either have treatment for health issues or just want to maintain our health, we certainly need to have a Naturopath we can trust.

Making the decision to see a naturopath can be a positive step in taking responsibility for your health.

A lot has been written about this subject and we could get carried away writing about this in ngreat detail. There are however some basics we can consider to make this decision easier.

Here are same basics that I have tried to keep as simple as possible:

Your Naturopath needs to belong to a professional Naturopathic Association. This reinforces proper training, continuous education, a professional standard of ethical behaviour and your chance to have rebates from the consultation if you have private insurance with extras.

Your Naturopath should give you the opportunity to ask questions at any time and answer them for you in a way that you can understand and be satisfied.

Consultation time. This can vary depending on needs, however the first consultation lasts about one hour, with your Naturopath asking you many questions about symptoms, lifestyle, diet, stress levels and more.

Listening skills. It is important that your Naturopath carefully listens to you and considers your needs and preferences, while at the same time advising you of the best course of action.

Some may want to consider cost and location – while cost may be a consideration, as long as you are getting value for money and good results, your health is too valuable to be considering a Naturopath that charges “cheaper” rates. Make sure of course that you don’t walk out with numerous bottles of medicines that each cost a fortune. With regards to location, I feel that once you “click” with your Naturopath (which is very important) and it is working well for you, distance should be absolutely no obstacle. Many Naturopaths have evening and weekend appointments as well to make it easier for you. Your commitment mostly may be a once a month visit so you should be able to schedule this easily.

Experience. There is absolutely no substitute for experience. Make sure the Naturopath you choose has the relevant experience. Ask them how long they have been practicing. Look at their website, if they have one, for quality of material and testimonials.

Personal recommendation. This is usually the best form of referral. If a friend can tell you first hand about their experience then you are more likely to feel secure that the practitioner will suit you. If your friend speaks enthusitically about this, it says a lot about the Naturopath.

Nurturing Naturopaths. It’s important to choose a naturopath that you feel comfortable with and who you feel genuinely cares about your health. After all, you’re going to be sharing very personal information and it’s imperative that you feel some affinity with them. Your Naturopath should also have good life skills and the experience to facilitate a process for you for solutions to everyday stresses and things that are an issue for you.

Real passion. You will soon realise if your Naturopath has a passion for what they do and are genuinely interested in you as a person, considering all aspects of your health, including how you feel.

These are the basics in summary that I hope will help you in finding a Naturopath that will help you attain your goals and aspirations for good health –  physically, mentally and emotionally.