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Polycystic Ovarian Disease and Ayurveda

PCOD

Did you know that PCOS can occur even without the presence of any cysts in the ovaries? Also, the presence of cysts in the ovaries does not always mean that you are having PCOD. Despite having the name ‘ovarian disease’, polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is more of a multi-system disorder than a gynecological issue, as new evidence suggests. Although contemporary medicine is unable to find a definite cure, Ayurveda medicines for the polycystic ovarian disease have shown promising results. Many women have regained regular ovulation and normal menstruation with scientific ayurvedic treatment for PCOS.

PCOS is one of the leading causes of menstrual irregularity and infertility among women in the modern world. The condition is present in up to one in five women of the reproductive age in most countries. 

How do you know if you have PCOS?

The polycystic ovarian syndrome can be suspected if you have more than one of the following difficulties:

Menstrual irregularities: The main issues are with your ovulation, menstruation, and fertility. Common symptoms include any of – Fewer than nine menstrual periods a year, no menstruation at all for three or more consecutive months, the increased gap in menstruation with heavy and prolonged bleeding, painful and scanty menstruation.

Signs of increased masculine hormones: Increased body hair growth, facial hair, dark skin pigmentation in neck, thighs, acne, thinning of hair on the scalp.

Metabolic issues: Increased weight, difficulty to lose weight, excess fat in the middle part of the body etc. 

Though mostly seen in women who are on the upper side of body weight, PCOS can occur in lean women also.

What causes PCOS:

PCOS is a challenge for researchers as all of the mechanisms and pathophysiology underlying the condition are not fully understood. However, a combination of genetic, hormonal and lifestyle factors are identified.

There is a chance of you getting the condition if your mother or sister have it, but environmental and lifestyle factors play a great role. 

The major players in the pathophysiology of PCOS are androgens (like testosterone) and insulin.

In women with PCOS, male hormones like testosterone are produced in more than required quantities. This happens mainly due to an error in the regulatory mechanism of hypothalamus – pituitary – ovarian hormone regulatory axis. This triggers the release of a hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH), which affects the maturation of ovarian follicles, in which the ova or eggs are situated. The cysts found in PCOS are actually follicles which are not fully matured and filled with fluid.

Women who have excess weight and an impaired metabolism are at more risk for having PCOS. Also diabetes mellitus is seen mostly associated with PCOS, either one occurring first. 

Another cause of PCOS is chronic inflammation, which also triggers the pathology of imbalance in the pituitary hormonal axis. 

Role of Metabolism in PCOS:

Excess weight and its resultant insulin resistance and excess insulin in blood cause imbalance in the hypothalamus feedback system. Insulin resistance occurs in 50 – 80% of all women with PCOS. 

Polycystic ovarian syndrome can also exist in lean women. But in such cases also, there is mostly some sort of metabolic error with or without insulin resistance.

Dyslipidemia or excess triglycerides and low density fats in blood is also seen in women with PCOS, irrespective of body weight.

As metabolic syndrome – which includes excess weight, insulin resistance and high blood lipids – exacerbates all issues and symptoms associated with PCOS, it is important to manage metabolism and weight in both prevention and control of the syndrome.

With the increasing prevalence of PCOD among women of reproductive age and the association with body weight and insulin resistance, the condition is considered a lifestyle disease. 

Especially in treating the disease, lifestyle modification and weight management play an important role.

Ayurveda for Polycystic Ovary:

Ayurveda has since ages considered cysts as a result of a metabolic error. In the ayurvedic concept, the polycystic ovary is not only considered as a gynecological issue, but also a metabolic issue. Ayurvedic treatment for PCOD or PCOS is based on the conditions ‘arthava kshaya’ (menstrual irregularity)  and ‘grandhi’ (cyst) described in classical ayurvedic texts. 

Treatment for polycystic ovary in ayurveda addresses the issues of metabolism and insulin resistance, hormonal balance, reducing the cysts in the ovary, and increasing endometrial thickness and uterine health. 

In women with more weight, ayurvedic medicines like Varadi kashayam and Indian herbs for weightless like guggulu, triphala, etc will help to reduce the stored fat and improve the insulin balance. Even marginal weight loss of 15% will start to improve the symptoms and difficulties of PCOS.

Cysts or ‘grandhi’ are dressed by medicines like ‘varanadi kashayam’ and panchakarma procedures like vlasti, virechanam etc. The panchakarma cleaning will also ensure that the symptoms won’t re occur. 

Other herbs for polycystic ovary include ‘satavari’, ‘satapushpa’ etc which when used at the right stage, will ensure hormonal balance by reducing excess androgens and restoring normal amount of female hormones. 

Ayurvedic medicine for diabetes is also given for people with diabetes or high insulin resistance.

Ayurvedic treatment for PCOD also includes diet and lifestyle management.

Ayurvedic Diet for PCOD: 

  • General diet recommendations include avoiding white sugar and sweets.
  • Salt taste must also be reduced in general.
  • Refined flour is another thing to omit from the diet. Include more whole grains.
  • Rice and wheat are to be reduced and millets are preferred.
  • Vegetables like spinach, gourds, pumpkin, yam, carrots, and beets are beneficial.
  • Confectionaries and fast food are to be strictly avoided.
  • Mass-produced chicken and red meat often contain excess hormones. So it is best avoided. Buy farm products from trusted sources. Prefer white meat to red. It’s best if you can be vegan, at least during the treatment period and some time afterward.
  • Preserved food is not good for the condition due to excess salt or sugar and chemical preservatives added.

Lifestyle recommendations for PCOS:

  • Exercise is a must in managing PCOS. It reduces insulin levels, reduces inflammation, and aids in removing excess fat. But high-intensity exercises for a long period should be avoided as it increases androgenic hormones.
  • As stress increases inflammation and causes an imbalance in hormones and insulin; levels, stress management is an important part of Ayurveda treatment for PCOD. Meditation, yoga, and herbal medicines are usually given for this.
  • Ayurvedic treatment for polycystic ovary is very promising. As it is best to get treatments early to prevent complications like infertility, contact an ayurvedic clinic near you if you suspect that you are having PCOS. Be sure that you seek treatments only from a qualified ayurvedic doctor.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2909929/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3215317/

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