Back in 1935, Dr. Irving Stein and Dr. Michael Leventhal, two gynecologists, were the first doctors to described polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Strangely enough, since 1935 the diagnosing of PCOS remains elusive for most women as their symptoms are often misdiagnosed.
PCOS is a metabolic disorder that affects the entire body. It is characterized by abnormal hormone levels that often cause distressing symptoms ranging from obesity, acne, excessive facial and body hair, diabetes, heart disease, uterine cancer and fertility.
PCOS is a condition where the hormones are in disarray. The network of hormones inside your body operates like a finely tuned system. However, when hormones become out of balance they often affect the entire body.
The three most important hormones that play a prominent role in hormonal balance are FSH, LH, and insulin.
FSH and LH are two hormones that help stimulate the release of eggs and plays a role in the fertilization of the egg. If the eggs are not fertilized then the start of a new menstrual cycle begins.
However, when FSH and LH levels are not in sync with one another the body’s overall hormonal balance turns into a state of disarray, often resulting in the failure of ovulation or menstruation.
Another hormone that plays a significant role in PCOS is insulin. Insulin’s main role is to maintain normal blood sugar levels. However, women who have PCOS will find that their body gains weight faster and has a preference to store fat even though they modify their diet and life style.
To help mitigate insulin resistance, most women are prescribed metformin to help regulate their insulin. However, the benefits for some women are modest at best. Commonly, the more frustrating aspect of metformin are side effects such as diarrhea, gas, bloating, and for some women, the feeling that their blood sugar levels are dropping, often leaving them frustrated and searching for alternatives.
The temptation to stop using metformin to treat insulin sensitivity is commonly seen in my practice, as most women who have PCOS either get multiple side effects from metformin or just don’t see or notice any benefits after taking it for years. This often results in them wanting to withdraw from taking metformin.
This leads me to ask, “is there something else we can do to treat insulin sensitivity?” and “if we could, would it be as effective as metformin?” After reading over 30 research papers on various supplements, one stood out the most: N-acetyl cysteine (NAC).
NAC is an amino acid that contains antioxidant properties and is required for the body to produce glutathione which is a powerful antioxidant. While most antioxidants are found in foods, NAC is not found in the daily diet but a nutritional supplement.
One of the most beautiful aspects about NAC is that it also has “proven activity on insulin secretion and acts as an insulin sensitizer” (1). More importantly, NAC supplementation has shown the ability to not only improve “biochemical markers of insulin resistance, hormonal levels” (1) and may “help the long-term status of women with PCOS” (1). “NAC can improve lipid profile and fasting blood sugar (FBS) and fasting blood insulin better than metformin” (2).
Before you give up on treating your insulin resistance, try talking to your healthcare provider about NAC. Finding the right treatment fit for PCOS is always a challenge. However, from my experience PCOS can be treated with a balanced approach using homeopathy to work on your hormones along with the right supplements. This approach can unlock amazing results to help you balance out your hormones and regain control of your overall health.
1. Kar gayatri, Jena saubhagya Kumar and Behera Basanta Kumar. Metformin and n-acetyl cysteine in polycystic Ovarian syndrome—A comparative study. Indian Journal of Clinical Medicine 2010:1 7–13.
2. Forough Javanmanesh, Maryam Kashanian, Maryam Rahimi, and Narges Sheikhansari. A comparison between the effects of metformin and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) on some metabolic and endocrine characteristics of women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Gynecological Endocrinology Vol. 32 , Iss. 4,2016.