Different doctors all came up with different reasons as to why I had not menstruated for the past few years, ranging from complications from heavy metal poisoning to a side effect of the Lyme disease to a symptom of adrenal failure. I knew there was something else at play. For my entire adult life I weighed in at 100 lbs. and then all of a sudden — it seemed like overnight– I was 140 lbs. despite no change in my diet or exercise habits. I went to a number of new doctors to attempt to pinpoint the cause of my latest symptoms to no avail. That is until I found Dr. Allen Warshowsky in Rye, NY who diagnosed me with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) after an ultrasound and series of tests. I was beyond shocked; I had just wrapped my head around my recent Lyme disease diagnosis only a few months prior. Really? I thought. Another disease? I could have lost faith due to my circumstances. A girl can only take so much illness with big, scary names. But Dr. Warshowsky gave me hope. He explained that even despite the widespread belief in Western medicine that PCOS cannot be healed, it can be controlled and, what’s more, it can surely be reversed. It all started with nutrition. Now that’s a sentiment I can get behind.
My major PCOS symptoms were lack of my menses, weight gain plus constant sugar cravings. When we lack certain nutrients, our hormonal or endocrine system cannot function properly. For instance, zinc, magnesium, iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, essential fatty acids and B vitamins (especially B6 and B12) are of utmost importance for balanced hormones in our bodies. Our endocrine system stops working when we do not have a proper amount of nutrients, which is why food is so important. When we are lacking these nutrients, our nutrient-starved body cannot function properly which impedes our organs from performing their specific tasks.
Insulin is largely connected to PCOS. I had not eaten refined sugar for ten years prior to this diagnosis, but I was apparently unaware of the sugars hidden in my foods– especially fruits and vegetables. I had gained so much weight so quickly because my body was incapable of regulating a proper blood sugar level, thus calories were being stored as fat. As insulin is a hormone, a light change in insulin can make a huge difference in our bodies capable of disrupting all of the other hormones vital to our body’s functioning and health.
Soy, I believe, was one of the biggest factors leading to my thyroid and PCOS diagnoses. Soy actually mimics estrogen in our bodies. Chemicals in plants that mimic this hormone in our bodies are known as phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens confuse our body into thinking that more estrogen is present than there actually is, initiating a devastating chain reaction. This then leads to Estrogen Dominance, the medical term that describes a condition in women during which their estrogen is higher than their progesterone. This results in a myriad of health complications. Foods such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage (or vegetables classified as cruciferous) can actually help reduce excess estrogen in our bodies because they contain a nutrient by the name of indole-3-carbinol. Just another example as to how food can be both a poison to some people and a cure for others.
Water is crucial in all of this, just as it is a key component to good health. Keeping hydrated is a must because elimination (urination and bowel movements) is also related to hormonal balance.
Many women who are overweight have high levels of estrogen because the estrogen is stored in fat cells. This is why food and nutrients are such an important part of healing individuals plagued with PCOS. As I experienced, many women with PCOS also experience sugar cravings because their blood sugar levels fall, deregulating their insulin which then cannot compensate to create a healthy balance. In response, our bodies crave sugar to artificially find stability, thus creating a vicious cycle. Notably, most women with PCOS also have Candida or high yeast levels in their bodies since Candida feeds off of sugar, yeast, carbs and all the other junk that has become standard in the American diet.
I use Natural Progesterone Cream prescribed by my Integrative M.D. I also take B Vitamins (especially B6) along with essential fatty acids, ground flax seeds and flax oils. There is a common practice requiring the use of ground sesame and flax seeds along with flax and evening primrose oils over the course of two different time periods of the woman’s cycle (days 1-14 and days 15-28) in order to encourage a regular cycle. The biggest change to make is dietary; whole, organic foods should be consumed every day. Additionally, I had to cut out all sugar, grains and any conventional products to support a healthy hormone balance. By adding organic whole foods you can help your hormones get back on track.
The best advice I can offer, from experience, is to avoid pharmaceutical/conventional treatments such as birth control pills. I love working with my Integrative M.D. and I suggest looking for a naturopath doctor that can help along with lots of rest and meditation.
I am not a doctor; my protocol was handled by Dr. Allan Warshowsky of Rye, New York. This information is not intended to cure or diagnose anyone. This is simply the protocol that I followed for my PCOS. Please consult your medical doctor for treatment. It is essential to work with a nutritionist and an Integrative M.D. because I am sharing general information that is not intended to be medical advice. This information is only given for informational purposes.