- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is confused for a gynecological problem but it’s often a dietary issue
- PCOS symptoms: irregular or no periods, androgen excess, growth of hair in undesirable places (e.g., lips, chin, etc.), male pattern hair loss, acne, infertility, weight gain
- Dairy is an incredibly hormone disruptive food for many women
- In utero genetics and exposure to environmental toxins play a role in triggering PCOS
- Functional medicine approach to treating PCOS: elimination diet, remove dairy, remove refined and processed carbohydrates, address environmental toxin exposure, manage stress and sleep
Dr. Elizbaeth Boham (@DrBoham) is a physician and nutritionist who uses a functional medicine approach to prevent and treat the underlying cause of disease.
In this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Elizabeth Boham define polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), its symptoms, and the Functional Medicine approach to treating it.
Host: Mark Hyman, MD (@drmarkhyman)
What Is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
- Symptoms: irregular or no periods, androgen excess, growth of hair in undesirable places (e.g., lips, chin, etc.), male pattern hair loss, acne, infertility, weight gain, etc.
- Markers: high levels of DHEA, free testosterone, insulin
- 5-10% of women have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- PCOS is a syndrome so there’s a continuum – some women experience all aspects, some have few
Who Gets PCOS?
- PCOS is confused for a gynecological problem but it’s often a dietary issue
- Dysbiosis or imbalances in the microbiome can trigger PCOS
- Often (not every case) presents in women who consume too many carbohydrates, high levels of processed carbohydrates which leads to imbalances in insulin and sets off a chain reaction
- Genetics plays a huge role: in utero exposure impacts epigenetics, hormone balance, and metabolism later in life
- If the microbiome is out of balance with bad bacteria, gram-negative bacteria can get into the body and trigger insulin resistance
Traditional Medicine Approach
- Birth control to regulate periods – without consideration for why it’s high in the first place
- Metformin to manage high insulin and weight gain
- Spironolactone which is a diuretic and used for acne
Functional Medicine Approach
- Elimination diet: eliminate refined and processed carbohydrates, sugary beverages (i.e., juices, coffee)
- Try removing dairy from the diet: there are hormones in dairy, even if it’s organic and these hormones get into the blood and can cause disruption
- Evaluate and reduce environmental toxins: BPA consumption is linked to insulin resistance and weight gain
- Manage stress and sleep
- The first step in functional medicine steps to treating PCOS: get a good history of the patient to guide approach (e.g., is it toxin-related or diet-related)