Tag: metabolic syndrome

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – What is it? Can herbs help? New 2014 research

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

PCOS is a complex endocrine and metabolic condition affecting between 6 and 15% of women. Cysts develop in the ovaries, there is an excess of testosterone, and often no ovulation.

There is also a condition known as PCO which means a woman has cysts that develop in her ovaries but she does not exhibit the other symptoms of PCOS. She may go on to develop the syndrome at a later stage.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

  • Increased hair growth
  • Infertility
  • Irregular or no periods
  • Obesity
  • Acne
  • Anxiety and depression
Liquorice (Glycyrriza glabra)
Liquorice (Glycyrriza glabra)

What are the long term health problems associated with PCOS?

  • High risk of developing diabetes
  • High risk of developing metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Infertility
What are the current medical treatments for PCOS?
  • The contraceptive pill – helps with period regulation and excess hair growth but not suitable for women wanting to conceive and it does not address the metabolic aspects of the syndrome.
  • Progestins – help with hair growth and uterine bleeding but side effects include weight gain, liver problems and depression.
  • Anti-androgens – help with hair growth but not suitable for women wanting to conceive.
  • Insulin sensitising drugs – help with metabolic consequences but not weight gain, or cholesterol problems and side effects include gastrointestinal problems and kidney impairment.
  • Lifestyle changes – “Some patients with PCOS can resume menstrual cycles and ovulation after having reduced only 5% of their body weight.” Rooney et al (2014)

 

Herbal Medicine as an alternative for PCOS treatment

spearmintA recent study by Rooney et al (2014) found that Cinnamon, Liquorice, Spearmint and White Peony were beneficial in the treatment of PCOS. In the review of research studies on herbal medicine and PCOS they found that all symptoms of the syndrome were addressed and reduced. They concluded that herbal medicine is a viable first line treatment option for PCOS.

Rooney et al also found that when surveying medical herbalists who had treated women with PCOS the following problems were improved.

  • Improved menstruation
  • Reduced hair growth
  • Reduced acne
  • Reduced weight gain
  • Improved fertility
  • Improved energy
  • Improved mood

For more information on PCOS visit the NHS website.

To view the research paper “Phytotherapy for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A review of the literature and evaluation of practitioners’ exerpience” by Rooney et al (2014), click here.

To speak to Sara Rooney about her research and how herbal medicine can help with PCOS, visit her website http://www.sararooneyherbalist.com/

If you suffer from PCOS and are considering herbal medicine as a treatment option it is important to see professional help from a medical herbalist. To find a medical herbalist in your area visit www.nimh.org.uk

 

 

Monthly research blog – Herbal medicine and health – Feb 14

This month the following research on herbs and health has caught my eye.

health-benefits-of-pomegranate1. A new laboratory study has found that pomegranate can repair liver damage.

2. A new study in New York is looking at the affects poor diet has on brain function. In      particular the links between junk food and poor concentration and aggressive behaviour.

3. Ashwagandha has been shown to improve brain function in people with bi-polar disorder.

4. Phytoestrogens such as soy, red clover and liquorice in a new study have been shown to prevent and treat metabolic syndrome.

rosebay-willowherb-on-aarhus-campus5. A new laboratory study has shown that rosebay willowherb contains plant constituents that suggest its effectiveness in treating benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).

6. Red sage has been used traditionally to treat fatty liver disease and has been studied recently to find out if it can be used in hospitals. Further studies are being undertaken.

7. Self heal (Prunella vulgaris) has been found to prevent atherosclerosis.

8. Cinnamon has shown a new mode of action in laboratory studies which may mean it can be used to treat some neurodegenerative diseases.

9. Beetroot juice has been shown to increase exercise tolerance in a new study.

hypericum_perforatum10. A new laboratory study has found that the root of St John’s wort may be effective against fungal infections.

11. An extract of broom could be in your next sun cream, as a new laboratory study has found that it can protect skin from UV rays.

12. A new controversial recommendation was announced that people with 10% risk of developing cardiovascular disease would be advised by their GPs to take statins. The threshold has halved as previously the risk was 20% before statins were suggested. Many believe a more natural approach should be tried before statins are introduced.

This month in herbal medicine research

Filipendula ulmaria - Meadowsweet
Filipendula ulmaria – Meadowsweet

This month I have found the following pieces of research interesting.1. The effect of ginger for relieving of primary dysmenorrhoea (a type of period pain). In this study 70 woman with primary dysmenorrhoea were given either a placebo or ginger capsules for the first three days of their menstrual cycles. Their pain levels were then scored, and when compared, the women who took ginger capsules found their pain had reduced. An additional benefit that was identified was the reduction in nausea when taking the ginger capsules.

2. Filipendula ulmaria (meadowsweet) has been found to have antihistamine qualities by laboratory studies.

3. Fenugreek has been shown to reduce cholesterol in laboratory studies.

Fenugreek
Fenugreek

4. Inflammatory bowel disease has been shown to flare up in hot weather, a study in Switzerland found.

 

5. Cognitive behaviour therapy has been found to be effective for treating people with tinnitus.

6. Oats have been found to improve liver function and prevent obesity in laboratory studies.

 

oats
Oats (Avena sativa)

7. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) have been suggested as possible treatments for metabolic syndrome.

 

8. Antibiotic resistance has been declared a crisis by the World Health Organisation, “as pharmaceutical companies are no longer developing new antibiotics and antibiotic abuse is widespread”.

 

9. Astragalus membranaceus (milk vetch) has been suggested as a possible alternative treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Astragalus-Membranaceus-Root-Extracts
Astragalus membranaceus (milk vetch)