If you’re reading this Blog post, then you most likely know what Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is, but if you’re just interested in learning about it, then you’re probably wondering what is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and how can Acupuncture treat it?
What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a “common endocrine disorder that affects about 7 million females from the ages of adolescence to adulthood. This disorder is responsible for 70% of fertility issues in women who have difficulty ovulating.” The signs and symptoms of PCOS range from multiple follicles arranged in a “string of pearls” pattern on the ovaries (which is diagnosed through ultrasound), to Hirsutism (abnormal growth of facial hair on upper lip, chin and chest), to weight gain. The complete list of symptoms is shown below.
- Irregular menstrual cycles (oligomenorrhea)
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Hirsutism- excess hair growth on face and body
- Sleep apnea
- High cholesterol and high triglycerides
- Darkened patches of skin (acanthosis nigricans)
- Multiple follicles (cysts) on the ovaries
- Increase in stress levels
- High blood pressure
- Skin tags
- Thinning hair (male pattern balding)
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Pelvic pain
- Depression and Anxiety
Keep in mind that not all women with PCOS present with every single symptom-they can simply have only three of the nineteen and still be diagnosed with PCOS. The reason it is called a Syndrome is because it is a conglomeration of multiple symptoms related to the dis-ease pattern. Western Medicine treatment of PCOS is usually targeted through medications like Metformin or even insulin, and some dietary changes. Western medicine states that PCOS is a direct cause of an imbalanced endocrine system, which is not far from the foundations of Acupuncture & Chinese medicine-which is to focus on balance and restoring health. “Health is balance and balance is health”
How can Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine Treat PCOS?
As a practitioner of Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine, I have been trained to look at the individual as a whole when diagnosing and treating. When a patient comes in for her first treatment, I will do a full consultation and treatment. The consultation entails a complete medical history and a series of in-depth questions regarding the patients’ chief complaint and overall general health.
I carefully diagnose the patient by listening to the individual’s pulse and analyze her tongue to determine which meridians are out of balance. Usually the unbalanced pattern lies within the Liver and Spleen.
Let me tell you why this is the common pattern for patients diagnosed with PCOS:
In Chinese Medicine, the Spleen is responsible for assimilating nutrients from the food we eat and transporting it to the rest of the internal organs for nourishment. This function nourishes the blood and boosts energy. Therefore when you eat difficult to digest foods such as refined carbohydrates and dairy, your spleen becomes weakened and cannot perform its physiological function of assimilation, instead it assimilates that food into phlegm or mucus and that substance is no longer nourishing to the body-which will throw off the delicate balance of the endocrine system resulting in worsening PCOS symptoms.
The Liver works by supporting the free flow of vital energy to the entire body. It is responsible for this circulatory function, harmonizing digestion, and harmonizing emotions. When the Liver becomes congested it stops the free flow of vital energy and it stagnates, the stagnation gives rise to digestive problems, and unbalanced emotions like irritability and anger. These emotions can raise blood pressure resulting in Hypertension, which is a common symptom in PCOS. This is where Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help PCOS!
Of course I recommend weekly Acupuncture treatments for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Once a week acupuncture treatments will allow the person’s vital energy to flow freely thereby unblocking any stagnation within the meridian pathways. Acupuncture has a cumulative effect on the body and regular treatments produce an optimum results. This intricate and detailed procedure does nifty things like guiding the body to self heal resulting in a balanced hormonal cycle and regulating PCOS.
At AcuBliss Acupuncture & Holistic Medicine we always take into account the patients’ diet and lifestyle. Diet is often the first line of defense when it comes to treating a patient. I will suggest dietary changes including staying away from caffeine, refined sugar and carbohydrates. This means to follow a low-carb and low-refined sugar diet. Also, avoiding unfermented soy products is key. Eating foods such as oats, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens and cabbage to help increase energy flow to the Liver and Spleen. Often the patient will experience more results by changing her diet and exercising more.
Secondly, I will create an individualized Chinese Herbal Formula designed specifically for what the patient needs. Chinese herbs are a great way to target the PCOS internally and acts as a way of moving the vital energy to certain organs so they function optimally. Chinese herbs are a safer alternative to western pharmaceuticals used in treating PCOS such as Metformin and Insulin.
There you have it! There is hope for women who are suffering from PCOS and want a safe alternative in treatment. Acupuncture treatment of PCOS is a great way to take control of your health.
If you want to learn more about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), feel free to check out this website www.pcosfoundation.org
Yours in Health,
Dr. Amorette LaFranchi, L.Ac., DACM