Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects millions of people worldwide. The syndrome wreaks havoc on hormonal balance causing symptoms including acne, hirsutism, weight gain, hair loss, depression, infertility, and more. Increasingly, those with PCOS are looking for natural treatment including diet and lifestyle protocols and supplements to regulate insulin resistance and/or androgen over-production.
Written by Guest Blogger: Amy Medling, Founder of PCOS Diva.
All current research indicates that diet and lifestyle upgrades are the first line of treatment for PCOS. Pharmaceuticals such as metformin or the birth control pill often do more harm than good if taken too long or mixed with other medicines and serve primarily to mask symptoms. Therefore, many turn to natural alternatives such as supplements in addition to diet and lifestyle upgrades like the PCOS Diva Protocol. PCOS Diva’s free PCOS Supplement Guide is the most complete list of PCOS supplements, with the clearest symptom references, but let’s get started with a shortlist.
PCOS Diva’s Top 10 Supplements for Hormone Balance
Also known as DIM, this compound is an androgen (“male” hormones) antagonist. Being an antagonist, DIM blocks or reduces the effects of testosterone which can lower the anabolic effects of androgens. DIM supplements are also known to help treat hormonal acne and relieve PMS symptoms.
Popularly used as an ingredient to sweeten candies and some beverages, this herb is also taken for its therapeutic benefits especially chronic pain. As for testosterone, a study cited that men who took licorice root daily experienced a drop of at least 25% in testosterone levels in just seven days. In women, taking licorice daily was enough to lower their testosterone levels at least 30% after just one menstrual cycle.
Those with PCOS often have low levels of zinc, which could be attributed to some PCOS symptoms such as hirsutism and symptoms of PMS such as bloating, cramps, headaches, and anxiety. Zinc also benefits those with PCOS by improving fertility and reducing hair loss.
For testosterone specifically, zinc supplements may help inhibit enzymatic activity that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone or DHT, a trigger hormone when it comes to hair loss, acne, and unwanted hair growth.
For more information about zinc for PCOS, read “6 Reasons Women with PCOS Need Zinc”.
4. Fish Oil
Fish oil contains omega 3 (DHA & EPA), an essential fatty acid known for its benefits to brain health as well as cardiovascular health among other things. In a 2013 study, omega 3 has been cited to be of significant benefit to those with PCOS when researchers concluded that omega 3 can help lower testosterone concentrations as well as regulate the menstrual cycle.
More studies show that DHA helps moderate testosterone levels and provide mood support. In fact, in overweight women with PCOS, omega 3 fatty acids (DHA) are also proven to reduce fatty liver, control insulin, and improve hair and skin, as well as lower triglycerides and blood pressure. This powerful nutrient is commonly found in fish and some algae, but adequate amounts are sorely lacking in the majority of even the best diets. PCOS Diva Ultra DHA supplement is a highly concentrated combination of both DHA and EPA for maximum nutritional benefit.
Be careful with your fish oil source. Purity and quality matters. For more information about fish oil for PCOS, read, “Fish Oil Fix”.
5. Reishi Mushroom
Reishi mushroom possesses anti-androgenic properties in which in a study of 20 species of mushrooms, it had the strongest testosterone-inhibiting action. Researchers pointed out that it reduced levels of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT (similar to how zinc works).
Quercetin is an herbal flavonoid with potent antioxidant properties and is well known for its benefits on blood sugar regulation and reduction of inflammation, two of the main drivers of PCOS symptoms. Quercetin is abundant in fruits, like apples, berries, and citruses, and in vegetables like onions. It is also most commonly ingested through wine produced from red grapes.
In a review published this year, quercetin has been found to have testosterone-reducing properties while also improving progesterone levels. In PCOS patients, it’s been found to reduce not just testosterone, but also luteinizing hormone and estradiol levels.
For more information about quercetin for PCOS, read, “Research Suggests Quercetin Supplementation for PCOS”.
Resveratrol is similar to quercetin in that it’s also a compound known to exert high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In fact, it’s so good, many say resveratrol could also help reduce aging. And like quercetin, resveratrol is also largely found in red grapes like those used to make red wine.
Studies found that resveratrol can help manage hormone imbalance in women with PCOS by lowering testosterone levels as well as a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). DHEAS can also be used by the body as testosterone after converting.
For more information about resveratrol for PCOS, read “Is Red Wine Good for PCOS?”.
Popularly referred to as the sleep hormone, melatonin is a hormone the body secretes slowly from the moment we wake up and peaks a few hours just before we go to sleep. In addition to sleep, melatonin is crucial in regulating hormone balance as well as facilitating tissue recovery and repairs.
In a recent study, researchers found that melatonin helps reduce testosterone activity by directly acting on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which directly affects how our thyroid functions.
For more about melatonin for PCOS, read, “Melatonin’s Impact on PCOS, Weight Loss, Fertility, & More” and “Melatonin is Affecting More Than Your Sleep”.
9. Spearmint Tea
Spearmint tea has been found to have a strong declining effect on testosterone levels. In one 30-day study involving women, researchers showed that regularly drinking spearmint herbal tea helps lower testosterone levels.
For more about tea for PCOS, read, “5 Benefits of Tea for PCOS” or listen to my podcast, “Tea is Strong Medicine”.
Peony is considered a natural anti-androgen. It contains a compound called paeoniflorin that has testosterone-reducing levels. It does through the process of aromatization, or when it promotes aromatase activity which results in testosterone conversion to estrogen. People usually consume peony as white peony tea, usually sold in a formula with licorice because they work synergistically.
Please download my free PCOS Supplement Guide for a more thorough explanation of supplements available for PCOS and how to choose the one(s) that are right for you.
Amy Medling, best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.
● Nadjarzadeh A, Dehghani Firouzabadi R, Vaziri N, Daneshbodi H, Lotfi MH, Mozaffari-Khosravi H. The effect of omega-3 supplementation on androgen profile and menstrual status in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. Iran J Reprod Med. 2013;11(8):665-672.
● Grant P, Ramasamy S. An update on plant derived anti-androgens. Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2012;10(2):497-502. doi:10.5812/ijem.3644
● Tabrizi, Fatemeh & Hajizadeh-Sharafabad, Fatemeh & Vaezi, Maryam & Jafari-Vayghan, Hamed & Alizadeh, Mohammad & Maleki, Vahid. (2020). Quercetin and
polycystic ovary syndrome, current evidence and future directions: a systematic review. Journal of Ovarian Research. 13. 10.1186/s13048-020-0616-z.
● Grant P. Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):186-8. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2900. PMID: 19585478.
● Lephart ED. Modulation of Aromatase by Phytoestrogens. Enzyme Res. 2015;2015:594656. doi:10.1155/2015/594656