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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Related Terms

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone problem in women. The ovaries do not release eggs correctly. This can lead to fluid-filled sacs called cysts.

It is managed with medicine and healthy habits. Natural treatments have been used to ease symptoms. They should not be used in place of standard care.

Natural Therapies

Likely Effective

Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that are likely to have benefit.B10

May Be Effective

These herbs and supplements may improve symptoms:

  • Berberine is a yellow compound found in plants like Oregon grape.B2
  • Black cohosh is an herb. ( Note : It should not be taken by people that have problems with their immune system.)B3
  • Traditional Chinese herbal medicine ( Note : It should not be taken by people who have problems with their immune system.)B8, B12, B21
  • Coenzyme Q10 is a protein in the body that helps makes energy.B9
  • Flaxseed oil comes from the tiny seeds of the flax plant. It can be taken as a supplement or used in cooking.B11
  • Maitake is a mushroom that has been used to help the body fight illness and improve ovary health. It can be cooked then eaten or taken as a supplement.B1
  • Probiotics are healthy bacteria.B15
  • Vitamin D is available in a few foods and as a supplement. Your body also makes it in response to sunlight.B7, B22

Acupuncture places thin needles in specific parts of the body. It may improve symptoms.A1, A2

May Not Be Effective

Chromium is a metal found in the body and food products in small amounts. ( Note : Diarrhea, headache, and hives may happen. It should also not be taken by people with certain mental health problems.)B4-B6, B16-B19

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Inositol ( Note : Nausea and headache are possible.)B13
  • Selenium B14

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as.

  • Black cohosh should not be taken by people that have problems with their immune system.
  • Toxicities and side effects of Chinese herbs vary depending on the herb and amount used.
  • Chromium may cause diarrhea, headache, and hives. It should also not be taken by people with certain mental health problems.
  • Inositol may cause nausea or headache.
 

References

Acupuncture

A1. Ren LN, Guo LH, et al. [A meta-analysis on acupuncture treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome]. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2014;29(3):238-246.

A2. Lim CED, Ng RWC, et al. Acupuncture for polycystic ovarian syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 Jul 2;7:CD007689.

Herbs and Supplements

B1. Chen TJ, Tominaga K, et al. Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) extract induces ovulation in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: a possible monotherapy and a combination therapy after failure with first-line clomiphene citrate. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(12):1295-1299.

B2. Wei W, Zaho H, et al. A clinical study on the short-term effect of berberine in comparison to metformin on the metabolic characteristics of women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Eur J Endocrinol. 2012;166(1):99-105.

B3. Shahin AY, Mohammed SA. Adding the phytoestrogen Cimicifugae Racemosae to clomiphene induction cycles with timed intercourse in polycystic ovary syndrome improves cycle outcomes and pregnancy rates-a randomized trial. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2014;30(7):505-510.

B4. Jamillian M, Asemi Z. Chromium Supplementation and the Effects on Metabolic Status in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Ann Nutr Metab. 2015;67(1):42-48.

B5. Ashoush S, Abou-Camrah A, et al. Chromium picolinate reduces insulin resistance in polycystic ovary syndrome: Randomized controlled trial. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2016;42(3):279-285.

B6. Jamillan M, Bahmani F, et al. The Effects of Chromium Supplementation on Endocrine Profiles, Biomarkers of Inflammation, and Oxidative Stress in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2016;172(1): 72-78.

B7. Fang F, Ni K, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017;26:53-60.

B8. Ma QW, Tan Y. Effectiveness of co-treatment with traditional Chinese medicine and letrozole for polycystic ovary syndrome: a meta-analysis. J Integr Med. 2017;15(2):95-101.

B9. Samimi M, Zarezade Mehrizi M, et al. The effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on glucose metabolism and lipid profiles in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2017;86(4):560-566.

B10. Yang K, Zeng L, et al. Effectiveness of Omega-3 fatty acid for polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Reprod Biol Endrocrinol. 2018;16(1):27.

B11. Mirmassoumi G, Fazilati M, et al. The Effects of Flaxseed Oil Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation on Metabolic Status of Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2018;126(4):222-228.

B12. Kwon CY, Lee B, et al. Oriental herbal medicine and moxibustion for polycystic ovary syndrome: A meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(43):e12942.

B13. Showell MG, Mackenzie-Proctor R, et al. Inositol for subfertile women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;12:CD012378.

B14. Hajizadeh-Sharafabad F, Moludi J, et al. Selenium and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome; Current Knowledge and Future Directions: A Systematic Review. Horm Metab Res. 2019 May;51(5):279-287.

B15. Liao D, Zhong C, et al. Meta-analysis of the effects of probiotic supplementation on glycemia, lipidic profiles, weight loss and C-reactive protein in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Minerva Med. 2018 Dec;109(6):479-487.

B16. Maleki V, Izadi A, et al. Chromium supplementation does not improve weight loss or metabolic and hormonal variables in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review. Nutr Res. 2018 Aug;56:1-10.

B17. Heshmati J, Omani-Samani R, et al. The Effects of Supplementation with Chromium on Insulin Resistance Indices in Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Horm Metab Res. 2018 Mar;50(3):193-200.

B18. Tang XL, Sun Z, et al. Chromium supplementation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: Systematic review and meta-analysis. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2018 Jan;44(1):134-143.

B19. Fazelian S, Rouhani MH, et al. Chromium supplementation and polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2017 Jul;42:92-96.

B20. Arentz S, Smith CA, et al. Nutritional supplements and herbal medicines for women with polycystic ovary syndrome; a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Nov 25;17(1):500.

B21. Zhou K, Zhang J, et al. Chinese herbal medicine for subfertile women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Oct 12;10:CD007535.

B22. Jia XZ, Wang YM, et al. Effect of vitamin D on clinical and biochemical parameters in polycystic ovary syndrome women: A meta-analysis. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2015 Nov;41(11):1791-1802.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 6/15/2020