PCOD is a hormonal disorder. It results from an imbalance within the five key hormones, which interact in a complex manner to control the reproductive system in women. These five hormones are estrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone. The breakdown of the five reproduction hormones in women leads to irregular or prolonged menstrual periods, as polycystic ovaries are unable to develop follicles and release eggs regularly. Hence, PCOD makes it difficult for an affected woman to conceive or get pregnant.
Women suffering from PCOD have to combat diverse problems, including excessive and abnormal growth of hair on the face and the body (Hirsutism), acne, hair loss or thinning or hair, darkening of the skin, menstrual cycle irregularities, skin tags, and weight gain.
PCOD can lead to several long-term health complications, such as Heart disease, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Endometrial cancer, Abnormal uterine bleeding, psychological disorders like depression and eating disorders; and can lead to Infertility, Miscarriage and Premature childbirth.
PCOD: A big problem among Women
An increasing number of women in present times are suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD), apparently due to improper diet and lifestyle habits, as well as several other reasons.
The exact cause of the occurrence of PCOD in more and more women is not known. However, medical practitioners believe that some factors can contribute to the disease because of which cysts are formed in the ovaries of affected women. These factors include:
PCOD can be a hereditary condition that runs in families because of a genetic link. It is believed that the occurrence of PCOD is not associated with only one gene, but with several genes.
Overproduction of Androgen:
The production of high amounts of androgen (male hormones) by the ovaries can potentially cause PCOD in women. Due to excess androgen, women suffering from PCOD are affected by conditions like Hirsutism and acne.
Excessive Insulin Production:
Women affected by PCOD develop resistance to insulin, which controls the blood sugar levels in the body. Insulin resistance hampers the ability of the cells to use insulin properly, thereby resulting in excessive production of insulin to control the increased blood sugar levels. Excessive insulin production increases androgen production, thus causing ovulation problems in women.
Incidence of low-grade Inflammation:
Women suffering from PCOD experience a low-grade inflammation, because of which the polycystic ovaries get stimulated to produce androgens.
Women who are obese or overweight are commonly affected by PCOD because obesity worsens insulin resistance. The condition can be improved by reducing weight by consuming nutritious foods and following a healthy lifestyle that includes enhancing physical activity.
Ayurvedic Diet for managing PCOD
According to Ayurveda, PCOD is a condition that results from an imbalance of the body’s three doshas — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Ayurvedic experts generally prescribe the intake of nutritious foods to women suffering from PCOD, so that they can maintain a healthy weight. The general guidelines for the Ayurvedic diet that can be beneficial in PCOD management are:
- Eating natural and unprocessed whole foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes
- Balancing the intake of carbohydrates and proteins
- Consumption of anti-inflammatory foods like leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, olive oil, and fatty fish like mackerel and tuna
- Increasing the intake of iron-rich foods like eggs, spinach, and broccoli
- Eating magnesium-rich foods like almonds, cashews, bananas, and spinach
- Eating fiber-rich foods like lentils
- Adding soy milk, tofu, and other soy products to the diet
- Reducing caffeine consumption
- Avoiding processed and heavily preserved foods that can contribute to inflammation and insulin resistance.
Herbs useful in managing PCOD
1. Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus):
This herb is an excellent source of Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, folic acid and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It also has antioxidant properties that can protect the female reproductive system and anti-diabetic properties which can improve insulin sensitivity.
2. Turmeric (Curcuma Longa):
This common household spice has an immense medicinal value which can be of great benefit to PCOD patients. The use of turmeric can detoxify the female reproductive system, control acne, and improve insulin resistance.
3. Ashoka (Saraca Indica):
This herb contains anti-inflammatory compounds, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It can heal the damage caused to the sensitive lining of the endometrium, protect against cyst formation, and regulate estrogen levels.
4. Amla (Emblica Officinalis):
It has an abundance of Vitamin C and is considered an excellent antioxidant. The use of Amla can help PCOD patients by controlling inflammation, reducing weight, improving digestive health, and boosting the immune system.
5. Vibhitaki (Terminalia belerica):
This herb is known for its proven anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial actions and can benefit PCOD patients by improving sugar metabolism in the body.
6. Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum):
The use of Cinnamon by PCOD patients can help regulate the levels of blood sugar, improving fertility, and enhancing insulin sensitivity.
7. Guduchi (Tinospora Cordifolia):
This herb can improve the health of the reproductive system in women, boost immunity in women, increase fertility prospects, regulate blood sugar, and manage various kinds of cancer.
8. Neem (Azadirachta Indica):
Neem herb is known for its anti-diabetic, sedative, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It can purify the blood, maintain healthy skin, treat acne, and manage several skin disorders.
9. Lodhra (Symplocos Racemosa):
This herb contains compounds called ‘flavonol glucosides’ which can effectively regulate ovarian hormones, reduce uterine disorders, and improve fertility in women.
10. Nagara (Zingiber Officinale):
Nagara or ginger can control infections and relieve menstrual pain. It also possesses anti-cancer properties and is beneficial for PCOD patients because of their vulnerability to Endometrial cancer.
Ayurvedic treatment of PCOD underscores a holistic approach towards managing the disease safely and naturally. The treatment of PCOD with Ayurveda chiefly focuses on rebalancing the hormones naturally, rectifying the imbalance of the three doshas, balancing tissue nutrition, helping in gradual weight loss, and boosting metabolism. Along with using beneficial herbs for managing PCOD, it is also advisable to consult an Ayurveda practitioner for specific herbal products to manage the disease.
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