It’s been close to a year now since I was diagnosed with PCOS and I’m proud to say that I have reversed symptoms I was experiencing and my blood tests are now normal.
If you’re here for a quick read – save this, put a reminder in your phone, and read it when you have time. If you have PCOS and “don’t have time” to do anything about it, then this article isn’t for you. If you’re serious about improving your condition and reversing your symptoms – stick around. I’ve got a few tips to get you started! I’m not a doctor, or a naturopath, but I can point you in the right direction to get some advice.
Back in August 2017 I started having severe hormonal breakouts around my chin. I was in a new relationship, embarrassed and had never experienced such poor skin in my life. Nothing makes you feel so self conscious as having glaringly obvious skin issues. I was at a point where I was wearing makeup everywhere and even tried to put concealer on before I went to sleep at my boyfriend’s house just so he wouldn’t catch a glimpse – even though I knew they were so big you still could see them under the concealer – AND Ben didn’t give a shit.
I was in at a herbal shop picking up a tincture for myself for a cold I had when I met my naturopath Amelia. She introduced herself, said she had seen my social media and was a female hormone specialist. I told her I needed to see her because I couldn’t shake the deep and painful cysts I was experiencing. Since I was eating perfectly and had all of my lifestyle practices in order (sleep, stress, movement), I had NO idea why my hormones were choosing to express themselves in this way.
It’s funny – most people had non-stop been recommending skin products to me but not one person stopped for a minute to consider it was internal. As soon as I myself knew that the breakouts were hormonal, I knew that it wasn’t a simple fix of changing my skincare – it was deeper than that. I just didn’t know where to start. So when I met Amelia by chance in October 2017, things really fell into place. I’m aware that I’m describing her like some kind of angel – but Amelia has done so much for my health and I cannot be grateful enough. Amelia is a naturopath, herbalist and holistic nutritionist.
Things you need to know about a naturopath before I continue further:
- They specialise in natural health – so you might think this is airy fairy, but for me it made so much sense and more importantly – IT WORKED!
- They are an investment. It is not cheap and I spent a lot of money on supplements. Consults themselves are similar to a doctor cost-wise, but the supplements are the real investment and they can become expensive.
- You need to commit. By now you all know that when it comes to myself, I’m all or nothing. I stuck to exactly what Amelia said, for as long as she said and this has been a major key to reversing my symptoms.
As mentioned, I saw Amelia in October 2017 and it was the best choice I ever made. I switched from my usual GP (who is awesome but a family GP I had been seeing since I was a baby and it was time to shake things up) to Dr Victoria Flight. Dr Victoria is amazing. Not only is she a GP, but she has a holistic side too and is very much up to date when it comes to holistic health as well as all things traditional medicine. She works out of ProMed on Cranford Street in Christchurch – she can already be hard to get an appointment with but she is so worth the wait.
After my initial consult with Amelia, I saw Dr Victoria and we ran some bloods. Amelia asked me to get a whole panel of bloods done and Dr Victoria agreed. They both wanted to run bloods to check for PCOS.
Having grown up with a sister with PCOS and a best friend – I knew all about it. However having none of the usual symptoms myself, I was convinced I didn’t have it. You see, I never had irregular periods, nor did I have excess hair growth, skin pigmentation, hair loss… None of it. My only symptoms were that I used to be overweight, and I was then experiencing hormonal skin concerns.
My bloods came back with high testosterone, high androgens and low progesterone. So in short, I wasn’t ovulating and my high androgens and testosterone, whilst no where near a males, was indicating towards PCOS. I later had an abdominal ultrasound which confirmed that my ovaries had the ‘pcos look’ to them. According to the ultra sound technician, blood tests are the gold standard and biggest indicator in those looking for a PCOS diagnosis.
So now for my treatment plan. I need to reiterate this is an individualised treatment plan and what works for me may not work for you. My supplements have changed throughout the last year so I’ll try to remember wh
Initially Amelia and I worked on aiding my liver and gallbladder function – I have oestrogen dominance and from memory excess oestrogen needs to be excreted by the liver and if it’s not functioning properly this causes a strain on your liver and gallbladder. Optimising their performance to excrete excess oestrogen was one of the first steps. Alongside this, we worked on supporting and balancing hormones (for obvious reason), improving my skin complexion and clarity as well as providing support to clear and heal my gastrointestinal system. My battles with intestinal candida provided insight that my gastrointestinal system needed some help.
Supplements/herbs I initially took from my first consult:
- Chaste Tree Tincture – in the morning (please note, Chaste Tree is NOT for everyone and should not be taken consistently long term. It is also know as Vitex. Read this article here for more info.) I then moved from this to an individualised herbal tincture.
- Herbal Tincture – This was a bio-individualised formula – The therapeutic effect of this formula is to help support your digestive system + liver detoxification pathways. These are a range of herbs which are designed to stimulate your bile and liver production, helping to decrease digestive discomfort and assist assimilation of food.
- SB Forte – this is a probiotic with a specific strain of Saccharomyces Boulardii which has a proven track record with those of us with skin issues. It also contains Vitamin A, which is great for skin as well as Vitamin D and zinc.
- PathoClear – This is an antimicrobial formula, which is high in Berberine + some essential oils to help reduce undesirable bacteria in the digestive system which can influence skin, as well as immune supporting herbs such as garlic.
- Zinc – I’m still on Zinc and Zinc is really important for skin and wound healing, plus most of us are zinc deficient. Check out why it’s so important here.
- MediHerb PCO Support – this is something I have been on since I found out I have PCOS.
I found improvement in my skin slowly but surely, however after a development of some congestion in my cheeks, on my next visit Amelia had me take:
- P2 Detox by MediHerb – The main reason she gave it to me was to help assist my liver to detoxify adequately, as congestion on your cheeks indicated to her there were issues with the liver, the other reason she gave it to me was from a PCOS perspective, where she believed there was oestrogen dominance in your instance. The product has DIM which comes from broccoli sprouts which helps the clearance of some of the unwanted oestrogen and androgens, which can then be excreted through your stool + urine. It also provides Turmeric and essential amino acids, assisting phase two liver detoxification, which again can get congested and make it more difficult to clear oestrogen and xenoestrogens (from environment).
6 months later I was emailing Amelia that my testosterone was now within a normal range, as were my androgens and my skin had improved further. I was also ovulating YAY! There were a few other supplements that came and went but the majority of what I have listed here was the main support during PCOS treatment. Additionally Magnesium. Which is one of THE most important supplements you can take – especially as a woman with any kind of hormonal issues. Check out this awesome article on magnesium here.
Throughout my journey there were 3 main women who really helped me tackle all aspects: of course, Amelia, my amazing naturopath, as well as Dr Victoria Flight and I cannot forget Samira Sultan-Rouse from Loft Beauty who helped treat my skin topically.
I had a pretty hardcore skin routine during this time using the amazing Cosmedix range that Samira stocks. I found Cosmedix (and Samira!) after my sister Lydia made the recommendation. She had seen amazing results with her skin using Cosmedix, and the fact that they have no nasties added for a cosmeceutical grade skincare is the best. They have no added fragrance or colour that isn’t meant to be there for a purpose for your skin. I also can’t stress enough that you need to buy these from an authorised retailer. You can buy Cosmedix online but the majority of it are fake knock offs – such as that found on StrawberryNet. Buy from someone like Samira who is authorised and authentic so you know you’re paying for the actual product and not a fake. During this time I used:
- Cosmedix Purity Solution – an ‘oil’ cleanser used first
- Cosmedix Purity Clean – an exfoliant using active ingredients
- Cosmedix Purity Balance – a ‘toner’ which I mainly used during the time I had congested cheeks
- Cosmedix Simply Brilliant – this contains lactic acid and salicylic acid to improve uneven skin tone, as well as hyperpigmented skin.
- Cosmedix Clarity – a spot treatment for those problem spots – Retinol and salicylic acid work together to help exfoliate the skin and clarify clogged pores that can cause breakouts and blemishes
- Cosmedix Refine – its retinol complex and key amino acids help refine and visibly reduce the appearance of enlarged pores and blemishes by improving exfoliation. This was just used once daily in the evening.
- Cosmedix Shineless – my everyday moisturiser – lightweight and nourishing
- Cosmedix Reflect – sunscreen! an essential, especially when using retinol products as you can become very sun sensitive.
Yes – this is a whole lot of products! But my skin very much needed and thanked me for it. If I could recommend essential products from this, it would be Purity Solution, Purity Clean, and Shineless. It would also be Clarity if you have blemishes!
Samira and I also did two Cosmedix Deep Sea Peels which aren’t for the faint of heart. These were to remove leftover scarring and it has worked wonders. You can see a video of my experience here.
Obviously being in the unique position where I lost weight before I was diagnosed with PCOS. Would I have done anything different had I known? No. Paleo is what I would recommend for anyone faced with PCOS. With lowered carbohydrates. Kumara/potatoes no more than 3-4 times a week, preferably in the evening. Carbohydrates are better to have in the evening as they’re great to help you sleep. I wouldn’t recommend ketosis long term at all – but a 30 Day program such as Keto Reset would be fine if you’re in a plateau. Starchy carbs are beneficial for those with PCOS so I wouldn’t cut them completely. However I WOULD recommend cutting out all the sweet carbs – like paleo treats and the majority of fruit (berries and stone fruit are your best choices).
My program 10 Week Challenge was based off of the way I ate during my 55kg weight loss and if you are wanting to lose weight with PCOS then I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. We have helped many women with PCOS reach their goals. The bonus is that you get support and access to a behavioural nutritionist who can make tweaks to help the program work for you.
If you have any particular questions relating to weight loss and PCOS, drop them below and I’ll be sure to answer.
It took me a good 6-8 months of hard work, and even now I’m still working on it. If there’s one extra piece of advice I could offer, please read the Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden. It delves into the different types of PCOS as well as various natural treatment routes.
I love my naturopath Amelia, but she has just gone onto maternity leave until the new year. In the mean time, she has recommended the following: