It is believed that Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects as many as 10 to 15 percent of women, making it the number one cause of female factor infertility. This is a condition that destroys the normal balance of female reproductive hormones, leading to irregular periods and a difficulty getting pregnant. High levels of testosterone are common, resulting in an increase in acne and body hair growth for the women afflicted with this condition, and insulin resistance is often also present, causing blood sugar levels to skyrocket as a result. True to its name, PCOS typically presents with many small cysts on the ovaries, further contributing to hormonal imbalances and issues with conception.
This is an extremely complicated condition that can often be difficult for doctors to get under control, particularly when the medical understanding of causes and treatments is so limited. But there seems to be a natural treatment option that has been performing quite well in scientific studies over the last decade, even as the public knowledge of this supplement has so far been limited.
Inositol is the name for any one of nine naturally occurring carbohydrate compounds which used to be considered part of the B vitamin family. These nine compounds all have the same technical composition, granting them each the name of “inositol”, but they differ at a minor atomic level across the board.
The body is typically able to substitute the various forms of Inositol as needed, which is good because these compounds play an important role in preventing insulin resistance. Not only do they help insulin receptors to bind when necessary, but they also function as a signaling pathway for insulin as well. Given the common insulin resistance issues observed in patients with PCOS, combined with an understanding of how disrupted inositol signaling can contribute to conditions like hyperglycemia and diabetes, researchers began looking into how the use of these Inositol compounds may benefit PCOS sufferers.
The Role of D-Chiro-Inositol in the Body
Of all the Inositol compounds, D-Chiro-Inositol (DCI) has made the most scientific headlines for its implications in the treatment of PCOS. DCI is a compound produced by the body only after extensive inositol metabolism. It plays a role in forming conjugates necessary for mediating insulin actions. Several studies have now found that women with PCOS tend to exhibit low levels of DCI in the body, and that supplementing DCI can actually improve the associated PCOS symptoms, as well as increasing the chances of naturally occurring ovulation and pregnancy.
DCI Shown to Benefit Women with PCOS
As early as 1999, scientific studies have been showing the benefits of DCI in the treatment of PCOS. One study had 19 out of 22 test subjects taking a daily 1,200mg dose of DCI ovulating on their own, compared to only 6 of 22 placebo test subjects accomplishing the same. A 2002 study looked specifically at lean women combating PCOS, and found that there was a 73 percent decrease in testosterone for the subjects taking a daily 600mg dose of DCI, as well as a decrease in insulin and triglyceride levels when compared to the placebo test group.
PCOS patients taking DCI have otherwise reported benefits such as increased progesterone, improved insulin sensitivity, weight loss and a reduction in the appearance of body hair which is so common for women with PCOS. In many cases, normal ovulatory activity has been restored, egg quality improved and pregnancy rates increased as a result of being on DCI.
What You Need to Know
Despite all of these amazing findings, DCI still seems to be relatively unheard of within many medical circles. Your doctor may be far more likely to prescribe you Metformin over recommending DCI, simply because he or she is unaware of the proven benefits DCI has been shown to have. Arm yourself with research and prepare to discuss the pros and cons of each option with your medical practitioner. So far no research has been conducted to show the safety of taking DCI while pregnant, so that should be something you discuss together if a pregnancy may be in your future.
Should you decide to give DCI a try, supplements are available which can help you to achieve the recommended daily allotment of 4g per day. It is important to note that DCI supplementation is generally well tolerated but may cause nausea, fatigue, headache and dizziness in some women. There are no known interactions with DCI and herbs or other nutritional supplements.
You can also naturally increase your DCI levels by adding foods like buckwheat, chickpeas and pumpkin seeds to your regular diet. DCI supplementation works best as part of a balanced holistic approach to healing the body of PCOS.
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