How To Heal PCOS Naturally: Everything You Need To Know

This is, without doubt, the most comprehensive free guide to PCOS on the internet.

Reversing PCOS Symptoms Naturally

Let’s get into it, shall we?

If you’ve just been given a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), or suspect you might have it, chances are you are feeling overwhelmed, confused and apprehensive about what this means for your health and future fertility.

Sometimes, being given a diagnosis can feel relieving to finally have a name for the pesky symptoms you have been dealing with for a long time.

This can quickly be overrun by a feeling of overwhelm in attempting to work out what to do next.

You might have already begun diving into the abundance of advice shared online, or perhaps have been left with the frustrating advice from your doctor to “just lose weight and exercise more” or to take the contraceptive pill.

What I want you to know is of all the hormonal conditions women suffer from, PCOS is the most responsive to simple diet and lifestyle tweaks. In many cases, it is even reversible. With the right advice for your body and the unique drivers of your PCOS, you can take back control of your hormonal health.

Having suffered from PCOS myself and worked with countless clients to dramatically improve their PCOS symptoms, I created this Ultimate PCOS Survival Guide to take the confusion and overwhelm out of navigating this complex condition.

Whether you have been newly diagnosed, suspect you might have PCOS, or have been dealing with this for a long time, this guide will walk you through some of the key drivers of PCOS, and the most indicated natural solutions to start reversing these.

Please note the advice in this guide is not intended to replace medical advice, and I always recommend you consult your primary health care provider before making any changes to your diet, supplement or exercise regimes.

What is PCOS?

Let’s start right at the beginning - what even is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)? You might have been given a diagnosis without much of an explanation of what this means, so let’s clear up any confusion.

PCOS is a hormonal imbalance condition that affects at least 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. Some researchers estimate up to 21% of women suffer from PCOS, but many remain undiagnosed. It is not a disease, but rather a cluster of symptoms that result due to problems with ovulation and increased production of androgens (male hormones like testosterone and DHEAS).

The word “polycystic” means multiple cysts. PCOS was named due to the common appearance of multiple follicles in the ovaries seen on a pelvic ultrasound. PCOS is a poorly named condition as the “cysts” which were noticed on ultrasounds are in fact not cysts at all but multiple under-developed follicles.

These large numbers of follicles occur in PCOS due to problems with ovulation, causing the follicles (which house the growing eggs waiting to be released at ovulation) becoming ‘stalled’ in their development. In a normal cycle, up to 12 follicles begin developing at one time, with one of these follicles becoming the ‘dominant’ follicle, and rupturing to release an egg ready to be fertilised at ovulation.

In PCOS, it is common to struggle to ovulate on time because the follicles fail to make it to the final stage of development where they can release an egg. To make matters more confusing, not all women with PCOS have polycystic ovaries on ultrasound, and as you will learn in the diagnosis section of this guide, polycystic ovaries are not a requirement for diagnosis.

Many health practitioners and researchers believe PCOS needs a new name as the current name does not accurately reflect the condition it describes. Some of the new name contenders include ‘Anovulatory Androgen Excess’ and ‘Metabolic Reproductive Syndrome’. Watch this space for updates on a name change!

PCOS is a form of hormone imbalance. It’s common to suffer from PCOS and other hormone imbalances. 

Signs & Symptoms of PCOS

PCOS is not a disease, but a cluster of symptoms that result due to problems with ovulation and high levels of androgens. This means that not every woman with PCOS will have every symptom of PCOS. It is possible to only have a small handful of symptoms, or to relate to every one of the symptoms below. It is also possible for certain symptoms to come and go over time and in response to changes you are making to manage your PCOS and your advancing age.

The symptoms listed below are by no means an exhaustive list, but some of the most common signs and symptoms, including ‘hidden’ symptoms such as those seen on ultrasound or blood tests.

The hallmark symptoms of PCOS are irregular periods, acne, excessive facial and body hair and hair loss on your head.

But you might be experiencing any of the following:

  • Irregular periods or cycles that are consistently longer than 35 days
  • Anovulation (not ovulating)
  • Multiple follicles on your ovaries on ultrasound (NOTE: this is not required to be diagnosed with PCOS)
  • Acne: especially around the chin and jaw-line, chest and upper back
  • Unwanted hair growth (e.g. hair growing on your chin, upper lip, chest or around your nipples)
  • Hair loss or thinning hair on your head
  • Insulin resistance and/or blood sugar issues
  • Anxiety, depression, mood swings, fatigue, low libido, cravings
  • Weight gain (especially your stomach) and difficulty losing weight
  • Blood tests show high luteinising hormone (LH) to follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) ratio
  • Blood tests show excess androgens like testosterone or DHEAS

PCOS is estimated to affect at least 1 in 10 women, so if you have been given a diagnosis or relate to any of the above, don't feel alone. Having PCOS now doesn’t mean you will suffer from this condition for the rest of your life, although you may be at a higher risk of developing other metabolic conditions later in life.

Having suffered with PCOS personally, I deeply acknowledge the frustration and pain of many of the symptoms listed above. I know how easy it is to feel disheartened or frustrated by these symptoms.

I have found great relief in shifting my focus from frustration towards the ‘unfairness’ of these symptoms, to gratitude for them helping steer me towards a path towards getting to know my body on a deeper level, and learning how to love and take care of it to the best of my ability.

Your symptoms are your body's cries for help, and there is so much you can learn just by tuning in, rather than trying to ignore or suppress them. Let’s dive on in to the top causes of PCOS, and the abundance of natural treatment options to get you on the road to being symptom free! 

How do you diagnose PCOS? 

There is no singular definitive test to determine if you have PCOS or not. This is because PCOS is not a disease but a group of symptoms driven by problems with ovulation and excess androgen production.

Diagnosis of PCOS can be somewhat subjective as it is based on whether or not you meet a specific diagnostic criteria. There are several PCOS diagnostic criteria used by health professionals, but the most common is the Rotterdam criteria

Based on the Rotterdam criteria, to be diagnosed with PCOS you must meet at least two of the following three criteria (and other causes for these must have been excluded):

  1. Oligo-ovulation or anovulation
  2. Clinical and/or biochemical hyperandrogenism
  3. Polycystic ovaries on ultrasound 

Let’s break down what these three criteria mean:

Oligo-Ovulation Or Anovulation

Oligo means irregular so oligo-ovulation means irregular ovulation (and therefore irregular periods). This is most commonly seen as long cycles, often longer than 35 days between the start of one period bleed and the next.

Anovulation means not ovulating at all (and often no period bleeds).

These two changes in ovulation are common symptoms of PCOS as the follicles which house our growing eggs, become ‘halted’ or ‘stalled’ in their development.

This can mean your body makes multiple attempts to ovulate, and finally achieves ovulation (followed by a period bleed roughly two weeks later), or never makes it to the final stage of ovulation (hence you experience lack of ovulation and periods). 

Clinical And/Or Biochemical Hyperandrogenism

Hyperandrogenism refers to an overproduction of androgens (male hormones) like testosterone and DHEAS. ‘Clinical hyperandrogenism’ refers to physical signs that your body is making too many androgens. This clinical presentation of hyperandrogenism often appears as acne (especially on your chin), hair loss on your head and/or hair growth on your face and body.

You can also meet this criteria for diagnosis if you have high levels of androgens (including testosterone, DHEAS and androstenedione) on blood tests. This is referred to as ‘biochemical hyperandrogenism’ and may or may not present with the physical signs of hyperandrogenism above.

Polycystic Ovaries On Ultrasound

The final criteria for diagnosis of PCOS is polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. This refers to the appearance of multiple follicles that are semi-developed. It is often referred to as the ‘string of pearls’ due the large number of small follicles side by side.

Having small growing follicles is a normal part of having a cycle. In a normal, healthy cycle, we have up to 12 developing follicles at once, all trying to make the race to ovulation. One follicle becomes dominant and is released, while the others stop growing and are reabsorbed.

In PCOS, it is common to struggle to make it to this final stage of ovulation (hence why missing periods or very long cycles are a common feature of PCOS). If ovulation doesn’t occur, there is no dominant follicle and all follicles keep growing a small amount, producing many under-developed follicles which can be seen on ultrasound. 
PCOS Myth Busting: You Cannot Be Diagnosed With PCOS By Ultrasound Alone

If you have been given a diagnosis of PCOS, your first question should be “Was this diagnosis based on my ultrasound results alone?”.

Whilst polycystic ovaries on ultrasound is part of the diagnostic criteria for PCOS, the appearance of multiple developing follicles simply shows us you didn’t ovulate THAT month. It doesn’t tell us why this occurred, or if you will be able to ovulate next month.

There are many reasons why this can occur, and they are NOT just because of PCOS. This same ultrasound result can occur due to being on the contraceptive pill, stress (which frequently causes a delay in ovulation), under-eating, travelling and being out of your normal routine.

One study found that even in healthy women with regular cycles, polycystic ovaries occur in around 25% of menstrual cycles. Equally, not all women with PCOS will have polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. As you can see from the diagnostic criteria above, it is possible to be diagnosed with PCOS if you meet the first two criteria points (oligo-ovulation or anovulation and clinical or biochemical signs of hyperandrogenism), so an ultrasound is not always necessary to confirm diagnosis. 

Talking To Your Doctor About PCOS

If you suspect you might have PCOS, the best first step is to visit your doctor or primary healthcare provider to discuss whether or not you meet the diagnostic criteria. This will likely involve organising some testing to confirm or rule out signs such as biochemical hyperandrogenism and possibly a pelvic ultrasound.

Navigating a diagnosis can be confusing, and not all doctors are specialised in understanding and treating PCOS. To help you be prepared for your chat with your doctor, I’ve listed some questions from Dr Lara Briden’s Period Repair Manual below. These questions should help you to get the answers you need so that you can be one step closer to ruling in our out a diagnosis:
Questions To Ask Your Doctor About PCOS Diagnosis:

  • (If you have just been diagnosed): “Was this diagnosis based solely on my ultrasound? I understand that PCOS cannot be diagnosed that way”
  • “My symptoms are only since I came off the pill. Is it possible that it’s just a post-pill adjustment and might get better on its own?”
  • “Do I have insulin resistance? I understand it cannot be diagnosed by a glucose test. Can you please test me for ‘fasting insulin’ or a ‘glucose tolerance test with insulin’”
  • “Do I have elevated testosterone or another androgen such as androstenedione or DHEAS?”
  • “Do I have elevated LH?”

Should I Take The Pill For My PCOS?

Once you receive a PCOS diagnosis, it is likely you will be offered the contraceptive pill as a ‘solution’. Before taking this medication, I urge you to read the advice in this guide, and consider which option is right for you.

The contraceptive pill works by shutting down ovulation and your natural hormone production. Because of this, it can suppress some of the common annoying symptoms of PCOS like acne and hair growth. Unfortunately, the contraceptive pill works as a band-aid solution to PCOS by masking the symptoms, rather than addressing the root cause. The pill has also been shown to worsen insulin resistance which, as you’ll learn later in this guide, is one of the primary drivers of PCOS.

If you decide to take the pill for your PCOS, know that you are suppressing some of your symptoms, which can feel good in the short term, but you will ultimately be faced with the same symptoms once you stop taking it. This is because the pill does not address the reason you are suffering from PCOS in the first place.

My aim in this resource is to guide you towards identifying your unique driver of PCOS, so that you can start healing your root cause. Doing so takes work, but it means that you are able to control, and in many cases reverse, your PCOS. This not only improves your quality of life now and your future fertility, but it also lowers your lifelong disease risk.

Women with PCOS have been shown to be at a higher risk of heart disease, endometrial cancer and type 2 diabetes. This means that even after you stop menstruating and aren’t dealing with irregular ovulation and excess androgens anymore, you still need to take care of your health to reduce your disease risk.

Taking the pill does not address your lifelong disease risk, or current driver of PCOS, it simply masks the problem by shutting down ovulation. Many women find that after coming off the pill their acne and other androgen-driven symptoms increase as a temporary androgen surge can occur.

I don’t share this information about the pill with you to scare you, but rather so that you can make the most informed decision when or if you are offered the pill for your PCOS. I urge you to explore the other natural treatments covered in this guide, and view the pill as a backup plan if you aren’t able to find results elsewhere. Ultimately though, this is your own choice about your body.

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Finding The Root Cause Of Your PCOS

There are currently four identified ‘drivers’ of PCOS. Working out which one of these you fit into is key in determining the best natural treatment options for your unique PCOS. By far the most common driver is insulin resistance. PCOS can also be driven by coming off the pill, inflammation and adrenal androgens.

Insulin-Resistant PCOS

Insulin resistance is a hormonal condition which can cause weight gain (particularly around your middle), heart disease, and if left uncontrolled, eventually type 2 diabetes. In women who are genetically susceptible to PCOS, excess insulin also causes your body to produce too many androgens (male hormones like testosterone). Insulin resistance is estimated to be the driver in around 70-80% of PCOS cases.

In PCOS, having too much insulin causes your ovaries to start producing testosterone instead of estrogen, which triggers the annoying symptoms of acne and hair changes.

Insulin also causes your brain to create more luteinising hormone (LH) which causes delayed or halted ovulation (hence late or missing periods).

Insulin resistance most commonly occurs because the cells in your body get 'tired' of dealing with excess blood sugar levels (from eating too much sugar or refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta, baked goods).

However, insulin resistance can also occur because of smoking, drinking alcohol, having imbalanced gut bacteria and due to environmental toxins, so it's possible to develop insulin resistance even if you eat a balanced diet.

The most common physical sign that you have insulin-resistant PCOS is weight gain around your middle. This can be measured using a tape measure - your waist measurement should be less than half of your height. If it is higher, insulin resistance is likely a driving factor in your PCOS.

Important note: you don’t have to be overweight to experience insulin resistance. It is also possible to have ‘lean’ PCOS (where you are not suffering from excess weight), but still experience insulin resistance.

To confirm insulin resistance in this case you will need to have a blood test. Visit your doctor and request one of the following tests which are most sensitive at picking up early-stage insulin resistance:

  • Fasting insulin
  • Glucose tolerance test with insulin
  • HOMA-IR index (insulin resistance index)

    Sometimes, your practitioner will only check your blood glucose levels, but please note that you can have insulin resistance but have normal blood sugar levels, so it's important to have one of the 3 tests above to be sure.

According to Dr Lara Briden, your HOMA-IR index should be less than 1.5, and fasting insulin should be less than 8mlU/L. If it is higher, insulin resistance is most likely driving your PCOS.

Natural Solutions For Insulin Resistant PCOS (+ PCOS Insulin Resistance Diet)

STEP #1: Break Up With Sugar To Naturally Treat PCOS

By far the biggest contributor to insulin resistance is eating too much sugar, sweet drinks and dessert foods. If you have insulin resistance, your body doesn’t handle large spikes in your blood sugar levels the same way someone without insulin resistance does.

This means that every time you consume a sugary treat, your body becomes more and more insulin resistant. Becoming more insulin resistant means further weight gain, worsened acne and hair problems, and reduced fertility.

Your first step is to cut sugar out of your diet until your insulin response goes back to normal. This means cutting out soft drinks (soda), cakes, pastries, lollies (candies), chocolates, sweetened yoghurt, ice-cream, muffins, cereal, fruit juice and date balls, as well as added sugar (for example in your tea and coffee or on your cereal).

I know, I know, not the news you wanted to hear but sticking with this will dramatically improve your insulin resistance and therefore PCOS. You won’t have to eat this way forever, and there are lots of ways to make this transition less painful, which I’ll cover below.

Wondering if you can indulge in large amounts of fruit and date-based treats instead of processed sugars? Unfortunately not.

The problem with natural sugars (like those found in whole fruit, dried fruit and juice) is that once they are broken down into simple sugars in the body, they have a similar effect on your blood sugar as other forms of processed sugars.

Whole fruit can still be enjoyed in small amounts (maximum 1-2 serves per day), but should be paired with a healthy protein or fat source (e.g. and apple with almond butter or 1 cup of berries with some coconut cream).

When you eat a piece of fruit on its own, your body very quickly breaks down the sugars in the fruit and rapidly increases your blood sugar levels. Enjoying your fruit with a source of fat and/or protein helps to reduce the surge in blood sugar by slowing down your digestion of the meal. This means that your body doesn’t need to secrete as much insulin to bring your blood glucose levels back down.

If you struggle with sugar addiction (which is very common and real!), try some of these suggestions to help you cut out sugar while your body re-sensitises to insulin:

  • Make sure you are eating well balanced main meals: each meal should include lots of healthy fat (e.g. avocado, olive oil, nuts, meat with the skin on), protein (e.g. meats, fish, eggs, beans or legumes), and a small amount of complex carbohydrate (e.g. sweet potato, beetroot, buckwheat or quinoa)
  • Supplement magnesium bisglycinate: it helps to reduce sugar cravings and keeps your blood sugar stable (I recommend this brand which is well absorbed and doesn’t affect digestion)
  • Eat enough food so that you aren’t hungry: being hungry drives sugar cravings
  • Make sure you are sleeping enough: being tired increases cravings and reduces your ability to stick to your new habits
  • Drink enough water: thirst can easily be misinterpreted as a craving for sugar (or other food)
  • Have something satisfying on hand to resolve your cravings when they do strike: try very dark chocolate (85% or higher) which is low in sugar, or a spoonful of nut butter (try cashew or coconut butters which are naturally subtly sweet tasting)
  • Try natural sweeteners if you need a sweet fix: monk fruit and stevia are two natural alternatives to try which have very minimal impact on blood sugar but taste sweet. Try adding a small amount to your tea/coffee or homemade desserts
  • Be kind to yourself: if you do give in to sugar cravings, know that every meal you have the opportunity to get back on track with eating to reduce your PCOS - no one meal, day or even week of eating can derail your success. The most important factor is that you keep going no matter how many setbacks you have

    NOTE: Trying to do too many steps at once can lead to overwhelm. Try cutting out sugar for 4 weeks as a starting point, before moving on to step 2 below. 

    STEP #2: Reduce Carbohydrates & Starch To Naturally Treat PCOS

Starchy, refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice when eaten in large quantities cause a similar response to your blood sugar levels as the sugary foods we covered above. Once you are feeling confident with removing sugar from your diet, consider slowly reducing your intake of carbohydrates, and increasing your intake of healthy fats and proteins.
If excess starch contributes to insulin resistance, then removing it completely like you did with the sugar makes sense right?

NO. Here’s why: Women need some carbohydrate to ovulate. Our brains are constantly assessing our carbohydrate intake as an indicator of our safety from famine. When you completely remove carbohydrate, or significantly decrease it in your diet, many women will stop ovulating and lose their periods - not good news if you are trying to achieve a regular menstrual cycle with PCOS.

Cutting starch out of your diet completely is not a wise choice for most women. Instead, a strategy that works well for PCOS is to eat a low carbohydrate breakfast and lunch (as well as snacks if you choose to eat them), and enjoy a moderately-high carbohydrate meal for dinner.

Eating a small serving of starch at night tops up your liver storage of glycogen which helps your body to feel calm and sleep better. This might look like a small serve of rice, potato or other starchy root vegetable with your dinner, along with some vegetables, meat/vegetarian protein and some healthy fat like olive oil or avocado.

STEP #3: Try A 10-12 Hour ‘Eating Window’ To Naturally Treat PCOS

For women with hormonal imbalances like PCOS, I do not recommend intermittent fasting for long periods of time. This is because long periods of going without food has been shown to contribute to worsened hormonal imbalance in women.
If you suffer from insulin resistance, you may benefit from a ‘gentle fast’, where you eat in a 10 to 12 hour window. This might look like: breakfast at 8am, and your last meal by 6pm. This way of eating gives your body longer periods of time without needing to produce insulin, but also negates any extended periods of not eating which can trigger irregular ovulation or an entire shutdown of ovulation.

STEP #4: Get the best selling PCOS book, the PCOS Repair Protocol on Amazon

It’s the perfect starting point if you haven’t made changes to your diet and lifestyle before, or want to understand how to support your whole system, not just your PCOS. You can read the book for free
Supplements and Vitamins For Insulin-Resistant PCOS

Diet and lifestyle strategies are crucial in addressing the root cause of your PCOS. Adding in targeted vitamins to support your specific root cause is often the final piece of the puzzle to reverse your PCOS symptoms for good.

Here at Nourished we have created PCOS-specific root cause vitamins to support the individual drivers of your symptoms.

The Insulin Resistant PCOS Power Pack contains 3 vitamins, which specifically address the root cause of this type of PCOS:

1. PCOS Blood Sugar Balance

Designed to regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

Contains a unique blend of minerals and herbs for optimal blood sugar balance and sugar cravings support.

2. Period Repair + Regulate

Designed to support reproductive hormone balance and promote regular cycles. Contains B-vitamins to support mood and improve stress tolerance plus herbs used traditionally to promote regular periods.

3. Daily Omega+

Ethically sourced, high strength fish oil which has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity by lowering inflammation and inflammatory cytokines. Supports acne reduction and clear skin by reducing androgen production.

These vitamins come with free global shipping. They are made according to good manufacturing practices and are FDA approved. Shipped from and made in the USA.

Post-Pill PCOS

If you have recently stopped taking the contraceptive pill, it is common to experience many of the signs and symptoms of PCOS such as irregular or missing periods, acne breakouts and hair changes. If, before going on the pill you did not suffer from irregular periods or any of the other androgenic symptoms, it is likely you are suffering from post-pill PCOS.

The pill strongly suppresses androgen production (along with shutting down ovulation). This means that your body has to work hard to create just enough androgens to continue functioning.

When you stop taking the pill, the androgen suppressing mechanism is suddenly lifted and this can cause your body to temporarily greatly increase its production while it finds its new normal.

This is a common reason why women experience oily hair and skin along with acne breakouts in the first 6 months after stopping birth control. The good news about post-pill PCOS is it is usually temporary, which means you are not at an increased risk of the lifelong effect of PCOS like someone who fits into the insulin-resistant PCOS category. 

How To Treat Post-Pill PCOS:

In most cases, post-pill PCOS goes away on its own within a year or two of coming off the pill. That might feel like a long time, so in the meantime, here are some strategies to consider to support your body to find balance again:

  • Rule out insulin resistance to confirm you don’t meet the most common PCOS driver (particularly if you had any symptoms of PCOS before you started taking the pill
  • If you don’t have insulin resistance, you don’t need to completely avoid sugar, but maintaining a healthy diet will still go a long way to improving your symptoms
  • Eat a balanced diet and make sure you are eating enough calories for your body (under-eating can worsen post-pill PCOS and trigger other hormonal imbalances)
  • Eat moderate amounts of slow release carbohydrates (like sweet potato, pumpkin, brown rice) with most meals - your body requires enough starch to ovulate regularly so avoid a low-carb diet
  • Be patient and give your body time: stressing about your symptoms or lack of period will not make things improve any faster. Trust that your body knows what to do and just needs more time
  • Consider an androgen-blocking supplement discussed below to reduce post-pill acne and hair changes
  • Get your copy of the best selling PCOS book, the PCOS Repair Protocol
Supplements for Post-Pill PCOS:

Diet and lifestyle strategies are crucial in addressing the root cause of your PCOS.

Adding in targeted vitamins to support your specific root cause is often the final piece of the puzzle to reverse your PCOS symptoms for good. Here at Nourished we have created PCOS-specific root cause vitamins to support the individual drivers of your symptoms.

The Post-Pill PCOS Power Pack specifically addresses the 3 drivers of this root cause of PCOS: poor blood sugar control, nutrient deficiencies caused by the pill (particularly B-vitamins and zinc) and poor detoxication and elimination of hormones. The pack includes:

1. PCOS Blood Sugar Control

Designed to regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Contains a

unique blend of minerals and herbs for optimal blood sugar balance and sugar

cravings support.

2. Period Repair + Regulate

Contains B-vitamins and zinc to replenish nutrients depleted by hormonal birth

control usage, as well as support reproductive hormone balance and promote

regular periods.

3. Hormone Detox + Digestion

This herbal blend works by supporting your liver and digestive system to clear out

excess and used hormones from the body.

These vitamins come with free global shipping. They are made according to good manufacturing practices and made in an FDA facility. Shipped from and made in the USA.

Inflammatory PCOS

If you don’t fit into either of the two categories above, there’s a good chance your PCOS is driven by inflammation. Chronic, low-grade inflammation plays a role in all types of PCOS, but in Inflammatory PCOS it is the main cause of your symptoms.

Signs you have inflammatory PCOS:

  • You don’t have insulin resistance or post-pill PCOS
  • You suffer from chronic joint pain or headaches
  • You suffer from chronic digestive issues (e.g. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, stomach pain)
  • You have unexplained fatigue
  • You have eczema, psoriasis or another inflammatory skin condition

    Natural Treatment For Inflammatory PCOS

The most powerful change you can make to begin healing inflammatory PCOS is to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. This means cutting out processed and refined foods and loading up on whole foods, fresh vegetables, good quality proteins and healthy fats.

You may benefit from avoiding two common inflammatory foods which many people react to: wheat and cow’s dairy. Many women find they feel great eating sheep and goats milk products, but avoiding cow’s products (e.g. yoghurt, cheese, milk and ice-cream).

Get the best selling PCOS Repair Protocol book to kickstart your new hormone-healthy habits and receive daily email support for inspiration
Supplements for Inflammatory PCOS

Diet and lifestyle strategies are crucial in addressing the root cause of your PCOS.

Adding in targeted vitamins to support your specific root cause is often the final piece of the puzzle to reverse your PCOS symptoms for good.

Here at Nourished we have created PCOS-specific root cause vitamins to support the individual drivers of your symptoms.

The Inflammatory PCOS Power Pack specifically addresses excess the inflammatory cytokine production associated with this type of PCOS. It includes:

1. Anti-Inflame + Mood

Curcumin is the active ingredient of turmeric and is what gives turmeric its potent anti-inflammatory actions. This vitamin specifically targets the inflammation that triggers Inflammatory PCOS as well as provides mood enhancing benefits.

2. Period Repair + Regulate

Designed to support reproductive hormone balance and promote regular cycles. Contains B-vitamins to support mood and improve stress tolerance plus herbs used traditionally to promote regular periods.

3. PCOS Blood Sugar Control

Increased inflammation promotes insulin resistance - worsening PCOS symptoms. PCOS Blood Sugar Control is designed to regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. It contains a unique blend of minerals and herbs for optimal blood sugar balance and sugar cravings support.

These vitamins come with free global shipping. They are made according to good manufacturing practices and are FDA approved. Shipped from and made in the USA.

Adrenal PCOS

The final type of PCOS is estimated to be responsible for 10% of PCOS cases. Signs you have adrenal PCOS include:

  • You do not have insulin resistance, post-pill PCOS or any signs of inflammation, but you do meet the criteria for a PCOS diagnosis
  • You have normal ovarian androgens (testosterone and androstenedione)
  • You have increased adrenal androgens (DHEAS)

    DHEAS can be elevated due to causes other than PCOS, so these should be ruled out first by your doctor. If you have ruled these out, you are one of the 10% of women with PCOS who fit the adrenal PCOS picture.

Rather than insulin resistance or inflammation, this type of PCOS is triggered by an abnormal stress response. This means that addressing adrenal PCOS requires lifestyle changes to adapt the way your body deals with stress.

Eating a balanced diet is still important for adrenal PCOS, but more impactful is reducing stress and improving your resilience and coping mechanisms. Finding activities that you enjoy and calm you down like yoga, guided meditation, breathing exercises, massage or acupuncture are exceptionally important for women with adrenal PCOS.

Working on establishing a consistent sleep schedule is also important in supporting your adrenal glands. Consider creating a bedtime routine that includes low/dimmed lights and calming activities like reading a book, taking a bath or drinking a herbal tea. If possible, avoid screens (including your phone!) for at least 30 minutes before bedtime to increase your production of melatonin (our sleepy hormone).

In the morning, try to get as much natural light into your eyes as possible (without staring into the sun!) to stimulate cortisol production. Try opening your blinds as soon as you wake, and eating your breakfast outside or near a window. Regulating your light exposure helps to let your brain know when it’s time to feel awake versus sleepy. This regular sleep-wake cycle has a direct impact on your hormones and the regularity of your menstrual cycle, as well as your ability to deal with stress. 
Supplements for Adrenal PCOS

Diet and lifestyle strategies are crucial in addressing the root cause of your PCOS. Adding in targeted vitamins to support your specific root cause is often the final piece of the puzzle to reverse your PCOS symptoms for good. Here at Nourished we have created PCOS-specific root cause vitamins to support the individual drivers of your symptoms.

The Adrenal PCOS Power Pack specifically addresses the root cause of increased stress hormone production and blood sugar imbalances that trigger Adrenal PCOS. It includes:

1. Calm + De-Stress

Directly addresses the increased cortisol production which triggers Adrenal PCOS. Contains ashwagandha (also known as withania) - a herb used in traditional Indian medicine. Ashwagandha has adaptogen actions, which means it helps your body adapt to stress and supports your adrenal system.

2. PCOS Blood Sugar Control

Designed to regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Contains a unique blend of minerals and herbs for optimal blood sugar balance and sugar cravings support.

3. Period Repair + Regulate

Designed to support reproductive hormone balance and promote regular cycles. Contains B-vitamins to support mood and improve stress tolerance plus herbs used traditionally to promote regular periods.

These vitamins come with free global shipping. They are made according to good manufacturing practices and are FDA approved. Shipped from and made in the USA.

PCOS Diet: What To Eat When You Have PCOS

At least 70% of women with PCOS suffer from insulin resistance, which means that cutting out sugar and reducing carbohydrates is a key strategy in improving PCOS symptoms. Even if you don’t fit the insulin-resistance PCOS category (see above for how to determine which of the four types you are), keeping your blood sugar stable is important in all kinds of PCOS and hormonal imbalances.

Eating a lower carbohydrate diet is a key strategy in improving PCOS, but it’s important not to interpret this as a NO-carbohydrate diet. You need some starch in your diet to ovulate. You also need starch to keep your moods stable, help your body deal with stress and to sleep well at night.

Many women lose their periods or wind up with worsened hormonal imbalance symptoms when they completely remove carbohydrate from their diet in an attempt to control their insulin and PCOS.

Please include some starch in your diet, but choose slow-release carbohydrates like those covered below. Follow the blood sugar stabilising principles below to make sure your meals and snacks provide your body with a slow release of energy, rather than the quick bursts provided by fast-release carbohydrates. 

About The Author - Tamika Woods

Tamika Woods | PCOS Author | Nourished Natural Health
Tamika Woods, Clinical Nutritionist (B.HS; B.Ed), Bestselling Author

For a decade, Tamika battled chronic acne, irregular cycles, mood swings, hair loss, painful periods, severe digestive issues and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). You name it - she's been there!

Tam was finally able to clear her skin, regulate her cycle, be free of period pain and fall pregnant naturally with her daughter in 2020. It took Tam 10 years and tens of thousands of dollars in tertiary education to get the answers she needed to get better.

She didn’t want other women to suffer as long as she did which is why she has dedicated her life to helping women in the same position as she was.

Tam helps women interpret what their bodies are trying to communicate through frustrating symptoms, and then develop a step-by-step roadmap to find balance again. She's here to help you get on track!

Tamika Woods is the author of the Amazon best seller PCOS Repair Protocol. She holds a Bachelor of Health Science degree (Nutritional Medicine) as well as a Bachelor of Education, graduating with Honours in both.

She is a certified Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) Educator and a certified member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA).

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Studies Referenced In This Article

1. Akhgarjand C, Asoudeh F, Bagheri A, Kalantar Z, Vahabi Z, Shab-Bidar S, Rezvani H, Djafarian K. Does Ashwagandha supplementation have a beneficial effect on the management of anxiety and stress? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytother Res. 2022 Nov;36(11):4115-4124. doi: 10.1002/ptr.7598. Epub 2022 Aug 25. PMID: 36017529.

2. Morrison AE, Fleming S, Levy MJ. A review of the pathophysiology of functional hypothalamic amenorrhoea in women subject to psychological stress, disordered eating, excessive exercise or a combination of these factors. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2021 Aug;95(2):229-238. doi: 10.1111/cen.14399. Epub 2021 Jan 11. PMID: 33345352.

3. Huhmann K. Menses Requires Energy: A Review of How Disordered Eating, Excessive Exercise, and High Stress Lead to Menstrual Irregularities. Clin Ther. 2020 Mar;42(3):401-407. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2020.01.016. Epub 2020 Mar 2. PMID: 32139174.

4. Krassas GE, Poppe K, Glinoer D. Thyroid function and human reproductive health. Endocr Rev. 2010;31(5):702-55.

5. Vanderpump MP, Tunbridge WM. Epidemiology and prevention of clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism. Thyroid. 2002 Oct;12(10):839-47.

6. Lopresti AL, Smith SJ, Malvi H, Kodgule R. An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Sep;98(37):e17186. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000017186. PMID: 31517876; PMCID: PMC6750292.

Blood Sugar Stabilising Principles For PCOS


We are most insulin-sensitive first thing in the morning, so it makes sense not to skip breakfast. If you are attempting to reduce your ‘eating window’ to improve insulin resistance, try eating breakfast but finishing eating earlier in the day (e.g. having an early dinner), rather than skipping breakfast and eating late into the day. This will provide your body with a more steady supply of energy throughout the day, and give your digestive system a rest at night.

What you eat for breakfast sets up how well your body manages blood sugar for the rest of the day. Aim for a high protein breakfast (e.g. eggs, a smoothie with protein powder, some leftover meat from your dinner or nuts and seeds)

BLOOD SUGAR STABILISING FOR PCOS TIP #2: Make Sure Every Meal Contains Protein And Healthy Fat

Protein and fat helps to blunt the rapid spike in blood sugar that happens when you eat a meal that is rich in carbohydrates or sugars. Make sure every meal and snack contains a good quality source of protein (e.g. meat, beans, legumes, nuts, eggs) and healthy fat (e.g. avocado, olive oil, grass-fed butter, coconut products)

BLOOD SUGAR STABILISING FOR PCOS TIP #3: When Eating Carbs, Choose Slow Release Versions And Always Pair With Protein And Fat

Avoid eating “naked” carbs (carbohydrates on their own e.g. rice, potato, oats). Pairing with protein and fat means these foods are more slowly absorbed, and prevents blood sugar spikes and crashes. When choosing carbs, aim for mostly the ‘slow-release’ forms listed below

BLOOD SUGAR STABILISING FOR PCOS TIP #4: Eat Every 4-6 Hours (If You Are Hungry)

While some women find they can easily go many hours between meals without suffering low blood sugar, others will need to eat every 4-6 hours to keep blood sugar levels topped up.

Signs that you need to eat more regularly include: feeling hungry, feeling shaky or low in energy, brain fog, mood swings during the day, poor concentration or feeling so ravenous when you get to meal time that you wolf down your food without stopping for a breath.⠀


Cinnamon spice has been shown to slow gastric emptying (how fast food leaves your stomach) which increases satiety, meaning that you feel fuller for longer. It also reduces the blood glucose increase associated with eating carbohydrates. Studies have shown that just 1 teaspoon per day added to meals is enough to improve blood sugar balance.

BLOOD SUGAR STABILISING FOR PCOS TIP #6: Pack Blood Sugar Balancing Snacks

If you choose to snack, make sure you have blood-sugar stabilising options on hand to avoid grabbing that packet of chips or sugar sweet treat when you are out. Some options for healthy snacks include: a boiled egg, handful of nuts, square of dark chocolate or a low-sugar protein bar.


Researchers have referred to magnesium as the ‘natural metformin’ due to its powerful ability to improve insulin sensitivity, similar to the leading diabetic drug Metformin. Some studies have found a correlation between low magnesium levels and the development of insulin resistance, therefore chronically low magnesium may be a risk factor in PCOS diagnosis.

I recommend magnesium glycinate or magnesium bisglycinate as this form of magnesium is very well absorbed and does not cause disturbances to digestive function.

Equally, there are many herbal blends that have benefits for blood sugar balance. Here are Nourished, we have gone ahead and created one ourselves.

This unique blend of minerals and herbs was created using a blend of scientifically proven natural ingredients to help to maintain optimal blood sugar balance and support in reducing sugar cravings.

You can get Nourished PCOS Blood Sugar Balance here. Note we manufacture in the USA and are GMP and FDA certified.

Creating a PCOS-Friendly Meal

Eating for PCOS should be enjoyable rather than feeling like restriction. Rather than giving you a specific meal plan for PCOS (which can be disempowering), I want you to learn how to create your own PCOS friendly meals using some simple principles.

As a rough guide when putting together a plate, aim for half of your plate to be low-starch veggies, ¼ protein, ¼ or less a small portion of slow-release carbohydrates and the remaining ¼ healthy fats. Some examples to get you inspired include:

Slow Release Carbohydrates For PCOS:

  • Sweet potato
  • Pumpkin/squash
  • Beetroot
  • Parsnip
  • Brown rice
  • Whole oats
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat 

Hormone-Friendly Protein For PCOS:

  • Organic/grass-fed meats (e.g. lamb, chicken, beef)
  • Beans, lentils and legumes (e.g. chickpeas, kidney beans)
  • Brown rice, pea or hemp protein powders
  • Organic, fermented soy products (e.g. tempeh)
  • Free-range eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish and seafood

Low-Starch Vegetables For PCOS:

  • Zucchini
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach (and other salad greens)
  • Kale
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Brussel’s sprouts
  • Eggplant
  • Mushroom
  • Onion + garlic

Hormone-Friendly Fats For PCOS:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Coconut products (e.g. coconut oil, cream, desiccated)
  • Skin on organic/free-range meats and seafood
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Grass-fed butter or ghee

PCOS-Friendly Food Swaps

Cutting down on refined carbohydrates you may be used to eating regularly (like bread, pasta, quick oats, cakes, pastries and biscuits) is tough. One of the most successful ways you can reduce these in your diet is to find enjoyable alternatives so that you don’t feel like you’re missing out. Feelings of deprivation often lead us to binge on ‘forbidden’ foods, so explore some of the PCOS-friendly swaps below to fill the void.

Bean-Based Pastas

Bean-based pastas (like chickpea or lentil pasta) are a great swap from regular pasta because they still contain complex carbohydrates and also protein from the legumes. This means the carbohydrate is released slowly into your bloodstream, preventing a rapid spike in blood glucose level.

Vegetable Rices, Noodles And Wraps

Cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles and lettuce leaf wraps are good choices to replace fast-release carbs like bread, noodles and wraps and have the added benefit of sneaking in an extra serve of veggies into your meal. These can be made at home, or often purchased pre-spiralized or riced for convenience.

10 Foods For PCOS

Looking for some PCOS-friendly foods to add into your diet right away? These 10 foods for PCOS are a great place to start. Aim for at least one of these foods daily.

1. Avocado → high in healthy fats which provide the building blocks for your hormones and help to keep blood sugar stable

2. Almonds → a great PCOS-friendly snack as they contain a nice balance of protein and fat which will keep your blood sugar stable and top up energy levels until your next meal

3. Cauliflower → contains a compound that supports liver detoxification of estrogen. Whilst testosterone is the most common hormone imbalance in PCOS, excess testosterone is converted to estrogen meaning many women with PCOS also suffer from excess estrogen issues

4.Dark chocolate → when higher than 85% cacao, dark chocolate is very low in sugar and is a perfect sugary treat replacement. Cacao is also a rich source of magnesium which improves insulin sensitivity

5. Broccoli → contains the same compound as cauliflower

6.Eggs → a perfect balance of healthy fats and protein to support stable blood sugar. Ideal as a snack or added to meals

7. Leafy greens → support your liver to effectively breakdown and clear hormones

8.Pumpkin seeds → contain a compound which reduces excess the testosterone production that is responsible for acne and hair changes in PCOS

9. Sweet potato → a slow-release carbohydrate that causes less impact on blood sugar levels than refined carbohydrates

10. Cinnamon → slows gastric emptying (keeping you fuller for longer) and improves blood sugar levels

But what about foods to avoid with PCOS?

I’ve gone ahead and written up a super detailed piece on foods to avoid if you have PCOS. Check it our here.

Best Exercise For PCOS

Regular exercise is a key aspect of improving PCOS because it sensitises your muscles to insulin. Any form of movement that you enjoy is beneficial, but for best results try strength or resistance training which has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity by 24% after just 12 weeks. If you are new to exercise, take it slow when incorporating activity into your day and be sure to schedule rest days to avoid injury.

Some Ideas For PCOS-Friendly Exercise Include:

  • Pilates
  • Weight training
  • Body weight exercises: push ups, squats, tricep-dips
  • Using resistance bands
  • High intensity interval training

Next Steps…

Identifying the driver of your PCOS and implementing the individualised advice in this post is the perfect starting point to overcoming your PCOS. This will begin to address the root cause driving your overproduction of androgens and ovulation issues.

This isn’t the end of your journey to balanced health though. Fully healing from PCOS requires a whole-body approach that addresses your gut health, liver detoxification, potential other hormonal imbalances, stress and emotional health.

The next step in this journey is my signature Hormone Harmony Academy program. After working with hundreds of women with PCOS, I lovingly designed this program with you in mind by creating individualised protocols based on your unique hormone imbalance symptoms.

I know how confusing navigating the world of healing your period problems can be. That's why I'm here to walk you through every step of the way and help you hone in on what is actually important when it comes to your body. You can check out the PCOS Repair Program here.

Ready to take the next step in finding freedom from PCOS for good?

Sign up to my Heal Your Cycle masterclass where I’ll go into detail on how to rid yourself of PCOS symptoms for good.

I want to hear from you! 
Have you tried any of the suggestions in this post?

Share your PCOS story with me in the comments.

I look forward to connecting with you,

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TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read) - Common PCOS FAQs:

What Is PCOS?

PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome - it is a hormonal imbalance condition that affects at least 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. It is not a disease, but rather a cluster of symptoms that result due to problems with ovulation and increased androgens (male hormones like testosterone).

Is PCOS A Serious Problem?

When left untreated, PCOS can increase your lifelong disease risk of conditions like heart disease, diabetes, endometrial cancer and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Luckily, there are so many natural solutions to managing your PCOS and reducing symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms Of PCOS Syndrome?

The hallmark symptoms of PCOS are irregular periods, acne, excessive facial and body hair, and hair loss on the head, but you might also be experiencing a range of other related symptoms including mood changes, weight gain, insulin resistance and multiple follicles on your ovaries.

Does PCOS Cause Weight Gain?

PCOS is strongly associated with reduced insulin sensitivity, which in turn can promote storage of fat in the body rather than burning fat. This weight gain tends to concentrate around the abdomen, hips and thighs.

How Can I Naturally Treat PCOS?

To naturally treat your PCOS, you first need to work out which of the four most common root causes is responsible for your PCOS. The four types are insulin resistance (most common), post-pill PCOS, inflammatory PCOS and adrenal PCOS. The treatment for each root cause requires a slightly different approach.

What Foods Cure PCOS?

The best way to eat if you have PCOS is a blood sugar stabilizing diet. This means cutting out excess sugars and refined carbohydrates, and upping good quality sources of protein and healthy fats like avocado, olive oil and oily fish.

What Foods Can Make PCOS Worse?

Some of the worst foods for PCOS are refined sugar (like that found in cakes, pastries, dessert foods and soda), refined flour products (like white bread and pasta) and inflammatory vegeatble oils (like canola, sunflower and soybean oils). These foods contribute to worsened insulin resistance and inflammation - two key drivers of PCOS./>

What Foods Should I Eat To Lose Weight With PCOS?

To support healthy weight loss with PCOS, focus on a higher protein and healthy fat diet, with lower amounts of starchy and sugary foods.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good For PCOS?

Apple cider vinegar has been shown to improve insulin resistance (a key driver of PCOS) and to assist with weight loss. Start with 1 teaspoon in a glass of water before meals, and gradually increase to 1 tablespoon if you don't experience any digestive discomfort.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good For PCOS?

Apple cider vinegar has been shown to improve insulin resistance (a key driver of PCOS) and to assist with weight loss. Start with 1 teaspoon in a glass of water before meals, and gradually increase to 1 tablespoon if you don't experience any digestive discomfort.

Is POCS Curable?

As diagnosis of PCOS requires fitting into a speciic critera based on symptoms, technically once your symptoms disappear it is possible to no longer qualify for a diagnosis of PCOS. However, having PCOS predisposes you to a lifelong increased risk of certain diseases, therefore maintaining your healthy habits is crucial.

What Vitamin Deficiency Causes PCOS?

Vitamin D deficiency has been suggested in several research papers to contribute to the development of PCOS, therefore ensuring adequate vitamin D status is crucial in treating PCOS naturally.

Which Supplements Are Best For PCOS?

Some of the best supplements to try for PCOS are magnesium, n-acetyl cysteine, myo-inositol and zinc. These supplements help to reverse insulin resistance naturally and nourish the ovarian follicles to promote regular ovulation.

What Are The Best Foods For PCOS?

The top 10 foods for PCOS are avocado, almonds, cauliflower, dark chocolate, broccoli, eggs, leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, sweet potato and cinnamon.

What Exercise Is Best For PCOS?

The best exercises for PCOS include pilates, weight training, body weight exercises (like pushups, squats and tricep dips), using resistance bands and high intensity interval training. All of these forms of exercise improve insulin resistance - a key driver of PCOS.

What Are The 4 Types Of PCOS?

The four types of PCOS are insulin resistant PCOS (most common), post-pill PCOS, inflammatory PCOS and adrenal PCOS.

What Happens If PCOS Is Left Untreated?

Having PCOS increases your lifetime risk of other chronic diseases like cardiovasular disease, type-2 diabetes, endometrial cancer and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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