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Treating PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) Naturally with Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder that is characterized by 1. polycystic ovaries, seen on imaging; 2. long irregular cycles that may be anovulatory (meaning no egg is released) and 3. elevated androgens (DHEA, testosterone) seen either in clinical signs or on lab work. It is also THE most common endocrine (hormonal) disorder affecting North American women, although some people may not realize they have it. Many women first discover they have PCOS when they try to get pregnant and run into difficulties. 

In addition to hormonal factors, PCOS also has metabolic components. It is linked to high cholesterol, disrupted lipid metabolism and metabolic syndrome. Patients with PCOS often experience decreased insulin sensitivity, male patterned hair growth, acne, weight gain, low energy, depression, infertility, high blood glucose, insulin resistance and high cholesterol/triglycerides. From the perspective of Western medicine, these are a result of elevated androgens (like testosterone and DHEA). 

In Chinese medicine, the persistence and number of cysts on the ovaries as seen in PCOS is characteristic of accumulation of pathogenic dampness. Other symptoms of PCOS can also be categorized into one or more of three general categories:

  • Dampness/phlegm: oily skin, acne, weight gain, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, abnormal lipid profile, infertility 

  • Qi Stagnation: weight gain, pain with ovulation, ovarian cysts, fatigue, depression, infertility

  • Blood stagnation: heavy, painful, clotty periods; cause sharp, fixed pain with menstruation and/or with cysts, infertility 

To treat conditions like PCOS, Chinese medicine works by identifying a pattern unique to each individual patient’s experience of disease. Based on your symptoms and clinical signs such as tongue and pulse, your practitioner develop a specific treatment plan tailored to you. This can include acupuncture as well as herbal medicine, dietary/lifestyle adjustments and targeted supplementation. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are also incredibly helpful to clear out accumulated stagnation of qi, blood and dampness, and promote healthy hormone balance to address both your symptoms and the underlying causes of the condition.

Dietary and lifestyle changes are a necessary part of PCOS treatment. A good place to start is reducing or eliminating refined sugars, limiting or eliminating dairy and/or gluten, reducing consumption of alcohol and greasy foods, and supporting detoxification with targeted supplements. Eating a diet that has enough protein and a diverse range of whole fruits and vegetables promotes stable blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity to help address metabolic aspects of PCOS. Getting regular exercise and decreasing stress levels are also key to supporting hormone health and improving fertility, metabolism, energy, and mood in PCOS patients.

Typical treatments for PCOS usually involve using hormonal birth control pills to reduce symptoms, but if you are trying to get pregnant or cannot tolerate these drugs, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are great alternatives. Also important to keep in mind is that hormonal birth control, such as the birth control pill, does not address the root causes of PCOS symptoms. Most patients find that while these treatments can be helpful, symptoms return as soon as you stop taking the hormones. In contrast, Chinese medicine offers options for treating PCOS naturally by harnessing your body's natural capacity to heal itself and supporting that with specific interventions along the way.

If you are ready to find long-lasting results and relief from PCOS related symptoms including pain, irregular cycles, and infertility, we are here to help! 

Book your first appointment or get started with a FREE 15 minute discovery call at and begin your journey to healthy hormone balance today. 

PMID: 20230329, 36353235, 36923858, 29888581, 28077366


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