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Polycystic ovary disorder (PCOD): Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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Polycystic ovary disorder (PCOD) is a hormonal disorder most commonly found in women of reproductive age. It is a condition characterised by the formation of cysts. Women suffering from PCOD may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or there is an excess of androgen (male hormone). It results from insulin resistance and the compensatory hyperinsulinemia. PCOD results in adverse effect on multiple organ systems and may result in alteration in serum lipids, anovulation, abnormal uterine bleeding and infertility.

What are the symptoms of PCOD?

  • Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation)
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Infrequent ovulation
  • Male pattern baldness or thinning of hair
  • Excess facial and body hair growth
  • Acne, oily skin 
  • Dandruff
  • Dark coloured patches on the skin especially on neck, groin, underarms etc.
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Lipid abnormalities
  • Fertility problems due to elevated hormone, insulin or glucose levels

What are the causes of PCOD according to Ayurveda?

According to Ayurveda, in PCOD, Kapha and Vata doshas are aggravated which causes irregular menstruation, excessive hair growth, hormonal imbalance, weight gain etc. 

Vata dosha mainly apana vayu is responsible for the movement during menstrual cycle and the energy behind the movement of a baby through the birth canal during labour.

The cooling properties of Kapha dosha nourish the development of tissues that form and support the reproductive system.

So, according to Ayurveda, PCOD is caused due to kapha blocking the vata and pitta doshas. Therefore, movement is obstructed and the process of transformation is suppressed. 

These doshas also get vitiated due to faulty dietary habits like consumption of too much fast food, wrong lifestyle such as waking late at night, stress, competition, mind disorders such as anger, greed, jealousy etc. 

Diagnosis: There is no test to definitely diagnose PCOD. It is diagnosed by taking medical history and by ultrasound and pelvic exam. 

Also Read: Cough: Causes, Types and Ayurvedic Outlook

What is the treatment of PCOD?

Modern treatment of PCOD involves the prescription of medications such as birth control pills, progestin therapy to regulate the menstrual cycle, metformin for insulin resistance, lifestyle changes such as losing weight etc. Modern treatment manages PCOD at surface level only.

In Ayurveda, it is stated that eradication of causative factors is the foremost treatment of any disease. 

Acharaya Charak has told that every disease can’t be named so vaidyas (Ayurvedic physicians) should know the condition of the disease according to the involvement of the doshas, dhatus, srotas etc. (cha. Su. 18/44)

So, Ayurvedic treatment aims at pacifying the vitiated Kapha, making the Vata anuloma and raise the quality of Pitta dosha. Since, PCOS is a disorder of tridoshic analogy, symptoms are multiple, so the treatment also involves more than one shodhan (purification) followed by shaman (pacifying of vitiated doshas) as the absorption rate of drugs increase after shodhana, thus shaman chikitsa is done later. 

Ayurvedic treatment of PCOD is based on shaman chikitsa which includes the prescription of:

  • Deepan- drugs that stimulate and strengthen the digestive fire.
  • Pachan – drugs that digest ama (toxins) by their ushna (hot) potency.
  • Vatanuloman – drugs that correct the vitiated vata dosha.
  • Rasayana – rejuvenation drugs that revitalize the cells and tissues of the body.
  • Vrushya – drugs that help in ovulation in females and increase the quality of eggs.

In addition to the treatment, faulty eating habits should be corrected. Intake of fast foods should be strictly stopped. Daily exercise, practice of Yoga and Pranayama will help in weight management as well as in hormonal regulation.

Some Herbs that are useful in the treatment of PCOD are:

  1. Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus): Shatavari is known as Rasayana (rejuvenator) in Ayurveda. This herb is considered as female’s best friend. It helps to balance the hormones which are impaired in PCOD, maintains the hormone levels, maintains HPO-axis and maintains ovarian plexus. It prevents the formation of new cysts and prevents the remission of the disease. Moreover, it improves uterine and ovarian health thus enhances fertility in women. 
  2. Kanchnaar (Bauhinia variegata): In PCOS, there is requirement of medications that dissolve the cysts. Kanchnaar is one of them. It is effective in clearing out the toxins from the tissues and other channels in the system thus allows the body to revitalize and nourish on its own. Thus, kanchnaar is a natural detoxifier, corrects hormonal imbalance and regulates thyroxine production. 
  3. Haritaki (Terminalia chebula): Haritaki has a laxative effect therefore it reduces the body morbidity and contributes significantly in the treatment of PCOD.
  4. Varuna (Crataeva nurvala): Varuna is helpful in PCOD as it helps in clearing the channels and reduces the size of the cyst. 
  5. Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia): It is commonly known as Giloy. It is a wonderful herb that is known for balancing all the three doshas. Due to its rejuvenative effect and bitter principles, it imparts it’s benefits in PCOD in breaking the patho-physiology. 
  6. Punarnava (Boerrhavia diffusa): Punarnava herb is known as diuretic herb in Ayurveda. The smoothening effect of this herb helps in reducing the size of growths.
  7.  Anjani (Memycylon indicum): This herb is proven efficient in reducing the cysts and breaking the pathology.
  8. Pippali (Piper longum): Pippali is considered as a potent rejuvenator, carminative and has a property of free radical scavenging. Therefore, it curbs the pathology in a significant manner. 
  9. Triphala: Taking 1 teaspoon of triphala at night is a wonderful remedy for PCOD. Triphala clears up the toxins and helps in detoxification, weight loss, insulin resistance associated with PCOD.

Diet and lifestyle for PCOD:

  • Begin your day with a glass of warm water mix with lemon juice and honey.
  • Breakfast should be done before 8 a.m. Fresh fruits and sprouts should be included in breakfast or taking steamed vegetables is a great start.
  •  Limit the intake of tea and coffee.
  • Include a glass of fresh buttermilk mixed with a teaspoon of ginger juice. 
  • Dinner should not be later than 8 pm. It should be the lightest meal of the day. 
  • Avoid eating spicy and oily foods. 
  • Avoid taking white sugar in all forms.
  • Milk and dairy products should be avoided.
  • Waking late at night is not advised.

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