Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is associated with irregular menstrual periods, infertility, obesity, diabetes, excess hair growth, acne, and other hormonal difficulties. Researchers compared the effects of lifestyle changes alone or with placebo to lifestyle combined with metformin. They found that lifestyle modification combined with taking metformin resulted in increased weight loss. As a result, there was a lower body mass index (BMI), and improved menstruation.

According to a new review published this month in the European Journal of Pharmacology, researchers demonstrated the role of genistein in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Genistein is the most active and abundant isoflavone found in soy and has been shown to possess an array of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiangiogenic, and anti-cancer properties. Genistein also inhibits NF-Kβ activation as well as inhibits cell growth and metastasis. Although genistein is typically derived from a soy source, it can also be sourced from the botanical, sophora japonica.

This review investigated the effects and mechanisms of genistein in patients PCOS. The review included 13 articles, 4 human studies and 9 animal studies. The human studies consisted of 24 to 146 individuals between the ages of 18 and 40 years of age over a 3-to-6-month period with doses between 36 mg and 50 mg per day. These studies demonstrated that genistein supplementation may effectively improve PCOS-related symptoms by decreasing insulin resistance and anthropometric parameters, improving ovarian morphology, regulating reproductive hormones, and reducing oxidative stress as well as inflammation.

Other nutrients to consider to support PCOS:

Studies have shown that an inositol deficiency is common in women with PCOS. There appears to be a reduced ability to process, metabolize, and effectively use inositol from foods which is a distinctive characteristic feature of PCOS. As a result, the nutritional requirements of PCOS patients may not be met by a simple change in the diet and that inositol should be viewed as a conditionally essential nutrient in these women.

Myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol are both essential for patients with PCOS. The conversion of myo-inositol to D-chiro-inositol is of interest because errors here have been strongly involved in PCOS patients. Strong evidence supports that the body makes D-chiro-inositol from myo-inositol and more evidence suggests that some people are less able to make this conversion than others.  Along this spectrum, people who are completely unable to convert myo-inositol to D-chiro-inositol are only going to benefit from supplementation with D-chiro-inositol. Other people who make the conversion, but with less-than-optimal efficiency, may benefit from large doses of myo-inositol. And other individuals in between, might see the best results from a blend of the two. Since this conversion is impaired in individuals with PCOS, it is important to always include D-chiro-inositol with myo-inositol supplementation. D-chiro-inositol is the more potent form of inositol for supporting insulin resistance, however, myo-inositol is need for oocyte quality and maturation. Therefore, supplementing with D-chiro-inositol alone cannot not fulfill myo-inositol’s roles that are specific and different from D-chiro-inositol, since it does not convert to myo-inositol.

Also, essential fatty acids should be consumed in our diets for overall health, but most individuals with insulin resistance are deficient. Fish oils improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation. 

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNSSource: Ramin Nasimi Doost Azgomi, Arezoo Moini Jazani, et al. Potential roles of genistein in polycystic ovary syndrome: A comprehensive systematic review. Eur J Pharmacol. 2022 Sep;175275. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2022.175275.

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