Natural health: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, reactions to perfume

Our doctor has just diagnosed my daughter with Polycystic Ovaries. She is only 18, and I have no idea what this means for her.

She has always had trouble with her periods, often going more than two months without. Can this be treated, or is this one of those conditions where ongoing medication is required? 

He has prescribed the pill for her to help regulate her cycle, and has discussed with us the possibility of a diabetes drug as well.

A. Although this diagnosis may come as a shock for you both, it is actually very fortunate to have a doctor who is switched on enough to have uncovered this issue while she is still so young. 

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) effects the whole body, however it can be particularly damaging for the reproductive system if left unchecked for too long.

With PCOS, there is an overproduction of testosterone, which leads to the ovaries being surrounded in very small cysts filled with fluid. Blood sugar levels are another issue associated with PCOS; high blood sugar leads to an increase in insulin production — further upsetting the hormonal balance and metabolism.

This is why your doctor has mentioned medication usually prescribed for diabetics.

Common symptoms include weight gain, excess hair, acne, mood instability, and menstrual irregularities. Fortunately most of these symptoms can be managed through the diet. 

Eating five to six small meals daily, rather than three large meals appears to help significantly Choosing wholefoods over processed foods is very important — most of her nutrients should come from fresh and raw fruit & vegetables.

Low GL (Glycaemic Load) dietary recommendations and plans are ideal. The Glycemic Load is calculated by multiplying the GL by the amount of available carbohydrate, divided by 100. 

A low GL is 10 or less, medium is between 11 and 19, with high rating at 20 or more. 

This rating is based on how quickly a specific food works to increase blood sugar levels, ie, the rate at which food is converted into sugar.

The book PCOS: A Woman’s Guide to Dealing with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome by Dr Adam Carey and Colette Harris is a great source of information on how to manage this condition. 

Patrick Holford’s Low GL-Diet Bible is another good reference (he has also written a useful GL calculator book, and a Low-GL cookbook).

Supplement-wise, one of the best herbs for rebalancing hormones and helping specifically with PCOS is Agnus castus. A. Vogel’s Agnus castus tincture is available from Here’s Health ( www.hereshealth.ie ; 021-4278101) where 50ml costs €10.99. Your daughter will need to take 15-20 drops in a little water three times daily.

One of the simplest and inexpensive remedies I have come across to help with PCOS is spearmint tea. 

A study has showed as little as two cups of spearmint tea taken daily for less than a week was enough to significantly lower the blood levels of free testosterone in women.

Q. I seem to react to perfume. I can’t wear it myself, and find myself with watering eyes and sneezing if someone else is wearing a strong scent. 

I do really miss wearing a lovely perfume though, and was wondering if there are low-allergen varieties.

A. The original perfumes were all plant-based, often derived from essential oils such as ylang ylang, jasmine, sandalwood, frankincense, patchouli, and cinnamon, or the fresh scents of orange blossom, rose, lavender, and linden. 

These oils are still very popular, and only need to be used sparingly for great effect.

Using a gentle oil as a base, such as jojoba or camellia, you only need the smallest amount of essential oil to create a unique signature scent.

Synthetic fragrances are actually grouped with insecticides, solvents, artificial food additives, heavy metals, and air pollutants as the six main categories for neurotoxicity testing.

If you don’t fancy blending your own scents, not to worry, there are natural and organic eau de parfums available. Contact The Natural Store ( www.thenaturalstore.co.uk ).


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