Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal endocrine disorder that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. PCOS occurs when abnormal levels of reproductive hormones, particularly an excess of androgen hormones such as testosterone, impact the proper functioning of the ovaries and metabolism.
Women with PCOS tend to be insulin resistant, meaning their bodies do not respond to insulin properly, and produce excess insulin as a result. Insulin resistance is the precursor to type II diabetes, a common diagnosis alongside PCOS. Other symptoms of PCOS include:
- Excess hair on the face and body
- Weight gain
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Ovarian cysts
- Thinning hair
- Skin tags
- Darkening of the skin
In many cases, PCOS can significantly impact a woman’s self-esteem and quality of life. Conventional treatments for PCOS typically include diet modification, surgery, and prescription medications such as birth control pills to help balance hormone levels. Many women are looking to alternative medicine to provide more natural methods of management. New research published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that resveratrol, an antioxidant compound found in red wine, grapes, raspberries, and peanuts, may help manage the hormone imbalance that characterizes PCOS.
Resveratrol: A Natural Hormone Helper
Resveratrol is an anti-inflammatory compound that helps to protect plants from disease. When a plant is invaded by a fungus or infection, or under undue stress, injury, or ultraviolet irradiation, resveratrol comes to the rescue. These same protective mechanisms appear to engage in humans too. Studies have linked resveratrol to a reduced risk for life-threatening conditions such as cancer and coronary heart disease. The latest study is the first to assess resveratrol’s impact on the hormone and metabolic processes of women with PCOS.
For this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers separated 30 women into two groups: one group supplemented with 1,500 milligrams of resveratrol for 3 months, and the other group supplemented with a placebo pill for three months. Researchers measured levels of testosterone and other male hormones by taking blood tests at the start and finish of the study. The women also took a glucose tolerance test before and after in order to evaluate insulin resistance and sensitivity. Let’s see how the two groups fared.
Testosterone decreased by 23.1%
DHEAS (a hormone that converts to testosterone) decreased by 22.2%
Testosterone increased by 2.9%
DHEAS increased by 10.5%
The women who supplemented with resveratrol also saw a 31.8% decrease in fasting insulin levels and showed more responsiveness to insulin!
The study’s senior author Dr. Antoni J. Duleba, of the University of California-San Diego, explains: “The findings suggest resveratrol can improve the body’s ability to use insulin and potentially lower the risk of developing diabetes. The supplement may be able to help reduce the risk of metabolic problems common in women with PCOS.”