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How do you naturally treat PCOS symptoms?

Reviewed by Dr. Sharon Stills, NMD

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is characterized by a combination of symptoms related to hormonal imbalance and disrupted ovulation. Women with PCOS may experience irregular menstrual periods, excess androgen levels leading to hirsutism (excessive hair growth) and acne, and enlarged ovaries with multiple small cysts.

To resolve and treat PCOS naturally, you’ll have the best success with a combination approach that helps restore hormonal balance naturally. This path to wellness includes enriched nutrition, regular exercise, targeted nutritional supplements, effective hormonal support, and attention to emotional health.

A woman with PCOS using natural treatments to control her symptoms

Women who use this method can often normalize insulin levels and regain their periods and get back to their lives.

Table Of Contents:

  1. Dietary changes: the foundational factor for healing PCOS
  2. Healthy weight loss
  3. Get more exercise
  4. Herbal products
  5. Natural supplements
  6. Lifestyle changes make a difference

Dietary changes: the foundational factor for healing PCOS

A low glycemic-load diet is the most useful tool when you are using food to restore healthy hormonal balance. This old standard is still the best way to be able to rank foods and compose meals and snacks according to their potential to increase your blood sugar and insulin levels.

These are the most important principles to consider when creating a diet to relieve PCOS symptoms:

  • Reduce your intake of simple carbohydrates and refined sugars. This is absolutely crucial because these foods quickly exacerbate any preexisting metabolic and hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS. By limiting or eliminating simple carbohydrates (white breads, pasta, potatoes, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, and white flour) you can normalize the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. For many women with PCOS, this single measure can restore regular menstrual cycles.
  • Eat lower carbohydrate meals balanced with fiber and healthy fats. The ideal amount of carbs depends on your body type and activity level. Choose complex carbohydrates like root vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains. Healthy fat choices include olive oil, nuts and avocado.

You’ll also need to keep eating lean proteins like beans, hummus, eggs, fish, chicken, and vegetarian meat substitutes. Other key diet changes that support hormonal balance include adding in leafy greens, vegetables like peppers and spinach, flax seeds, a quality multivitamin-mineral supplement, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Healthy weight loss

Weight loss can be beneficial for individuals with PCOS in several ways. First, it improves insulin sensitivity, reducing insulin resistance commonly associated with PCOS. This helps regulate blood sugar levels and hormonal balance. Second, weight loss can lower androgen levels, addressing symptoms like excessive hair growth and acne. Shedding extra weight can also enhance fertility by restoring regular ovulation and increasing the chances of successful conception. Lastly, weight loss reduces chronic low-grade inflammation associated with excess weight, alleviating inflammation-related symptoms.

Losing as little as 5% to 10% of body weight has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, hormonal balance, and fertility outcomes in women with PCOS. Don’t crash diet to reach this goal, because this approach rarely works, and just creates more weight issues. Instead, aim for weight loss that is healthy and sustainable manner (aka slow and steady), using the diet changes above to steer the way.

Get more exercise

Exercise provides several benefits for women with PCOS.

  • Exercise increases insulin sensitivity and helps with weight loss.
  • About 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week helps to regulate hormone levels, reducing androgen levels and, as a result, diminishing symptoms such as hirsutism, acne, and male-pattern hair loss.
  • Exercise is a potent tool for reducing chronic low-grade inflammation associated with PCOS, improving overall health.
  • Physical activity supports mental well-being by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, which are common among individuals with PCOS.

Engaging in a combination of cardiovascular exercises (such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming) and strength training exercises can provide comprehensive benefits. Yoga and other low impact exercise still offer benefits. Whatever it is, just get moving! The best exercise to start taming your PCOS symptoms can be as simple as a 20-minute brisk walk, ideally taken after a meal to help with blood glucose metabolism.

women can relieve PCOS symptoms naturally with exercise and stress reduction

Best herbs for PCOS

For natural hormonal support, certain medicinal herbs promote the innate healing mechanisms that work “upstream” to prevent or correct hormonal imbalances before they lead to symptoms. Helpful herbs for PCOS include:

  • Vitex (Chasteberry). Vitex is often used to support hormonal balance and regulate menstrual cycles. It can help normalize progesterone levels, which can be disrupted in PCOS. Consider a formula with chasteberry to help naturally balance your sex hormones. 
  • Cinnamon. The fragrant spice has been studied for its potential effects on insulin sensitivity and appears to help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance. Sprinkle cinnamon in your morning coffee or make a soothing caffeine-free hot drink with a plant-based milk of your choice topped with cinnamon.
  • Spearmint. Spearmint may help reduce androgen levels, potentially alleviating symptoms such as hirsutism. Get in the habit of brewing up a cup of spearmint tea as part of your evening wind down, or brew in the sun and serve it over ice for a refreshing summer drink.
  • Saw Palmetto. Saw palmetto is sometimes used to address symptoms related to excess androgens in PCOS. It is believed to have anti-androgenic effects and may help reduce hair growth and acne.
  • Licorice Root. Licorice root has anti-inflammatory and anti-androgenic properties. Brew as a tea and enjoy its spicy kick!

Natural supplements

Natural supplements can provide therapeutic support for PCOS symptom relief. Supplements often used in the holistic treatment of PCOS include:

  • Alpha-lipoic acid. ALA is a natural compound with antioxidant properties that has shown potential benefits in managing PCOS, including improving insulin sensitivity and reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. ALA may also aid in weight management, improve lipid profiles, and potentially improve fertility.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids, typically found in fish oil supplements, have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation associated with PCOS. They may also support hormone balance and improve lipid profiles.
  • Herbal Equilibrium. Our exclusive phytotherapy-based endocrine support formula restores hormonal balance and help relieve your symptoms. It contains therapeutic amounts of chasteberry (Vitex) and other research-backed herbs and natural compounds. Our PCOS Program bundles Herbal Equilibrium with ALA, Omega-3s and Essential Nutrients for comprehensive support.
  • Bioidentical Progesterone. Another natural hormonal option is bioidentical natural progesterone. This can help offset a progesterone deficit and counter the effects of estrogen and androgens to relieve many PCOS symptoms and promote more predictable periods.
  • Probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help support gut health and reduce inflammation. They may have positive effects on insulin resistance and hormone balance in women with PCOS.
  • Vitamin D. Many individuals with PCOS also lower levels of Vitamin D or an outright Vitamin D deficiency. Supplementing with vitamin D may help improve insulin sensitivity and support overall health.
  • Inositol. Inositol, specifically myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol, is a compound similar to B vitamins. It has shown promise in improving insulin sensitivity, promoting regular ovulation, and reducing androgen levels in women with PCOS. Inositol is include in our Essential Nutrients, our multivitamin-mineral complex.
  • Chromium. Chromium is a mineral that plays a role in insulin function. Supplementing with chromium may help improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism in individuals with PCOS. Chromium is also included in Essential Nutrients.

Lifestyle changes make a difference for women with PCOS

With PCOS, little daily habits can add up to big changes. Here are a few small shifts in lifestyle and diet that can help you achieve healthy hormonal balance, and put your PCOS in the past.

Concentrate your efforts on these goals:

  • Clear detoxification pathways. For optimal, and natural, hormone production, metabolism, balancing and recycling, avoid as many common endocrine-disrupting chemicals as possible. The best foods for detox are those rich in phytonutrients like beans, broccoli, cabbage, collards and kale. Consider trying a good multivitamin-mineral complex to support the hormonal transformation pathways in the liver. Find an exercise that makes you sweat — one that you can commit to doing regularly. Sweating is an essential part of your natural detox processes.
  • Create a personalized low-glycemic load diet. Spend some time tailoring the traditional low-glycemic diet to fit your tastes. In terms of numbers, aim to limit your carbohydrate intake to about 16 grams per meal, and 7 grams each for two snacks a day. Again, you may need to adjust a bit here and there depending on your body type. Just know that the more closely you stick to low-glycemic foods, the better for improving your hormonal balance.
  • Tend to your emotions. Emotional turmoil is one of the less familiar symptoms of PCOS, and it’s often missed by practitioners. Let’s face it — being told you have PCOS is stressful! But at the same time, stress reduction is an important component when you need to reduce any form of insulin resistance. Be proactive and seek out emotional support as you work to restore hormonal balance and relieve insulin resistance. One of our favorite PCOS support sites is PCOS Diva because it focuses on healthy foods and offers tips for good self care.

Remember, since your own PCOS picture may not look like anyone else’s, it’s good to make a plan to see a healthcare professional to discuss your concerns. Make sure you ask about all the effective, natural treatments available so you can find the right combination of steps for your individual situation.

You can take action to heal PCOS — and the sooner you get started, the sooner you will see a difference!


Berent-Spillson, A., et al. 2011. Insulin resistance influences central opioid activity in polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertil. Steril. [Epub ahead of print.] URL (abstract): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21486668

References for key points:





Last Updated: April 5, 2024
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