Cheese and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

“Food is medicine, medicine is food.”

Among herbal medicine and acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) includes diet therapy as a treatment method. Often when the body is not performing at its optimal function diet can be one of the first areas to be examined.

Basic Chinese diet therapy states:

  • Walnut is good for the brain because it looks like a brain.
  • Kidney bean is good for kidneys because it looks like a kidney.
  • Ginger is good for the stomach because it looks like a stomach!
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But is this the case for all types of food?

Not exactly, take cheese for example, the shape and texture of some cheeses like feta that is crumbly and resembles (for the use of a better word) a cyst like shape. This does not mean it is good in the treatment of conditions such as  polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

PCOS is characterised by cysts on the ovaries. Unfortunately, they rarely become mature enough to produce eggs for fertilisation, which can lead to infertility issues. It is a very complex metabolic condition with most women having resistance to insulin and/or over production of male hormones.

Symptoms may include:

  • Obesity
  • Infertility
  • Mood changes
  • Excessive facial/body hair or thinning of hair
  • Acne
  • Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
  • No symptoms at all and only discover the condition when having fertility tests

The Western Medicine approach involves medications (e.g. insulin resistance and synthetic hormone drugs), diet and lifestyle advice. The Chinese Medicine approach also involves diet and lifestyle advice, as exercise and even as little as 5% weight reduction has been shown to restore normal hormone function. Chinese Medicine would also suggest acupuncture in combination with Chinese herbal medicine. This can be used as a stand-alone treatment or combines with Western medicine drugs and may assist with any side effects of said drugs.

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So next time you’re presented a cheese board, check to see there are not walnuts, kidney beans or some ginger as an alternative option.

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