Research: Lifestyle and herbal medicine effective in treatment of PCOS

Recent research published in the journal Phytotherapy research has shown herbal medicine to be effective in the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). 

The randomised controlled trial involved 122 women who are overweight with a diagnosis of PCOS. The trial involved the study and comparison of lifestyle intervention plus herbal medicine versus lifestyle intervention alone. 

Beautiful white peony

Beautiful white peony

The herbs listed as being prescribed were:

  • Glycyrrhiza glabra (Liquorice)
  • Paeonia lactiflora (Peony)
  • Hypericum perforatum (St Johns Wort)
  • Cinnamomum verum (Cinnamon)
  • Tribulus terrestris (Bindii)

Symptoms of PCOS include menstrual irregularity, excessive levels of male hormones such as testosterone, weight gain, difficulties with fertility, polycystic ovaries, metabolic disorders (e.g. insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, adverse cardiovascular risk profiles), quality of life and psychological disorders (e.g. anxiety and depression).

After 3 months of treatment the group who were using the herbal medicine and lifestyle changes recorded a reduction in the length of time between periods (Over 30%), showing menstruation was becoming more regular. Other significant improvements were found in blood pressure, body mass index, insulin, quality of life, stress, anxiety, depression and even pregnancy rates. 

I stock all of the above herbs and have used them before to help women with PCOS. 



Arentz, S. Smith, C.A. Abbott, J. Fahey, P. Cheema B.S. Bensoussan, A. (2017) Combined Lifestyle and Herbal Medicine in Overweight Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A Randomized Controlled Trial, Phytotherapy Research, 31: p. 1330–1340.

Jonny Woodall
Medical Herbalist and Flower Essence Therapist
Bsc (Hons) Herbal Medicine
National Institute of Medical Herbalists

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