D-Chiro Inositol and PCOS
Inositol may be important for PCOS women for at least three reasons:
- It may aid insulin action and thus reduce insulin resistance.
- It may help to relieve depression, which is common in polycystic ovary syndrome.
- It helps your liver to metabolize fat.
Inositol is a compound that has several different forms. The most well-known form is "myo-inositol", which is known as "inositol". It is found in most multi-vitamin supplements. It supports the membranes of your cells and is crucial to many biological processes. It influences essential "signaling molecules" that instruct cells how to behave.
Some of inositol's signaling is related to activation of serotonin receptors, which could relieve depression and improve appetite balance. Serotonin is a brain chemical with several important functions in the body, including mood and appetite regulation.
Inositol is also a fat-solublizing agent that helps to transport fat from the liver. For those overweight PCOS women who may have a problem with fatty liver congestion, inositol can be helpful.
What Is the Natural Source of Inositol?
Bacteria in your intestines convert phytic acid in plant fibers into inositol. Thus, your body is able to manufacture its own inositol. Phytic acid can be found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts.
You can also obtain dietary inositol from animal foods such as beef heart, beef liver and eggs.
Average dietary intake of inositol is about one gram daily. Dietary intake of inositol can influence the levels of inositol in the body and thus may influence biological activities. Inositol supplements may affect behavior and may have anti-depressant and anti-anxiety activities.
Another naturally occurring form of inositol is d-chiro-inositol, which has been found to have activity against insulin resistance.
It is found in legumes and especially in buckwheat. Consumption of buckwheat concentrate appears to reduce excessively high blood sugar levels and reduce the excretion of d-chiro-inositol in diabetic rats.(1)
D-Chiro Inositol and PCOS
You may have heard that d-chiro-inositol helps to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome. It is thought that it does this by improving insulin sensitivity.
Recent studies have suggested that women with PCOS may have insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia due to a d-chiro inositol deficiency. D-chiro-inositol has been shown to influence the action of insulin. The amount of chiro-inositol in muscle has been shown to be lower in subjects with type 2 diabetes than in normal people.
A study from the Medical College of Virginia found that 1200 mg. of d-chiro-inositol daily had multiple beneficial effects in the treatment of 22 overweight PCOS women.(2) Not only did it improve the action of insulin, but 86% of the women ovulated during treatment with d-chiro-inositol compared to only 27% in the placebo group. Serum androgen (male hormone) and ovarian androgen production also decreased in the treatment group.
Another study showed similar results in lean PCOS women.(3)
Another form of inositol very similar to D-chiro inositol is now commercially available. It is called "d-Pinitol". It is available for individuals who have issues with polycystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes and insulin resistance.
See the d-Pinitol product
Inositol and PCOS
Since d-chiro inositol is extremely expensive, what about ordinary inositol, which is readily available as a nutritional supplement? A recent study suggests that common inositol may be helpful for PCOS and polycystic ovaries.(4)
In this study at the University of Perugia in Italy, 136 PCOS women took inositol (100 mg., twice daily) for 14 weeks. Another group of PCOS women took placebo pills.
The ovulation frequency was significantly higher in the treated group (23%) compared with the placebo (13%). The time in which the first ovulation occurred was significantly shorter (23.6 days) compared with 41.8 days for the placebo group. The number of patients failing to ovulate was higher in the placebo group.
The effect of inositol on follicular maturation was rapid. Also, significant weight loss (and leptin reduction) was recorded in the inositol group, whereas in the placebo group had an increase in weight.
There are no contraindications for inositol. Inositol supplementation is generally well tolerated. Gastrointestinal effects such as nausea or diarrhea are occasionally reported with high doses. No toxicity has been reported.
Due to a lack of long-term safety data, inositol should be avoided by pregnant women and nursing mothers. Also, one review article suggested that inositol may stimulate uterine contractions, although no research has demonstrated that inositol actually has this effect.
It's theoretically possible that inositol could worsen hypomanic or manic symptoms of bipolar disorder, so people with this condition should check with their doctor before using supplemental inositol.
Theoretically, high-dose inositol may increase the effects of anti-depressant selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI drugs) such as fluoxetine sertraline, paroxetine, fluvoxamine and citalopram, and with 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonists, such as sumatriptan. If you are taking anti-depressant drugs, consult with your doctor before taking supplemental inositol.
According to the study we cited above, PCOS women appeared to get some benefit from a dose of only 200 mg. daily, which is a very moderate amount. Some doctors may recommend 500 mg. twice daily. In contrast, as much as 12 grams (12,000 mg.) has been used in studies to treat depression or panic attacks.
200 - 1,000 mg. per day for PCOS appears to be safe. A considerably higher dose may be appropriate in some situations, but consult with your physician as to how much more you should take.
Regular inositol is inexpensive and is available either in capsules, tablets or in powder form. You can obtain high quality inositol from our PCOS Supplements Store.
Our online store also has d-Pinitol.
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