“I just thought I would send you a note and say THANK YOU! Between you and several others, especially my naturopath, I took the road to health and eat a high fat, low carb, grain and sugar free diet, and have HEALED my PCOS! My doctor told me today that there is not one hint of anything indicating I even had it! 55 days of grain free and sugar free, going strong!”
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine disorders among females. 5-10% of woman of reproductive age are thought to suffer with PCOS which often goes undiagnosed. There is no one magical test to determine if a woman has PCOS and one must be evaluated by a doctor.
Common symptoms of PCOS are:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Weight gain, Overweight (difficulty losing weight)
- Excess hair growth on face and body- called Hirsutism
- Darkened patches of skin
- Skin tags
- Thinning hair
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High cholesterol and high triglycerides
- High blood pressure
- Cysts on the ovaries (multiple)
- Pelvic pain
- Sleep apnea
- Decreased sex drive
- Increase in stress levels
SOURCE: PCOS Foundation
With this laundry list of symptoms, where does a woman start to find relief??
If you read Elise’s story, you will realize that cleaning up your diet and eliminating grains and sugars is the best place to start! After YEARS of searching, after seeing several doctors and trying medications for symptom relief, Elise found her cure for PCOS. Read her inspiring story:
Hi, my name is Elise. My life has changed a lot since being diagnosed in 2004 with IC (Interstitial Cystitis) and a painful condition that would make it near impossible to be intimate if I got married. After being diagnosed, my journey to heal my body began with numerous modified eating plans and trying almost anything I could to find healing without using chemical based drugs. My doctor said that since I did not get full relief using the Low Oxalate Diet, the next stop was the University of Washington. After following UW’s recommendations of different creams and ointments that didn’t seem to help and inflicted severe pain, I stopped going and returned to the doctor. My doctor said the next step before surgery (which only had a 25% success rate), was to try a drug known for “fixing” my condition, but it was an antidepressant. After the doctor explained all of the side-effects, I said “No”. He tried talking me out of my decision before giving up and telling me there was nothing else he could do until I changed my mind.
I now know around that same time I had begun perimenopause. That January I was so hot I had to go outside. It was in the 20s, and it was snowing. I was outside in shorts, t-shirt and flip flops and couldn’t cool down, it felt like a sauna even outside. That was when I knew something was wrong.
I began to see a naturopath. After describing my symptoms, he informed me I was Insulin Resistant. He had me follow a strict food elimination diet for 30 days. We discovered I had allergies to dairy and gluten. He also helped reduce the IC pain by giving me a tonic. I continued seeing him for about a year until I had such a strong reaction to an estrogen supplement that I began lactating. I then took a year off from trying anything new (and went back to eating to eating grains, dairy, etc. and the SAD).
During that year off, I began rapidly gaining weight and was unable to lose it. I went to see a nurse practitioner who ran up a blood panel to see if she could find anything. Having read up on the internet myself about what could be going on, I realized I was having common symptoms of a testosterone imbalance. According to the nurse, my results were fine and I had no hormone imbalance. She suggested a diet and exercise regimen, which I was already doing, and still gaining weight. After two visits, I stopped going. She didn’t know what was wrong and didn’t know how to help.
The last time I had weighed myself at that time, the scales read 250 lbs. I stopped weighing. I was too upset by what I saw. A friend reminded me that I had always had results using Atkins, so I decided to give it another go round. In the course of a year, I lost 60 pounds. I then started seeing a new female naturopath who specialized in female health, Dr. Elliott. She reviewed my lab work from the previous years and had new blood work done before I came in. I spent 2 hours with her that first visit, talking about what had happened, how my life had been effected, etc. She told me I most assuredly had a testosterone imbalance the previous year even though undetected by the nurse. In addition, I now had Hypothyroidism and she believed PCOS. She had me begin a specialized regimen of vitamins to get my body more in sync and thyroid medicine.
In the next month, I had an ultrasound confirming I had PCOS. Going back to the doctor, she explained to me how sensitive my body is to insulin and maintaining an extremely low carbohydrate diet was going to be the way to prevent type 2 diabetes and keep the PCOS from becoming more severe. To help with my IC, she recommended taking Magnesium Citrate; and it worked! She also discovered I was severely low in Estrogen, a trait that would fix the intimate issue. Sure enough, it worked! I got married a year later and am happy to say my husband and I have a “normal” marriage.
Fast forward 3 years and my husband and I decided it was time to start a family. My naturopath, Dr. Elliott, had just survived encephalitis and was not in a place to help me. I went to see a different naturopath who took me off the estrogen and put me on tinctures. We didn’t agree about nutrition or exercise but I complied because she was the doctor and I was the patient. While I was able to see that the tinctures helped me ovulate, I felt like a stranger lived in my body. I was also having erratic mood swings and was starting to struggle with anxiety. After 6 months of seeing this new naturopath and a significant weight gain (almost at 200 pounds again), I decided to stop seeing her. As soon as I stopped I found out Dr. Elliott was seeing her original patients again. I quickly made an appointment and saw her in October of 2013. Dr. Elliott was not thrilled at what I had been doing, and knowing how sensitive my body is, said the exercise/diet was too much. She recommended no exercise and took me off the tinctures, so no extra hormones. I knew it would take time to ensure hormones got to the right levels. I decided then and there that if I was going to try to be healthy, then I need to stop fooling around and do this 100%. I gave up grains and sugar strictly, followed a high fat (for me about 75%), low carb (20 or less carbs) and allowed myself to eat only when I was hungry (which resulted with some intermittent fasting).
I went back to see Dr. Elliott on 12/13/13 and after 55 days of strict eating, I was told that my levels indicating PCOS are GONE! She said there was not even a HINT of anything indicating I had PCOS. She was shocked and impressed that I had committed to this way of eating. In addition, since mid-July I have lost almost 20 pounds and measure an inch less than when I got married! While we still need to increase my thyroid and I have to resume estrogen therapy, she explained there was nothing I could add to “heal/fix” it, that I am doing everything right. The only piece of “bad” news I got was being told that my FSH is extremely high. This along with another level, I was told that my ovaries think they are that of a 45-year-old woman, not 28. While I am sure I will continue to go through moments of needing to trust God with the future of a family, I am so excited to know that my PCOS is healed! In the beginning it was really hard, but now I can say it is a LOT easier. I feel so much better! My head is clear (thank you coconut oil!), I feel less anxious, and I no longer have the sugar monster in my head dictating my every move. During this time, I also had 2 successful ovulations while having very low estrogen! My doctor said that this was to be expected as PCOS is directly controlled by insulin resistance, which means sugar! This includes grains as they turn into sugar when entering the body.
So here I am, 9 years after my first diagnoses, almost pain-free, and living a normal life…a place western medicine said would NEVER happen! And yet, through the help of my doctor, lots of trial and error, and many, many hours of research on the internet, God has brought me to a place of healing. When I was first diagnosed with IC and VV, I thought my life was over, and then again with the PCOS. I was very sad for several months, and thought my life would never look “normal”, be pain-free, or meet anyone who could handle the ups and downs of having so many medical problems that are relatively “new” with no cure. Not only has God taught me sometimes healing isn’t instantaneously (which is STILL healing) but He brought me a husband who is loving and patient and able to help me through the ups and downs of medical trials and imbalances. I have also had some wonderful friends and family support me during this time. God has used this way of eating to heal my body. I was the girl who said would never survive without bread or starches, and yet here I am living without it. I pray constantly asking for the strength to make the right choices! I have spent far too many years dabbling back and forth with the right/necessary changes. I hope my journey inspires you, no matter what comes your way you CAN make the necessary changes to get better, to heal your body! If I can do it, you can too!
I am so thankful that Elise took the time to share her story. So many times we are given a diagnoses by a doctor and we receive it as a death sentence, but not Elise. She did her own research, keep seeking out answers and finally took control of her health!
Do you suffer from PCOS?? Have you received relief from going grain-free and/or low-carb?? Are you looking for inspiration?? Please share your story in the comments below.