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)
I have not been diagnosed with PCOS, but I have (or had) symptoms of PCOS -- mainly acne and hirsutism. I had several tests done through my doctor and an endocrinologist, but every single thing came back "normal". My doctor and the endo both told me that I had idiopathic hirsutism (hirsutism with no cause), and that there was really nothing wrong with me. The endo prescribed me birth control pills and an anti-androgen, but I opted not to take them.
For the past 2 or 3 months, I have been eating 1/2 a cup of buckwheat farinetta* every day (I use it in baking). From doing so...
- I have much clearer skin. I was like 99% clear for awhile, until recently. I have had some minor breakouts recently because I have been very stressed out for the past couple of weeks. But still, my skin would normally be much worse under these circumstances.
- My hirsutism has been reduced. (It is not gone, but hirsutism is nearly impossible to get rid of once you have it.) I used to get the odd dark hair on my chin (yeah, gross, I know), but now I never ever get those!
- My menstrual cycle has gone from 33 days to 28 days!
- I am sleeping much, much better. (I had insomnia for nearly my whole life.)
And there are absolutely no side-effects with this. The same cannot be said for birth control pills or anti-androgens.
I guess the reason it works so well is that in women with PCOS, their insulin resistance might actually be caused by the D-chiro-inositol deficiency itself. So it actually gets to the root of the problem.
*Buckwheat farinetta from www.minndak.com is the highest source of D-chiro-inositol -- 1/2 a cup provides 600 mg, the amount used in studies on lean women. D-chiro-inositol is also available as a supplement, from www.chiralbalance.com, but it is extremely expensive. Also, I tried the supplement, but for some reason it gave me digestive problems... although I've never heard of that side-effect happening to anyone else. (Fortunately, I was able to return it for a full refund.)
PS: Thanks to SweetJade for introducing me to this information.
EDIT: Just want to add that carob powder and carob syrup are high in d-pinitol, which is a precursor to d-chiro-inositol, and some women with PCOS have had good results from using carob. I believe you need about 2-3 tablespoons of carob syrup, or 1/4 cup of carob powder.