Chronic, low-grade inflammation is at the core of PCOS. In fact, all women with PCOS will have a certain degree of inflammation, whether really low, moderate, or high. Studies show that PCOS is associated with higher inflammation marker levels. These include CRP, pro-inflammatory cytokines (ie. IL-18, IL-6, MCP, TNF alpha), and higher white blood cell count. 1 2
In terms of treatment, it’s important to determine the body’s most inflamed areas. This includes lab testing (e.g. HS-CRP, ESR and antibodies to the thyroid and ANA), identifying food sensitivities, and managing insulin resistance. Additionally, diet and lifestyle (namely stress and sleep) play a huge role in managing inflammation.
Below are some of the most important supplements for reducing inflammation. These are among the best to consider when it comes to managing your PCOS symptoms.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids (AKA Fish Oil)
Omega 3 fatty acids that are found in fish oil are incredibly important for women with PCOS. This is because of the acids’ anti-inflammatory effect. There are two different types of essential fatty acids we obtain from fish oil. These include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA is quite strong at reducing inflammation.
When looking for fish oil supplements for reducing inflammation, you want to make sure the EPA content is at least 1000mg. Look for products that contain wild sardines, salmon, and anchovies. In addition, choose professional brands that will provide a clean source of fish.
Green tea is known for its antioxidant properties. It’s considered a bioflavonoid, which is a compound derived from polyphenolic plants. Basically, these are super antioxidants. This study showed that green tea supplementation in overweight and obese women with PCOS had amazing results. The women experienced weight loss, fasting insulin reduction, and decreased free testosterone in their blood.8
Other bioflavonoids include pine bark and grapeseed extract.
Resveratrol is known as polyphenol, which acts as an antioxidant. This means that it protects the body from damaging effects. You can see why this makes it one of the best supplements for reducing inflammation!
Foods that are high in resveratrol include grapes, red wine, peanuts, and berries. Resveratrol is known to reduce cytokines in the body, specifically NK κ-B, TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6.5 6
N-acetylcysteine—also known as NAC—is the precursor to glutathione: one of the most potent antioxidants in the human body.
Antioxidants are known to combat free radicals in your body. These free radicals are compounds that can cause damage, and lead to inflammation when levels become too high.
As a result, NAC is a great option to combat inflammation. NAC has many functions to help women with PCOS. These include improving egg quality, treating insulin resistance, reducing testosterone levels, and supporting healthy ovulation.
Typical dosing is 600 mg three times daily.3
Curcumin extract is derived from the popular turmeric spice, and is known for its strong anti-inflammatory properties. A recent PCOS rat model study showed that the group of rats that received curcumin resulted in lowered inflammatory markers. These included IL-6, TNF-α and C-reactive protein (CRP).4
When it comes to choosing to consume curcumin, the spice you’ll find at the store won’t give you the therapeutic dose seen in many studies. That’s because pure turmeric powder only contains approximately 3.14% of curcumin. This is quite a small dose, and is poorly absorbed.7
Typical tumeric dosing seen in studies ranges between 500-2000mg of curcumin extract.9
Additional lifestyle tips for reducing inflammation in PCOS include:
- Focusing on a healthy anti-inflammatory diet that’s rich in antioxidants such as berries, kale, spinach, etc.
- Reducing stress by using mindfulness, gratitude journaling, and yoga
- Practicing proper sleep hygiene
- Exercising regularly
- There are many different supplements for reducing inflammation in the body, including omega 3 fish oil, green tea, resveratrol, N-acetylcysteine and curcumin.
- Lifestyle factors that can improve inflammation include: an anti-inflammatory diet, proper sleep, stress reduction, and exercise.
- Duleba, A. J., & Dokras, A. (2012). Is PCOS an inflammatory process? Fertility and Sterility, 97(1), 7–12.
- González, F. (2012). Inflammation in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Underpinning of insulin resistance and ovarian dysfunction. Steroids, 77(4), 300–305.
- Günalan, E., Yaba, A., & Yılmaz, B. (2018). The effect of nutrient supplementation in the management of polycystic ovary syndrome-associated metabolic dysfunctions: A critical review. Journal of the Turkish German Gynecological Association, 19(4), 220–232.
- Mohammadi, S., Kayedpoor, P., Karimzadeh-Bardei, L., & Nabiuni, M. (2017). The Effect of Curcumin on TNF-α, IL-6 and CRP Expression in a Model of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome as an Inflammation State. Journal of Reproduction and Infertility, 18(4), 352–360.
- Resveratrol Suppresses PAI-1 Gene Expression in a Human In Vitro Model of Inflamed Adipose Tissue. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2020
- Tao, K., Bai, X., Jia, W., Liu, Y., Zhu, X., Han, J., … Hu, D. (2015). Effects of Resveratrol on the Treatment of Inflammatory Response Induced by Severe Burn. Inflammation, 38(3), 1273–1280.
- Tayyem, R. F., Heath, D. D., Al-Delaimy, W. K., & Rock, C. L. (2006). Curcumin content of turmeric and curry powders. Nutrition and Cancer, 55(2), 126–131.
- Tehrani, H., Allahdadian, M., Zarre, F., Ranjbar, H., & Allahdadian, F. (2017). Effect of green tea on metabolic and hormonal aspect of polycystic ovarian syndrome in overweight and obese women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome: A clinical trial. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 6(1), 36.
- Turmeric Dosage: How Much Should You Take Per Day?. (2020). Retrieved 31 March 2020