An Unconventional Approach to PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)

| 139 Comments

Your doctor probably isn’t going to tell you this, he’s probably just going to prescribe some Metformin and send you on your way, but PCOS is treatable with diet and lifestyle changes. No drugs are necessary. I spent most of my adult life with PCOS before it was well known enough to diagnose and I conquered it myself with diet. I spent years reading and experimenting with various health approaches until finally conquering this hormonal beast.

My history with PCOS

I started my period a couple of months after I turned 11. From that day forward I was depressed, angry, and shy.

I had all kinds of other issues on top of that. I had pica (eating non-food items such as chalk, dirt, and hair). I had diarrhea everyday. My mom took me to doctors to test for ulcers but when those tests came back negative she just kind of ignored it. I had menstrual cramps so bad that every month I would rock back and forth for two days in excruciating pain. My mom didn’t know what to do for me so she gave me Vicodin and hoped it would stop. Not she, nor her sisters, nor her first daughter 14 years before me had ever experienced anything like the symptoms from which I claimed to suffer.

The emergence of cysts – a clue?
When I was 14, I went to the emergency room with 4 cysts which had ruptured on my ovaries in unison (it was agonizing pain). But after the ultrasound confirmed that the cysts had ruptured, the doctors said I should be fine and those too were ignored.

I had other signs that something was wrong with my body. When I was 12 my hip joint fell out of its socket and I had to go to the ER to get it put back in place. They didn’t know why it happened so they sent me on my way (my hip and my shoulder continued to do this until I was 26, when I quit eating gluten).

Once I had a headache so bad I spent a night in the ER. The spinal tap showed nothing and so it too was ignored.

I looked so healthy despite the symptoms
I guess it might have been hard to take me seriously since I was such a pretty young teen. How could anyone so pretty and thin have hormonal problems? And so, I was eventually diagnosed with mental problems. All the cramps, the diarrhea, the pain, the joint problems were all in my head, so they said.

Since I was 12 it was the job of psychiatrists to fix me. How could they though when they’re patient was not mental but simply malnourished? (Psychiatrists don’t typically recognize the connection between the mind and the body. Depression and mental problems are avoidable and correctable.)

Acne was definitely not all in my head
When I was 17 it became outwardly obvious that something wasn’t right . I developed acne. By the time I was 21 it became severe and cystic. My mom now started sending me to doctors of all kinds – mostly dermatologists which are, for the most part, a waste of a good brain since all they do is treat outward symptoms and not even bother with cause.

After a while I ran into a doctor that prescribed the pill, which made my symptoms worse, and I tried 3 years of antibiotics, which never helped at all. I was handed a prescription and told to go on my way by every single doctor I ever saw. I went to probably 15 or more doctors in the Denver area in the late nineties.

More symptoms of PCOS started to surface
In 2003 my hair started to noticeably thin out and my acne became worse than ever despite the drugs I took for it. I applied Retin-A and developed terrible scaring. Hair growth around my body was very thick. I felt and looked so horrible I wanted to hide much of the time.

In 2004 I found out that I had celiac disease and started to realize that there was some kind of connection with what I put in my mouth and how I felt. This started a mission to save myself. (I had given up on doctors long ago. If anyone was going to help me it was going to be me.)

I started reading all the books I could get my hands on in my free time. I experimented with every type of diet. I read that milk causes acne (not always) and how the rise in insulin from eating sugar causes acne (not the whole story) and how reactions to topical products causes acne (bullshit) and on and on.

I finally got my hands on an ebook about PCOS because a Google search returned a list of PCOS symptoms that included acne. It gave me a clue about the hypoglycemia connection and how I should be limiting carbs and grains. Not much later, I discovered Paleo.

What is PCOS

PCOS is a hormonal imbalance. In women with PCOS the ovaries produce too much male hormones (androgens), making it difficult or impossible for the ovaries to release an egg. This leads to cysts on the ovaries and a host of troublesome symptoms.

Symptoms of PCOS

  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Pelvic pain
  • Cysts on the ovaries
  • Infertility
  • Depression
  • Acne
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss and facial hair growth (hirsutism)
  • Sleep apnea

1 in 15 women have PCOS
Around 5 million women in the US have polycystic ovarian syndrome and the number is growing as our lifestyles and diets become more and more artificial.

The cause of PCOS

While there are many factors which can predispose a woman to develop PCOS such as obesity, genetics, and exposure to synthetic estrogens, insulin resistance is the root cause of polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Insulin resistance arises from long-term elevated blood sugar levels which the pancreas tries to keep in check by releasing insulin. Over time, the cells become desensitized to it and blood sugar regulation is impaired. Eventually this can lead to diabetes.

How insulin leads to PCOS
Insulin helps glucose pass through the cell walls. When cells become resistant to insulin, the glucose must make its way to the liver to be converted to fat instead of being used as energy by the cells. This is why women suffering from PCOS often are often (but not always) overweight.

Insulin resistance leads to an excess of androgens. When the cells are desensitized to insulin the pancreas produces even more than is really needed, thinking that the reason the cells aren’t taking the glucose is because there isn’t enough insulin. Now you have excess insulin floating around in the bloodstream. This free-floating insulin stimulates the ovaries to produce excess testosterone. This prevents the ovary from releasing the egg each month (a leading cause of infertility).

Xenoestrogens
Pollution, exposure to plastics, other chemicals, and conventional beef treated with synthetic hormones can also contribute to hormonal imbalances because they contain xenoestrogens (synthetic or environmental estrogens). These environmental estrogens wreak havoc on our delicate hormonal processes by tricking the body into thinking that there is too much estrogen, causing it to produce excessive amounts of other hormones in attempt to balance it out.

The Paleo Diet Helps With Insulin Control

Like with every other modern health condition, PCOS can be avoided and controlled by diet and lifestyle changes. (Genetics can predispose a person to develop the condition but genetics is rarely the cause of disease.)

Insulin resistance is a totally avoidable and treatable condition.

After learning about grains and sugars, I discovered Loren Cordain’s book, The Paleo Diet. My health improved immediately and within 3 months I was pregnant. It was amazing that I was starting to get my hormonal problems under control but, unfortunately, a return to an evolutionary diet was not the whole solution for me.

So I started taking vitamins, minerals, and hormone balancing herbs. I stopped over-exercising. I did all the things that I read should take care of the problem. But I still didn’t fully recover – many of my hundred symptoms improved but not all of them. For years, even after going Primal, I struggled with (minor by this point) PCOS symptoms.

Controlling Insulin Can Be Complicated

  • “The secretion of insulin from pancreatic beta cells is a complex process involving the integration and interaction of multiple external and internal stimuli. Thus, nutrients, hormones, neurotransmitters, and drugs all activate — or inhibit — insulin release.” From Medscape.
  • “An extended period of physical or psychological stress, will produce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, that can interfere with the synthesis of the brain neurotransmitter, Serotonin.” From The Seratonin Connection. This is problematic because cortisol and adrenalin can instigate the release of more insulin. A lack of serotonin can cause food cravings because refined carbohydrates make tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin) more available for the body to utilize. Once we’ve indulged in sweet foods, we secrete too much insulin, starting the cycle all over again.
  • High levels of insulin can cause the body to dump magnesium into the urine which is needed in order to produce serotonin.
  • Fluctuating blood sugar levels can trigger the release of adrenaline which causes the liver to produce glucose in expectation of the brain needing extra fuel (flight or fight). This can in turn trigger the release of insulin which, when not properly utilized and left free-floating in the blood, can increase testosterone, leading to all the nasty symptoms of PCOS.
  • Weight training and low body weight can also increase the production of stress hormones and, consequently, androgens.
  • Last but not least is food allergies. Food allergies and intolerances compromise the absorption of nutrients, causing a cascade of symptoms. Even if you’re doing everything right with diet and lifestyle, if you don’t absorb the nutrients, you can’t heal. Of course, food allergies are often caused by nutritional deficiencies in the first place, but once they’ve surfaced, nutritional deficiencies continue because the body cannot absorb the nutrients it needs to heal.

Author: Peggy the Primal Parent

The blog owner!

139 Comments

  1. Two years ago, I was allergy tested after a long time of trying to figure out “what was wrong with me” (long story). I was tested for mold/pollen/dander and told to take allergy shots. They said that after we got that under control, they would test me for food allergies too since I was a mess. In that time, I’ve been told by two different facilities that they don’t do food allergy testing in adults – if it makes you feel bad, don’t eat it. I find this extremely odd because for a long time I thought I was allergic to eggs when in reality, if I go gluten free for a few weeks I can eat eggs with no problem.

    Anyway, thank you sooo much for this article. I have been fighting with doctors for years now to try to figure out why I’m so sick/in pain/crazy. Articles like this remind me that it is important what I decide to consume and I had never heard of PCOS before. Thank you for your honesty!

  2. I have been wondering if I have PCOS. However I had ruled it out because I read that it is usually accompanied by weight gain due to the insulin resistance and I have always been thin. Even when I gained weight over the last couple of years due to eating grains and having a very sedentary lifestyle I only went up to a size 6.

    Reading that you have always been thin is making me wonder again.
    I know that there are months that I don’t ovulate and I have cramps but not nearly as painful as you have described. I also have struggled with acne which recently got much worse after switching to a paleo diet.

    On such a low inflammatory diet I imagined my skin would only clear up. The vegetables and fruit angle is very intriguing since I have increased consumption of those lately and I notice bloating after eating raw veggies especially.
    Well it will be a long journey, I have resigned to that.

    • Jennifer,

      Sounds a lot like my experience. Doctors just couldn’t get to the bottom of what was messing me up. I have decided that there are doctors (guys that fix broken arms) and there are healers (people who understand the body on a much deeper level). It’s pretty frustrating to live in a society where doctors are thought of as healers when, in reality, they are not.

      What you eat IS so important. That’s funny that you mention eggs. I react to eggs if I eat vegetable. If no veggies, no egg problems. Funny how that works, huh?

      Daria,

      Yeah. I was always thin. The biggest size I ever reached was a 5. But I also walked to my high school and then to the university every day. I had diarrhea and so I lost most of what I ate (and I ate a whole lot).

      PCOS creeps up on you. I had hormonal problems for years and years before it got bad enough to be diagnosed as PCOS. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I got acne. Not until I was 22 that it got cystic. Not till I was 26 that my hair started thinning out. But I had cysts young. I had depression and amenhorrea young. Not everyone at every stage has all the symptoms…

      I always thought that everything should clear up since I ate so much vegetables and kept my carbs pretty low. My acne got quite a bit worse when I increased the veggies actually. That one was really hard for me to let go because everyone seems to concur that health can be found in things that grow. I first go the idea from Weston Price actually who noted that the healthiest people he met – the Masai and the Inuits – didn’t eat plant food.

    • I’m also thin but just got diagnosed as prediabetic! I am seeking an endocrinologist to help me figure out why. My cystic acne stopped when I stopped drinking milk. This is something you have to be proactive about. American doctors are either overworked and quick to stereotype so you have to be your own advocate.

  3. Peggy, I have an almost identical story to you except in my case it wasn’t PCOS it was its cousin, endometriosis. After 5 surgeries, numerous infertility treatments and life threatening illnesses on the part of my kids and a second trimester loss, I started to dig and dig deep. It’s taken me 6 years of digging, crossing the country to see doctors, expensive treatments and ultimately a punch in the side of the head (figuratively speaking because I was sooooo resistant to that angle) to look at my diet. After seeing what changing my diet has done, I believe it should be the first plan of attack for any ailment, physical or mental. If you don’t do that, any amount of expensive therapy is only going to have very limited effect (I’m talking as broad as marriage counseling or medication for ADHD here.) I am now clear of endo and it’s symptoms which plagued me most of the time for over twenty years.

  4. It makes me so happy to read about other women overcoming the terrors of PCOS! I had such a rough time with it over the past 10 years and love that all of my symptoms have disappeared since adopting a Paleo lifestyle. We’re planning to start our family next year…that’ll be the true test. Keep your fingers crossed for me. :-)

    • Wow Alison. So many people are resistant to changing their diets, aren’t they? It seems crazy to me, though, how people could choose to live in misery just to keep eating their favorite foods. I didn’t care what I had to do I wanted an answer. The minute someone told me to go get checked for celiac I ran to the doctor and gladly changed my diet. And it’s been that way ever since. But everyone’s path and motives are different.

      I am sure glad to hear that you finally did it though. You have become a great role model!

      Danielle,

      Good luck to you! I doubt you have any problems with it since you’ve recovered from the other symptoms.

  5. Hi! I love your blog and its very inspiring! I am currently 30 weeks pregnant and follow a paleo diet. I have barely gained any weight & sometimes wonder if I am doing the right thing…but reading your story gives me confidence that what I’m doing is right. My baby girl is growing well and I feel great!

    I’ve also noticed that when I decrease my veggie intake I feel better. Although I don’t have PCOS. I was wondering what types of fats you eat since you do not eat butter/nuts/& I assume avocados? Do you stick to animal fats (skin on chicken, grass fed beefs, etc.?) or do you substitute with things like coconut oil, olive oils? I’m curious to what a typical eating day looks like for you. I’m not sure how to eliminate the veggies and feel full.

    • I’d say that feeling great is a great sign! ;)

      I’ve read that a lot of pregnant women are averse to vegetables because the body is less able at that time to process the natural toxins in them.

      I really do stick to animal fats. It took me forever to figure this out but vegetable oils don’t work well for me. I don’t eat avocados either because they make me feel as horrible as any other growing thing. Go figure.

      I haven’t always done it this way. I used vegetable oils until fairly recently. But coconut oil makes me want to throw up and I’m allergic to olive oil. Within five minutes or so of consumption my eye sight goes so blurry I would need some pretty strong glasses to correct it. Then they’re back to 20/20 (I had lasik) by morning.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing, Peggy. I must share this with my sister too. I thought it was only me that feels best on meat. Now I know I’m not crazy.

  7. Lengthy article! I’ll pass on reading it all since it does not apply to me, lol. BUT, it is actually on my list of topics to cover at my blog since someone requested it.

    So, peggy, I must ask… would you be willing to take this article and make a shorter version for my readers?

    Thanks either way!

    • Sure, I’d be happy to! I’ll pick out the most important points and leave out some of the personal stuff. A lot of readers around here have asked for this kind of thing so that’s why it is soooo long.

      I’m going to be camping in Utah and Arizona for the next week but I’d be happy to do it when I get back.

  8. That’s perfect! Please take your time. I am trying to get more guests posts on my blog and I am always saying for the writer to take as long as he or she needs. No rush at all. I’ve been posting daily a while by myself and I don’t have to do as much direct marketing these days. So take your time.

    Just email me, Todd @ Primal Toad . com (no spaces) when its finished. Take a month if you need it!

    Have fun on your trip!

  9. Great post. I very recently had a diagnostic surgery to check for endometriosis. According to the doctor my reproductive organs look perfect. I still have a lot of problems (including a history of ruptured cysts and wow you are NOT kidding about utterly agonizing pain). I never thought I fit the description for PCOS but now your article and my all-clear for endo has me rethinking this.

    Can I second the request above for a short outline of your typical daily consumption? Its hard to wrap my head around getting all my calories from meat and fat but I am more than willing to experiment with it if it makes me feel better. I’m so frustrated and I don’t understanf why my body still won’t work as it is supposed to!

    Lastly, I have also had an extremely stressful life and often think I should write a book about it, I’ve been in some pretty weird situations too.

  10. I have some of those symptoms…weird.

    I feel really thrown when I read things like this. Like, one person heals on all meat and fat, while someone else heals on raw vegan. I don’t know what is going to heal me, but I feel like I’m getting closer. I have eliminated some problems, so I don’t feel totally lost in the dark.

    I have a friend who is allergic to vegetables also. She can’t have any form of sugar, either. 1 in 15 is such a high statistic, maybe I should send her this article.

  11. Great article, Peggy. Thank you for writing about your journey.

    I have always disliked almost all vegetables, which until I discovered low-carb made me feel guilty. Somehow if people don’t like vegetables, it makes them look childish. I was also, though, a pretty serious carb/sugar addict, even after going low carb four years ago (constant carb cravings!!), and it’s taken this long to really get over the worst of the carb cravings.

    I eliminated sugar from my diet a few months ago, and I noticed that my menstrual discomfort went from just bad enough to need some ibuprofen, to being mild enough I can go without pain relief. I didn’t feel like I was really eating that much sugar, but I guess it doesn’t take much to cause problems if you are really sensitive to it.

    I think eliminating sugar was the key to dialing down the carb cravings for me. I still have carb cravings, but they are manageable. I think I might have to sometime try eliminating carbs completely to see if that finally kills the cravings.

    And oh yeah, stress interferes with just about any healing process! I’ve had a pretty high-stress life too, since childhood. It’s very difficult untangling the effects of stress from other problems. It’s all just one big mess, really – but eliminating stress is a very, very important first step in healing just about anything else.

  12. Heather,

    My goal in writing this article was to help women who may be suffering from hormonal conditions understand a possible cause, if not simply inspire them to keep searching. It’s good you’re clear of endo so yeah, time to look another way. I absolutely will give a break down of my day or maybe a week of what I eat. Give me a bit to put that together – I’m taking off for my vacation tonight! I’ll post it soon.

    Lisa,

    I tried the raw vegan thing before. It made me feel worse than any diet I had ever done. I tried it a few times too because I was just so curious about other people’s success. There are traditional people in the world who eat very little animal products (but never none). Raw vegan is unsustainable. There are nutrients that only animals and/or bugs can supply. In time a raw vegan will start to break down.

    Angel,

    Wow, that’s some discipline! Most people probably don’t have what it takes to endure such a constant battle. Sugar and carbs and fiber all contribute to cravings for me. I almost have no choice but to eat just meat or I’d have to use constant discipline too.

    • Yeah, raw vegan is unsustainable. I just was thinking it might have some short-term therapeutic merit. But it seems people heal on paleo, too, so that’s why I feel torn… Obviously paleo is the sustainable one, but I think of how when people are ill with a virus or something, their protein needs decrease during the illness, and then increase afterward. So it makes me wonder if it would be beneficial to do raw vegan for a spell, then follow-up with high-protein paleo for a while. Does that make sense? Although I don’t know if I could even DO vegan. I think I would be starving.

      • From what I’ve read, I’m lead to conclude that the ‘success’ of raw diets, vegan or otherwise, is that the follower is forced to cut out processed and synthetic foods, and also severely limits or eliminates wheat and other grains. If you’re coming from a standard industrial diet, than of course you’re going to feel better. The same is true for paleo diets, but paleo diets tend to be more sustainable because they allow for more variety (less likely to feel deprived) and the inclusion of animal fat typically allows for better nutrient absorption and thus satiety.

        Meanwhile, I’m so glad someone with PCOS has had success with primal/paleo diets (although possibly the average low-carb diet would help the average sufferer, given the link between the syndrome and insulin resistance) – my posts on PCO (not the syndrome, just the ovarian follicle issues) are the most visited on my blog, so clearly people are seeking information and ideas of how to treat these conditions without resorting to drugs.

        Good on you, Peggy! Best of luck to you on your ZC mission – I’m glad you’re taking note of the relationship between stress and PCOS (and all health!) since all hormones work together in a much finer balance than science currently understands. I look at the way my PCO was CURED by a RISE in my stress hormone levels, and just can’t make sense of it! :) I’d love to get back to VLC or ZC because, like you, I feel best sticking to just animal products, but I’m nervous about messing with my system again now that my reproductive cycle is back to normal. You say that you can’t understand how people can sacrifice their health for their favourite foods – try my example! ;)

        • I’ve always figured it’s simply the elimination of all the crap that makes raw vegans, vegetarians, etc. feel so good for a while after they start. I did the atkins diet back in like 2002 and it made me feel better too but only to some degree. All the low carb products that I was eating then kept me from really feeling good, but of course I didn’t know that back then.

          I have been doing zero carb off and on for years. It’s not really a mission, it’s just been a necessity. I often try to add other foods. While I love meat more than anything else, eating just meat can get boring. :)

  13. LOVE this post. I too was diagnosed with PCOS, and was told that I would never be able to have kids without medical intervention. Long story short, I saw a 100% reversal in my health and my fertility after adopting a Paleo diet.

    Anyway, I’m delighted to have discovered your blog. I just added it to my reader and look forward to reading more!

  14. Hi Peggy–

    My name is Pepper, and I’m another one of the PCOS paleo-doesn’t-help people. Something that I’ve been thinking over a lot recently is increasing my carbohydrate consumption. (How long did you have to go zero carb before you saw results?) I lost my period 18 months ago when I lost weight, and I went LC paleo months after that. It didn’t help. My insulin resistance has been tested and my fasting insulin levels are okay. I also don’t experience symptoms of hypoglycemia.
    So I’ve talked with other paleo PCOSers who say that their PCOS has been mitigated by increased carb intake. The theory is that our stress hormones and our insulin production get out of whack when we go into ketosis. I’ve noticed this problem in myself: whenever I am VLC, I wake up in the middle of the night with a lot of energy. I have read that this is due to adrenaline spikes from my body trying to produce it’s own blood glucose.
    What is your opinion of this theory? I think my best shot is to keep carbs on the low side (and always natural) and hopefully keep stable blood glucose levels that way. It seems unnatural (and isn’t fun) to me to wake up in the middle of the night that way. Stress has also been a huge factor for me and dealing with amenorrhea my whole life– as well as with cystic acne, the worst part!– for the last year or so.

    • Pepper,

      I have read the theory too that adding carbs can help stabilize blood sugar. I think it is true for some and a little more complicated for others. I can not eat fruit. I might have fructose malabsorption – I haven’t been tested – but I get seriously bloated, gassy, and my bacteria balance gets all out of whack when I eat fruit, additionally, I get acne and depressed, all from a little fruit. So adding that kind of carbs doesn’t help me any. Also I can’t tolerate starches at all. It’s not quite the same effects but it sucks too. In a few days I’m going to write a post that goes in depth about what I eat and why.

      To be completely free of symptoms I had to go zero carb. It took several weeks before I started to feel ok with it. But very quickly my symptoms of PCOS were gone. But the thing is they all come back if I eat any fruit or veggies (even zero carb veggies). I have found I’m cool with lemon and lime but nothing sweet and no fiber.

      I have had experience with sleep problems on both high carb diets and zero carb diets. Although, it’s more of a transition thing for me when I’m zero carb. Once my body gets good at burning fat for fuel I’m ok. I do however have issues with zero carb which I will talk about in the detailed post i’ll be writing about my diet. Hopefully I can answer more of your questions there.

      I would love to hear about what exactly your diet is since you are still having cystic acne. Do you eat cheese at all? Even though that is carb free it causes cystic acne in me.

      • Dear Peggy,
        Thanks for your thoughts. You’re right about the cheese. Turns out that dairy, including butter, caused most of my acne problems. However, I still get small cysts every few days, and I’m not sure if this is because of general PCOS malaise, not having been off dairy long enough (quit cheese, however, six months ago and quit butter four weeks ago), hormones in any meats that I’m eating, or lack of carb consumption. My current diet consists of calves liver, eggs, lots of fish, particularly salmon, and the whole host of vegetables, mostly carrots, onion, broccoli, spinach, peppers, and tomatoes. I don’t think I have a food allergy to any of them in particular, and I have tried eliminating nightshades before. I’ve also recently added in a daily sweet potato, which has boosted my energy. I was VLC for quite some time and didn’t have good skin then either, though I was eating dairy at the time. This whole acne/dairy issue hit me very suddenly last year. I had PCOS for nine months before the acne appeared (and maybe concomitant with the addition of dairy to my diet, but I’m not sure). So I’m not sure what was happening in my body up to that point. And, for that matter, afterwards.

        • Pepper (what a cute name!),

          Yeah, dairy is problematic for me too. Over the years I have found that cheese and butter are the worst. Occasionally I try dairy because I like it so much. It always leads to acne and bloating and wrinkles (seriously). But I have found that these ill effects are gone within days of elimination. If after 6 months of quitting dairy and you’re still not well, I’d look for another culprit. I did this myself at first, for years, waiting and waiting for my hormones to “balance” but symptoms van really disappear quite quickly.

          I am allergic to some unsuspecting veggies – my highest are asparagus, cucumbers, rice, onions and garlic, actually there are several others but I don’t remember off the top of my head – I actualy have to avoid all veggies to avoid pimples. The really allergic ones give me cysts, the others just little pimples.

          You might try vlc again, this time without dairy and you might give it a shot eliminating veggies, just to observe if nothing else. Oh and sweet potato always gives me cysts too and I’m not actually allergic to that. But there is fructose in sweet potato which gives me cysts.

  15. Hey Peggy,
    have you heard of the gaps diet?
    Guts and psychology syndrome
    http://gapsdiet.com/
    Chris Kresser at healthy skeptics mentions it quite a bit.

    I haven’t read the book but the website has quite a bit of information (as has chris blog and podcast) and from what i have learned so fare it is about how a damaged gastrointestinal lining can be cause for a lot of other (psychological and other) health problems and how to restore the lining with a diet protocol to handle the health problems.

    A lot of what you describe reminded me of what i have read about the gaps diet. Specially your do eats.

    Maybe its worth a look. I think the website even contains enough information on the protocol do try it.

  16. Hi Peggy,

    I appreciate you sharing your story. I have both PCOS and endometriosis. I’m a year post endometrial ablation and have been Paleo for the last year and a half or maybe two years. I’m struggling to get pregnant but I’ve been without a period for the last three months. Who knows how long it’s been since I truly ovulated. Suffice to say Paleo hasn’t fixed my problems. I’ve lost tons of weight recently and don’t seem to be having trouble with insulin resistance anymore. My lab values say I’m normal too. Maybe a more drastic dietary change is the key. Please share details on your diet so I can give it a try.

    Regards,
    Sarah

  17. Do you still live in Denver? You are so close tons wonderful PCOS dr in Grand Junction. I saw Dr. Maruca for 4 years, and while the diet he put me on was not primal/paleo, it was pretty close and made it clear grains and high sugar foods were bad for me. I credit him getting my PCOS under control enough that having two kids was relatively easy. No drugs needed, and I was able to go off metformin based on diet. I live in the Midwest now, so I don’t see him, but I wish I could!! I read stories like yours and realize how lucky I was to get a diagnoses in 1996, and get good dietary advice back in 2000. Not that the intervening years weren’t frustrating, but at least I knew something was medically wrong. Really, cutting out dairy was the biggest difference between what Dr. Maruca told me to do and primal. He’s only a really beautiful drive away!!

  18. Peggy, this is a great article (and I’m thrilled to see it linked from MDA–it deserves it!). I have too many friends who had problems for years and years before PCOS was finally zoned in on as the correct diagnosis.

  19. Great article! You know they think there is a male equivalent now? Insulin resistant males have low T and high E, causing all sorts of male issues.. you would be surprised how popular it is.

    I heard Iodoral or high iodine intake is quite good for PCOS as well. I stumbled across a study once from a doctor who “cured” a few patients with a sustained high iodine intake. I am sure a good diet was included as well, but probably not as good as Paleo.

    • I have heard of it! I think it’s been around for a while now too.

      I tried a high iodine intake for pcos and it didn’t help without strict dietary changes. It’s quite possible that my high iodine intake helped ultimately, but it certainly didn’t do the job all by itself.

      There’s no such thing as a silver bullet, unless of course your only problem is that you are iodine deficient. But most if us have quite a few underlying issues…

  20. You may have just saved my life. I can’t truly put into words how every single thing you said above describes my life (other than my childhood being “pretty cool” which it was anything but) I linked to your article from MDA, which I have been reading for a few months now, and have just started exploring the primal lifestyle. I am so grateful to have found your site, as I am also a mother of a 3 year old boy who is obsessed with carbs, as well as a woman who suffers from pcos and other health issues that have baffled me and several dr’s my entire life. Anyway, you’ve made me a follower, thank you so much for this article and your insight.

  21. Hi!

    First of all, sorry about my English, since I’m not a native.

    I suffer PCOS as well. I’m 26 and I suffer from quite severe acne. I’ve been on Accutane four times and I’ve also taken the pill, antibiotics and so on. I’ve tried soap, no soap, oil cleansing method and… ok, it’s so boring to tell all the story again and again… long story short: still have acne and it’s SO annoying… I’m SO tired of it…

    I went off the pill a year ago and since then I’m trying to heal my skin though diet and lifestyle. Your post makes so much sense to me, since paleo isn’t enough for me either. I would like to try zero carbs, but I have troubles with anxiety and insomnia when I go low carb, so I have a few questions about that.
    – If cortisol is bad for acne/insulin/blood sugar etc, and ketosis boosts cortisol and causes the anxiety and insomnia… how do you deal with that?
    – How long does it take ketoadaptation (maybe I just made up a word here ;)

    I would like to give it a shot, since I’m so tired of having such a good paleo diet and not getting results at all with my skin. Specially because I do know that acne just means that my body is so messed up.

    Thank you very much for your hard job and congrats on your recovery!

  22. Jen,

    Wow. That really made my day. I wish you the best of luck on your journey to get you and your son healthy. Once you’ve both gone primal completely you will start to see things change. But as I pointed out, it may not be easy to fully recover. Just keep trying and reaching out for support along the way.

    Marina,

    I do not think that a ketogenic diet causes anxiety and insomnia. Now, when your hormones are unbalanced and your insulin control is poor, the low blood sugar levels may send your body cues that you are in danger of dying and yes, that is mighty uncomfortable. But that is just a transition. A body will eventually (in most cases) figure out how to utilize ketones and work without carbs.

    A zero carb diet still may not be totally necessary, however. There are many factors that a lot of people on the paleo diet miss. One is allergies. Eating foods that you cannot tolerate, even if they don’t come up on allergy panels, will sabotage your efforts. Another is weight. Carrying extra weight affects the production of insulin and other hormones. One must make sure that they are getting adequate nutrition. Especially if you have impaired digestion or eat a diet consisting of only meat, you’ve got to be sure to get special nutrients from somewhere.

    Again, later in the week or early next week I will write a post detailing what I eat and why. And I’ll go into exactly why I avoid many of the foods I avoid. It should be pretty interesting. In the meantime, if you can give me an idea about what you eat when you go low carb I can try to mention something about it in the post.

  23. Peggy,

    Thank you so much for your answer.

    About food allergies: I know that’s important too, but I don’t know how to figure out which foods are causing the troubles. Every time I remove something from my menu I find difficult to say whether the acne is getting better or not, and as I know there are many other factors that can contribute the problem I’m not patient enough and I give up.

    About the weight: I’m not overweight and never have been, although I think my body fat percentage is a little bit high (about 25%). Now I’m trying to exercise more in order to reduce it, but I try to be gentle as you mentioned on your post, since I know that going too hard with it may increase my stress levels.

    After reading and experimenting during this year, I am pretty convinced that hormones and blood sugar issues are my main problems. I have always had hypoglicemias, which eventually got worse since I was grasping all day with high carbs snacks. It’s better now with paleo, but I still feel I don’t get to regulate my insulin, partly because all of the factors that you mention on your post. I also feel I have troubles managing stress, and that’s why initial ketogenic anxiety freaks me out so much.

    When I go low carb I normally eat meat, eggs, seafood, leafy greens and other vegetables, coconut products and sometimes fermented dairies. Now I’m eating that way plus some starchy carbs in orden to avoid the anxiety. I don’t eat fruits because I feel they cause troubles with blood sugar as well.

    I would like to try VLC or ZC consistently because I’m tired of having such a “good diet” and not getting any better, and although I know there are many things I could do in order to improve my skin besides eating a good diet, I do believe I still can adjust what I eat and get better results in that area.

    Thanks again for your answer, I’m looking forward to read the post you mentioned about what you eat and why. I know your answer won’t be mine, but reading stories like yours encourage me to keep trying, experimenting with myself, being patient and not trusting the conventional advise.

  24. Peggy, thanks for making it easier to understand what insulin resistance actually is too. I get intense food craving swings, especially if I indulged in something high in sugar and won’t be able to control my appetite from thereon after.

    I do have some questions.. how are your bowel movements if you’re only consuming protein and fat? Also, are there any vegetables in exception that don’t trigger your allergies?

  25. Hi Peggy, forgive me if you or someone has ever discussed this, but have you ever read or followed Healing Naturally By Bee? Although it’s a “candida” diet it pretty much is a healing diet. It is far more strict than PB but it is so similar to your diet. I’m curious to know your take on it. I tried it with great success but fell off and will try again after my PB jumpstart…which I also follow as a long term lifestyle. Great post and thank you!

  26. Jennifer,

    It is a myth that fiber assists bowel movements. The worst my bowel movements have ever been has been while eating the most vegetables. The best has been when my gut flora is plentiful and balanced. In people that don’t digest vegetables well, bacteria balance gets out of whack and constipation or diarrhea can result.

    I had diarrhea all my life until I quit eating gluten. Then I struggled with constipation. It wasn’t until I went on a raw meat diet that my bowel movements finally got regular. I no longer had vegetable fiber fermenting inside and I had plenty of beneficial bacteria from raw foods. Cheese is constipating for me and quite a bit worse if I am eating veggies at the same time. Constipation with a whole bunch of fiber sitting in there is pretty darn uncomfortable. Fiber doesn’t act as a broom or a plunger. Metaphors are great but come on. That’s just not how it works.

    Gina,

    I don’t recall that title, however, I did follow an anti-candida diet for years which never really did me any good. I really just had to eliminate everything that grows to feel good in the end. I’m open to learning about it though!

  27. I don’t suffer from PCOS but I see you – and read your success story – on Mark’s Daily Apple. (I went Primal back at the beginning of May and refuse to ever look back again. Best thing I ever did for my mind and body). I posted a link to this article on My Fitness Pal. I have come across threads there from people suffering from PCOS and trying to lose weight. I posted it only as “food for thought”. I didn’t get a lot of hits but there were a few responses, mostly one word: “interesting”. If I can help at least one person realize that what they are eating could be causing their problems then – well – I have done a good deed.
    I noticed that the more fiber I ate the worse my IBS and all my digestive issues became. Since I have cut back on my fiber intake and am taking digestive enzymes to help heal my gut (protein and fats were moving a little too slowly) I feel almost normal for the first time in my life. It sucks I had to hit 40 before getting there. You are an inspiration.

  28. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your blog. I’ve been doing weight watchers for a year and a half with decent results, but have plateaued at the last 10 lbs for the last 8 months. I’ve been thinking of going low carb to change my diet up and stumbled on you blog.

    What an eye opener. I had no idea one could go to a nearly meat-only diet and have such good results. I’ve been so brainwashed by the low fat, high carb agenda, that I didn’t even think there were better alternatives. How happy I am to see that’s true. I’m especially happy to see that the paleo diet may also be helpful for my high cholesterol– as long as I can overcome my inclination to fear fat.

    Last two days I’ve gone extremely low carb and feel very good. I’m highly optimistic that I many have a good option for me. Thank you!

    • Sometimes just a change in the specific foods you eat or in the macro-nutrient composition of those foods will be enough to jump over a plateau. When our bodies get used to something they won’t always do what you want them to do. It’s the same with exercise. You’ve got to force yourself to do something different before you make it to the next level.

      Don’t despair if you feel a little terrible at first too! That often happens when switching from a carbohydrate burning metabolism to a fat burning metabolism.

      Welcome to the blog and thank you for reading!

  29. Thanks for this post. It’s great to hear that you are not the only freak. I was diagnosed with PCOS this year (I am 28), but I knew something was wrong since I was a teenager. You have inspired me to look very closely at my diet and the effects of stress. I suffered from very intense stress as a child and I’m sure it took it’s toll.
    Intrestingly I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and would often go on safari in the maasai Mara. I have met the maasai before and they are extremely healthy and athletic people. I remember once my dad drank a Maasai drink of blood mixed with milk. I declined but he said it tasted ok.
    Anyway have you been to Kenya? Please go at least once in your life it’s so beautiful.
    Once again thanks for this I’m going to really test myself and see what foods I can and cannot eat!

    • PCOS is embarrassing isn’t it? Ugh. I think most of us will do just about anything humanly possible to be free of these horrible symptoms.

      I lived in London after high school – I was traveling and got a job there. But where I really wanted to go was Kenya. I was saving my money for a big trip, but I ended up getting busted for working illegally and was kicked out of the country. lol. So far, no trip to Africa but it is still high on my list. In college most of my friends were African which grew my fascination even more. I will go there. (As long as I don’t die young.) I promise.

  30. I have had PCOS since I was around 15 as well. I have suffered from cystic acne since 18 and have tried everything to correct it. I have been living primal for a little over a month but still haven’t seen any results as far as acne goes. I haven’t ovulated in 6 months and currently take bio identical progesterone but I end up spotting the last week I’m on it and never get a period. Where did you go to get an allergy test for vegetables done? How would I find a doctor where I could just go in and ask for an allergy test and they would get me one? What kind of allergy tests are there or due they just tests for general categories? Sorry for all the questions. I hate to get my hopes up every time I see or read something that could help my PCOS. I am currently having a bad break out. I am eating no sugar, yeast, vinegar, fruits, grains and most condiments. I do eat a small amount of veggies each day but my carbs are around 30 or less. I still eat plain sheeps yogurt which I don’t is good or not for me. If you could give me any personal advice I would greatly appreciate it. My doc just gave me pills to kill yeast in the body but I just don’t want to take them and would rather do it through diet but so far I don’t see much in results. I did notice that I got rid of oily bowel movements when I cut out gluten and then grains. I am not constipated a lot and have undigested food everytime. It appears to be nuts and seeds and some vegetables. Sorry for the long reply…

    Ali

    • Which vegetables were you most allergic to?

    • Ali, I had my allergies tested through Genova Diagnostics at my Naturopathic’s office. I listed my allergies in my most recent post (carnivore). No matter how low carb I am, if I eat vegetables I break out. I’m totally with you on the paleo diet not helping for acne. It didn’t help mine either for years. I would back off the yogurt if I were you. I can tolerate a little bit of non-fat yogurt personally but still, not too much. Over the years I have taken my fair share of herbs to kill yeast to no avail. I can’t digest nuts and seeds and veggies either.

    • Keep eating LC/Primal.. Are you overweight? Have you lose any weight? If you are, when you start losing, estrogen will be released from your fat cells. You will start having periods again. It might take a few months for your body to adjust.. but I am the same. If I just eat anything, I’ll ovulate once a year. As long as I stick to a low carb/primal type of diet, I will begin a cycle. So just keep going. You may even naturally have a long cycle.. do you know how to tell if you are ovulating based on cervical mucous? That helps me too.

      Good luck!

  31. Hi Peggy,

    Saw your article through Mark’s blog! I’m 22, been living Primal for about 8 months, have lost 50 pounds and have been off anti-depressants for 3 months and birth control for a year. I’m getting tested for PCOS next week, I have a lot of the symptoms, and I’m trying to be as informed as possible before then so I can make the right calls for myself based on my commitment to the Primal life.

    Can you tell me about your experience with Metformin?

    Thanks!
    Steph

    • It’s good you’re trying to learn before heading to the doctor. My experience with doctors is that they know medicine. They don’t know cause and they don’t know nutrition so a patient definitely needs to inform herself. I have no experience with metformin other than that the doc offered it to me and I refused. I have never believed in taking drugs for ailments, not even pain if I can help it. I think that if your body is showing signs of imbalance with symptoms you need to get to the bottom of it, not cover it up. Generally, the best way to do that is with diet and maybe supplements.

    • Hi Stephanie..
      I took metformin and HATED it. You can google soulcyster and find the forums. Everyone complains of extreme stomach upsets and other issues. I try not to take it. You really won’t need it if you get your insulin level.

  32. Pingback: The Single Biggest Mistake Women Make With Their Health — Alison Golden

  33. Thanks for sharing your story. I have PCOS (confirmed by ultrasound in my early 20s), but the doctors I have seen have always told me “this is normal” and “they will self resolve”. I also know that I have had hormonal issues since about that time as well.

    I’ve tried all of the gut rebuilding diets there are – elimination, SCD, GAPS, VLC, PHD, Paleo and finally Paleo for AI issues. The last one is the best so far. Several issues have been resolved, but I still struggling with hormonal balance.

    In addition to your diet, did you try any supplements to help balance your hormones? How long did it take before you felt things “normalized”? Did you use saliva tests to help monitor/determine if you were on the right path?

    Thanks

    • I tried supplements for a while and I didn’t seem to get anywhere with them. To this day I have found that supplements make no difference if my diet is not suited for me. Supplements don’t make people well (in my opinion), the right diet does.

      If I go off my diet for a while my PCOS returns. As soon as I get back on it, I’m symptom free within a month.

  34. Hi Peggy,

    I’m new to your site however what I’ve read so far is amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge with everyone.

    This article specifically caught my attention because acne has always been a battle for me. I first noticed pimples when I was about 14 and am now 26. My acne has only gotten worse over the years. I have read about PCOS before but never thought I had it because my periods have never been painful or absent and I had a wonderful pregnancy at age 20 and gave birth to my daughter who is happy and healthy. However, early last year I had a miscarriage and an ultrasound was performed to make sure everything looked OK. The ER doc said to me something like “By the way, there are some cysts on your ovary did you know that?” Me: “No… is that bad?” Him: “Not really, they usually just go away.” Me: “Oh..ok.”

    Anyway, do you think this means I could have PCOS? I have an OB appt. coming up at which point I will bring it up, but I thought I’d ask since you seem so knowledgeable :)

    I’m also fascinated by your meat and fat diet.
    I’ve been eating lacto-paleo (including raw, pastured, local milk, grass-fed butter, Greek full fat yogurt and some cheese) for about 3 months now and after the first month I saw wonderful improvement in overall health and my acne. Then I went off of birth control and things got messy after that. I have put weight back on and my acne went out of control, like face, chest and back. Now finally my acne seems to be doing a bit better and I’m starting to feel like I did after that first month.

    I noticed that I feel best after eating fat and protein and even dairy but I’m easily overwhelmed with eliminating foods and have been scared to try eliminating anything, like veggies since I feel like I get tons of nutrients from them.

    Hey if it turns out I don’t tolerate something well, at least I know I’m not the only one and there’s hope! :)

    • Hi Laura, welcome to the blog! You’re going to the doc so you might as well get your hormone levels checked. But it hardly matters. They’ll just offer you drugs. Taking a look at the symptom list and then going primal is most important. Try and pinpoint some allergies too since those can be a huge set back.

  35. Hey Peggy! I have a question about your pre-pregnancy healing process…
    I never had regular cycles, I have cysts on my ovaries, I’ve been depressed and overweight since puberty. In january I changed to a low carb, high fat diet. Since then my “cycles” got more recent. I don’t think there ever was a rupture in one of my cysts but what I experienced a couple of times since was a stinging pain in the polycystic ovary, followed by a hormone burst that led to sudden boobgrowth(by 2 cup sizes). do you have any idea what it could be? my best guess is that it’s a cyst sneaking out of the ovary- as it appeared twice a couple of days after I ovulated- like a way made? when you were healing from it- what was it like?
    the annoying thing about this is that all they ever tell you is to lose weight(never worked, no matter what) and take the pill. they don’t know about low carbing and what will happen if you truly heal…
    but as you’ve experienced it- maybe you have an answer :)

    • The ruptured cysts on my ovaries were sudden and all at once. They were all confirmed ruptured on the ultra sound. My periods were rare and they were incredibly way beyond painful. And my bleeding was heavy. When I switched to paleo my periods got closer together – I remember it was spaced out at 5.5 weeks at first and then got closer with each month. I was pregnant within three or four months so that was it for periods for me for the next 2.5 years. When I stopped breast feeding, I was already on the raw primal diet that I have described on this site and my periods were light, regular, and easy. (For the record, this had nothing to do with childbirth as some people like to assume. I went off my diet for a time and my insane periods returned.)

      If you ever find out what caused a sudden growth in your boobs let me know! I have no idea…

      When you ovulate a tiny little cyst forms on the ovary where the egg comes out. It may be that the tiny cyst turned into a big cyst, and when the egg popped out of it, it hurt a lot.

      • hi Peggy,

        your blog is excellent!!I live pretty far away from you but it is like we had a similar life,same health problems, and same sad situations. Only I still am not able to get pregnant since I am not ovulating at all. I tried almost everything, and you can understand the frustration and sadness I am feeling now because you went trough it all. I did not try the Paleo diet. Since I don’t know anything about it , first I’ll have to read an learn and then eventually try it.
        Please tell me, those allergy tests you did, were they a “food intoleance” tests or just ” food allergy” test? Because I did intolerance tests, and avoiding the food that I do not tolerate seems to be helping me, but still not good enough.
        Is there anything else that helped your pcos symptoms to dissapear? somme herbs, tea, or sht else? or just eating the right food?

        thank you so much,
        Lilly

        • Lilly,

          I had food allergies tested – IgG. It was quite revealing because there are some foods which just floor me (I would have never guessed I could be so allergic to asparagus) and others that create a mild reaction. It was nearly impossible for me to figure this out because the reaction is delayed. The test was really helpful for me. But there are many other things I deal with too like my problem digesting starch, fruit, and salysilates. I do take a few supplements. I take cod liver oil every day, a multi mineral, sometimes I take b vitamins, I took saw palmetto and vitex for a while, though I can’t guarantee they ever really helped.

          I stopped exercising like crazy. I take it easy. And I don’t let anybody push me around – in other words, I live the life I want to live. I started deep breathing and started learning to sing opera during the time period in which I started to recover. I play a lot. I walk a lot and try to have as much fun as I can. Who knows what really worked in the end. But I doubt it was 100% diet. I completely committed myself to well being.

          • dear Peggy,

            My test was also IgG:) I hope that I will also see some results soon, I started not eating those “bad” foods about 2 weeks ago. How soon did it help you? And what is the difference between Atkins and Paleo diet? they both seem to exclude carbohydrates. thank you, my best!!:* Lilly

            • I started feeling better within a few days.

              Paleo is NOT low carb!!!! It is for me, it is for many, but that is not the premise behind it. Paleo is often lowish on the carbs because eating a whole lot of natural carbs isn’t exactly feasible. Atkins is going off the premise that ketosis is the best human metabolism. Paleo would say that maybe it is best for some but not necessarily for all.

  36. Pingback: The Paleo Diet Cures PCOS

  37. Thank you Peggy, I admire your wide knowledge!You are my idol:) what do you think about food according to blood type?

    • Awe thanks!

      I read the blood type diet years ago and followed it for many months as well. I always like to give a new theory a good go. I’m blood type O so guess how I felt giving up all the foods that type O people can’t eat, pretty darn good. Type Os are the meat eaters! However, on a more specific level with the vegetables and fruits that Os supposedly can’t eat, I never noticed anything. Not necessarily so strange because I have food allergies. In the end it doesn’t make much sense to me. I have known a few people who are the supposed grain eaters strictly adhere to his recommendations and never heal. Two of them are to this day very unhealthy. Again, that doesn’t say much when you bring modern foods into the picture.

      Here is what a WAPF book review had to say about the science behind it http://www.westonaprice.org/thumbs-down-reviews/eat-right-4-your-type
      “A healthy body with full digestive and assimilative capabilities is completely capable of handling food lectins. In fact, this is borne out by numerous studies which suggest that lectins are either dismantled by enzymes — which are abundantly present in raw and fermented foods – or by cooking, which destroys the helpful enzymes but compensates by denaturing complex proteins so that they can more easily be broken down during the rest of the digestive process.”

      Modern adherents rebut this by saying that leaky gut has made lectins now available to the blood stream but there is little evidence to suggest the validity of this.

      “Dr. D’Adamo guaranteed the phenomenal success of his book when he told people of Type O, A and B to “just say ‘no” to all commercially-made breads, bagels, muffins, flours, cakes, cookies, pastas and cereals. Whether made from refined flours or the seemingly healthier version of whole grains, these gluten-containing products injure the gut. Eliminating them from the diet is the first step in giving the injured intestinal lining a chance to rest and recover. In that the three blood types O, A and B represent 96 percent of Anerica’s white population and 93 percent of the black population, it’s no wonder that so many people have benefited mightily from Dr. D’Adamo’s diets”

  38. You mentioned hair loss/thinning but left it off your list of PCOS symptoms….aside from infertility, hair loss has been my most devastating symptom. Did your hair grow back when you changed your diet?

    • Wow, I can’t believe I did that! It was meant to go with the facial hair growth. Guess I left it off.

      Yes, my hair grew back. That seems to be most women’s experience.

      • Dear Peggy, how did you discover your problem digesting starch, fruit, and salysilates?
        And also did you feel pain in your ovaries when you started eating the right food? Could that be a good sign ?Because they are killing me:( and I am following passionatelly my list of “bad ” food, and I am trying to eat as little carbs as possible( but it is not working out with not eating the fruits-cannot live without them:/)
        Thank you so much, best!:***

        • Experimentation. I understand that reflux is not about an inability to digest meat but rather an overload of carbs. I used to have reflux bad in the old days and while it mostly cleared up after going Paleo, it still would crop up sometimes. It was this and other things that made me try giving up starches and fruits to begin with and then as I added them back I would notice these symptoms return. So I don’t eat them at all anymore. It was a reader here actually that turned me on to salysilate sensitivities.

          I don’t recall whether I felt any pain in my ovaries or not when I went Paleo. Back then I was full of many pains so who knows. It might help if you eliminate everything but meat and fat for a week or so, and then observe your body as you add things back in.

      • Thanks so much for this post, Peggy. I recently found your blog from PaleoPlan.com (another great site!) and I’ve been absorbing all your information.

        Betsy asked part of my question, but I’m also wondering the same — I’m dealing with thinning hair and hirsutism and it is annoying. Medication is the only thing I’ve tried aside from Paleo (and I’m very new to that, so haven’t been doing it long enough to know what results to expect) and meds do nothing to solve the root problem (and frankly, don’t do much to help its symptoms, either!). You mentioned your hair grew back, but did your hirsutism go away? Or was that not something that you really dealt with all that much? You certainly don’t seem very hairy now. :)

        • I had both and yes, they both went away. It’s just a matter of balancing hormones and correcting nutritional deficiencies, both of which take time. Most women with PCOS seem to have a lot of issues with allergies. If I eat foods that I’m allergic to even now, I’ll see my hormones shift back to more androgens and I’ll start losing hair again and even watch some hairs pop up on my chin. You can imagine, this is pretty good reason to stay strict!

          • Yes, I’ll say! Thank you for the encouragement, I really appreciate it. :)

            I’m grateful that so much information and resources have explored on the internet in recent years, as before that, very little was known about PCOS. And, like you, I went years and years without a proper diagnosis, the medical community (and its various ‘specialists’) shrugging their shoulders in unison. Frustrating. I’m all for rolling up my own sleeves and working on it, but first I need to know what I’m dealing with and where to start, and I have those tools now.

  39. Peggy, your story is so fascinating! I wonder if it’s the phenolics in plants that you’re allergic too? It’s weird how we can be allergic to anything and everything.
    Curious: have you ever tried NAET or Bioset treatments to resolve the allergies (because they indicate that something is still out of whack- Chris Kresser talks about normal foods that are problematic due to our gut/immune system vs. truly toxic foods like gluten)?

    I had a huge amount of sensitivities: animal fat, corn, phenolics, mercury, neurotransmitters (WTF??) eggs, dairy, oats, gluten, to name a few! I had Bioset treatments to undo the reactions and I definitely felt healthier and made a lot of headway with my autoimmune thyroid problems and general health. I still don’t eat gluten (genetic intolerance) and avoid grains anyway.

    At any rate, you look fabulous and healthy and I’m glad you’ve found what works!
    -Erin

    • Erin, thanks for your concern. Indeed, having allergies does indicate that something is still out of whack. I only found out about my allergies recently so all of this time that my body has been trying to heal, I’ve been bombarding it with foods that are toxic for me. As I understand it, staying clear of allergens for about a year can give a body enough time to finally heal from them.

      My digestion was a wreck every time I would eat foods that I was allergic to. Without knowing what was going on, I started eating just meat and fat because my digestion was happy and I felt good, but since I didn’t know what was going on, sometimes (often actually) I would try some veggies, or I would have a piece of fruit, or I would eat something seemingly innocuous and start the cycle of toxins all over again. Now I finally know what I need to do to absorb nutrients so that someday I can tolerate more foods and worry less about what I eat.

      • Dear Peggy, thank you for your prompt answers, you are very kind!
        Did your IgG test show intolerance to fruits and veggies or it didn’t but you still don’t eat them because they dont make you feeel good? I am not intolerant to fruits and veggies according to my IgG test,so I wonder is there still some problematic food for me since I am not feeling as good as you;) It would be interesting that IgG test showed tolerance to sth that in fact you are intolerant to. One more question( sorry if I ask to much but I feel like you are the only one who really helped me:( ) did you maybe have a candida albicans problems at any period? I have it and don’t know how to get rid of it, I got it probably after a long period on a birth control pill that doctors gave me when I was very young to “treat” my pcos condition.
        And the last question;) did your ovaries clear up of small cists when you started eating well? Thanks!

        • No problem Lilly. When we feel we’ve got something in common with someone, it’s hard not to ask questions.

          My IgG came up very allergic to lots of veggies yes, but not all of them. When I got the test back I was like, cool, so I can eat all this other stuff then! Not so. That’s what made me think salysilates. Vegetables give me acne. May sound crazy but it’s true.

          As for candida. Yes I had persistent candida for many years. In my younger days I was on meds all the time for yeast infections. Even after I went Paleo it didn’t seem to clear up. I later discovered that it was aggravated by starches and fruits, even just a bit.

          I’ve never been back to have my ovaries checked but I’m sure they’re fine. I ovulate each month and don’t experience cramps or any signs of PCOS.

          • Dear Peggy,
            What do you think about maca root powder? I read a lot about it in the Elaine Hollingsworth book “Take Control of Your Health and Escape the Sickness Industry”. She praises it a lot. It seems to help regulating hormons.

  40. Pingback: Tuesday Morning Coffee | Miss Wisabus

  41. Pingback: The Paleo Diet vs. PCOS: Could it be your cure? « Dare to Break Out of The Box

  42. Pingback: PCO/PCOS | a dietitian gone paleo

  43. Pingback: My Upcoming Book, The Primal Lullaby Video, and Guest Posts | The Primal Parent

  44. Question – I have self diagnosed PCOS. Periods that come when they feel like it, fat tummy but normal every where else, facial hair (that started 4 years ago)…..I was told during my c-section that I had poly cystic ovaries as they looked like they had strings of pearls on them. No official diagnosis though.
    About 7 years ago I had my entire thyroid removed due to thyroid cancer. My body hasnt ever felt the same since. I am dizzy, get that pukey feeling a lot, tired, depressed, no energy, then lots of energy at 11pm every night! Stress, anxiety…..
    I feel like I dont even know my body anymore. I wanted to try Paleo but now this post confuses me? What do I give up, how do I know whats right?
    Help?

  45. I love your blog, Peggy! :-) I’ve learned so much from it, and the raw meat-eating posts have been espeically helpful.
    I have a question about PCOS. Here is a little background info…Apparently, I have many small cysts in my ovaries, which is consistent with PCOS. However, I don’t have any of the other associated symptoms, like hair loss, weight gain, acne etc. I’m 26, and I have always been tall and thin (6′, 127lbs) with an athletic build. However, my main issue– that led to getting the ultrasound that showed the cysts –is the fact that I haven’t had my period in about 3 years, ever since stopping hormonal birth control (which I had been on about 4 years prior to that). I was probably close to this exact weight/height in highschool (eating a SAD diet, tho) and menstrated normally.

    I do have multiple sclerosis, which is mostly asymptomatic. Not sure if its related or not.

    I’ve been eating “WAPF” style starting about 3 years ago, then slowing transitioning to paleo/primal, then GAPS for a few months, and now mostly-raw paleo/primal (at the suggestion of Dr. Ron Schmid, and some research of my own). My diet is pretty similar to yours, minus the yogurt/sugar cane and plus one green salad per day as well as some fermented veggies and leafy greens thrown in my bone broth at the last minute. I eat most of my animal foods raw, or super lightly cooked. I seem to do fine with the veggies–I’ve been getting a little gas from them (used to be worse–every meal would give me gas and bloating!) but it seems to be more of a weak-digestion issue than a food allergy, as its getting better with time as I build up slowly (and make sure not to eat my veggies with my meat). If I don’t eat any carbs at all, I don’t feel so well, energy wise.
    Do you have any suggestions to help me regain my fertility? I am espeically interested in what you have to say, because you look like you are built a lot like me, and have a similar diet. Thanks!! <3

    • Hi Sile,

      I found out I had cysts on my ovaries when I was 13 or 14. At that time I only had a few periods a year. My skin was perfect like porcelain – I had never had a pimple or large pores. I was thin, my hair was long and shiny. In short, you never would have known by looking at me that PCOS was what was wrong. I was, however, already very depressed. It wasn’t until I was about 21 that I started to develop outward symptoms. So, it is possible that you have PCOS and just don’t feel it yet. in general, women with eggs that do not fully release from the ovaries have high androgens (male hormones).

      Both fat and protein are important for enabling the egg to develop. Do you eat much of those? Shellfish, organ meats, and yellow butter from cows eating grass in the spring, all contain lots of vitamin A and D – very important nutrients for fertility. If you don’t eat much seafood, you may be iodine deficient which is sometimes the cause of unexplained infertility. You need to be eating foods high in vitamin A to absorb iodine. Zinc is also very important for fertility and women with cysts are often low. There are a lot of fertility nutrients to think about but it sounds like you’ve been eating a nutrient dense diet for years. Do you also eat modern junk along with it? If so, this could be causing insulin resistance. Have you been tested for allergies yet? They do not always cause digestive problems but they are very common in women with PCOS.

      Some women never recover from the damage done to their hormones after the pill. How long were you on it. If you haven’t read this yet, check it out, it may help. http://theprimalparent.com/2011/09/05/rebuilding-fertility-after-the-birth-control-pill/

      Also, I would recommend perusing http://www.cyst101.com There is just about everything you want to know about cysts, how they’re formed, why, the hormones that make ovulation possible, etc.

      • Thank you so much for your reply!
        In response to your questions~
        No, I don’t eat ANY junk food now. Last summer was the last time I had anything, and then it was just ice cream, and steaks/veggies at restaurants occasionally.

        I could probably eat more seafood–its just SO hard to find quality seafood in WI! I can get (frozen) wild tuna, salmon and scallops but they are all pretty pricey. I eat about 1 or 1.5 bags of the “maine coast” brand seaweed (dulse, kombu or lavar) per week. What is a good source of zinc besides oysters? I used to be able to get them but can’t anymore.

        This week, I’ve started to take about 3 tsp of fermented cod liver oil per day, and 1/2 tsp of butter oil, as well as eating liver occasionally. I’ve taken FCLO on and off during the past few years as well.

        I’ve also just this week started eating a lot of raw butter and raw piima cream…I think I hadn’t been eating enough fat before I started this.

        I have thought about getting allergy testing, but I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t think the tests are reliable (I think Chris Kresser said either him or a colleague sent in two samples both from themselves but labeled as two different people, and got back completely different results!)…plus its kind of pricey. It does sound like it was pretty accurate for you, though? I’m just unsure if my gas/bloating/constipation reaction to plant foods is an allergy/intolerance or just my weak digestion (I used to have to take 3 HCL with every meal, and would still get bloating sometimes!).

        • Hi!
          Sile, maybe you should check your tyroid? it needs to be working well for a women to be fertile. I had never had my period after the pill, and I was on the pill because of the pcos to begin with. So the estrogen domination that develops while taking the pill,messes up the hormons totally, and usually shuts down the thyroid, the liver function, messes up digestion, cause food alergies ( I couldn’t eat anything anymore!), cause depression.
          I tried eliminating gluten and I felt better instantly,but still no period. Than I tried low carb paleo and felt better for a while,acne started clearing up,I got one period, I was so happy. But after being low carb for 2 months I suddenly got worse, so bad that I couldn’t evem go to work. The problem was that the lack of carbs caused my stress hormones to rise, and changed totally my metabolism, and shut down my thyroid .I couldn”t sleep, had heart beatings, tingles, shakes, headaches, loss of vision,loss of feeling in my legs etc, etc. The answer was a pro thyroid diet- milk, cheese, sugar( yes, sugar!), fruit, liver, bonebroths, eggs, butter, oysters, 1 raw carrot a day etc. I felt better in a few days. My thyroid was in such bad shape that I had to use the thyroid supplement. Now, I’ve been on a pro thyroid diet for 2 months and have my period every month-more or less:) I sleep better, have rare cortisol and adrenalin rushes, acne totally gone. I am still fighting with candida, and with poor digestion, but it takes time to heal.
          Ms is also caused by the estrogen dominance and low thyroid.

          • Wow, thanks Lilly!

            I’ve never heard that estrogen dominance causes MS, but from what I’ve researched I think there are a lot of causative factors in most diseases like MS so I’m not too surprised. Thanks for sharing that interesting bit of info! Do you have any links to articles about that?

            Over the past couple years I have on and off considered getting my thyroid checked…I have heard that it can correlate with amenorrhea, and I’ve also always had really cold hands and feet which I think might also be related. I did take iodine (Lugol’s) for awhile, and now I try to eat some seaweed every day and some seafood at least once a week. What type of thyroid supplement did you take? I think I can actually buy fresh bison thyroid…maybe I’ll have to give that a try! Yum yum! ;-)

            What did you eat to get carbs if you were having trouble digesting plant foods?

        • I’ve heard that too about the allergy tests. What I don’t know is whether they did this experiment a single time, sending it to a single company, with a single type of allergy test (prick, hair, blood)? Anyway, the test I had was amazing for me. I had been really dragging for a while before I got that test. Pinpointed a few things and I was 10 times better.

          • As Peggy says- we are all different,and you should always keep exploring.This post and Peggy’s exploring changed my life!Thank you Peggy<3 All I read here made me think about things I never knew before. And I kept on explorinng. You can check ray peat's website, there are a lot of articles on ms and thyroid. good luck!

  46. Peggy,
    I came across your blog, and have been eating just animal products for the past month and I have been feeling amazingly!!!! I have suffered from PCOS since I was 11, and so far it appears this approach is the most adequate to treat my symptoms. Like you, I have tried manifold approaches: vegan, paleo, low carb, etc etc. Now that I have decided to take this route, I would like to ask you what cuts do you buy on a regular basis from the butcher’s (lamb, pork, beef) and the fish monger’s. It’d be extremely beneficial for me, and my budget of course. Take care and congratulations.

  47. Pingback: Paleo: A cure for PCOS? « Great Minus Eight

  48. Hi Peggy,
    First of all, thanks for sharing this!! Just like you, I have been suffering from PCOS my whole life and I have tried tons of diet. I am lactose intolerant and my digestion is very poor. My diet is very similar to yours. What has worked for me has been eating slightly cooked organic animal protein (lamb, beef, poultry seafood, etc), and drinking coconut water (or a glass of hot water with a tbspoon of coconut oil) or plain water with lemon. Nothing else, no vegetables, no fruit. So far, it has worked for me. Whenever I eat something different, my digestion is wacked and all my hormonal problems come back. Probably my diet will suit those who are lactose intolerant. Would like to hear back from you. All the best

  49. Hi Peggy, Found your article on Primal Toad via twitter and clicked over here. I have been struggling with PCOS since college.

    My symptoms include:
    -Belly weight gain (used to have a flat tummy, then started gaining rapidly w/tons of stretch marks)
    -Dark hair on stomach and chin
    -Irregular or absent periods/anovulation
    -Difficulty losing weight (I am currently at my highest weight. Ideally, should lose about 60 lbs)

    I was not diagnosed until after going off birth control 1.5 years ago. I talked my doctor into testing me and was found to have borderline insulin resistance. I was prescribed Metformin (which has not helped) and clomid/femara for ovulation because I am trying to get pregnant. I ovulate on the clomid/femara, but have not been able to become pregnant yet.

    I know not everyone with similar issues is going to have success on the same diets. What would you recommend to someone like me who is trying to find a solution? What should I eliminate first? Should I go cold turkey off carbs? How do I find out what in my diet is causing these problems.

    I am so desperate for a solution. We are preparing for our first IUI cycle, but don’t have money for more than one or two tries, so anything you can suggest will be tremendously helpful.

    • Hi Lisa,

      Well, first of all, I would discourage you from trying to get pregnant until you first get healthy. You will pass on your imbalances to the child. I can’t really say exactly what is the right diet for you but an unprocessed diet IS right for everyone. A grain free diet seems to work for women very well. Have your doctor run one more test and find out what your allergies are. Avoid wheat like the plague. If you are depressed and have bloating I would also looking into fructose malabsorption. It is very hard to heal when you continue to put foods into your body which harm it. So work to get to the bottom of that. It might take time to get completely well but if you cut out all dairy, processed foods, grains, and legumes, you will probably start to feel really well really soon.

      There are some special foods which you should probably start eating right away. Make bone broth for calcium and other nutrients, take cod liver oil, magnesium is often helpful for ovulation problems (chelated form is easier on the tummy). Chromium supplements might help your insulin resistance. Green leafy veggies offer lots of important vitamins and minerals. Animal organs are important too.

      If you start with this you will probably feel icky for a couple of weeks while you go through withdrawal but then you will start to feel better.

      Good luck to you and keep me posted on your progress!

  50. Pingback: Healing PCOS Acne with Diet

  51. Pingback: Are Low Carb Diets Really Necessary? | The Primal Parent

  52. Pingback: Two Diets to Control Acne | The Primal Parent

  53. I was wondering if you have any ideas for detoxing excess estrogen? I was talking to a functional medicine doc, and his opinion is that I have a lot of symptoms of estrogen overload.

    • Sile,

      I’m glad you mention it! Detoxing excess estrogen is an important part of regaining hormonal health. There are many types of herbs you can take and specific vegetables you can eat, and lifestyle changes you can make that will help your body get rid of excess estrogen (often in the form of xenoestrogens). For example, eating cruciferous veggies (if you don’t tolerate cruciferous veggies you can take a supplement containing the phytochemical indole-3-carbinol or DIM), taking milk thistle to improve liver function which detoxes estrogens out of the body, avoiding chemicals and plastics which all contain xeno-estrogens which mimic estrogen, eating hormone free meat, exercising and sweating more.

      I did all of these things myself for years and while I never noticed a difference immediately (of course I was hoping for a silver bullet), I would imagine that all of these positive changes contributed to my success overcoming the condition.

  54. Pingback: High Carb Diets Can Cause Morning Sickness | The Primal Parent

  55. Dear Primal Parent,

    I am in desperate need of help. I was sort of diagnosed with PCOS 4 yrs ago..but Ive been strict Paleo for over a year and thought I could handle going off the pill..

    Well here is what has happened, I went off the pill after being on for 10 yrs (originally for Acne) in the end of January…and things started out ok. My libido went up, and i was happy. Then when it came to to have my period, it never came but i still had symptoms, cramps and ravenous hunger etc.

    Then another month went by, same thing, so i thought my body is just learning and i’ll wait it out. Then, i started having a steady bloated abdomen and pain, my weight shot up, body fat increased, and was feeling really really lousy.

    So in my mind, i decided that obviously this was a big mistake going off the pill because i had not has a period on months and was in pain and bloated and I need to go back on, because i was feeling horrible and really needed my life back.

    So that is what i did.

    Oh BOY did i ever screw up, I started the pill 7 days ago, and I have been completely bed-ridden, excruciating pain, bloated abdomen, unbearable hunger, terrible headaches and literally can not do anything.

    I have missed the gym and am definitely retaining water, I look like i’ve gained 20 lbs over night. I NEVEr take pain killers but this is bad so i started to.

    Oh! just so you know, I am Canadian and in the US with no insurance, I booked a ticket home to Canada for Monday as soon as the doctors offices open and will be seeing my GP, Gyno, Endo etc.

    I am just writing because perhaps someone can offer solace in the meantime…

    I am a wreck and so upset that I have done this.

    What in god’s name is happening? How can i provide relief? Other than heating pad and ibuprofen.

    Also, I should mention that I started incorporating carbs back into my diet over the last month or so, just a little fruit nothing major…just went from 50g carbs per day – to between 50-100 – is this the weight gain? or is it he hormones? Is it just water retention? I am pretty freaked out about it…

    How should I eat? What should I take? Should I not have gone on the pill? I am so confused..and a little nuts from these hormones :( :(

  56. Peggy,
    This sounds like exactly what I am looking for to heal from pcos. I don’t want to go on spirolactane or any other kind of drug and know as a yoga teacher and massage therapist that the body will heal itself when given the correct tools to work with. I have so many nutritional deficiencies starting with all gluten,zinc, magnesium, calcium, etc. The more yoga I do, the more sensative my body gets and the less unhealthy foods it can tolerate. My brain sometimes doesn’t work right,(meaning spacey, can’t focus/concentrate, forget words, mix up sentences, not like this as a kid) I’m hypoglycemic, just got blood work done and my Dhea is too high, and have constant digestive issues. I live on the east coast and am wondering if it’s worth having U.S.Wellness ship this meat out to me or to find a place closer to me. Also Did your androgen levels go down quickly with this diet? I work very hard physically and have endured a tremendous amount of stress in my life. I, too, had ovarian cysts rupture as well. I can’t figure out what the remedy is for food. I know that high protein is key for me, it’s just finding the cleanest protein available and enough of it that is the challenge. Any advice you can give on making the transition to this diet would be great. And also would you recommend Insulite Laboratories and their cleanse regime to help get me started? Any thing you can share would be awesome, this site is an answered prayer, thank you for all of your hard work and reseach!

  57. Peggy,
    I’m also curious about what you know about coffee.I’ve been told to stay away from it because it makes my adrenals over work, throwing cortisol levels and eventually hormones off. I miss coffee, I use organic yerba mate now, but it’s not the same. I’ve even considered buying techino because I miss the taste. Any links or correlations to the acidity in caffeine with Pcos?
    Thank you!!

  58. Hi Peggy and everyone else!!

    I was diagnosed with mild pcos back in november…. regular cycles and everything normal except for this stupid extra hair growth! Anyway…in an attempt to cure myself of the pcos and get pregnant I decided to clean up my diet and go paleo. Everything’s great in terms of digestive improvements and skin is clearer etc but……my cycles have gone from regular to irregular! I had a 46 day cycle, then a 28, then 30, then 41 and now I’m at day 24 of this cycle and pretty sure I haven’t ovulated. I’m worried that this is caused by going paleo?? Unless it’s just the stress of the diagnosis followed by pressure to conceive? I’m really stressing out over what to do and what to eat and feeling like I’m never going to get pregnant!! Going crazy over here so would really appreciate your thoughts!

  59. Hi there,
    I have been trying Paleo for the past year, failing for bits in between. I have been almost 100% for 2 months but am having trouble. I feel bloated and gassy, my weight is going up instead of down ( i am 5’8 and i weighed 197.9 to start, lost 6 lbs and now am back up to 196). I am weight lifting and doing cardio 4 to 5 times a week. I am losing my hair, my finger nails are peeling and i am still tired. I am eating a little dairy and a lil fruit. I want to feel as good as good as everyone else is but i am not. I just read this post and am wondering if i should head in your direction, with no veg, and just meat and fat. I just dont want to see the scale go up and more hair fall out!!!! Thank-you.

    • Hello Alison,

      the same thing happened to me while on strict paleo: hair, nails, feeling tired,cicle not getting much better…so I havent figured it out yet, but I aded a lot more fruit, Oj, dairy, oysters, liver, also potato, sugar, and some supllements to shift the metabolism in the right direction, and I feel better. Still not great, but energy levels are much better, nails and hair also.

  60. Pingback: My Indispensible Resources | The Very Lazy Cook

  61. I thoroughly enjoyed this article. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 16. It was discovered because I had only had one period by this time, and the ob/gyn found it right away. Of course, they put me on birth control. It did what it was supposed to do for a few months, but the side effects were unbearable. When they changed brands, I began having a period every 2 weeks. Once I got to college, I stopped taking it altogether.

    To make a long story short, I’ve had stomach/digestive issues all my life. I saw several doctors who could never tell me what was wrong. A friend told me about “Eat Right for your Type,” so I figured I’d give it a shot. I am also type O, and cutting out wheat gluten and dairy helped immensely!

    After I was married, a new ob/gyn put me on Metformin and assured me I should be pregnant soon. I took it for a year and wasn’t pregnant. It didn’t even give me periods. After a year, and against my doctor’s wishes, I stopped taking it.

    I have since started seeing a homeopath and we are trying to fix this naturally. I’ve recently heard more and more about the paleo diet, and I’d like to try it. My husband and I have our fourth anniversary next week, and we still want children desperately. Thank you for sharing your story and what works for you. Like you said, everyone’s symptoms are different, but I’m willing to try what has worked for another. Hopefully, it’ll work for me too!!

  62. Pingback: Inspired Fit Strong – Favorite Reads of the Week: 06/23/12

  63. Pingback: Q&A: Oily Skin and Hair, Alternatives to Caffeine | The Primal Parent

  64. Hi Peggy

    I just discovered this Primal/Paleo diet this moment when i came across your blog. I first got my period when i was 9 and a half years old. But my periods have always been delayed so I would get period around 10 times in a year. However in the last 2-3 years I have been having extremely irregular periods to the point where i didnt have periods for a year. I went to the doc who basically just said that i need to lose a lot of weight and that most prolly i was PCOS. Since then I have been doing lots of research on PCOS and early this year i came across soulcysters where everyone mentioned taking femaprin a vitex to regulate periods. I have never taken any form of medication (except for pills for Migraines which i suffer from) so within 4 days of taking femaprin i got my period, I was over ecstatic! I had periods from january till april with a period of 4 weeks in between then 5 then 7 and then it stopped. i love eating meats and fish but i try taking veggies as well. i have no idea whether I am allergic to vegetables as you are, but i gain weight as soon as i eat any for of carbs of course.. i guess my question is what would you suggest i do.. i would like to get pregnant soon but i havent been TTC. The problems that i do have is over weight, no periods, eczema (which i have always had) and migraines (cheese, too much chocolate, white wine triggers it off)

    awaiting your reply!!!

    • I would start by eliminating FODMAPs (if you are not familiar you can google it). It may not be that you are sensitive to all carbs but to specific carbs, which are many. There are also many vegetables which can produce symptoms. Sugar and dairy are included. If you are strict with eliminating these foods you will probably see a huge change.

  65. Pingback: Primal PCOS'ers? - Page 5 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 5

  66. Pingback: the purple prose of petunia pettigrew - Page 143 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 143

  67. Thank you for this post! I’ve learned most of what you wrote here in various places over the past few years, but you’ve pulled it all together here for me in one great article. I have PCOS, insulin resistance, and issues with anxiety, which are all related. When I was eating healthier in the past my PCOS symptoms disappeared. I haven’t been doing well with that lately (I also have disordered eating) so it’s become worse and I currently have unsettling ovary pain. However, I know 100% that if I can get control over my eating and at least cut out most refined sugar and flour, I will improve. Luckily I don’t have the problems with vegetables that you have. I’m starting today (once again) to improve my diet, and I hope I can stick with it. I’ve bookmarked this article for future reference. It’s good to know that drugs and doctors aren’t needed and that we can fix this on our own.

  68. than you for sharing you are gold thanks

  69. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog so far. I’ve been dealing with PCOS since my early twenties. I’ve tried low carb high protein diet with healthy fats but I’ve been getting such awful gallbladder attacks. Anytime I have eggs or butter or a high fat food I end up in severe pain. Therefore, it has lead me back to a more plant based diet. I also find it soothing to use sprouted brown rice. I also find eating raw plant foods so hard to digest so I lightly steam.
    Anyway, my question is whether you have concerns about overtaxing your liver with a high fat/protein diet? Also how do you prevent yourself from getting parasites or worms from uncooked meat and fish? Do you supplement with anything else?

  70. I stil have horrible cystic acne at 38 years old. In the last year I’ve developed pain in the area of my right ovary. It’s cyclical and awful. I used to have really high insulin levels and was morbidly obese. I lose weight with a paleo diet and have maintained my weight for two years. I never thought about a vegetable allergy causing the acne. I easily eat 10 times more vegetables than I did on my vegetarian diet, because I pigged out on starch all day instead of eating real plants.

    Since I can’t afford allergy testing, I guess it’s time to do another Whole30 and figure out what the problem is.

  71. Hello, Peggy,

    I have a couple of questions as a PCOS sufferer, but will first tell you a bit about my case.

    First, I have done any allergy test and it came out that I was allergic to Shellfish. Everything else is fine. Secondly, I have been following this diet from the “ovarian Cyst Miracle” by Carol Foster. Basically she maintains that an alkalizing, organic diet rich in raw sprouts and veggies is key. She of course states to only take in complex carbs other than veggies, and that we should get no less than 40 carbs per day. Thirdly, I have been on Metformin and Birth control for a very long time and am not sure how to get off of these.

    Despite staying away from shellfish, I still have to take anti-histamines every single day in order to keep hive outbreaks from occurring. At one time in my life I went into anaphylactic shock and nearly died.

    I have been eating well, all organic, rich in veggies, reduced meat content, carbs through long grain brown rice, no dairy at all, lots of spring water, while still maintaining my drug regimen of birth control and the Metformin . I have lost some weight but not much, but I still have these insulin problems such that I feel like I’m floating, get weak, and often have headaches and have no energy. And of course I still have a lot of facial hair that I must shave along my neck area. I’m not sure if it’s because I am still on these drugs and the drugs are preventing me from healing, or because I haven’t balanced my hormones and the insulin resistance issues with the right diet.

    I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to adjust my diet and nutrition properly to cure my problems while on these drugs, but I’m too afraid to get off of them. Do you know if I should just cease taking them, or see a specialist of some kind to adjust them and the nutrition? I’ve been on them so long I don’t know how my body is supposed to feel naturally. Do you have a recommendation for a type of specialist to seek help from?

    The other question is: why don’t you eat veggies from a PCOS theoretical standpoint? I know you are allergic, but most of us aren’t allergic to veggies. So, what is it about veggies that is a sufficient cause to keep PCOS women from consuming them?

    THank you for your time and for your consideration.

    Sally

  72. Hi Peggy,

    Did you find relief from Hirutism with Paleo? How soon? Did you have to cut out carbs too or follow the immune protocol?

    Thanks,
    Sarah

  73. Pingback: I Didn’t Just “Manage” My Condition, I Beat It, and Wiped the Floor With It | Mark's Daily Apple

  74. can ou tell me what a typical day is for you as far as your diet?

  75. Pingback: When Everybody Else’s Prescription Fails, Make Up Your Own | The Primal Parent

  76. Pingback: Insulin resistance and weight loss | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

  77. Pardon me if out of place, but is there any link between fibroids and PCOS?

  78. I absolutely loved reading your blog. This made me feel not alone. Acne, hair on my face, tummy, lots on my arms,… losing the hair on my head, infertility, miscarriages, overweight.. keep losing 5, gaining back 10, depression, every single thing on the s/s list. I am a vegetarian. all of the changes you mentioned are the foods I live on…. oy vey.

  79. I almost cried when I found this site. My 18 year old daughter has been dealing with some of these issues for years.Her doctors just don’t seem to want to deal with her.She has been prescribed birth control pills that just don’t do a thing for her-except make things worse.She has been dealing with severe acne and scarring for years.her hip bone popped out of the socket while running track in the 8th grade.She has constant aches and pain and depression and anxiety.She recently started putting on weight .Sometimes she will go through spells for weeks at a time where she comes home from school and goes straight to bed and sleeps for the rest of the day.She has no energy.About a year ago an endocronologist told her that she was high risk for PCOS,but just put her the pill and sent her on her way.She has recurrent kidneystones.They are calcium stones-so we’re thinking magnesium is an issue.-an herbalist told her this.We never thought that it could be anything to do with food allergies.She has an appointment in three days to see another gyno about possible PCOS.I can’t wait to show her this site!Maybe we can start doing something to finally help her!!!THANK YOU FOR THIS!

  80. Pingback: Paleo Recipe Ground Turkey

  81. I found this post really enlightening, especially when combined with and backed up by similar posts about diet and PCOS by other people. My PCOS has been pretty well controlled on Yasmin for about eight years, so I’ve had no reason to do any research on it, but recently the symptoms have been reoccurring. I was amazed to find that 80% of women with PCOS are insulin resistant and that I can probably control it just by changing my diet. So good to know!

    But my big question is: what do you drink? I already drink a lot of water and can happily go a whole day drinking nothing else, or just some milk. But sometimes I want something different (and, let’s be honest, something sweet). I also don’t drink coffee or alcohol. What are some alternatives you have found, especially for cold drinks in summer?

  82. Pingback: Annoying side effect health problems that come with PCOS | The PCOS Project

  83. I just ran across this and I’m very excited to try this. I have PCOS and take metformin, but still suffer symptoms like crazy. Last year I tried a very strict diet which reduced simple grains and GAINED WEIGHT. Maybe it was the vegetables and fruit I ate. What about coffee? That is the one thing I have SO MUCH trouble giving up.

  84. Hi Peggy,
    I LOVE your site. So much information. I haven’t been diagnosed with pcos but I had female hair loss that started at 17 along with acne. Both of which I still have at 40. I am assuming these are hormonal issues. Other than eating primal did you do anything else to reverse or help your hair loss?

  85. Pingback: Digestive and Intestinal Problems with PCOS | PCOS Boss | Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Guide - Take back your health, happiness, & well-being!