I am a 17 year old woman. I am five feet six inches tall and weigh 75kg. I’ve been suffering  from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) for a while and have been on medication. In spite  of swimming and going to the gym regularly, I haven’t been able to lose weight. Is there an  ayurvedic treatment that might help? Name withheld on request

Whether obesity causes PCOS or vice versa, both conditions have common factors that make it difficult for women with PCOS to lose weight. A normal reproductive cycle is regulated by  changing levels of hormones produced by the pituitary gland and the ovaries. The pituitary  gland produces follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), which  control the growth and release of eggs in the ovaries. Your ovaries secrete the hormones  oestrogen and progesterone, which prepare the lining of the uterus to receive a fertilized egg.  The ovaries also produce some male hormones.

If the egg isn’t fertilized, oestrogen and progesterone secretion decline and the lining of the uterus is shed during menstruation. In PCOS, when ovulation fails, the pituitary produces more LH in an effort to trigger ovulation. The follicular cells of ovaries respond to it by secreting more male hormones. These male hormones cause many of the signs and symptoms of PCOS. Doctors don’t know the cause of ovulation failure, but the factors  that probably play a role are excess insulin, inflammation and hereditary factors.

According to Ayurveda, PCOS is a Kapha – Vata imbalance. Opt for Kapha-balancing lifestyle habits as they reduce insulin resistance.

● Cut back on sweet, cold, oily and heavy foods, excess fruit juice, potatoes, dates, black gram, bananas, coconut, yogurt, mayonnaise, fullcream milk and meats. Instead eat plenty of fruits such as pomegranate, watermelons, apples, berries, cherries, apricots and papaya;  vegetables like broccoli, sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, beans, fennel, lettuce, ginger, peas, peppers, spinach; nuts like walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Sesame seeds, horse gram, wholegrains, barley, corn and brown rice are also good for you.

● Take Vata-Kapha balancing medications that regulate the menstrual cycle. Try Sapthasaram kashayam*, Sukumaram kashayam*, Varanadi kashayam*, Raja pravarthini vati*, Thriphala choornam*.

● Exercise for 30 minutes a day, four to five days a week.

● Apply a mixture of yogurt and honey all over your body before showering. Or massage  yourself with Eladi Keram before bathing.

*Available at shops selling herbal products.

If you have a question for Dr Shyam, send a mail to Wellbeing, Friday, Gulf News, PO Box 6519, Dubai, UAE, or fax 04 3421039. You may also email friday@gulfnews.com