Lately, myo-inositol seems to be the other “m”-word in the PCOS world (the first being metformin). There is a lot of very positive research coming out about myo-inositol and how it helps women with PCOS. I am happy to say that it can help with a whole lot more! I do want to state up front that this is not a miracle pill. It needs to be used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle. Let’s take a closer look…
What is myo-inositol?
Myo-inositol is NOT a pharmaceutical drug. It is a naturally occurring substance produced in the human body that belongs to the vitamin B complex group. Myo-inositol is one of nine different types of inositol and can be found naturally in many foods such as fruits, nuts and beans.It is a precursor to a number of “signaling molecules” that essentially tell cells how to behave. Of the nine different types of inositol, two have insulin-sensitizing capabilities: myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol (My focus for this article is going to be on myo-inositol.) Myo-inositol is integral to properly functioning insulin-receptors and has also been linked to the activation of serotonin (a “feel good” hormone) receptors, which could relieve depression and improve appetite, mood and anxiety (1, 2).
PCOS has been linked to a deficiency in myo-inositol. Myo-inositol can be synthesized by the body from food, but when we are already deficient, the lack of myo-inositol can impact the ability of the body to be sensitive to insulin. Women with PCOS are also known to have a defect in their insulin-signaling pathways which are heavily dependent upon inositol-containing substances (phosphoglycan mediators). Supplying extra myo-inositol appears to temporarily correct the malfunctioning insulin pathways and reduce the signs and symptoms of insulin resistance. So in addition to helping with insulin sensitivity, what else can myo-inositol do?
Helps acne and hirtuism
A study conducted in Italy with 50 PCOS women who took myo-inositol for three months, found that plasma LH, testosterone, free testosterone and insulin were significantly reduced. In 6 months of taking myo-inositol, both hirsutism and acne decreased. The researchers concluded, “MYO [inositol] administration is a simple and safe treatment that ameliorates the metabolic profile of patients with PCOS, reducing hirsutism and acne.”
Induces menses and increases chances of ovulation
In another study conducted in Italy in 2007, researchers followed 25 women with oligo-amenorrhea (irregular menses) or amenorrhea (no menses) due to PCOS. Myo-inositol and folic acid were given daily as INOFOLIC. Those treated had at least one menstrual cycle, and of these, seventy two percent continued ovulating normally. Forty percent of the women became pregnant and the study concluded that, “Myo-inositol is a simple and safe treatment that is capable of restoring spontaneous ovarian activity and consequently fertility in most patients with PCOS. This therapy did not cause multiple pregnancy.”
Helps with weight loss and appetite control
A randomized double-blind trial which is the gold standard of research, gave 92 women either 400 mcg of folic acid as a placebo or 4 g myo-inositol plus 400 mcg folic acid. Researchers discovered that ovulation significantly increased, as did the frequency of normal progesterone values in the luteal phase and estradiol levels in the myo-inositol group.
This study noted less metabolic benefits to those women who were overweight, but also that the myo-inositol group lost a significant amount of weight and had lowered leptin (an appetite regulating hormone) levels. The researchers concluded that, “These data support a beneficial effect of myo-inositol in women with oligomenorrhea and polycystic ovaries in improving ovarian function.”
Improves egg quality
Another study showed that high levels of myo-inositol within follicles may be a marker for good follicular development and good oocyte or egg quality. The researchers stated, “We propose that higher concentrations of MI (Myo-inositol) and E2 (estradiol) in human FF (follicular fluid) appear to play a role in follicular maturity and provide a marker of good quality oocytes. In conclusion, follicles containing good quality oocytes have higher concentrations of MI (Myo-inositol) in FF (follicular fluid)”
Another study published last April measured the effects of both myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol in women undergoing fertility treatments. The results showed that women who received myo-inositol had better quality and more mature eggs. They also had more pregnancies than those who took d-chiro-inositol.
Ask your doctor about supplementing with myo-inositol
This is your health and if you like what you just read, then talk to your doctor about taking myo-inositol. Chances are your doctor may have never even heard of myo-inositol as a therapy for PCOS. My advice is to be, “A Diva at the Doctor.” Advocate for yourself. Bring copies of these studies and articles to your appointment. Ask for their support. If they aren’t receptive, think about whether this is a partnership you want to continue. When a supplement has minimal to no side effects and shows so many results, I think it is worth fighting for. I take a combination myo-inositol and d-chiro inositol called Ovasitol. You can read more about it here. It rounds out my supplement routine which also includes PCOS Diva Essentials, Ultra DHA and Vitamin D. You can order all three at 10% less here…
2.”Metabolic Brain Diseases”; Effects of myo-inositol versus fluoxetine and imipramine pretreatments on serotonin 5HT2A and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in human neuroblastoma cells; Brink CB, et al; 2004