Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What's That Pill? - D-Chiro Inositol

D-Chiro Inositol, DCI

Typical Dosage
600-1800mg daily

DCI is a member of the inositol family. It is known to be an important secondary messenger in insulin signal transduction. It can be found in buckwheat farinetta and carob. In double-blind studies, women with PCOS who received DCI experienced the following statistically significant benefits when compared with a control group: lowered free and total testosterone, lowered blood pressure, increased insulin sensitivity and a corresponding improvement in glucose disposal, and increased frequency of ovulation.(Wikipedia) It has also been shown to decrease circulating insulin and serum androgens in lean women with PCOS. (Published study by MJ Iuorno)
Chiral Balance, the leading US provider of DCI, offers this great video that explains DCI's effect.

My experience
I took 1800mg of Chiral Balance brand DCI for several months. I noticed a great reduction in the painful cystic acne on my face and better hair condition. I did not have a menstrual cycle on DCI until after I added Vitex, so I cannot be sure that DCI helped me. I have read in support groups that some women have had results with inositol but not DCI. I decided to discontinue my use of it due to the high costs.

Other's experiences
Do you want to share your DCI story, good or bad? Please email me! courtneylwallace(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject 'DCI Experience'

Friday, April 13, 2012

Throwing out 'I can' - replacing it with 'I WILL'

I realized that I don't believe in myself. I was trying to write motivational lines to help psych myself up for a crazy amount of work in the next few days/weeks. Eight lines through, it hit me - "can" is not as powerful as "will". My mom likes to say "The difference between tactful and tactless is less than a word." That resonated with me tonight.

Anyone can say they can do something, but it takes more gusto to say they will do something. I should be writing "I WILL SUCCEED", not "I can succeed". That one little word changes EVERYTHING. Instead of believing in myself, I'm giving myself a way out; a way that I can say "I tried" after failing. "WILL" is definite, final, certain, sure.

At this point I don't have the luxury of failure. I have to get better. I can't drain my grandparents' retirement savings. I can't continue hoping my husband will get a job. I have to take control. I have no one to help hold me accountable. I have to hold myself responsible for the situation I'm in. It was my decision to quit working. I know that I could not have predicted the drastic health problems that would arise after leaving - but I didn't plan for emergencies. I figured out how much I had in savings and how long we could live on it, but did not consider what would happen if things didn't go as planned. That was my mistake, and here I am.

I can't afford to go to the doctor so I have to do whatever is necessary to treat myself. I have to eliminate the root of my stress - my messy, unorganized house. When it's clean, I will eat better, exercise more and feel happier. That will enable me to go back to work. I have to do this soon. I've been out of work for 9 months. I just can't continue doing this.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What's That Pill? - N-Acetyl Cysteine

N-acetyl cysteine, NAC

Typical Dosage
250mg - 1800mg

NAC is a form of the amino acid l-cysteine. Homo-cysteine is an amino acid in the blood. An elevated level means that your metabolic processes are not working properly. Elevated homo-cysteine is associated with coronary artery disease, heart attack, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, cognitive impairment, and cervical cancer. Metformin has been shown to increase homo-cysteine levels, and, in general, women with PCOS have higher homo-cysteine levels. A medical study showed that people taking NAC for two months had a significant decrease in homocysteine levels. (Ovarian-cysts-pcos.com)
A study in Turkey comparing the usage of 1500mg of metformin daily to 1600 mg of NAC daily showed significant results - both treatments show decrease in BMI, fasting insulin, free testosterone and menstrual irregularity, and hirsutism, as well as lower cholesterol levels. (Published study by G. Oner) The beauty of NAC is the lack of side effects as compared to Metformin. However, if you are also taking clomid to achieve pregnancy, another study completed in Egypt compared Metformin and clomid against NAC and clomid. The Metformin/clomid combination saw a higher success rate of pregnancy. (Published study by H. Abu Hashim)
It's also been studied in Australia as a way to treat depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder. There are some links between PCOS and bipolar disorder, so this could be useful to you as well! (Published study by M. Berk) For more discussion about it's use with bipolar disorder, visit here
***NOTE - I do keep seeing this mentioned in my research - "It is recommended that persons taking the amino acid cysteine take at least three times as much vitamin C as cysteine to prevent the possibility of oxidized cysteine forming kidney stones. N-Acetyl-Cysteine is much more stable and resistant to being oxidized to an insoluble form. Nevertheless, it is wise to take at least as much vitamin C as N-Acetyl-Cysteine." (FutureScience.com) I have not found any studies to back that up, but Vit C is good for you anyway and who wants to risk kidney stones?

My experience
I've been on NAC for a couple of months now. I've had regular cycles every month while on it. My facial hair seems to be growing slower, and although I haven't been losing much weight, I'm not gaining any. I believe if I was eating a little better and exercising, I'd see more results from it, but so far I am very happy! I'm not taking the full dosage as recommended in the study, and still seeing results. I currently take Swanson's brand NAC, 600mg a day.

Other's experiences
Do you want to share your NAC story, good or bad? Please email me! courtneylwallace(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject 'NAC Experience'

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What's That Pill? - Vitex

Vitex, chasteberry, agnus castus, chaste tree, Abraham's balm, monk's pepper

Typical dosage
Capsule Form: Capsule form is the most widely used and studied form of Vitex. Nature's Way brand suggests 400mg 2x daily for 8-12 weeks, then once daily for continued maintenance. (This worked for me)
Natural-Fertility-Info.com suggests 1000mg daily, except during menstruation.
Tincture Form: 10-15 drops daily.
**I often see questions about taking Vitex during menstruation. Some bottles of Vitex say not to, while others don't mention it at all. I have been unable to find any substantial evidence pointing one way or another. Dalene Barton from Natural-fertility-info.com says "It is not going to hurt you to use Vitex during your period, we just feel it is best to let your body naturally cleanse and work on its own during the female bleeding time. Some herbalists feel it is fine to use Vitex during the female bleeding time." If it is easier for you to remember to take them everyday instead of stopping during menses, that's okay! **

Chasteberry induces the pituitary gland to free a lutenizing hormone (LH) and stop a follicle-stimulating (FSH) one. Vitex contains an active ingredient that binds to dopamine (D2) receptors in the hypothalamus/anterior pituitary, which action inhibits the release of prolactin. Decreased serum prolactin levels result in increased secretion of progesterone during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Vitex can help normalize the ratio of hormones required for normal menstrual function and fertility. Chasteberry can help to lower prolactin levels and aid in the normal functioning of the ovaries, thus providing opportunities for conception. High prolactin levels can also cause amenorrhea (absent menstrual cycles) (Vitamins-Supplements.org)
Vitex works slowly in the body, so do not expect permanent results for 1 to 6 months after beginning Vitex.
Translation - Vitex helps normalize your menstrual cycle by evening out your hormones. Increasing lutenizing hormones will assist with ovulation. High prolactin levels can stop your menstrual cycle. By restricting the release of prolactin, progesterone levels will increase, assisting in bringing on a menstrual cycle or helping carry a pregnancy.

My experience
I took Nature's Way brand capsules for 13 months. I had gone without a period for 19 months before that. I was only on Vitex for about a week and a half before I had a menstrual cycle. Every month following, my cycle would come back and get a little more normal. I had a cycle every month for 12 months.

Other's experiences
Do you want to share your vitex story, good or bad? Please email me! courtneylwallace(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject 'Vitex Experience'

It's Here! The Launch of my new What's That Pill? Series!

After staying up til 5am yesterday morning, I have finally prepared the first few posts in my new PCOS supplement series, What's That Pill? The goal of this series is to introduce you to natural supplements that can assist in the treatment of PCOS symptoms. Our society as a whole is beginning to realize that there is validity to natural, holistic treatments. I want to do my part to help spread awareness. So barring no internet disasters, you should see these soon:

Vitex - Tuesday, 4/10
N-Acetyl Cysteine - Thursday, 4/12
D-Chiro Inositol - Tuesday, 4/17

Hopefully I can get another few posts knocked out this week and be able to continue this series for a while! If you have any supplements you want me to discuss, or you would like to share your experiences with any supplement, please email me - courtneylwallace(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject 'What's That Pill?'

Monday, April 9, 2012

Is a professional organizer the answer?

I decided to email a few professional organizers today about possibly hiring one to help me tame my apartment. I really think that if everything was clean and organized, I'd feel better about myself, I could start cooking again, get healthier and go back to work. Sounds like a great plan, right? I just hope that this will work out for me. I really think it could make a difference, if the price is right. I think my grandmother will like the idea. She's been wanting me to get the place clean, she knows that I can't do it on my own, and she certainly can't help me.

Since our apartment complex is raising our rent by $150 if we renew the lease, we are moving. Again. I'm so sick of it. But what's worse is the inability to find a place. No one has anything open for our move-in date. And even if they do, I can't prove I have the income to afford an apartment without using my tax return. Well I can't file my taxes yet because I owe $3000 in self-employment taxes. Where the heck am I supposed to come up with that? I'm one big ball of crazy right now, and I'm still feeling hopeless. I started considering finding a long-term puppy sitter, moving all of our stuff to storage and living in a long-term hotel. At least then I'd have housekeeping. I don't want to part with my puppy, but if I have to, I have to.

I'm really beginning to think that Hubs is depressed. He is very sad about how my family thinks of him, and he wants to change our situation, but like me, he doesn't have the motivation to. I don't know what I need to do for him to help him out. It's pretty hard for a depressed person to try and cheer up another depressed person. It's much easier to wallow in self-pity together. My dad and I had a not so nice text conversation about Hubs last week that had Hubs crying, walking out the door and saying he wasn't coming back until he found a job so everyone would stop hating him. He didn't end up leaving, thank goodness - but I cried the rest of the night and again the next morning. How do you get a guy to go to a doctor and talk about his feelings?

We have a telephone appointment with the food stamp office on Tuesday. I'm hoping that we get some benefits. It will really help us out and take some burden off my grandparents. I've got to get all the paperwork together and faxed out to them today. The only thing I'm really worried about right now is my throat during the call. A neighbor gave us strep throat, and I'm afraid we'll have trouble talking. But I'm going to push through and do what I can.

Here's to trying desperately to stay optimistic when nothing is going right.