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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOD) is one of the most important gynecological disorders among women. Data suggests that one in five women suffer from PCOS in India. The symptoms of PCOD include menstrual disorders, hirsutism (unwanted hair growth), acne, baldness and infertility. It also changes in endocrine hormones (increased levels of androgen, estrogen prolactin and decreased level of progesterone), and metabolic disorders (insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes)1. Different conventional medicines like metformin, clomiphene citrate and glucocorticoids have been used, which are associated with side effects2. So there is an urgent need for some alternative herbal supplements. Ayurveda, the ancient Indian herbal system of medicine has several herbs that are particularly beneficial for women due to their bioactive compounds.
Scientific name: Rubus idaeus L.
Common name: Raspberry, Wild Red
Part used: leaves
Red raspberry is a shrub with arching, prickle-covered stems; flowers are white or greenish white; fruit is red and rounded. It helps to relief of menstrual cramps and labor stimulator. The anti-androgenic property of this plant causes decrease in androgens levels in patients with PCOS3.
Bioactive compounds: The leaf phenolic composition is similar to that of the precious fruits or even richer and higher4. The main bioactive compounds in berry leaves are chlorogenic acid, phenolic acids, esters, flavonols, anthocyanins, procyanidins, phytoestrogens, biochanin A, daidzein, genistein and formononetin.
Scientific name: Mentha spicata L.
Common name: Garden mint, Lamb mint, English mint
Part used: Leaves
Aromatic herb with erect, square-shaped stems; oval-shaped leaves that have pointed tips and toothed edges; flowers are pink, light purple or white. It includes enhancement of the immune system, boosting blood circulation, and alleviating cardiac troubles. Ayurveda strongly advocates the effectiveness of spearmint tea for relieving gastrointestinal troubles, soothing the stomach and colic pain in infants, optimize hormonal levels, relieving stress and abdominal cramp5. Drinking of spearmint tea could reduce the level of androgens in women with hirsutism.
Bioactive compounds: It contains limonene, dihydrocarvone, cineol and menthol4.
Scientific name: Matricaria chamomilla L.
Common name: Chamomile
Part used: flower
Chamomile is an annual plant with erect stem; flower heads are placed separately, and the golden yellow tubular florets with a glandulous tube. This is often referred to as the “star among medicinal species.” Its multitherapeutic, cosmetic, and nutritional values have been established through years of traditional and scientific use and research. Chamomile also known as German or Hungarian chamomile, has been used for centuries in traditional medicines in many Countries6. European traditional medicine, it was used for tension and related issues such as nervous dyspepsia, tension headaches, and sleeplessness, and was considered especially useful for children. Chamomile herbal tea is most famous worldwide consumed more than one million cups per day. It decrease in the symptoms of PCOS and the secretion of LH, FSH, and estradiol.
Bioactive compounds: Terpenoids, flavonoids, coumarins and polyacetylenes are considered the most important constituents.
Scientific name: Ocimum basilicum L.
Common name: Tulsi or tulasi, basil
Part used: Whole plant
The holy basil plant is a small annual or short-lived perennial shrub. The stems are hairy and the fragrant leaves are green or purple; flowers are tubular, purple or white in color.
Tulsi, the Queen of herbs has been used in the Indian traditional system of medicine for hundreds of years. The leaves of this plant have been traditionally used in coughs, colds, asthma, and bronchitis7. It is an antiandrogenic herb, reduce the effect of cortisol and, reduce facial hair growth and weight gain.
Bioactive compounds: Alkaloids, terpenoids, coumarins, tannins, flavonoids, saponins, quinones, phenolic acids, and phenolics.
Scientific name: Saraca asoca
Common name: Ashoka, Asoka
Part used: Bark
It is a small and evergreen tree; bark is dark brown or grey or almost black with a warty surface; flowers are fragrant and yellowish orange.
It is mentioned in Ramayana (one of the great Hindu epics) and is considered sacred. There is a maxim associated with the ashoka tree that the very touch of it removes all worries and grief. It has been part of traditional medicine, where it finds its uses in various gyne-cological problems such as leucorrhoea, menorrhagia, dys-functional uterine bleeding, and bleeding-hemorrhoids. In current Ayurvedic practices, it is considered an important medicine for various gynecological problems, especially in menstrual disorders, dysfunctional uterine bleeding and menorrhagia8.
Bioactive compounds: Flavonoids like epicatechin, catechin, procyanidin p2, 11- deoxyprocyanidin B, procyanidin, leukocyanidin, etc.
Scientific name: Asparagus racemosus
Common name: Shatavari
Part used: Roots
Asparagus racemosus is a woody climber; leaves are like pine needles; flowers are white and have small spikes. In Ayurveda, this amazing herb is known as the “Queen of herbs”, because it promotes love and devotion. It helps in treating Pre-Menstrual Symptoms, dysmenorrhea, infertility, irregular menstrual cycle, menopause, lactation, and revitalizes the female reproductive system mainly due to the presence of phytoestrogen9.
Bioactive compounds: Triterpene saponnins shatavarin I-IV that are phytoestrogen compounds.
Scientific name: Linum usitatissimum
Common name: Alsi
Part used: seeds
It is an annual flowering plant. Flaxseed is also recommended for the treatment of endocrine disorder and regulation of female sex hormones. Spearmint and flax seeds have an antiandrogenic effect, and a significant decrease in testosterone levels was reported following the treatment of PCOS patients with spearmint. Therefore, flaxseed have been recommended and used for the treatment of PCOS10.
Bioactive compounds: Carvone, cis-carveol, limonene cineol
Scientific name: Taraxacum officinale
English name: Dandelion
Part used: root
A flowering herb and perennial plant, leaves at the base of the plant, flower is dark yellow and solitary with a smooth, hollow stem. Scientifically, it is proved that it helps in weight control and decrease fat accumulation. Dandelion root extract reduces PCOS symptoms by helping the body eliminate the excess hormones accumulated in the liver. It is also known as an excellent tonic for the liver. It also removes the toxins from the body, thus helping women suffering from menstrual pain. It contains the bioactive compounds that may increase urine production and decrease pain and swelling11.
Bioactive compounds: Carbohydrates, carotenoids, diterpenes, fatty acids, flavonoids, phenolic acids, phytosterols, polysaccharides, sesquiterpene lactones, and triterpenes.
Scientific name: Foeniculum vulgare
English name: Fennel
Part used: seeds
Fennel is a perennial and erect herb with hollow stem and yellow flowers. The dried seeds are used in food. The dried seeds and oil are also used as medicine. fenugreek seed extracts help to treat ovarian cyst and also symptoms of PCOS12.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a well
known Mediterranean aromatic plant, which
is used in traditional medicine and as a
spice. Diuretic, analgesic, and antipyretic
activities have also been found in the fennel
fruit as well as antioxidant activity
Bioactive compounds: Isoflavones, prenylated and flavonoids.