SpectraCell Blog

PCOS: Addressing the Root Cause

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Mon, May 13, 2019 @ 02:08 PM

AdobeStock_98525490What exactly is PCOS?

One of the most common endocrine disorders in young women and leading cause of infertility in American women of childbearing age is the condition known as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). Like other syndromes, PCOS is actually a cluster of symptoms, most notable of which is an unusually high level of androgen hormones (male sex hormones) in women. The name originates from the presence of ovarian “cysts”, which are actually immature egg follicles that never descend into the uterus, remaining in the ovary and thus appearing as cysts. Ovulation does not occur in women with PCOS, so these follicles that normally turn into a corpus luteum (egg ready for fertilization) remain undeveloped and consequently, infertility results.

What role do androgens play in this unique syndrome?

The key diagnostic criteria for PCOS is high androgen levels, although the role of androgens in women is commonly misunderstood. The most potent androgen hormone is testosterone, and thus androgen hormones are typically thought of as male hormones, although androgens (including but not limited to, testosterone) exist and serve an important role in women as well. But in PCOS patients, the androgen levels have become too high relative to other hormones. DHEA and androstenedione (important precursor hormones to estrogen) are also androgens, existing in both male and females.

How does PCOS present clinically?

Clinical manifestations of PCOS include acne, oily skin, unusual facial hair in women from the high testosterone (also known as hirsutism), infertility, insulin resistance and obesity. From a hormone perspective, women with PCOS will have high testosterone levels. In addition, they tend to be obese. Since fat cells contain the hormone aromatase which converts testosterone to estrogen (this occurs in adipose tissue of both men and women and is called aromatization), PCOS women can have high testosterone and high estrogen. Another hallmark of PCOS is insulin resistance (precursor to diabetes) which contributes markedly to weight gain and obesity. Since insulin resistance is indicative to poor glycemic control, reversing the blood sugar regulation dysfunction that occurs in PCOS is paramount to treatment.

Other hormone indications in PCOS patients is high luteinizing hormone (LH) and low follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Hyperandrogenic women (high testosterone) with PCOS tend to have low serum SHBG concentrations as well.

What role do micronutrients play in treating PCOS?

PCOS is first and foremost a hormone-linked syndrome. Micronutrients profoundly affect hormones, including insulin – the hormone responsible for shuttling blood glucose into cells. When insulin is chronically high, it becomes the key contributor to weight gain and metabolic dysregulation that is associated with PCOS.

Inositol is a B-complex associated nutrient that plays a very important role in cell to cell communications, which work hand-in-hand with hormone signaling. Studies indicate that exogenously administered inositol improves insulin activity (dosages of 1200 mg D-chiro-inositol were assessed).1 Evidence even goes to far as to suggest that insulin resistance in PCOS is due to inositol deficiency and that repletion of this key nutrient can significantly improve circulating hormone levels and ovulation rate.

Lipoic acid is another key nutrient in the treatment of PCOS. It enhances glucose uptake into muscles, improves insulin sensitivity and lowers triglycerides. Similarly, vitamin D deficiency is common in PCOS. This vitamin, which is actually considered a pro-hormone helps normalize the menstrual cycle. Chromium has been shown to benefit clinical manifestations of PCOS as well by facilitating the binding of insulin to receptors in the body, thus improving insulin sensitivity.

In reality, any nutrient that affects hormone production, weight management, fertility or glycemic control will potentially impact PCOS as well.

How to address the problem

Having a complete hormone panel run, along with a micronutrient analysis would be a good starting point in understanding what imbalances need to be addressed and how to correct them. Order your tests today! 

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Interested in learning more about PCOS? Register for our upcoming webinar on The PCOS Environmental Roadmap: How to Reverse PCOS and Begin Recovery.

References

1. Nestler JE, Jakubowicz DJ, Reamer P, et al. Ovulatory and metabolic effects of D-chiroinositol in the polycystic ovary syndrome. N Engl J       Med 1999;340:1314-1320.

2. Masharani U, Gjerde C, Evans J et al. Effects of controlled-release alpha lipoic acid in lean, nondiabetic patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. J       Diabetes Sci Technol 2010;4:359-364.

3. Fang F, Ni K, Cai Y et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized      controlled trials. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2017;26:53-60. 

4.  Lydic M, McNurlan M, Bembo S et al. Chromium pioclinate improves insulin sensitivity in obese subjects with polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertil     Steril 2006;86:243-246.

Topics: Nutrition, endocrine disorder, Functional Medicine, Hormone Imbalance, Intracellular Micronutrient Testing, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, PCOS, PCOS and Micronutrients, PCOS and Insulin Resistance

Micronutrients: The Gateway to Cellular Health

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Fri, Mar 15, 2019 @ 03:34 PM

Cellular Function 101

Why is cellular function important?

Picture1Cell function is a direct indicator of cellular health. When cells are healthy and functioning optimally, a person is healthy. When cells are dysfunctional – for whatever reason – disease will result. This disease can manifest subtly with symptoms like weight gain or general fatigue, or it can manifest more acutely with symptoms like tumors or infections.

Virtually all the biochemical reactions that happen every second throughout the entire body occur inside cells. This is where enzymes, proteins, neurotransmitters and hormones are made. Inside the cell (intracellular) is where nutrients are utilized and energy is produced. If a cell does not function, the metabolic processes necessary to sustain life are compromised.

The cumulative effects of cell dysfunction = disease, fatigue, pain.

The cumulative effect of optimal cell function = health, vigor and energy.

Is there a way to measure cell function?

Yes. It is possible to measure cell function by measuring its metabolic response to an outside stimulus. In other words, a cell’s ability to adapt, grow and metabolize is a direct indicator of how well is it functioning. By subjecting a cell to a stressor (via altering its environment) and measuring its metabolic response, cell function can be quantified. The specific term for this is cellular response to mitogenic stimulation, which is a direct measure of cell function.

What type of cell is typically used to measure cell function?

SpectraCell® uses t-lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) to measure cell function, which is best measured with a nucleated cell that is closely tied to immune function. Lymphocytes satisfy both of these requirements. In fact, lymphocyte proliferation is widely accepted in the medical community as an accurate marker of cell function.

How do micronutrients affect cell function?

Profoundly. Micronutrients are the tools that a cell needs to do the biochemical work of living beings. All the metabolic reactions that happen inside the cell are dependent on micronutrients. Vitamins acts as coenzymes to biochemical reactions – if there is not enough of a vitamin present in the cell, the cell cannot do its job. This is also true for minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and certain metabolites. Similarly, if antioxidants are deficient, the oxidative stress that is a necessary byproduct of cell respiration will damage the cell. Antioxidants are tools needed to repair the cell.

By definition, a micronutrient deficiency = cellular dysfunction. Because even if there is a low amount of said nutrient but the cell still functions optimally, then the cell is not functionally deficient in that nutrient. Conversely, if there is an “ample” amount of the nutrient in the cell, but the cell still does not function as well as if it had more of said nutrient, then a functional deficiency of that particular nutrient exists – no matter how much is in the cell.

Micronutrient levels are irrelevant when measured in isolation. What matters is how micronutrient affects cell function (as measured by lymphocyte proliferation). This is what is meant by a functional micronutrient deficiency.

To learn more, register for this month's webinar Cellular Health and Longevity: Why SpectraCell?! 

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Topics: Cellular Health, Nutritional Testing, Functional Micronutrient Testing, Micronutrients and Cellular Health, Cell Function and Disease, Nutrition Month, Cell Function, Intracellular Micronutrient Testing