We are living in an age of insulin resistance. Excessive intake of calories and refined carbohydrates, decreased physical activity, and chronic stress increase insulin secretion and decrease insulin sensitivity. This creates a vicious circle of requiring more and more insulin to shuttle glucose into cells. Years or possibly even decades before the elevations in blood glucose and hemoglobin A1C associated with type 2 diabetes, fasting insulin increases, and this high insulin is at the core of metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Recently published research suggests that insulin resistance also doubles the risk of major depressive disorder, which will be discussed in part two of this blog. (1)
In the quest to disrupt this cycle of increasing insulin resistance and prevent future disease and complications, some of our most powerful and fast-acting tools are insulin sensitizing agents, both natural and pharmaceutical such as metformin, thiazolidinediones, berberine, and inositol.
This post will focus on inositol, a carbocyclic sugar found in a wide range of mammalian tissues, with higher concentrations in the heart and brain. Although it was historically known as vitamin B8, inositol is now considered a sugar alcohol. Of the nine different isomers of inositol, the most abundant in the human body are myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol. Because it can be synthesized from glucose by the kidneys and liver, inositol is not considered an essential nutrient.
Numerous clinical trials and meta-analyses have evaluated the effectiveness of inositol therapy for conditions including metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome, and fertility.
Novalee Spicer – CEO lab director
Inositol for PCOS – Does it Work?
The most frequent question providers and patients have about any nutritional supplement is, “Does it work?” Depending on the particular nutrient and indication, that research hasn’t always been done. But in the case of inositol for PCOS, a 2022 review of nine randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 612 patients concluded that myo-inositol appeared to be equally effective to metformin in lowering total testosterone and increasing sex hormone-binding globulin, but myo-inositol was actually more effective in lowering triglyceride levels and had fewer side effects. (2)
An additional RCT published the same year also found similar effects of metformin and myo-inositol on body mass index (BMI), body composition, hormonal profile, metabolism of glucose and insulin, and levels of adiponectin, a hormone associated with increased fat burning. There were no significant differences between the two treatments in women with PCOS. (3)