Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Phytic Acid, Inositol, PCOS Notes

If you're in the natural community, then you've probably adopted the generic assumption that phytic acid is harmful and should be avoided. Many call it an anti-nutrient, and most of the discussion about grains focuses on how to reduce or eliminate phytic acid from the diet. The same goes for soy and flaxseed to a lesser and different extent.

As I've continued researching the minority who doesn't respond well to GAPS, Paleo, and other WAPF/NT restrictive diets, I've come across the interplay of inotisol and phosphorous storage cycles as a potential connection to the list of complaints these people have after changing their diets to be healthier.

I've long acknowledged the fall out, but only broadly associated it with vague malnutrition and endocrine issues. In other words, when someone switched to a paleo diet and experienced negative symptoms, I would in the past say it might indicate underlying thyroid and adrenal insufficiency, or mismanagement of macronutrients that can't compensate for the missing food groups.

Inositol brings more clarity and connections to this picture. If you are experiencing symptoms such as thinning, brittle hair, hair loss, teeth erosion/decay, dry skin, bumpy skin, acne, PCOS symptoms, infertility, bloating, constipation, pancreatic issues/low bile/SIBO, insulin resistance/diabetes, etc, then maybe it's time to look at inositol before more diet restrictions.

Although it is sometimes still referred to as a B vitamin, it lost official status because the body can synthesize it in the gut using the glucose system. So it is not an essential nutrient. It is still an important substance to the body, however, as it is used for all systems in something called the secondary messenger system, or cell signaling.

Those familiar with gut health issues immediately see the red flag here. Normal bacterial balance and a normal glucose system are required to effectively synthesize this substance. Then the body has to convert it into various forms of inositol, each with a different purpose. IP6, for example, is noted for its potential anti-cancer behaviors. Myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol manage insulin and can help balance the endocrine system. It's also used to direct nerves, balance calcium, maintain cell membranes, breakdown fats, etc.

So, if your gut flora is unhealthy, or you have insulin/glucose/diabetic issues, then your ability to synthesize and convert this substance might be completely impaired.

It leads you to a chicken or the egg question. Is someone with weight problems and sugar or alcohol addiction in an unhealthy state because she is eating all the sugar and grains? (Side note: sugar, carb, and alcohol cravings are considered a sign of potential inositol deficiency. Inositol and choline, another b-vitamin helper, are both used to assist with alcohol issues.) Or is she attracted to the sugar and grains because her body craves a nutrient it desperately needs to manage intracellular cell signaling?

She might have polymorphisms that make her body less efficient at converting. She might have other comorbid conditions that prevent synthesis. And if she decides to remove all sugars and grains from her diet to get healthy without addressing the deficiency in this area, what happens?

I'll tell you what happens. She feels like crap as she withdraws from the chemical addiction to the sugar and gliadins. But, then she feels pretty good for awhile because she's removed so much inflammation from her body. Soon enough, however, she notices some disturbing trends. Weight loss stagnates. She starts to experience thyroid complaints such as dry, cracked skin, hair loss, headaches, fatigue, sensitivity to cold, acne...Her digestive system becomes sluggish. She develops insomnia, depression, anxiety, or even begins bipolar episodes.

On the surface, paleo takes the blame. But it seems to me that the underlying issue was revealed by the dietary change. The previous high carb/high sugar diet was like a food crutch. Addressing the underlying issue quickly before symptoms cause their own injuries and conditions is vital.

Even more interesting in the balance of this topic is the realization that inositol has no noted side effects. And when they reached sky high levels, 10 times the recommended amount, the only symptom noted by some participants was diarrhea.

Many forms of supplemental inositol are quite inexpensive, too. I did notice in my readings that women using d-chiro-inositol for PCOS require very high dosages of this converted form, which does appear to be pricier than some of the other forms. (Read more here.)

If you're experiencing a cluster of common endocrine symptoms, especially after restricting your diet such as by going on GAPS or Paleo, it might be worth it to research the inositol issue. It could also be a cheaper, easier option for healing compared to the longer road of finding a doctor who will order full blood work for the thyroid and adrenals, deciding on thyroid medication, testing for autoimmune conditions, etc.

Next time you feel a craving for sugar, breads and pastas, carbs in general, or alcohol and fizzy drinks, stop the self-shaming and start thinking about inositol!

Here are some of the links I came across while researching this topic:

"Animal and lab research has found that IP6 might be effective in preventing tumors from forming and slowing tumor growth. One small study done in humans found that IP6 might help ease the side effects of chemotherapy and improve quality of life in people with cancer." http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietandnutrition/inositol-hexaphosphate

"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."

"We conclude that, in lean women with the polycystic ovary syndrome, D-chiro-inositol reduces circulating insulin, decreases serum androgens, and ameliorates some of the metabolic abnormalities (increased blood pressure and hypertriglyceridemia) of syndrome X. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15251831

"The combined administration of MI and DCI in physiological plasma ratio (40:1) should be considered as the first line approach in PCOS overweight patients, being able to reduce the metabolic and clinical alteration of PCOS and, therefore, reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome."

One last note....be sure to research choline, which is considered another undercover B vitamin and helps inositol work in the body. Phosphatidylcholine is arguably the most bioavailable form. In my reading, it seems people need to take larges dosages of choline and inositol for best results.

Additional Wapf-skepticism on the blog:

Pregnant women and CLO

When you're less than a cow

Dem bunny crackers, tho. Pretty sure that addiction isn't inositol related!


  1. Does anyone know where to buy myo- inositol ? I can only find inositol at iherb or is it the same thing ?

  2. First of all let me tell you, you have got a great blog .I am interested in looking for more of such topics and would like to have further information. Hope to see the next blog soon. choline et inositol