Are You Inositol Resistant?

If you have PCOS and are struggling to ovulate, chances are, you have heard about Inositol. Inositol is a sugar molecule both produced by the body but also found in particular foods. There are up to nine different forms of inositol, with myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol being the most commonly found in supplement form. Inositol has grown in popularity in the health and wellness space in the treatment of anovulation in women with PCOS, and for good reason. The evidence is extremely clear that inositol can be used as an effective treatment for both stimulating ovulation and improving insulin resistance in patients with PCOS. But, what if you have PCOS and have been taking inositol for months and haven’t noticed an improvement in your ability to ovulate or an improvement in your sugar balance? Are you just not taking the right dose or are you doing something wrong? 


As more and more studies are done on the efficacy and safety of inositol, researchers have also surprisingly found that there appears to be a certain subset of women with PCOS who do not respond to inositol. Although this appears to be a fairly small subset of women, if you have been taking inositol for over 6 months with no improvement in symptoms, you may be part of this subset of women known as “non-responders”. Although the studies are currently preliminary and we need more research, of the few studies that have been done, researchers have found that up to 35-38% of women with PCOS given 2-4 grams of inositol daily had limited or no clinical benefits from the use of inositol and were considered “non-responders”. (Kamenov et al, 2015)


Because of this, researchers have become increasingly interested in learning more about ways they can help support “non-responders” achieve similar benefits from inositol. In fact, one researcher (Monastra et al, 2018), has been looking into how to enhance the absorption of inositol in women with PCOS by adding a particular milk-based protein, known as alpha-lactalbumin. Although this study is currently preliminary and has only been documented in-vitro, it does point to the fact that hopefully in the near future we will have new solutions for “non-responders”.


In fact, in an open label study, researchers provided women with PCOS 2 grams of inositol twice per day for a total of 4 grams daily. The women were monitored for 12 weeks. Monitoring included evaluating the women’s serum blood levels of inositol. This helped the researchers identify “non-responders” because the women who positively responded to the treatment experienced an increase in their serum/blood inositol levels. Women who did not experience a rise in serum inositol levels were considered “non-responders”. After the 12 weeks, the women classified as “non-responders” were provided again inositol but, this time with the addition of 50mg of alpha-lactalbumin (commonly found in whey protein) twice daily. Of the initial “non-responsive” women, after the addition of alpha-lactalbumin, 82% of the women ovulated naturally and saw a reduction in their HOMA-IR scores! (Montanio Oliva et al., 2018). Pretty cool right?


About the Author: Meet Dr. ZenAlissia Zenhausern- Pfeiffer, NMD, FABNE, (commonly known by her patients as Dr. Zen), is a licensed naturopathic doctor board certified in naturopathic endocrinology and the founder of NMD Wellness of Scottsdale, a premier naturopathic medical practice that focuses on helping women to take a proactive approach to their hormone and fertility health. Dr. Zen has been featured as a lead expert in Forbes, Shape Magazine, and Instyle and is deeply passionate about bridging the gap between traditional and natural medicine in the world of fertility. She works with a variety of hormone related issues including PCOS, endometriosis and unexplained infertility. Her goal is to help more women get back into the driver’s seat of their own health to make lasting transformational changes to their health to bring more cute and adorable babies into this world. Read More About Dr. Zen...