Phytoestrogens are substances found in plants that have been found to have estrogenic activity. They have been used for centuries to treat conditions now treated with estrogen, and many patients are turning to them as alternatives to estrogen in order to avoid the side effects and risks associated with estrogen. Phytoestrogens seem to avoid the side effects of estrogens because, while they exert a beneficial estrogenic effect, this estrogenic effect is only about 2% of that of synthetic estrogens. As such, the estrogenic effect is high enough to be of benefit, but not high enough to cause estrogen-related problems.

Phytoestrogens, then, could be considered by patients who decide not to take estrogen for osteoporosis because of the risks, but who still want some of the benefit.

Phytoestrogen-containing foods include:

-Fennel, Celery, Parsley.

-Soy, Nuts, Whole Grains.

-Apples, Alfalfa.

PHYTOESTROGENS IN HERBS

There are four herbs that contain phytoestrogens that can be used as alternatives to estrogen:

DONG QUAI: Also known as Angelica sinensis. Effective in relieving hot flashes through it’s estrogenic activity and its effect on stabilizing blood vessels. The recommended dose is:

-Powdered root or as tea: 1-2 GM three times a day.

-Tincture (1:5): 4cc (ml) three times a day.

-Fluid extract: 1cc (1/4 tsp.) three times a day.

LICORICE ROOT:

Also known as Glycyrrhiza glabra. Effective for it’s estrogenic activity. Recommended dose is:

-Powdered root or as tea: 1-2 GM three times a day.

-Fluid extract (1:1): 4cc three times a day.

-Solid (dry-powdered) extract (4:1): 250-500 mg three times a day.

CHASTE BERRY

Also known as Vitex agnus-castus. Chaste berry has an effect on regulation of pituitary function. The pituitary produces the FSH and LH hormones which go sky high at the time of menopause, and they are thought to be responsible for the hot flashes of menopause. Chaste Berry is though to have its beneficial effects on menopause, especially on hot flashes, in tis way. The recommended dose is:

-powdered berries or as tea: 1-2 gm three times a day.

-fluid extract (1:1): 4cc three times a day.

-solid (dry powdered) extract (4:1): 250-500 mg three times a day.

BLACK COHOSH

Also known as Cimicifuga racemosa. Black cohosh is the most widely used and thouroughly studied preparation used as an alternative to estrogen. It is available in Europe under the trade name Remifen. It has been shown to improve hot flashes, vaginal atrophy, mood swings and depression. Black cohosh can be used by anyone, even those with a contraindication to estrogen therapy, and side effects are mild. The recommended dose is:

-the dose is based on content of 27-deoxyacteine. Studies using Black Cohosh used 2mg of 27-deoxyacteine twicw daily.The amount of Black Cohosh requires to achieve this dose is as follows.

-Powdered rhizome: 1-2 gm

Tincture (1:5): 4-6 cc.

-Fluid extract (1:1): 3-4 cc

-Solid (dry powdered) extract (4:1): 250-500 cc.

It generally takes 4 weeks to achieve the beneficial effect. The German Commission E recommends using Black Cohosh for a maximum of six months. However, this advice was given due to a lack of information showing safety with long term use. That data now exists, and the medical community now feels it is safe for long term use.

ISOFLAVONOIDS

Isoflavonoids are substances found in large amounts in soy which have bee shown to have estrogenic activity. They have been shown to improve hot flashes and vaginal dryness. In countries where dite are rich in dietary soy and isoflavones there is a lower risk of breast cancer. Isoflavones also exert a beneficial effect on LDL-cholesterol, lowering the risk of heart disease.

I cup of soy contains approximately 300 mg of isoflavone, which exerts the equivalent estrogenic effect of 0.45 mg of conjugated estrogen (Premarin), but without the increased risks of cancer.  Isoflavones with such effects will be listed as genisten and diadzein.

IPRIFLAVONE:

Ipriflavone is a semi-synthetic isoflavonoid similar in structure to soy isoflavones. It has been extensively studied in treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. It has been found to be effective in preventing the development of osteoporosis and to stimulate the formation of new bone. Ipriflavone works by regulating the activity of osteoclasts, which break bone down, and on calcitonin, which regulates bone production. It seems to have no estrogenic activity or effect on the pituitary, so it would not be useful to treat menopausal symptoms.

The dose of Ipriflavone is 200 mg three times a day.

We are glad you have asked us to become partners with you in this area, which is very important one for your health and wellness, but it can also be a difficult area in which to determine the right course of action. At Nature’s Healthcare, we feel that information about the risks and benefits, and the pro’s and con’s, will enable you to make a well-informed choice.

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