Phytoestrogens are plant sterols that come from the plant kingdom which have a estrogenic or female effect on our body. We know that populations who consume abundant and regular amounts of dietary phytoestrogens have a lower incidence of breast cancer and other hormonally sensitive cancers, heart disease, menopause symptoms and osteoporosis.
There is significant research into estrogenic substances found in plants and foods, and their effects upon hormonal disorder and balancing. Indeed, phytoestrogens have been widely used and recognised for their medicinal value and treatment in helping relieve many of the symptoms at menopause.
Foods high in beneficial plant hormones can include alfalfa, apples, aniseed, brewers yeast, barley, beet root, cabbage, carrots, chick peas, clover, corn, cow peas, cucumbers, fennel, linseed, garlic, green beans, green squash, hops, oats, olives, olive oil, papaya, parsley, peas, plums, potatoes, red beans, pumpkin, legumes, peas, lentils, red clover, rhubarb, rice, rye, sesame seeds, soya bean, sprouts, split peas, sunflower seeds, nuts, squash, wheat yams, green beans, cherries.
Some herbs containing beneficial plant hormones are black cohosh, dong quai, hops, sage, red clover, fennel, liquorice root, wild yam, bladderwrack, horstail herb, sarsaparilla.
The Natural-Progesterone-Advisory-Network.com website certainly does not profess to understand the complexity of phytoestrogens. We simply acknowledge the large majority of women who liaise with our website and appear to understand the value of phytoestrogens in their health regime, and their invaluable usage in hormone balancing.
We acknowledge that phytoestrogens are the silent partner to the success of progesterone therapy. Phytoestrogens have application in progesterone therapy because they actually help reduce the impact of estrogen dominance when progesterone is reintroduced into the body. The reason is simple. Phytoestrogens help tone down the symptoms of estrogen dominance wake-up. Phytoestrogens will be taken up by estrogen receptors. This will block the impact of more potent estrogens produced by the body or the environment, and subsequently reduce the impact of estrogen dominance.
All women using progesterone cream or experiencing hormonal imbalance should give due consideration to the benefits of food and supplements rich in phytoestrogens. Their benefits are just incredible. It’s why we vehemently encourage young teenagers / women to first try plant hormones to reinstate hormonal balance before they resort to the introduction of hormone therapy to balance their estrogen dominance. This is particularly relevant to women who have intact ovaries and are ovulating. Perhaps they’ve neglected their diet, maybe they aren’t exercising, maybe they are unknowingly exposed to xenoestrogens, chemical agitators, or just plain stress.
While we encourage women to combine phytoestrogens with progesterone therapy, we do caution them to not go over the top with the use of soya products. Some soya products are not fermented, rendering them less effective. Just be wary. These products can interfere with digestive enzymes. Asian countries have learned how to use soya products in balance, in correct proportion, and to always eat them in conjunction with other food combinations.
Other benefits of phytoestrogens
- Helps keep the skin and mucous membranes more youthful.
- Helps boost dwindling estrogen levels.
- Stimulates estrogenic benefits in the body by stimulating estrogen receptors on the walls in the skin, breast and vagina.
- Stimulates progesterone activity (estrogen and progesterone need the presence of each other to work effectively).
- Helps reduce imbalance of excessive male hormones (androgens) by exerting feminine influence in conjunction with the use of progesterone.
- Helps tone down estrogen dominance.
What is the difference between phyto-hormones and xeno-hormones?
The term phyto-hormones refers to plant substances that, when eaten, can be converted by the body into hormones. Phytoestrogens, for example, found in wild yam, soya, tofu, legumes will go on to mimic estrogen in the body. These hormone-like substances are metabolised in the intestines and absorbed into the blood stream. Soya beans are a good example. Soya beans are one of the richest food sources of phytoestrogens which have a similar biological structure to naturally produced human estrogens. They contain the estrogenically active compounds coumestrol, isoflavones and lignans. Of all the plant estrogens, coumestrol is the strongest and is most plentiful in soya beans.
The term xeno-estrogen refers to a foreign estrogen occurring in chemicals, petrochemicals and foreign substances that can also mimic estrogen in the body. While the body interrupts/identifies it is an estrogen, it is a toxic form of estrogen, that invades the estrogen receptor sites, blocking more natural forms.
Humans have evolved genetically in the context of what we eat. And we’ve been eating plants for many years. The human body has the ability to bind the less toxic phyto-hormones to proteins thus reducing their effects and making them easier to eliminate more safely. This is not the case with synthetic xeno-hormones.
Xeno-hormones (also referred to as xenobiotics) are foreign to the body and plant kingdom, and tend to have a very potent hormone-like activity in our body. Nearly all xeno-hormones are synthetic petrochemical by-products present in our food, medicines, plastics, clothing, soaps, etc. These toxins build up in our body with disastrous effects.
“Xenobiotics” is a generic reference to substances with a hormone-like effect on the body, and “xenoestrogens” specifically describe those with a estrogenic effect.
Phyto-hormones have a balancing or modulating effect, which means they can protect our cells against over-stimulation from sex hormones that are produced in the body, consumed in our diet or via medication.