I see many women in menopause who had a history of breast cancer and cannot take estrogen. They suffer from feeling irritable, depressed, tired, lack of sleep and hot flashes and night sweats, dry eyes, skin and vagina, weight gain and memory problems that are very disturbing. These are just the surface issue that they experience on a day-to-day basis.

A lot goes on under the surface. Lack of estrogen can cause bone loss and osteoporosis,1 increase in cholesterol and change in the lining of blood vessels leading to cardiovascular disease, 2 and dementia3. So, there is cause for concern when estrogen levels are low.

While not as effective as estrogen replacement therapy with bioidentical hormones, there are ways to increase estrogen naturally. Foods, herbs and supplements contain phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens found in food are chemically like estrogen and bind to the estrogen receptor. This binding is weak, and they don’t stay on the estrogen receptor for very long. When they are bound to the receptor, phytoestrogens can both stimulate the estrogen receptor slightly yet not overstimulate it and block a stronger estrogen from binding.

This slight stimulation has had a beneficial effect on decreasing osteoporosis4 and hot flashes. 5 The effects of phytoestrogens on cognitive function and Alzheimer’s is mixed. It may be due to differences in the dosage, duration of consumption and cognitive test used. 6

Phytoestrogen Rich Food

There are many foods that contain phytoestrogens, these are those that contain the highest amount.

  • Flaxseeds
  • Soy
  • Peaches
  • Garlic
  • Red wine
  • Sesame seeds
  • Cruciferous vegetables

Herbs with Phytoestrogen7

Studies indicate these herbs and supplements have phytoestrogen activity but there are others.

  • Licorice
  • Red clover
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric
  • Hops

It is safe to eat more phytoestrogen rich foods and add herbs to your diet to alleviate symptoms of menopause. However, one must take care with supplements. Too much stimulation can lead to increases in growth of the uterine lining and fibroids as well as growth of the breasts. 4 You must be careful with the quality. Many supplements are not standardized, have surprising ingredients in them, may not be extracted properly and may not have enough of or too much of the active ingredient.

Herbals and supplements have been used safely for years. It is best to work with a functional medicine doctor who can help you alleviate the symptoms of menopause and recommend quality products that can be both safe and beneficial. Apply for a free, no obligation, discovery call to see if we are the right fit.

 

  1. Karlamangla AS, Burnett-Bowie SAM, Crandall CJ. Bone Health During the Menopause Transition and Beyond. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2018;45(4):695-708. doi:10.1016/j.ogc.2018.07.012
  2. Cagnacci A, Cannoletta M, Palma F, Zanin R, Xholli A, Volpe A. Menopausal symptoms and risk factors for cardiovascular disease in postmenopause. Climacteric. 2012;15(2):157-162. doi:10.3109/13697137.2011.617852
  3. Compton J, van Amelsvoort T, Murphy D. HRT and its effect on normal ageing of the brain and dementia. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2001;52(6):647-653. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2125.2001.01492.x
  4. Al-Anazi AF, Qureshi VF, Javaid K, Qureshi S. Preventive effects of phytoestrogens against postmenopausal osteoporosis as compared to the available therapeutic choices: An overview. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2011;2(2):154-163. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.92322
  5. Chen M n., Lin C c., Liu C f. Efficacy of phytoestrogens for menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Climacteric. 2015;18(2):260-269. doi:10.3109/13697137.2014.966241
  6. Soni M, Rahardjo TBW, Soekardi R, et al. Phytoestrogens and cognitive function: a review. Maturitas. 2014;77(3):209-220. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2013.12.010
  7. Zava DT, Dollbaum CM, Blen M. Estrogen and progestin bioactivity of foods, herbs, and spices. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1998;217(3):369-378. doi:10.3181/00379727-217-44247