Phytoestrogens are substances of plant origin that are converted into substances with estrogenic effects in the digestive tract. They are increasingly recommended in some countries as a “natural alternative” to hormone replacement therapy.

What is the basis for the views on the benefits of phytoestrogens for postmenopausal women’s health?

During a menopause conference in Vienna in 2002, a group of German clinicians showed that an ointment with local aromatase inhibition (an enzyme that inhibits the local production of the tumour promoter, oestradiol, from testosterone) made from red clover extract can have a statistically significant effect on reducing metastasis in women with estrogen-positive breast cancer. Although, of course this matter is subject to further investigation. Furthermore, the researchers report that phytoestrogens from both soy and red clover may have a cardioprotective effect. It may also help to regulate irregularities in menstrual bleeding and slightly contribute to improved mood. It has also been scientifically proven that stimulation of estrogen receptors in the breasts, by a complex of natural plant phytoestrogens, leads to breast enlargement. The natural phytoestrogens cause the breast gland to start growing and producing new tissue again, thus enlarging and firming the breasts.

The question of what makes women from Asian cultures, which include, for example, Japanese or Chinese, but also Mexican Indian communities, different that they do not suffer so much from transition problems, can be answered simply. They eat differently. In the Asian population, they have long consumed soybeans, lots of vegetables and fish. Mexican Indian women benefit from eating yam (its roots are sweet and full of natural progesterone). However, phytoestrogens are only found in small amounts in the normal diet of European women and supplementation in the form of food supplements is a good solution, especially for women over 40.

Intensive research has focused on these edibles and biologically active substances have been identified that are very similar in their pharmacological manifestation to the physiological hormones of women. Therefore, these substances are called phytoestrogens, more correctly isoflavonoids, or isoflavones. Isoflavones from soy and red clover are molecules similar to estrogens. They are the best-studied phytoestrogens. In plants, they act as antioxidants, as free radical scavengers. Isoflavones are a widespread group of substances found mainly in the flowers, leaves and fruits of plants. Although isoflavones are called phytoestrogens, they are not identical to estrogens, they provide constructive protection to cells without exhibiting cell proliferation (cell division). Isoflavones can be seen as natural “anti-aging” components of plants, because they protect the plant itself from the damaging aggressive sunlight. This is proven by the fact that plants in high mountains have a higher isoflavone content.

Red clover extract, containing the isoflavonoids daidzein, genistein, formononetin and biochanin A, has a significant ability to scavenge free radicals due to their high content. Soy contains only daidzein and genistein. Isoflavones exhibit strong estrogenic activity as they have a strong affinity (adhesion) for the estrogen receptor-beta (beta-ER) and a weak affinity for the estrogen receptor-alpha (alpha-ER). In humans, they exhibit non-genital properties such as protection against osteoporosis and protection of blood vessels against atherosclerosis. In addition, unlike ‘bad’ estrogen and xeno-estrogens, they show the ability to protect against cancer because isoflavones have a greater selective binding to beta-ER (thus preventing the binding of ‘bad’ estrogen or xeno-estrogen, which then cannot stimulate the cell to divide). Red clover even has aromatase inhibition capabilities (a hormone that converts testosterone in adipose tissue to estrogens). According to recent reports, isoflavones also have anti-angiogenic properties (they prevent the tumour from forming new blood vessels for its own nourishment, without which it could not continue to grow). They have also been shown to significantly reduce the amount of estrogen and androgen receptors in tumor cells such as prostate, which also significantly reduces the malignancy of these cells. Epidemiological work positively demonstrates that isoflavones reduce the risk of cancer, particularly breast, prostate, colon and, according to recent findings, ovarian cancer. Red clover isoflavones also have affinity for both the androgen and – crucially to suppress estrogen dominance – the progesterone receptor. The androgenic progesterone receptor is important for e.g. mood enhancement, hence red clover’s good mood. Who should take phytoestrogens? Certainly premenopausal women who want to actively enjoy the next years of mature adulthood and prevent health complications. In addition, fertile women who are experiencing health problems caused by estrogen dominance. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should consult a medical professional if they wish to use it. Women who have experienced or are experiencing some serious transition-related diseases should take this product regularly, possibly with pharmacological treatment and other natural remedies.

It sounds paradoxical, but men can also benefit from taking Woman Aktiv. I am referring to men who are being treated for benign prostate enlargement. I would especially recommend it to those men who are being treated for or have had treatment for prostate cancer – see above for the anticancer effects of red clover isoflavones.