The Pea Family & Phytoestrogens
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on June 25, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Several plants in the legume family (Fabaceae, or pea family) contain compounds called isoflavones. These are actually part of a larger group called phytoestrogens: plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in our body (though to a notably lesser degree).
Over the last decade, isoflavones have gained a reputation for their ability to offset symptoms associated with the estrogen decline of menopause.
The most widely recognized (and commercially available) of the isoflavones are genistein and daidzein, from the Soy plant. Less common, yet equally if not more effective, are other isoflavone-rich plants from the pea family including Red Clover and Kudzu.
These plants are also significant sources of isoflavones including those found in Soy, as well as additional unique ones (e.g., puerarin from Kudzu root, and biochanin and formononetin from Red Clover). All of these plants share a rich history of use during menopause and for other estrogen-related hormonal concerns.
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan