List of herbs that are phytoestrogens

Written by laura crawley
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List of herbs that are phytoestrogens
Some herbs are rich in phytoestrogens, which mimic oestrogen in the body. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Phytoestrogens are substances that mimic oestrogen in the body. The substances occur naturally in many plants. Some plant foods contain a significant amount of these substances. Doctors often recommend phytoestrogens to women suffering from menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and cramping. Phytoestrogen-rich foods include soybeans, flax seeds and walnuts. Several herbs rich in phytoestrogens can be taken internally as syrups, extracts, tea or capsules. Primary phytoestrogenic herbs include black cohosh, liquorice root, ginseng, Dong Quai, evening primrose and red clover.

Black Cohosh

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is frequently used to alleviate the symptoms of menopause, as well as to ease menstrual pain. It is sold commercially in Western Europe, where it is a common remedy for women.\ However, extensive use of black cohosh extract has been shown to damage the liver, and it is contraindicated in women suffering from breast cancer.

List of herbs that are phytoestrogens
Black cohosh is sold commercially in western Europe. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Liquorice Root

If you like remedies in the form of a dessertlike tea, you may choose liquorice root as a phytoestrogenic medicine. Liquorice root (Glycyrrhiza sinensis or Glycyrrhiza glabra) is dried and used in the form of syrup, tea or lozenges. In addition to its use in soothing menopausal symptoms, liquorice root has been long used as a cough remedy. However, it is toxic when used in excess.

List of herbs that are phytoestrogens
Liquorice root has a pleasant taste often found in candy. (George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)


Ginseng root (Panex ginseng) grows in many parts of the world and has been used as a traditional medicine by the Native Americans, Chinese and Koreans. You can find ginseng in almost any health food store; it is believed that it energises the user. Ginseng also is used to treat sexual dysfunction as well as menopausal symptoms. In fact, ginseng's botanical adjective, "Panex." literally means "cure-all."

It is sold in the form of powder, extract or can be drunk as a tea. Some people experience side effects such as insomnia, agitation and high blood pressure, however.

List of herbs that are phytoestrogens
Ginseng root is a common Chinese remedy. (Blue Jean Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Dong Quai

If you are familiar with alternative remedies for menopause, you will have seen the name Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis). Dong Quai, also known as Chinese angelica, is an aromatic herb traditionally used in many parts of Asia to help reduce menopausal hot flushes and menstrual cramps in women. It also is used to ensure an easy pregnancy and delivery. The medicinal components of Dong Quai are found in the root of the plant.

List of herbs that are phytoestrogens
Dong Quai is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine. (Barry Austin/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Evening Primrose

You can use evening primrose oil to help combat the symptoms of menopause. Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a North American biennial with yellow flowers. The seeds of this plant contain an oil that is taken internally.

Red Clover

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) has been administered as a blood thinner and for respiratory problems in traditional medicine, especially in Russia and China. Red clover extract is rich in isoflavones (compounds that act as phytoestrogens), such as genistein and daidzen, which are also found in soy foods. It is on the FDA's Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list. However, if you are taking hormones, blood thinners or aspirin on a regular basis, you should not take red clover extract.

List of herbs that are phytoestrogens
Red clover is used as a blood thinner. (Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images)
List of herbs that are phytoestrogens
(Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

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