Plant Hormones and Nutrition
Like all living things, plants produce hormones that regulate their activities. Plant hormones are necessary for growth and reproduction, movement (tropism), and cellular metabolism.
We are just beginning to learn about the complexities of plant biology, and how it affects human beings. All food on this planet originally comes from plants. Plants manufacture food from soil, water, air and sunshine reacting with chlorophyll. The compounds of life originate in plants.
Many plants contain an estrogen-like plant hormone, and there is a lot of discussion about how eating plants with phytoestrogen affects humans.
Herbal treatments for PMS and menopause have been used for centuries. Not surprisingly, the plants that are effective have relatively high concentrations of phygoestrogen. This plant hormone has effects similar to human estrogen. It is, however, not identical to our naturally produced hormones and it has a much weaker effect.
There is considerable controversy about the plant hormones in soy, primarily estrogen. Some people believe that we are being "over-estrogenized" by soy, and that it is even responsible for the increasingly early age at which girls enter puberty. Soy is added to many of our foods, and our consumption of it is much higher than most of us realize.
Soy's phytoestrogen is, like that of other plants, much weaker and less biologically active than human estrogen. We do get phytoestrogen in soy products, but it's good to remember that soy is an ancient food plant, and that people have been eating it for centuries. We know more about what is in soy now than we did a millennium ago, but it doesn't affect us any differently.
Many women, however, do eat soy products because they contain estrogen and eating them helps with the symptoms of menopause. Clearly, we have much to learn about phytoestrogens and how they affect us when we eat the plants that contain them.
The plant hormones in soy (and in wild yam) are used to create bioidentical human hormones. The phytoestrogen and other hormones are extracted and chemically changed through a manufacturing process so that they are identical to human hormones. The plant hormone provides a good chemical base for hormone manufacture. It should be noted, however, that plant-derived estrogen is not the same thing as phytoestrogen.
The more we learn about plant biology, the more we realize how much we have yet to learn. Phytoestrogen and other plant hormones could be a natural, nutritional source of hormones and nutrients we need for health.