What are plant hormones? Can they really help us balance?
Who knew plants had hormones! It's only in the last century that we have discovered that they exist. The way they work is fascinating because it's actually our own gut bacteria that convert certain plant compounds into plant estrogen and plant progesterone. This can either top us up if we don't have enough hormones or calm us down if we have too many. If you're wondering how it can do two things at once it's because our cells have both stimulating and calming hormone receptors. When we have too much estrogen sloshing around, plant hormones will be attracted to the calming receptors and will offer a very low dose of estrogen. Yet if we don’t have enough estrogen, it will be attracted to our stimulating receptors and will offer a stronger dose.*
This is very clever. It means that plant estrogen can be both estrogenic and non estrogenic. How fantastic is that? Aside from plant hormones interacting with our own hormone receptors we also have special plant hormone receptors that only want plant estrogen. This is very exciting - it was only discovered in 2015 - and shows that plant hormones are an integral part of the human hormonal cycle. We shouldn’t be surprised really because we evolved on plant hormones, they were around long before we were, our monkey cousins still have them as a big part of their diet. When the pioneers of HRT talked about women being hormone deficient after menopause they might have been missing the point. I think it's more likely that some women are plant hormone deficient. Plant hormones really could be natures very own HRT. Try growing some today and see if it works for you!
* Kuiper GG, Lemmen JG and Carlsson B. Interaction of estrogenic chemicals and phytoestriol estrogens with estrogen receptor β. Endocrinology. 1998