Phytoestrogens | Phytogestagens Phytoandrogens


Phytohormones are endogenous secondary plant substances. Botanically, this refers to substances that control the development and growth of the plant and are also referred to as growth regulators in this context. However, the term phytohormone also includes all those plant substances that have a hormone-like influence in the human organism, as they can bind to the receptors intended for hormones due to their structural similarity. [1, 2, 3, 8, 10,17]

Phytohormones have been known in traditional folk medicine for at least 2000 years. The scientific chemical proof of classical phytoestrogens succeeded around 1900. A study from 2007 reported for the first time on plant constituents that bind to androgen receptors, show a significantly androgenic mode of action and can therefore be called phytoandrogens. [4, 9, 17]

The terms phytohormone and phytoestrogen cannot be quite clearly differentiated on the basis of the literature researched. While phytohormones are usually defined as substances that (only) control the growth of the plant, the term phytoestrogen defines plant substances that have an estrogenic or antiestrogenic effect in the human organism, but in any case not a gestagenic or androgenic effect.
Studies show, however, that phytoestrogens influence the estrogen as well as the progestogen and testosterone balance,can be hormonally active in a receptor-independent manner and can target non-sex hormone-specific areas. [8]

In this text, the word phytohormone is used for a neutral, all-directional hormonal effect of plant constituents on the human organism.


All phytohormones have a broad and complex spectrum of action, which on the one hand is characterised by a direct and rapid reaction, which is why it is assumed that they act with existing enzymes and in membrane metabolism. On the other hand, there are reactions that only occur after hours. Here it is assumed that they have an influence on gene expression, its transcription and translation.
Furthermore, it is assumed that the effect of phytohormones does not depend on individual substances, but also on the combination of external and internal parameters, as it can be both synergistic (estrogen/androgen) and antagonistic (antiestrogen/antiandrogen).

Studies that clearly and completely prove these mechanisms of action are still pending, however. A complicating factor in the study of phytohormones is that research has so far focused almost exclusively on their synthesis, concentration, distribution in tissues, etc., while the influence of the associated receptors, their sensitivity and accessibility, the absorption and metabolism of the compounds have been largely neglected. [2, 8]

Generally, the hormone-like effects of plant constituents are described as mild, with a spectrum similar to that of endogenous estrogens, progesterone and androgens.
They have an influence
onthe gene transcription and translation in the cell
-on reproduction
-on primary and secondary sexual organs
-on sexual behaviour and capacity
-on connective tissues such as skin, blood vessels, bone and cartilage
-they regulate energy balance, fat metabolism, vitality and well-being
-they favour, according to their type, the psychological and emotional potentials typical for women and men respectively. men, respectively, andthe corresponding appearance.

Since plant ingredients, when taken e.g. as a tea drug of whole plant parts, unfold their effect in their natural compound with other ingredients, a gentle, physiological balancing, in the sense of the physical need, is to be expected instead of an exactly specific, limited to one area. [4, 7, 8, 15, 19, 19.1]


Phytoestrogens are a diverse and currently the best-studied group of phytohormones. They occur as isoflavones (genistein, daidzein, biochenin A, iridin) as lignans (enterodiol, enterolactone) and coumestans, which are formed in soybeans, linseed, valerian, yam and red clover, among others.
Generally, phytoestrogens are known for their favourable influence on the climacteric complaints of women and the favourable or unfavourable influence on the climacterium virile.
In the human organism, a distinction is currently made between two estrogen receptor types, alpha and beta. While the alpha receptors are mainly located in the reproductive organs and in the breast tissue, the beta receptors are mainly found in the bone tissue, the cardiovascular system and in the brain. Since phytoestrogens, but especially isoflavones, preferentially bind to beta receptors (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator/SERM), they are superior to classical hormone replacement therapy due to reduced side effects on the breast and uterus. [5, 7, 8, 17]

In addition, isoflavones inhibit certain enzymes, e.g. tyrosine kinase or DNA topoisomerase, which is why it is said that they have an anticarcinogenic, antiproliferative or carcinoprotective effect. In addition, the properties of isoflavones as antioxidant, as radical scavenger, as regulative hypocholesterolaemic via the blood lipid balance and consequently as antiartheriosclerotic and cardioprotective have been known for a long time. [8]

Phytogestagenswhich can be used as such without further laboratory processing could not yet be identified in previous investigations of various foods and traditional medicinal plants. However, it was found that liquorice and red clover have an indirect antagonistic effect on the progestin receptor.
Only from the yam root could a natural progesterone identical to the human organism be obtained by laboratory conversion of the diosgenin it contains. Identical means that it behaves like the progesterone produced by the body and that no side effects are to be expected if the application or dosage is professionally supervised. [6, 8, 18, 19.1]

Currently known phytohormones with androgenic effects are found, among others, in the bark of the rubber elm, also known as the gutta-percha tree Eucommia ulmoides OLIVER and in the pollen of the pine (Pinus massoniana, Pinus silvestris, Pinus pinaster). They are unspecifically referred to in the literature as steroids, triterpenoids, short-chain lipids or also as epitestosterone, androstenedione and testosterone.
The androgenic or anti-androgenic mode of action is achieved in various ways by modulating the testosterone level and the forms of the androgens present, e.g. as testosterone or as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). For example, isoflavones inhibit aromatase, which prevents the physiological conversion of testosterone to estrogen and inhibits 5alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone into the more active form of DHT. [4, 6, 9, 11]

The potential of phytohormones lies in their physiological tolerability, their broad spectrum of action and in their balancing, stimulating as well as protective effect.






















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