Estrogen supplements are pills, patches, vaginal rings, and creams typically made from natural plant substances. These supplements are generally used to help replace this specific hormone in the bodies of those lacking it due to menopause or a hormone imbalance. Some of the most commonly used plant materials consist of soy, flax, and grape skins. Although these natural products are largely thought to be safer than their synthetic counterparts, there may still be some potential adverse reactions.
Many think of artificial products when it comes to estrogen supplements, and although these are some of most commonly used, a few varieties of natural supplements may be equally beneficial. These supplements are generally made from plant-based substances that produce either a similar or identical effect in the body. Phytoestrogens, or herbal estrogens, are molecularly dissimilar to the estrogen naturally produced within the body; however, they are said to alleviate symptoms of hormonal issues by producing estrogen-like effects. On the other end of the spectrum, bioidentical products are made of plant material said to be identical to naturally produced estrogen.
Estrogen supplements made from phytoestrogenic material often consist of black cohosh, ground flax seed, or angelica. Though it is unknown why it works, many swear by the positive effects of black cohosh, a popular herbal supplement used to treat symptoms of menopause such as night sweats and hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and depression. Like black cohosh, ground flax seed may help fight off the symptoms of menopause, but is also thought to help prevent osteoporosis, provide fiber, and improve overall health. Angelica, which is sometimes referred to as dong quai, is said to help maintain hormone levels in both menopausal and premenopausal women.
Bioidentical estrogen supplements are also made from natural plant-based materials; however, unlike phytoestrogens, which may be freely purchased as over-the-counter supplements, bioidentical varieties are often only available by prescription or in specialty pharmacies. Three types of estrogens are used for bioidentical hormone therapies: estrone, estriol, and estradiol. These estrogens are often derived from soybeans and wild yam root, which are said to have properties chemically identical to what is created by the body. In addition to easing some of the common symptoms of menopause and hormone imbalance, these supplements may also aid in preventing the onset of osteoporosis.