by Ally Broughton, MSc, BSc (Hons), MNIMH
Herbal medicine has been used for centuries to treat women’s health conditions. Many herbs, including red clover and black cohosh, are a natural source of ‘plant oestrogens’ which provide the ‘building blocks’ for our own hormones. The body can utilise these plant oestrogens to help balance hormones and in doing so alleviate unpleasant symptoms associated with PMT, Menopause, painful periods and other hormonal imbalances.
As well as herbs, certain foods are also a rich source of plant oestrogens including soya beans, nuts and seeds and some fruits and vegetables.
As part of my research for the National Institute of Medical Herbalists I have studied the benefits of plant oestrogens. I found that the typical Western diet is very low in plant oestrogens compared with a typical Asian diet which has a much higher intake (at least 70% higher) of pulses and in particular soya beans.
Population studies show that Asians, and in particular the Japanese, who have the highest intake of soya beans, have the lowest incidence of hormonal cancers in the world, and do not even have a word for the menopause in their language. Whilst other factors may well be involved, we should not ignore the potential health benefits that plant oestrogens can provide.
Did you know? Plant oestrogens can also improve male hormonal health including hormonal imbalances such as prostate problems and fertility issues.
'HRT' Cake - Wheat free, dairy free & sugar free
I have developed a recipe for a nutritious healthy cake which is an easy and tasty way of ensuring a high intake of plant oestrogens and omega oils essential to hormonal health (see below).
From my clinical practice I find that every woman experiences the menopause differently. Common symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings and sleep disturbance which can be seriously debilitating. An individually prescribed herbal medicine and nutritional changes can often significantly help women through this time of life transition.
'HRT Cake' Recipe
All ingredients provide a rich source of plant oestrogens, in addition the golden flaxseeds provide omega oils important to hormonal health. The fennel seeds and ginger help the digestive process and absorption of nutrients. Apricots are a source of iron and cranberries provide antioxidants important for the immune system.
I try to source organic produce wherever possible.
- 100g soya flour
- 300g porridge oats
- 250g dried apricots
- Handful of dried cranberries
- 50g pumpkin seeds
- 50g sunflower seeds
- 100g golden flaxseed (linseeds)
- 50g brazil nuts chopped
- 50g walnuts chopped
- 500ml soya milk
- Pinch of cinnamon to taste
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- A few fennel seeds
- Approx 1 small glass of organic apple juice (enough to give moist consistency
- Mix all dry ingredients together
- Add dried fruit, apple juice and soya milk
- Leave to soak for at least 1/2 an hour
- Preheat oven to 190 C (Gas Mark 5)
- Line a loaf tin with baking paper & spoon in mix
- Cook in preheated oven for approx 1 & 1/4 hours
- Slice and store in freezer
*Soak the dried fruits in the apple juice at least 1 hour beforehand, to release the flavour and nutritional properties and add moistness to texture.
*Use grated fresh ginger root for an extra 'zing' (Ginger, especially fresh, is good for the circulatory and digestive systems and gives added great flavour.)
Put your feet up and enjoy a slice with a cup of herbal tea every day!