Gold Member Badge


  • You're all caught up!

Side Effects of Phyto-Estrogen

author image Susan Kaye
Susan Kaye writes about alternative health care, the medicinal value of foods and natural remedies for healing body, mind and spirit. She is currently retired from an active classical homeopathy practice and enjoys sharing her passion for alternative medicine in her writing with those seeking health care freedom.
Side Effects of Phyto-Estrogen
Photo Credit: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

Phytoestrogens are a group of compounds derived from plants which are used primarily for estrogen hormone replacement for women in menopause. The three highest rated food sources containing phytoestrogens are soy beans and flaxseed with tofu, made from soy, being the third. Because the isoflavones in soy and lignans in flaxseed are inherent in the foods themselves, the effects of phytoestrogens must be expanded to a look at the overall effects on the body of the foods themselves. Although beneficial effects of phytoestrogens have been seen in regards to the treatment of menopause, there are some side effects which have been noted and caution should be taken by those who use these foods as a therapeutic treatment.

Video of the Day


Sally Fallon & Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., author and nutritionist report in an article on naturopathic doctor Joe Mercola’s health news site about how soy isoflavones may reduce the effectiveness of the thyroid gland and its production of thyroid hormones contributing to hypothyroidism.

Decreased Mineral Absorption

Soybeans have particularly high levels of phytic acid, notes the Fallon and Enig article, preventing proper absorption of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc.


Allergic reactions to soy protein may include, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, hives, problems swallowing, anaphylactic shock, insomnia, ear and sinus infections, joint pain and chronic fatigue.

Breast Cancer

Kirk Williams, Masters’ student of Pharmacology from Tulane University discusses concerns that eating soy products may increase the risk of breast cancer in woman who are sensitive to hormone replacement therapy and possibly allergic to soy. Furthermore phytoestrogens may reduce the effectiveness of tamoxifen, the breast cancer medication and those woman taking tamoxifen should avoid eating soy.

Gastrointestinal Effects

Flaxseed is high in fiber and causes the usual side effects in people not used to ingesting high fiber with their meals. Bloating, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, heartburn and nausea may be experienced from including flaxseed in the diet.

The isoflavone genistein found in phytoestrogens from soy is known to cause stomach and other gastrointestinal problems including the erosion of the stomach lining from eating large quantities of soy products.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.


Demand Media