Unlocking Nature’s Secret: How Phytoestrogens Can Ease Your Menopause Journey

Date: 19-03-2024

By NIIM Clinical Naturopath, Lisa Hodge

If you’re a woman in your mid-40’s to mid-50’s experiencing night sweats, hot flushes, mood swings, insomnia, unexplained weight gain, irregular periods and abnormally heavy periods, you may be peri menopausal. As opposed to menopause – which is the phase occurring approximately one year after your last period – peri-menopause occurs in the years prior to your last period, and can extend for as long as 12 years. Fortunately, as our knowledge about reproductive aging develops, so do the options for managing some of its more challenging aspects. 

Although hot flushes are common (experienced by approximately 75% of women), those experiencing them describe them as uncomfortable, embarrassing and problematic. Hot flushes have even been linked to women having ahigher intention to leave the workforce due to the embarrassing moments of sweating profusely while public speaking or in board meetings. The cause is not entirely understood, but we know that the hormonal changes (drop in oestrogen) cause sudden spikes in body temperature. They can occur anytime, with most women reporting several hot flushes per day, but some with more severe symptoms as often as hourly. Symptoms ranging from a mild sensation of heat rising up in your body and face, to an intense feeling of overheating and sweating profusely (Moreira et al., 2014).  

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is one medical treatment used to alleviate symptoms, but women can explore complementary or herbal therapies in place of or in addition to HRT. It can be difficult for consumers to interpret the contradicting information and sift through a myriad of products on the market. The following information aims to provide a brief introduction into the use of phytoestrogens for the treatment of hot flushes and night sweats

What are phytoestrogens? 

Phytoestrogens are a natural compound found in plants and plant-based foods, such as wholegrains, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and herbs. Research suggests they are a safe and effective intervention to help reduce the frequency of hot flushes in menopausal women (Chen et al., 2015) (Hairi et al., 2019).  

The chemical structure of phytoestrogens is similar to that of oestrogen, consisting of the compounds, isoflavones and lignans that exert an oestrogenic or anti-oestrogenic effect depending on the circulating oestrogen level in the body. When eaten, phytoestrogens affect a person in the same way as oestrogen produced by the body, which is great news for peri/ menopausal women experiencing symptoms courtesy of declining ovarian function and oestrogen decline. 

*A dietary phytoestrogen prescription to support oestrogen metabolism: 

  • Whole grains – brown rice, oats, quinoa. 
  • Soy foods such as tofu & tempeh – 4-7 times per week  
  • Seeds every day – pumpkin, linseed and sesame 
  • Phytoestrogen herbal medicine – red clover, sage & oats 

Written by Lisa Hodge – Clinical Naturopath
Lisa Hodge is a Clinical Naturopath consulting at NIIM who continues to find meaning supporting people with their mental health and beyond. Find out more about how Lisa can help you and make an appointment to see her HERE.

*Disclaimer: The content and information presented in this article is general in nature and should not be relied upon as medical advice. Persons should seek independent medical advice from their own medical practitioner, regarding their individual health conditions, symptoms, treatment options, questions and concerns.  


Chen MN, Lin CC, Liu CF. Efficacy of phytoestrogens for menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Climacteric. 2015 Apr;18(2):260-9. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2014.966241. Epub 2014 Dec 1. PMID: 25263312; PMCID: PMC4389700. 

Ana C. Moreira, Ana M. Silva, Maria S. Santos, Vilma A. Sardão, Phytoestrogens as alternative hormone replacement therapy in menopause: What is real, what is unknown, The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Volume 143, 2014.

Hairi HA, Shuid AN, Ibrahim N’, Jamal JA, Mohamed N, Mohamed IN. The Effects and Action Mechanisms of Phytoestrogens on Vasomotor Symptoms During Menopausal Transition: Thermoregulatory Mechanism. Curr Drug Targets. 2019;20(2):192-200. doi: 10.2174/1389450118666170816123740. PMID: 28814228.