Soya contains a group of phyto-oestrogens known as isoflavones. Isoflavones are found in beans and pulses, particularly soya beans and soy products. Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring, oestrogen-like compounds derived from plants. For many years there has been a growing swell of interest into the possible effects of phytoestrogens as an alternative therapy for relief of menopausal symptoms. In particular scrutiny has focused on the fact that women in Japan appear to experience fewer menopausal symptoms and lower rates of osteoporosis, than women in the West. Researchers have attributed this to diet as a typical Japanese diet may contain 20-50mg per day of phytoestrogens, whereas the Western diet probably contains less than 1mg per day. Evidence for the use of isoflavones for relief of menopausal symptoms has been traditionally recorded in a number of Asian socieities, and in particular Japan, and today a number of scientific research programmes are being conducted to better understand how isoflavones work to ease the symptoms of menopause.
Diosgenin, a steroid saponin that can be sourced from the Wild Yam has been credited with progesterone like effects in the human system, but there is no scientific evidence for this. Diosgenin does not exist freely in wild yam, but rather as the saponins, dioscin and gracillin, and it is considered improbable that the human body is able to synthesise hormones from these saponins. However many women report that wild yam creams are helpful in boosting energy levels, and it has been noted that diosgenin has traditionally been viewed as an effective remedy for fatigue.