Right off the bat, we want to point out that Estroven is one of the only supplements that we’ve seen that actively tries to combat the negative health and lifestyle effects associated with menopause and perimenopause. These are inevitable for every female and this approach impresses us: alleviating health problems through nutritional support and tackling real issues (rather than inventing issues for your product to address) is how we believe supplements should work.
The inclusion of soy isoflavones is something we have limited support for – this will be discussed later on – but generally the inclusion of pre-estrogens in the product strike us as incredibly thoughtful and have some serious medical applications if used correctly. The focus on returning to proper health and quality of life through the supplementation of hormonal and neurochemical support is something we thoroughly advocate – If it is done properly. This article will determine whether Estroven are doing it properly, or missing the mark.
What is it?
Estroven is a dietary supplement that is marketed as an assistant to those who are currently in the peri-menopause or menopause proper. The main goals of the product are to combat hot flashes, night sweats and manage the bodyweight challenges that are associated with unstable or unhealthy levels of essential hormones. This is supposedly achieved through the use of soy isoflavones, Black cohosh and a proprietary ingredient known as Synetrim.
Does it work?
We’re going to look at each of these active ingredients in-depth to discuss their effectiveness in alleviating the major health problems and unpleasant effects that women are almost inevitably going to face during the menopause. This will allow us to explain the overall effectiveness of the product and explain any variation between individuals, etc.
The reason that soy has been included in this product is because it contains phytoestrogens – natural, plant-based compounds that mimic oestrogen in the body or simply break down into oestrogen or oestrogen-like chemicals. These are important for the maintenance of health in post-menopausal women: the reduction in natural, internal production of oestrogen often puts these women at risk of serious issues such as weight gain, reduced bone density and greater chance of heart problems.
For many people, this will be very effective: phytoestrogens are incredibly good for the health of women in general, and menopausal women in particular, as they increase the bound oestrogen levels and regulate the absorption/use of existing oestrogens. This means that they will have all the beneficial functions of increased oestrogen circulation, but will reduce the negative effects associated with the hormone and the processes surrounding menstruation and menopause itself.
However, the effects of this compound are somewhat concerning because they are unreliable in practical terms. The digestion and use of soy’s oestrogen-imitating ingredients is totally dependent on whether certain bacteria – which break it down into digestible forms – are found in the gut. This is generally why soy allergies are so commonplace. The ability to digest soy depends on the presence of a digestive bacteria known as Equol – this is responsible for breaking the large soy particles down into more manageable and bioavailable components. Equol is thought to be present in the intestines of approximately 30-50% of the population, meaning that the effectiveness of soy isoflavones is going to vary wildly between individuals.
For those who do have active intestinal equol, this is a huge benefit to the product as soy can genuinely aid the health and regulation of various biological processes for women who produce little endogenous oestrogen. This would fulfill almost all of the product’s original claims to some extent, reducing the intensity of hot flashes, night sweats and aid in the reversal of weight loss. Unfortunately, 50-70% of all those who consume this product will be unable to gain these benefits due to their own intestinal activity and should not expect magnificent results. This is why we are skeptical about the benefits of the product.
Black cohosh Is something we are equally reserved about – whilst some studies demonstrate an improvement in various areas, there are considerable concerns about the methodological accuracy of these studies and the involvement of placebo effect and ‘wishful thinking’ on the results that have been observed. Given the ties between belief, stress and hormonal responses, we have to be careful when looking at this ingredient.
However, even with these effects considered the literature seems to point to the fact that cohosh does work, but only in a very small sense. The effects are not significant enough to compare with the effects of soy isoflavones in populations that can digest them. In this sense, we’re a little disappointed with Estroven’s approach – it has been common knowledge that the original studies reported false positive results, which over-stated the effects of cohosh. It seems that this is something of a fad product, with very little real benefit on the symptoms of menopause.
Synetrim is a form of Cissus Quadrangularis – a plant extract found in traditional medicines for menopause and other inherently ‘female’ health conditions. This supplement has yet to sustain significant research but initial findings are far more promising than we had initially expected. The main improvements that we have seen in the use of this ingredient are associated with bone health, mental health and obesity/weight management.
Firstly, the use of synetrim is not specifically effective for the treatment of menopause – there are no phytoestrogens similar to Soy, nor are there direct effects on hormonal regulation and uptake as seen in the use of Cohosh. Rather, it appears to improve some of the symptoms of menopause – such as bone health and weight gain – rather than the menopause itself. This is clearly still a good thing, and it may be the most important ingredient found in estroven.
The increased assistance in bone health is key because menopause and the reduction of oestrogen is associated with an increased risk in osteoarthritis – a condition where the bones are weak and easily-worn due to the loss of key minerals such as calcium and potassium. Research shows that these individuals are more likely to suffer fractures during falls, especially into advanced age where other factors make this more likely (e.g. the loss of muscle mass, power and co-ordination). This ingredient is also a fantastic analgesic and can improve the perception and effects of pain (especially joint pain).
The increases of serotonin associated with Synetrim are realtively huge compared to market alternatives. Whilst it doesn’t seem to have been adopted in the mainstream of supplement marketing, synetrim has been shown to improve serum serotonin levels by almost 40% – this is a staggering difference and can be incredibly helpful in dealing with the psychological and neurological challenges associated with such a hormonally-turbulent time as the menopause. This will combat the risks of depression and anxiety, as well as other negative psychological feelings. The value of this cannot be overstated for quality of life.
Finally, there are a number of important health markers that improve when we consume Synetrim CQ – these are not improved in massive ways, but the improvement of blood triglycerides, reduction of cholesterol, improved weight loss and the possibility of improved strength and endurance. These are mild effects but for those who are able to gain the effects of Soy, cohosh and synetrim to full effectiveness, they definitely add up to a significant improvement in the health problems that are associated with menopause.
Practicalities: value and market alternatives
Estroven retails at around $17 for 1 month’s supply. This is an incredibly reasonable price and we believe that it reflects the value of the product well – especially given the variable results that we might expect from the soy isoflavones. There is an extent to which we might suggest that the intake of soy is easily achieved through the inclusion of soy in the diet, but equally the concentration of isoflavones is much greater in this supplement.
Additionally, we are unsure as to the size of this niche in the market – whilst there are definitely other menopause-support supplements, they tend to be expensive or include unnecessary/ineffective ingredients. One of our favourite things about estroven is the simplicity and transparency that we get from a simple list of ingredients, even if we wish that there were some more, or more potent, compounds involved to compensate for the risk of ineffective soy phytoestrogens. From a value perspective, however, we think that estroven is a solid choice and inexpensive enough for you to try and gauge the effectiveness for yourself!
Overall, the evidence and marketing strategy of estroven sit very well with us. We believe that supplementation should aim at health and quality of life, which is exactly what we can expect from this product. There are no miracle claims and those claims that it presents are well borne-out in the science, at least in modest terms. The inclusion of Synetrim CQ is an exciting prospect and as new research comes out focusing on this supplement, we may see increased use in remedial and lifestyle supplements.
As an inevitability for all women, the onset of menopause is something that we consider to be a genuine medical and lifestyle problem which supplementation can improve. Reducing the difficulties, pains and psychological/physiological burdens of this period in a woman’s life is a great mission and we believe that Estroven makes an honest, moderately-effective attempt at this, which is why we’re giving them 3.5/5. If we could compensate for the equol problem, this would be higher still.
Steven has researched over 500 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. He has also worked with nutritionists specializing in weight loss while coaching people on how to transform their physiques and live healthy lives.