Health Benefits of Pueraria Mirifica

2 Jan

What is Pueraria mirifica?

Pueraria mirifica (P. mirifica) is a plant found in northern Thailand. It is also called Kwao Krua or white Krao Krua. There are two other varieties of Pueraria mirifica, or P. mirifica. They are red and black, and they all boast a variety of uses, from breast enhancement to bone health to assistance with the symptoms of menopause.

P. mirifica is closely related to a plant that grows abundance in the southeast of the United States. P. lobata, also known as kudzu, was planted there to help prevent soil erosion. Pueraria mirifica is from the legume family, and more specifically, the bean branch. It is related to soybeans and has some of the same characteristics – for example, both contain phytoestrogens.

Fun Fact: The system of categorizing plants was set up by Carlos Linnaus in the 1700s. He also created the system for categorizing animal life, and for this reason, he has been nicknamed the Father of Botany.

The root of P. mirifica, which is the part of the plant that is utilized, consists of small round tubers connected by rootlets. The shape of these tubers and rootlets may differ slightly due to the terrain from which they were grown.

While most records show that P. mirifica has only been in use for around one hundred years, documents such as texts on palm leaves that survived the attack of Kublai Khan, found in the 1930s, indicate that this plant was used by monks in Burma (Mayanmar) during and before the thirteenth century. The recipe from this particular text is one for rejuvenation, and contains, among other things, milk.

The West became interested in the plant in the 1930s and extensive studies have been executed. J. Kerr reported it in the Journal of the Siam Society in 1932; this publication is still in existence, and represents one of the first Western documentations of the herb.

The women of Thailand are the primary users of this herb, though men have also found it helpful. Traditional uses include for breast enhancement, skincare, memory improvement, appetite stimulant, and dealing with the symptoms during perimenopause and after menopause. It is openly sold in Thai markets, and culturally, it is known that women who ingest P. mirifica proudly indicate the firmness and size of their bosoms.

Studies and Uses

This article attempts to outline the various uses and potential side effects of P. mirifica as a herbal supplement. These uses and side effects are supported by scientific studies done on the herb, as well as anecdotal stories to further elaborate on the topic. This article serves as an all-encompassing account of the herb P. mirifica, and begins with a focus on breast size & firmness, as well as the history of the importance of breast size in human society.

Phytoestrogens

Many formal studies done on P. mirifica have been about its effects on the mammary glands (breasts) and on other parts of the reproductive system.

The first studies completed were done in order to determine the chemical components of the plant. Their findings showed a high amount of phytoestrogens within the plant, which are substances found in plants that produce effects similar to the hormone estrogen when ingested.

In order to understand the impact of this, it is necessary to know that estrogen isn’t one substance. Rather, it is a group of related chemicals. The human body produces three types of estrogen; estradiol, estrone and estriol. Estriol, for example, is almost undetectable in women who are not pregnant, and it is produced in large quantities in women who are pregnant.

In the case of P. mirifica, it contains a high concentration of a phytoestrogen called miroestrol. Miroestrol has the greatest estrogenic activity among all phytoestrogens extracted from the plant, and it is considered the safest estrogen for humans.

Breast size and firmness

Given that P. mirifica contains these phytoestrogens, studies have been done to test their effects. A study done on rats showed a multitude of effects. For example, a four-week administration of P. mirifica to non-operated rats at a dose of 3% showed significant elevation of cell proliferation in the mammary glands.

Secondly, P. mirifica administered to ovariectomized animals at doses of 0.03%, 0.3%, and 3% of body weight in a phytoestrogen-low diet for 2 weeks caused significant increase in uterus weight.

A human study was done in Japan, with results showing an increase in breast firmness and size after 12 weeks of taking the supplement. The double-blind study involved fifty women between the ages of 20 and 49 years old. Daily doses of 100mg to 600mg were administered. The findings showed that 70% from each group had an increase in breast size and firmness.

Similarly, tests done by Chulalongkorn University in Thailand found out that P. mirifica usage was able to increase breast size by as much as 80%.

The authors of The Chemistry Between Us use biology and neurology to explain the fascination with the female breast, both from the male and female perspectives.

Part of the fascination with breast augmentation stems from the mother/child bond created during birth and breastfeeding. The hormones released, oxytocin and dopamine, help create this bond and it causes chemical changes in both the mother and the child that encourages a nurturing relationship. How this translates to the male is that this nurturing is then share with him by association of living in close proximity with his spouse and child.

Another theory posed is what makes up the female breast. A good portion of the breast is made of fat. Large breasts suggest good health and the likelihood of being able to have and care for children. This is not necessarily a conscious thought, but an idea that is implanted in the brain through natural selection.

This explains why women have wanted to develop large breasts for generations. The better the curves the more male attention a woman receives as they are perceived as a more suitable partner.

Breast augmentation is not new. There have been a variety of ways women in the past have made their breasts look larger with corsets, by wearing pads, and also push-up bras. At least one story exists of a woman using a wax bosom to make her breasts appear larger.
The question is how to increase breast size in modern times. There are three options, and here we explore the benefits, disadvantages, and also why P. mirifica is a viable option for women seeking breast augmentation.

Exercise

Mothers have taught daughters this exercise through the ages. Take a bath towel, hold one corner in one hand, the other long end corner in the other hand. Lift it up over the head and as far behind the back as it will go. Repeat. There are also other methods that require gym equipment.
Does it actually increase breast size? It can, and it depends. It won’t increase fat, but it will make the pectoral muscles larger if done often enough. On the other hand, exercise can also cause weight loss, which reduces the fat in breast tissue, demonstrating the delicate balance when dealing with exercise.

Surgery

Breast augmentation surgery began when two surgeons, Frank Gerow and Thomas Chronin performed the first such surgery in 1962. It started with the observation that a bag of blood felt a great deal like a woman’s breast. Experiments followed. A paper on this first successful surgery was presented to the International Society of Plastic Surgeons in 1963 and the continuation of this can be seen in today’s culture.

For example, breast augmentation surgery is the number one cosmetic surgery worldwide. It even outstrips liposuction and nose jobs (also known as rhinoplasty.) Two types of implants are available. One contains silicone gel and the other a saline solution. They can be a great boon for those that need reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy but they are not without problems.

All surgeries are potentially risky. Things can go wrong during surgery and there is always a risk of infection. Other problems have been noted, both with saline and silicone. The implant can slip, wrinkle, rupture and/or become asymmetrical. Scarring and changes in nipple sensation are also side effects.

Women have been fearful that silicone gel leaking into the body can cause harm. The FDA states categorically that there is no evidence of this happening. However, not all of the people who have had implants are reporting symptoms to the manufacturer, doctor, or the FDA – as many as 40% do not report symptoms.

Herbs

There are many herbs that claim to help with breast enhancement. Chasteberry, which got its name because Europeans prior to the 17th century believed that it decreased a woman’s libido, is usually found in multi-herb supplements for breast enhancement. While it does not help change breast size, it is useful for some menstrual problems and may increase a mother’s milk flow.

Several compounds in black cohosh can, in combination, have an estrogen-like effect. They are not true estrogens, and so may be more useful for women who cannot take products containing the substance. Black cohosh is better known for relieving symptoms of menopause. In the past it was used to encourage drawn-out periods of labor; this practice is no longer common.

Saw palmetto has become an ingredient in breast enhancement products. This is not a good use for the herb as it is a diuretic, amongst other things. It will more likely decrease breast size. However, it is potentially useful for men suffering from BPH (benign prostate hypoplasia). So far, studies by the pharmaceutical industry aren’t convincing, but there is empirical evidence that shows it helps.

Before the discovery of P. mirifica, fenugreek was the most commonly used herb for both breast enhancement and increasing milk flow in nursing mothers. It contains diosgenin, which is a phytoestrogen. The best practice for using this herb is to sprout the seeds. It is also a well-known cooking herb and is often used to replace maple in products.

That brings us to Pueraria mirifica. While it is relatively new to the Western herb market, it has been used for a long time by the women of Thailand and breast augmentation is one of its main purposes. As previously mentioned, the phytoestrogen in this herb is considered the safest kind.

Menstruation

Stories often offer insight into understanding a topic. They also shed new light from a different angle that provokes the learner to think. While these stories are fiction they are based on science and experience.

“Mom, you ought to come and check on Beth,” Paula said. “She’s lying in the closet and moaning. I’ve never seen her do that before.”

“What’s wrong, Beth?” her worried mother asked. The closet was on a slant and the girl was lying on it. The position and the location had to be uncomfortable.

“It hurts,” her daughter moaned. “My belly hurts. My head hurts. The light is hurting my eyes. Why does it have to hurt?”

Correctly guessing that her daughter was dealing with pain from starting menstruation, she helped the girl up and into bed. “It doesn’t have to hurt. Wait here and I’ll get something that should help.”

The girl moaned, too miserable to believe anything could stop the agony.

After checking with the pediatrician to make sure a thirteen year old could take herbal supplements she brought her daughter some chasteberry. The doctor had firmly stated that the child should not start taking synthetic hormones. The herb should help without the danger of bone loss, altered brain structure and other problems.

While she was speaking with the doctor she mentioned that Beth’s acne was really flaring up. “Does she eat a lot of dairy or sugar?” the doctor asked.

“No, she’s lactose intolerant. We don’t keep a lot of sweets around, either.”

“Then try giving her some zinc supplements and remind her to avoid sugar,” the doctor advised.

“What was that stuff you gave Beth,” Paula asked later. “It seemed to help a lot.”

“I gave her Tylenol and chasteberry,” her mother replied. “The Tylenol helps with the pain and the chasteberry helps with the other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.”

“I’d like to try that next time. It hasn’t put me to bed yet but sometimes it’s really tempting.”

“I’m sure that will be fine. I can usually tell when it’s tempting, you know.”

“How?”

“I was your age once. I know exactly how it feels.”

“What did your mom give you?”

“There wasn’t as much stuff available then. As you know I had the two of you when I was in my late thirties. When I was your age Tylenol was prescription only. Also doctors didn’t believe in using herbs. They felt it should be regular medicine or nothing.”

“So you didn’t have anything to help?”

“Well, at the time we didn’t know of the connection between Reye’s Syndrome and aspirin. So, mom gave me aspirin.”

“Anything else?”

“There are a lot of things that helped but the only time it went completely away was when my mother had one dose left of paregoric. My brother had been prescribed it for some reason. She gave that to me. I don’t remember the rest of that day but the pain went away.”

“What’s paregoric?”

“It’s a drug based on opium poppies. Not something that would normally be prescribed for or given to a young lady dealing with PMS.”

“What else did you do?”

“Laid on my bed on my back with my feet propped up, used a hot water bottle on my abdomen and avoided salt like the plague when I knew it was about that time.”

Studies done with P. mirifica and its benefits were also done on monkeys. The study published in the Journal of Pharmacological Sciences in 2003 involved investigation of how P. mirifica acts on the menstrual cycle. To do this they had four groups of female monkeys. One was a control group, the other three were given 10, 100, and 1,000 mg/d of P. mirifica starting on the first day of the menstrual cycle. The treatment lasted for 3 cycles.

The study results showed that the first two groups taking the herb, those at 10 and 100 mg/d, had menstrual cycle lengths that increased significantly. The menstrual cycles in the group taking 1,000 mg/d of P. mirifica disappeared completely.

It shall also be noted that there is a protocol for proper care of test monkeys described by the study authors. They were fed monkey chow in the mornings and fresh fruit in the afternoons. The housing provided was appropriate to the conditions the monkeys would normally thrive in.

A human study was done to test the herb’s actions on endometrial tissue, in part for stem cell research. The study did not include whether or not it changed the cycle length but it did conclude that there was more endometrial proliferation especially at 1,500 and 2,000 mg doses. No change was found in those with 10, 100, 500 or 1,000 mg doses.
This test was not done on live humans but on test cells. It was in this way that the rate of cell growth could be more easily monitored.

It should be noted that the suggested dosages of the herb do not have undue effects on the menstrual cycle of humans.

Menopause

One of the things that women fear about menopause is developing osteoporosis. Brittle bones break a lot easier and they don’t mend as quickly. Sometimes just putting a foot down wrong will break bones.
A lot of work has been done on this topic because not only is it painful, but it can also be deadly. Broken bones can lead to being immobilized which leads to all kinds of complications. In earlier times a broken hip in an elderly person was almost always terminal.

According to a 2008 study published on Ovid, there is evidence that the estrogen components of P. mirifica can help bones make calcium. The bone turnover rate, as it’s called, was significantly higher in women taking the herb than in those taking the placebo. This particular study involved 71 women between the ages of 45 and 60 years. 54 of them took 10, 50 or 100 mg of the plant.

“These are new,” Paula said as she helped her mom fold laundry. “Why did you get new bras?”

“The old ones don’t fit anymore,” her mother said absently.

“Why? You haven’t gained any weight.”

“I have up top. That’s why I had to get new ones.”

“Ok, how did you do that. I get teased all of the time because I’m so flat-chested.”

“When I was looking up chasteberry for you two I found another herb that’s helping me with a problem of my own.”

“What is it?”

“The problem or the plant?”

“Both. This is like drawing nails.”

Her mother blushed slightly. “I’ve reached perimenopause and the symptoms were driving me crazy. This plant, called Pueraria mirifica, has been helping a lot. One of its side effects is an enlargement of the breasts.”

“What’s perimenopause? I’ve heard of menopause but not with the peri in front.”

“It’s the time leading up to menopause, or the cessation of having a menstrual cycle. You two are at menarche, the beginning of the cycle.”

“What kind of symptoms? Is that why you keep a fan next to you all the time and use it for no reason?”

“Yes and there is a reason. They’re called hot flashes. All of a sudden I get really hot, start to sweat and my face turns red. They don’t last long but they are annoying.”

“Back to this plant. Can I take it?”

“No, you can’t. It contains a plant type of estrogen which is dangerous for teens to take. You’ll have to wait until you’re at least eighteen and twenty would be better.”

“Why? I already have estrogen don’t I? Isn’t that what causes all the changes?”

“Yes and that’s exactly why. Your body doesn’t always know how much to produce. Sometimes it makes more and sometimes less. Until that’s in a settled rhythm you can’t take hormones safely.

“I read about three girls in Singapore who did take it. They all ended up in the hospital. You don’t want that, do you?”

“No, I can wait. It just seemed like the perfect answer. Did you have the same problem when you were my age?”

“Yes. Genetics is a factor in breast development. It took forever for mine to be a decent size.”

“What did you do?”

“Mom showed me an exercise. I don’t know if it helped with the physical problem but it made me feel like I was doing something positive about it.”

“Can I do the exercise?”

“Sure. Take a towel like this,” her mother held up a bath towel, “grab the corners like this, right.”

Paula held the towel the long way.

“Now lift your arms straight out, up and over your head. Move them back behind you as far as you can. Repeat ten times.

“I can feel muscles working in there.”

“That will be what could increase size. Your bust size is more than just the mammary glands. Your pectoral muscles also play a part.”

Later that day the phone rang. Paula answered it.
“Mom, phone!” Paula shouted.

“I was only in the kitchen. You didn’t need to shout so loud. Who is it? If it’s another person wanting to know if I want solar panels…”

“No, it’s Cousin Beth. She sounds kind of upset.”

“Hi, Beth, how are you?”

“Aunt Jenny I feel awful. I’ve had to deal with premenstrual syndrome before but this is a lot worse. I don’t know what to do.”

“Out of curiosity why are you asking me?”

“Paula and Beth bragged about how some herb you’ve given them have helped them a lot. They couldn’t remember what it was called. They said you were taking another herb. At this point I’ll try anything.”

“Ok. I think you could benefit both from what they are taking and what I’m taking. They’re taking chasteberry. It’s also called vitex and you could find it under either name. However you’re old enough to take Pueraria mirifica. That can help provide hormonal balance that chasteberry doesn’t always do.”

Paula made a snort of disgust which her mother silenced with a wave.

“Peoor what?” Beth asked.

“They shorten it to P. mirifica. It’s a plant from Thailand that has a lot of useful properties. Between the two plants you should get some relief.

“Now before you go taking either, talk to your doctor. I don’t think there’s any reason for these herbs to be a problem but it’s always a good idea to check.”

“Don’t forget to tell her about big boobs!” Paula shouted. Her mother glared at her.

“What was that?” Beth asked.

“Paula noticed I had to get new bras. I’m using it also and it does have the side effect of making your breasts larger.”

“That is a nice side effect… But I’m more interested in relieving the other symptoms. Thanks Aunt Jenny.”

“That’s not fair you know,” Paula said.

“What isn’t fair?”

“How come she can take it and I can’t?”

“How old is Beth?”

“I don’t know. Older than me.”

“Older than I and she’s twenty two. She is quite old enough to take it.”

“Why are you making her go to the doctor? That’s embarrassing,” Beth put in.

“Embarrassing or not you should always consult your doctor before taking any supplements. I consulted yours and mine.”

Bone Health
“Mom, Cousin Kate and Aunt Ruth are here,” Beth called out.

“Good, I could use a break,” her mother said as she came out of the kitchen. “You two can wash up now that I’ve got that load of tomato sauce in the canner.”

“Aw mom!” two voices chorused.

“Kate, why don’t you help them,” Ruth said giving her daughter a meaningful look. “I need to discuss something with your aunt.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Kate said with obvious reluctance.

“What’s up?” Jenny asked her older sister. “You look worried.”

“I am. The doctor says I have osteopenia. My bones are thinning. They aren’t brittle yet but they could be soon. I don’t know what to do.”

“I can make a suggestion,” Jenny replied. “It’s something I’ve been taking to deal with hot flashes and other problems caused by perimenopause.”

“I had noticed you looked better. Beth mentioned that you recommended a plant that helps with PMS and makes the breasts grow larger.”

“It’s the same one. P. mirifica. It contains phytoestrogens that help prevent bone loss and encourage production of more bone. After menopause the lack of natural estrogen leads to a reduced bone cell turnover rate.”

“I guess I could try it.”

“Make sure you ask your doctor first. You don’t want to find out later that it has other side effects you don’t want. You may also want to invest in bigger bras…”

Vaginal dryness

One of the major problems after menopause is the lack of secretions in the vagina. This lack isn’t just uncomfortable; it can lead to significant health problems including atrophy. A 2017 study published in Ovid compares the use of PM cream to that of estrogen cream. Both groups improved with no side effects. What’s more, this improvement did not last after treatment stopped.

Hot flashes, etc.

There are a lot of symptoms during perimenopause and menopause that cause inconvenient complications for women. Hot flashes and mood swings are two examples of this. It can be often times quite embarrassing to be the only person perspiring and red-faced in a roomful of people.

This is one reason many women seek hormone replacement therapy. One woman, having heard that orthodox HRT comes from pregnant horse urine said that she was “ready to drink it from its source” if it stopped the problem.

A study published on Pubmed, a branch of the National Library of Medicine, finds that the women participating found relief from symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes, while taking the herb. This study had 48 women enrolled. 11 were disqualified after the initial workup.

Of the 37 remaining, 20 were given 50 mg of P. mirifica once a day for 6 months. They saw a decrease in hot flashes from 35 episodes per group to 15 episodes. The second group received 100 mg. They saw a decline from 32 episodes to 13.

However, many women don’t approve of the methods for obtaining the drug and it is known to cause a significant increase in the rate of reproductive cancer, with breast cancer being the most common. P. mirifica has been shown to reduce breast cancer in small doses. However, studies show that at higher doses, there is basis for concern as P. mirifica acts like estrogen and can cause estrogen-related cancers and tumors.

A study was done to show that postpubertal administration of soy isoflavones at estrogenic doses promotes mammary and endometrial carcinogenesis in Donryu rats. This data questions the safety of long-term exposure to phytoestrogens like P. mirifica.

Hair loss/graying

There are reports stating that P. mirifica will reduce the rate of graying hair and that it will reverse or prevent hair loss. The only study found on the issue of graying was from a related plant to P. mirifica, P. lobata. This study showed that it can reduce the rate of graying but does not bring back color to hair already present.

As for hair loss, keep in mind that this herb contains several types of estrogen. Both male and female pattern baldness are caused by an imbalance between estrogen and testosterone. This does not mean that women start producing more testosterone. It is about maintaining balance.

During perimenopause and after menopause the levels of naturally produced estrogen decrease. When this happens there is in imbalance that allows the naturally occurring testosterone to damage hair follicles. Plants containing phytoestrogens are a natural way of combating this issue.

Skin

Wrinkles, crow’s feet and laugh lines are all a common part of aging for both men and women. In men, it’s said to give them character. Women, on the other hand, aren’t given as much leeway. There have been a number of ways women (and some men) have countered this. A well-known actor of the past had his wife reach behind and pull his neck skin back when he was on camera so that he looked younger.

Facelifts, tape and botox have all been used as well as many assortments of creams and oils. However, they can leave scars, they are short-lasting, and at times can be dangerous.

P. mirifica contains more than just estrogenic compounds. It contains antioxidants and the combination, as found by a study published in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility in 2005, can help reduce wrinkles. Other studies, done on an informal basis, have shown the same thing. To note, women can also develop excess facial hair because of the hormone imbalance.

“Where’ve you been all day, mom?” Paula asked. “And what’s that heavenly smell?”

“Your dad gave me a one day spa package for our anniversary, remember?” her mother replied.

“Did you have fun?” Beth asked. “It looks like they did a good job. Your hair is even styled.”

“Most of it was fun. I wasn’t thrilled with the teasing about my mustache and beard nor do I particularly like face waxing. I’m glad that problem is going away.”

“Why is it going away?” Paula asked.

“Because I’m taking some of the chasteberry you guys are taking as well as the P. mirifica. Both should help the hormone imbalance that causes it.”

“I didn’t know it did stuff for more than just kids,” Beth said. “Why would you have a hormone imbalance? You aren’t a teenager.”

Paula looked at her mother and smiled.

“Hormones can be out of balance for a lot of reasons, Beth. When I was pregnant with you two I had problems with hormones. Now that I’m approaching the end of my reproductive life cycle they’re out of balance again.”

“Why don’t you just go to the doctor and get medicine for it?” Beth asked.

“There are a lot of reasons for that. One is that it is extremely expensive, not covered by our insurance and there are no generics. There can’t be because of how it’s made. I don’t approve of the method but I’m not going into that right now.

“Synthetic hormones can also be dangerous. There are three types and the medical HRT uses the most dangerous one. The one in P. mirifica is the safest one.”

“How can a natural hormone be dangerous?” Paula asked.

“It can cause breast and other reproductive cancers. P. mirifica could but there are studies that show it both kills cancer and can help cause it.”

“That doesn’t answer my other question,” Beth said with an impish grin. “What did they use to make you smell so good?”

“Oh, that’s a special skin toner they used on my face. It’s got rose water in it and some essential oils. I think I’m going to make some. She makes it herself and gave me the recipe.”

“It definitely smells better than the one you use now with the apple cider vinegar in it,” Beth said with a wrinkled nose.

“Yes, it does.”

Eldercare

The number of people over the age of sixty is growing rapidly. As this happens, eldercare is becoming a more important issue. Not only are families dealing with it; insurance companies, state governments and even the federal government have an interest.
Aside from those mentioned above there are two other problems the elderly of both genders face that can be helped with this plant. One is memory, and the other is the problem of poor appetite combined with weight loss.

Memory

Loss of memory is more than just forgetting why someone went to the kitchen. It robs people of many other things like their relationships and life lessons, things they have spent time and effort developing. A spouse will forget the name of their partner, their children’s names and even that they have children. It can be dangerous if the person goes out on their own and becomes lost.

Loss of memory is tested by several professionals when it reaches a point where the elder cannot handle their own affairs. It is a grueling five hour test with as many different professionals. At least one family member or caregiver has to be present for the testing.
Several herbs have shown some benefits when it comes to aiding the memory. Gingko biloba and ginseng have both been touted for those purposes and they have been found to be useful.

They both have several side effects to be taken into consideration. Gingko is a blood thinner, and ginseng has adverse effects on those suffering from rheumatoid diseases.
P. mirifica does not have either of those problems. In a controlled study of mice it was found that the use of the main constituent of the herb, miroestrol, helped mice with cognitive impairment improve their ability to learn. Empirical data from Thailand also suggests this is a positive use.

“Mom I’m really getting worried about grandma,” Paula said. “She’s having some kind of memory trouble. She asked me the same question twice about two hours apart today.”

“Yes, I’d noticed that as well. Her doctor had suggested she take ginkgo but it seems to make her stomach upset. I also don’t think it’s supposed to be used when someone is on aspirin therapy,” Jenny replied. “I’ve called her doctor and he agrees to let me try the P. mirifica. He doesn’t think the potential side effects are a problem.”

“I thought that was just for female problems,” Paula said. “How does it apply here?”

“It helps the neurons in your brain connect better and it also helps increase function if it’s started early enough. I read the studies and sent the link to the doctor.”

“It sure helps me and it doesn’t upset my stomach.”

“Let’s hope it helps her.”

Appetite Stimulant

There are two ways this plant, and estrogen in general, affect the appetite. In small doses it may inhibit it and thus help with weight loss. However, in therapeutic doses, it is much more likely to increase appetite. While this isn’t good news to younger people who want to lose weight the easy way (there isn’t one), it is good news for older folks.

After interviewing a geriatric nurse and several caretakers, several signs that this will be a problem have arisen. Catching it before it gets serious is imperative to avoid complications. Phrases like, “I don’t want that,” and “I’m not hungry, why don’t you eat it” are common. So are actions such as picking at food, not coming when called to dinner and also simply forgetting to eat.

All of these can lead to malnutrition, severe weight loss, and dizziness. Malnutrition can cause deficiency diseases and decrease immunity. Being dizzy can lead to dangerous falls, especially for the elderly. It can also lead to an impaction of the colon and the possibility of a rupture. For these reasons, a proper appetite is important alongside any herbal supplement.

There are several herbs that can help boost appetite, but many of them can cause problems. One herb used is capsaicin. However, the elderly usually cannot tolerate the heat, and there are also drug/herb interactions one must consider. Wine is another alternative, and again it poses its own risks as well.

The antioxidants and estrogens in P. mirifica do not carry those risks. In fact, the estrogens, when taken in slightly larger quantities, boost the appetite. This in turn encourages the person to eat sufficiently.

Extraction methods

There are two ways to extract the useful constituents of P. mirifica for topical use. The best one involves oil. Take 1 cup of olive oil, add 1 TSP powdered P. mirifica and allow it to sit for six weeks in a cool, dark area. Strain before using as the powder won’t totally dissolve.

You can add ¼ TSP vitamin E oil and a few drops of a skin friendly essential oil as well. These oils include rose, bergamot and frankincense.

If the oil is unpleasant it can be mixed with cocoa butter or shea butter at a 50/50 ratio.

The second best method uses vodka. The reason for this choice is that it is an undenatured alcohol but it also isn’t likely to cause alcohol poisoning. Use the same technique and amounts as with olive oil extraction.

Dosages

Clinical studies suggest 200-400 mg per day for most people. Manufacturers suggest 250 mg twice daily. This information is based on the body mass of an average woman. If you are larger or smaller than the average, then discuss dosage with your doctor.

Safety Issues

Like prescription medications, no herb is without side effects, drug interactions and interactions with illnesses. Studies of P. mirifica have shown it to be safe for most people. Also, it should be noted that safety may not mean life threatening. It can just mean an effect that is undesirable.

Men and P. mirifica

Yes, men can take this herb. However, several things may occur that are not desirable. What makes a woman’s breast grow larger will make a man’s breasts grow larger. The estrogen levels may also reduce male libido.

Transgender men are beginning to look into phytoestrogens as a means of growing breasts. This can happen but care must be taken with dosage. Overdosing on any estrogen product can cause serious side effects, including deep vein thrombosis. DVTs are blood clots in large veins usually in the leg. If they are dislodged they can move to the heart, lungs or brain and potentially cause death.

Cancer

In regards to P. mirifica, studies indicate that it actually inhibits cancer growth and might prevent some hormone related cancers. However those same studies show that it can also encourage cancer growth in some people.

Allergies

This is a problem with anything that is ingested. The body can react against it, causing an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can be minor; hives, sneezing, headaches, etc. However, severe allergic reactions can cause anaphylactic shock which is deadly without immediate treatment. This causes the tongue and throat to swell, which can cause asphyxiation and potentially death.

Cardiac

According to the Breast Enhancement Options website there is a small chance of cardiac complications. Some people with heart problems have reported increased angina. Those who have heart conditions are recommended to avoid this herb.

Interactions

Weight loss drugs do not go well with P. mirifica. The combination can cause problems with the heart. It is also suggested that it shouldn’t be taken with birth control medications.

Corticosteroids, hydantoin medications and thyroid medications can also interact poorly with P. mirifica and should be avoided in combination.

Because overdose of this herb can lead to the following health issues those who suffer from them should also avoid using it. Individuals with epilepsy, diabetes myelitis, asthma, migraines and lupus should also avoid using P. mirifica as it can all be aggravated by use of this herb.

Lipids

At least one study has shown that there may be a relationship between P. mirifica and increased triglyceride levels. This is also true, in that study, of those who took regular HRT drugs. If lipid levels are a concern, ingestion of P. mirifica should be avoided.

Excessive menstrual flow

This is not an uncommon side effect and usually stops after taking the supplement for a while. It can be disconcerting. If symptoms of anemia occur, then check with your doctor.

Overdose

Most of what is known of overdose comes from animal studies. Increased length of the menstrual cycle, an increased risk of reproductive cancers and more growth of endometrial cells are examples. One person reported having a deep vein thrombosis.

How is this product available

Thailand has been taking steps to keep the growing and production of this plant legal within the country. Like other countries, they are worried that foreign investors will patent the plant and reap the profits. This includes selling their products to the people of Thailand at a higher price. Thus far, Thailand is the only place it grows.

However, products made from P. mirifica are available all over the internet. It comes as a powder (best mixed into smoothies), as well as in creams, tablets and capsules.

There are some who recommend P. mirifica to be a prescription-only product. This isn’t the case in the United States but it might be in other countries. For this reason, local laws should always be adhered to.

Instructions

It is very important to talk to someone who knows your medical history, what you are already taking, and who also has knowledge of the chemical constituents of any herb you plan to take. The first person to talk to is your doctor. Many doctors have started to study herbs and their potential. Others have a computer database to draw conclusions from.

Even if your doctor has this information, be sure to talk to your pharmacist. Pharmacists often catch drug/drug interactions that doctors miss and are just as important for drug/herb interactions.

The third person you should consult is a qualified herbal practitioner. Those who are qualified have studied more than just the herb’s effects. Courses include botany, chemistry, interactions and other information about herbs. All three are important to safeguard your health.

This article is not to take the place of any of the above. It is for information only and should be taken as such. Self-diagnosis and self-medicating are not encouraged in this article.