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Pueraria mirifica - Fountain of Youth

An ancient Thai "miracle" herb reveals itself to be a real-life fountain of youth

"In life, you find yourself where you're supposed to be. There's always a reason." That's how my conversation with Dr. Sandy Schwartz (you can call him Dr. Sandy) began. And if your interest is piqued, it should be. That initial statement would set the tone for one of the most extraordinary conversations I've ever had during my time here at the Health Sciences Institute.

I called Dr. Sandy to learn more about an obscure herb called Pueraria mirifica, a serendipitous discovery that he made shortly after deciding to drop anchor in Bangkok, Thailand. And when asked how he ended up so far from his native New York City, he confidently proclaimed that he was fated to collide with this ancient plant.

The first half of its moniker (also called PM for short) is simply the Latin term for what is locally called kudzu-a genus of green plants native to Southeast Asia. But it's the second half that warrants the lion's share of your attention.

The direct translation of mirifica is "miracle-maker." And when I heard what this herb could do, I decided that the name couldn't be more appropriate. For centuries, PM has been working magic that (until now, at least) most of us have only seen in big-budget Hollywood films-or in our absolute wildest dreams.

Imagine having a full head of thick, dark hair well into your 80s-no Clairol or expensive procedures necessary. Imagine your wrinkles and sagging skin vanishing, leaving firm, taut, youthful skin in their place. Imagine staving off the devastating effects of menopause, so that you'll never suffer another sleepless night riddled with hot flashes again.

And if all that isn't compelling enough, imagine being able to combat breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer and prostate complications-all with this single "miraculous" herb. If you don't believe me, just take a look at the numerous published studies that have been performed on PM. Even better, ask the virile, active, and anything-but-elderly Thai villagers who have consumed variations of this plant every day for generations.

Or you could ask Dr. Sandy, like I did. As the natural health pioneer who's made it his mission to put this herb on the Western end of the map, he'll tell you that Pueraria mirifica certainly lives up to its name.

An anti-aging powerhouse that's less toxic than water

The first recorded account of PM dates all the way back to 14th century Thailand, where the highest order of monks in the Northern Kingdom would receive tonics crafted from the herb as gifts from local inhabitants. Today, you can still read the ancient palm leaves that are inscribed with the plant's numerous (and incredible) capabilities, which were translated into modern Thai by scholars in the 1930s.

"If aging men take this medicine [they] will become strong like a young man," the text professes-adding that "the ingredient in the medicine is very easy to find, but the specification of the right plant is very difficult." As it turns out, there are 13 different species of "kudzu" in Thailand. But only one of them-Pueraria mirifica-has the astounding power to reverse the many effects of aging.

That's because PM has sole bragging rights to a unique compound called miroestrol. It's nearly identical in molecular structure to estriol, one of the three main estrogens produced by the human body in both genders. But more importantly, you won't find another compound with more potent estrogenic activity anywhere in nature.

Analysis has shown that miroestrol-and its precursor deoxymiroestrol-has approximately 3,000 times the estrogenic activity of soy isoflavones and is more than 100 times more powerful than red clover, two of the most popular alternatives for natural menopause relief today. But as Dr. Sandy explained to me, this particular phytoestrogen doesn't work in quite the same way. In fact, it's far safer.

PM doesn't simply mimic estrogen in the body the way that other therapies do, whether bio-identical or not. Instead, the herb (much like the human byproduct it resembles) acts on estrogen receptors. In more clear terms, it acts as a balancing agent: When levels of estrogen are too high, PM will tie up receptors to weaken the hormone's effects-when levels are low, the herb exerts the necessary estrogenic activity without actually increasing the amount of estrogen in your body.

As a result, your hormones are modulated and signs of aging linked to your body's numerous estrogen-receptors (whether it's menopausal symptoms, wrinkles, balding, or graying hair) are halted or reversed. And without any risk of toxicity, either.

On the LD50 test (which measures the dosage that would kill laboratory animals after 14 days, expressed in weight of material per kilogram of body weight), simple water scores a 16. Relative to this, dried PM root scores a more toxic 7-but when the root is administered in the form of a standardized extract, the score raises to 40, causing no animal deaths at all.

In short: It's less toxic than water.

Night sweats stopped in as little as six days

Just as important as PM's safety, though, is that it actually works. Fortunately, several studies suggest that it can effectively relieve several of the many symptoms of menopause. One study showed that PM improved vascular function in ovariectomized rabbits, showing the herb's promise as a heart-protective for menopausal women.1 Another demonstrated PM's ability to prevent bone loss in rat models.2 And just as many human trials show that these results carry over to women as well.

A larger Phase II trial was conducted in 2004, in which researchers evaluated the symptoms of 37 perimenopausal women (including hot flashes and night sweats). Of the 37 trial subjects, 20 were randomly assigned a dose of 50 mg of PM per day-the other 17 received a dose of 100 mg. The results were positive-and began to show as soon as six days after treatment, leading study authors to conclude that "Pueraria mirifica demonstrates great promise in the treatment of climacteric symptoms among perimenopausal women."3

But as they say, every rose has its thorn-and Pueraria mirifica appears to be no exception. In trial subjects, there have been reports of breast pain, vaginal discharge, headaches, and even a few cases of vaginal spotting in menopausal women supplementing with PM -an occurrence that would most likely send you running to your doctor for a cancer screening. (Bleeding after menopause is almost always a serious warning sign.)

But while this is definitely a potential side effect that might lead you to reconsider including the herb in your daily arsenal, research actually suggests that supplementing with PM could help to eliminate worries of hormone-dependent cancers-like breast cancer-altogether.

Even a quick glance at global cancer statistics will reveal a striking point of contrast: Rates of breast cancer in particular are more than 10 times lower in Thailand than here in the United States. This is a difference that's impossible to ignore-and also one that has sent scientists searching for an explanation. They may have found their answer in Pueraria mirifica.

Scientists believe that PM's active compound miroestrol acts similarly to the breast cancer drug tamoxifin, insofar as it occupies estrogen receptors without triggering the chemical cascade that leads to pre-cancerous cell division. And this hypothesis is supported by a growing body of studies, which reveal that PM can inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells in particular.

Benefits that reach far beyond menopause

In total, the studies around PM have been mixed, with some demonstrating the herb's great potential, and others suggesting it may come at a price. Dr. Sandy is quick to say that the latter research simply needs to be more thorough. What could look like a trigger for potentially dangerous cell division on the surface would reveal itself to be increasing cancer-fighting cells upon closer inspection, he argues.

The Thai Ministry of Health enthusiastically supported this same conclusion in a 2001 public declaration, citing clinical research that proves PM's safety--and its promise in the search for new cancer treatments. But for now, the jury-on paper, at least-still appears to be out.

What's certain, though, is the mountain of epidemiological evidence behind PM's powers, in the form of centuries of use by Thai men and women. Dr. Sandy detailed many stories to me: In one particularly memorable account he described an 82-year-old woman whose daily consumption of PM kept her hair naturally jet black, and her body as spry as a woman decades her junior. Amazingly, she still had the energy she needed to chase after her grandchildren.

Another local man (also in his 80s) seemed confused when asked how often he arose from sleep at night to urinate. To him-and all of the other male villagers who had been eating PM root every day for years-disturbances of this nature were unheard of. Dr. Sandy has even seen his own hair restored and wrinkles fade-after all, men experience side effects from estrogen imbalances, too, like balding, lower sexual performance, and more porous bones.

But the younger population can benefit from PM, too, he told me-with the prevalence of hormones in our food supply, a natural estrogen adaptogen like this one can be crucial at any age. Last, but not least, Dr. Sandy didn't fail to mention several LA Lakers cheerleaders who have seen excellent results from his PM formulation for breast enhancement-perhaps a less urgent, but equally astounding "perk" of the product.

To his mind, Pueraria mirifica is nothing short of a fountain of youth-and the possibilities, he says, are vast. Even now, research is in the works that will investigate the herb's potential, not just against menopausal discomfort and cosmetic aging, but also against prostate concerns, osteoporosis, and possibly even Alzheimer's. But in the meantime, the herb's availability is still limited, and the American market may not quite be ready to embrace it. Still, there are a few scant sources that have begun to open the door.

One of these is Solgar, who introduced a product called PM PhytoGen Complex in December. It includes a standardized extract of Pueraria mirifica with B12, folic acid, and biotin to help manage the symptoms of perimenopause -like night sweats, insomnia, headaches, and fatigue.

You can find details on how to order this product-and be among the first on this side of the Atlantic to benefit from this breakthrough herb-in the Members Source Directory. Meanwhile, stay tuned -we'll be sure to keep following the inevitable growth of what just might end up being the hottest ingredient to hit the natural health scene in decades.

You can find the herb at: http://www.iherb.com/ProductDetails.aspx?c=1&pid=-6131784303763543477&at=0

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One Customer Review...

Average Rating: Based on1 Review(s) Sort by : Rating - High to Low Rating - Low to High Date - Newest Date - Oldest Most Helpful Most Critical

Amazing product!, November 27, 2008

From Illinois

I have tried everything, and this product has worked the best to eliminate my menopausal symptoms. I can't say enough good things about it. I've been using it for a year, and my husband started taking it about 6 months ago. It balances the hormones in men and women. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse



  • Sounds interesting...The benefits sound amazing, but the side effects are a little scary, too. I would like to hear some more experiences people have had using this product. If I am 21 years old, could this actually help me to age more slowly?? Very intriguing, indeed!!

  • I purchased pueraria mirifica capsules on ebay and started using them about a month ago. It might be soon to judge but i have not noticed any difference in skin clarity or breast size increase. I did experience some irregular bleeding but it stopped after two days. I am going to continue usage for 2 more months to see what happens!

  • I am really interested in this herb and was hoping some more people had real experiences to share. If you have tried this, please enlighten us!!!

  • In Thailand they mix the powdered Pueraria with honey and make littlepellets that are dried.

    Maybe this combination enhances the pueraria?

  • I guess I should say that I am 27 years old and that the pueraria mirifica capsules have not effected me in any negative way. I should also add that I am taking them with fenugreek capsules that I bought at GNC. I've read a lot about this herb and supposedly most women see a change within three months of usage and that's why I'm willing to give it a chance. I should also add that I'm taking the PM capsules for the purpose of breast enhancement. I will keep you posted on any changes that this pill may bring about in the next few months.

  • Interesting! do you know if the powdered pueraria actually increase breast size?

  • The fact that it causes irregular bleeding sometimes scares me. It makes me feel like it is hurting the body somehow.

    Zeina- you haven't noticed any positive reactions yet? Please keep us updated on your progress!

  • The bleeding was very slight. I had some cramping similar to that of a period. After that I had some very light bleeding. However, it stopped and never occurred again. I'm usually very skeptical. However, it didn't scare me much because I assumed it was the estrogen in the herb that sort of interefered with the chemistry of things. I will keep you posted, however, on what goes on later!

  • Zeina - You might want to be a bit careful with fennugreek, fennel, and any of those other estrogenic herbs. I thought my estrogen levels were probably too low (also was trying to ummm..."grow!") and after having complications from the herbs, I had my hormones tested (saliva test) and found out my estrogen was actually high and my progesterone was very low - estrogen dominance. My naturopath put me on natural progesterone treatment to deal with the imbalance. I sort of regret messing with mother nature now - I had my period six months straight and even now it is still a bit off. Never had those problems before taking the herbs. I never took PM, but just wanted to warn you about the estrogenic herbs. Oh...and I've heard some horror stories of young women who were advised to take estrogenic herbs when they didn't need them and their skin started to basically age and break down like women going through menopause. Just be careful, whatever you decide. If you are interested, Sabre Sciences in CA has a really great saliva test, and they formulated a natural cream for me based specifically on my test results.

  • Thank You so much for the advice! You know I never really thought about it that way. I thought fenugreek was just another herb like garlic, oregano, etc. Is there a sign that I can look for before testing to see if my estrogen level is too low? I thought i did my research about PM and fenugreek but i guess you learn more from other peoples experiences that what you read about them on the web. Please share with us anymore information you might have. Thanx much!

  • Okay here goes! I decided to go in for bloodwork to check my hormone levels. I also did some research on signs of low estrogen/high estrogen/low-high progesterone. Thank god, I don't seem to have any of those symptoms linked to such problems so I'm assuming my body hormones are at a normal level. However, I did decide to stop the fenugreek and to just stick to the PM. If anyone knows anything negative about PM, please let me know because everything i've been reading has been positive.

  • I ended up going to my doctor and he laughed when I said I want to get my hormones checked. He asked me questions like "are you having hot flashes? have you been getting your period? do you feel hot and sweaty all the time? chest or knee pain? etc. Anyways, because everything is normal for me, he said I seemed fine and didn't need to worry. However, I should add that I got my period several days after my visit with the doctor and it was very short and light compared to my other periods. This is supposedly a side effect from the PM and thats why its recommended the Pueraria Mirifica be taken on the first day of menstruation up until the 15th day and then you stop and repeat the cycle the next month. So I will continue with the PM to see what happens!

  • Zeina- Thanks so much for sharing your information with us. I'm glad that your doctor didn't think that anything was wrong, but it kinda sounds like he blew off your concerns which I am sorry about. Do you know if PM effects birth control hormones ?

  • I'm feeling a bit down today. I saw my ob/gyn today and told her about PM and that my period was a bit funny this month. She said it's all a waste of time and money and that i shouln't mess around with stuff like that. it could trigger other problems and that no herb can do such a wonder without having a negative effect on my body. She laughed and said that if i want bigger boobs, i should just get implants (its safer than everything else). I really don't know whether i should continue with the PM capsules or whether i should just throw them out. any advice?

  • Why don't you see a Nutripathic Doc??? You know traditional doc's don't know anything about holistic medicine let alone herbs and their values...

    I can't and wont advise you to continue or discontinue PM, but I will tell you that I take it twice a day... I take it because I am post menopausal and want to slow my aging process...

    I have not noticed and change in my breast size btw... smile

  • Zeina - I have to agree with waterbaby12347 about traditional doctors. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with you hormonally at all, but it's a bit naive of a doctor to dismiss concerns of a younger woman because she doesn't have hot flashes. Nobody can look at a person and accurately access the goings-on of their endocrine system. Most traditional doctors only focus on clearing symptoms of illness or disease - they aren't as interested in the perfection of health or the health of the whole person. If you saw a naturopath, they wouldn't laugh at you. Your OBGYN is partially right about the PM. Let's say you don't have a hormonal imbalance - the PM is then affecting your perfectly normal hormones and altering their production and relationship to one another. Let's say you do have a hormonal imbalance: in that case, there is no way to know whether or not PM is the right thing to correct the imbalance. It could be completely wrong for you, and you could be making the existing imbalance worse. Your OBGYN is right in saying that that herbs like PM can trigger other problems. If you are already noticing changes in your menstrual cycle, the PM is taking some effect, and you don't know if that is a good thing, a bad thing, or a combination of both.

    But then again, the reason you want to take PM is more or less to put your body *out* of balance rather than in balance. Using herbs to increase breast size involves manipulating your body and your hormones. In some ways, it really isn't any more natural than getting surgery. You have to create an imbalance (an influx of estrogen) to grow breasts when your body decided they are finished growing. A lot of people who do notice any growth end up losing it after they stop taking herbs. The herbs work with your prolactin levels - similar to women who are pregnant. Chances are, the growth would not be permanent. My naturopath essentially recommended a raw foods diet for me. Raw foods balance your hormones over time. Since you eat raw foods, I'm sure balance is important to you also. It sort of makes me angry to hear that an OBGYN said breast implants are basically safer than herbs - neither are safe. Even if you aren't totally happy with your body, there are ways to learn to love and accept yourself.

  • Thanks again for the good advice Heloise! My OB/GYN actually mentioned to me that the growth would barely be a cup size if any and chances are they might not be permanent. When I mentioned to my doctor that PM contains phytoestrogens and the sort, she said that it was more for women in thier 40's and up. I hate to admit it but although I tried concvincing myself that my body might be going through some changes and it was all part of the PM process, it scared me to death when my last period was so short and light, you could say it was a missed period. Finally, I decided to just stop the PM. I wish I didn't order so much of it though. Waterbaby mentioned that it did nothing for her breast size and this is the whole reason why i'm taking it. And Heloise, your'e actually right about the last part too, I should just get used to having small breasts instead of messing with Un-natural and Un-safe procedures. Everyone around me has been telling me that for years, i just need to convince myself that having small breasts is okay! is it true that i shouldnt stop the PM abruptly but rather gradually because it might cause heavy bleeding?

  • Hello everyone! I have been considering getting silicone breasts implants for a couple of moths now. I saw a highly reputable board certified surgeon and have been debating whether I should go through with it or not. After all i've been reading on the web about implants rupturing, leaking, and other problems, I must admit I'm a bit worried. However, I did decide to give the Pueraria Mirifica another chance. I don' t think it will be worse than silicone spreading through my entire body.

  • I never embraced this idea with natural herbs and stuff...I`ll never follow a naturist treatment. I do not deny that they might have great benefits and stuff but due to the side effect they have, I`d rather follow a doctor normal prescription. Once I see some warning signs on my body I go to my doctor and not to any kind of voodoo healer.

  • Normal prescriptions have side effects too.

  • I'm very skeptical about putting anything in my body that might cause any harm but to be honest with you I've done so much research about this herb (pm) and its all positive. There is nothing out there that says the herb might be dangerous at all.

  • My doctor recently showed me some implants that he removed. They were gross, one was leaking, and the other was filled with black fungus. He said that he used to put in implants, but now is very against them. He even spoke to the FDA about them. He said he's taken out many more thatn he ever put in. The silicone ones, if they leak, can make you very sick. I asked why they would get fungus in them (the saline ones that he showed me) and he said that even iv saline has an expiration date and these things go in your body forever. He showed me one pair that had such a big chunk that it looked like a frog was living inside it. So, there's what I know about implants. One benefit is that smaller breasts age better!

  • m.nm.n

    Hey Zeina,

    I have similar intentions and have recently ordered PM after reading such positive stuff about it. Let me know if you are comfortable sharing info via email.

  • Sure M.N., I don't mind. Wow you hear all these stories and you get so confused. My family is so against me getting implants. they are so worried about the risks involved. I am so afraid that that if i do get them and something happens, i will feel so stupid!!!!!!!!! N-E-WAys, I've decided to stick to the pm for a couple more months and see what happens. However, to make the pm work its best, i was advised to buy a magensium-calcium-zinc supplement. It's like $6 and the bottle contains all three of these elements.

  • Zeina,

    If you are a raw foodist who abstains from heavy caffeine intake for at least six months (better no caffeine at all), preferably a year or more, you may be pleasantly surprised with your breasts and decide not to get the implants. If you are already raw and have been that way for a while, I would be very curious to know. This is because many who go raw and stay that way over time, end up at peace with their bodies and feel great in them. I have seen some women go raw and their breast size changes over time too. So, I am curious about these things. Also, how old are you? There are some advantages to having smallish breasts which women grow to appreciate over time (they don't sag, you can wear some types of clothing more easily, and working out is easier).

    Also, if you are far from menopause and have a regular menstrual cycle, it's not a great idea to try and "enhance" your estrogen with supplements, Herbs like the one listed in this thread are used medicinally for women much older than youself (from what I infer in this thread). The best medicine is often no medicine, and/or to remove the "offending" agent from your daily regime (heavy caffeine, foods that don't work for your body etc.)

    Hope this helps and good luck on your path.

  • Thanks for the advice Yogi! I am 28 years old and have a good healthy lifestyle. I have not been RAW for long. I also don't take in that much caffeine. You might be right about the PM because most people who take it are menopausal or close to menopause. Its just that the info out there on PM seems so intriguing!!!

  • m.nm.n

    Hey, sorry for the delayed response...m.n416@hotmail.com...i would love to hear your experience with m.p. mine haven't arrived yet. i'm goin for them for the same reasons as you i.e. the info that i've read, case studies seem pretty convincing...looking forward to hearing from you!

  • there are no miracle herbs or magic potions. people mistake the use of herbs, medicines, superfoods, etc. as the creator of health and the cure for sickness when actually it's the body that is healing itself.

    nothing can heal the body better than the body. anything else is a gimmick for profit and a waste of money and also puts more foreign things in the body that it needs to cleanse itself of. we are self-healing organisms. we just need the proper rest, environment and nourishment so that our bodies have the energy to heal themselves.

  • Zeina,

    You wrote:

    "I'm very skeptical about putting anything in my body that might cause any harm "

    I ask this as gently as I can--then why are you considering breast implants? These implants can leak, shift, and just look like hell (not to mention the expense of the surgery itself). Go here (http://www.awfulplasticsurgery.com/category/bad-boob-job/) and check out some truly bad boob jobs.

    I agree with Yogi--I would hope that a benefit to eating a raw/living foods diet would be greater acceptance of one's body.

  • RawLibrarian,

    You are absolutely right! What a contradiction? However, to be honest with you, I've been told that breast implants done by a Board Certified and Experienced plastic surgeon are really safe these days. Honestly! I would love to not have to go through with this but having extremely small breasts is such a bummer! I don't know..............................!!!!

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