Overview

Equol comes from soy. When soy is eaten, certain bacteria in the gut change the chemicals contained in soy to equol. However, only 20-60% of people are able to break down soy chemicals to form equol. Some studies have shown that people capable of breaking soy down to form equol get more health benefits from soy. These people are called equol producers.

Equol is used for symptoms of menopause. It is also used for weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis), aging skin, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How does it work ?

Equol is a chemical that has some effects that are similar to the hormone estrogen, but it is much less potent than estrogen.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Possibly Effective for

  • Symptoms of menopause. Taking equol by mouth appears to improve symptoms related to menopause, including hot flashes, in women who cannot produce equol from soy.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Aging skin. There is some evidence that equol can reduce crow's-feet wrinkles in postmenopausal women who are unable to produce equol from soy.
  • Decline in memory and thinking skills in older people that is more than what is normal for their age. There is early evidence that older Japanese people who are equol producers are less likely to have a decline in memory and thinking skills than those who do not produce equol from soy.
  • Diabetes. One population study has found that people with higher levels of equol in urine seem to have a lower risk for diabetes. But it's unknown if taking equol as a supplement can help treat or prevent diabetes.
  • A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome). There is early evidence that equol might lower some of the health risks that make overweight men and women more likely to develop metabolic syndrome.
  • Weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis). There is some evidence that taking equol might slow bone loss in women near or beyond menopause who cannot produce equol from soy.
  • Breast cancer.
  • Diabetes.
  • Heart disease.
  • High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia).
  • Prostate cancer.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of equol for these uses.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Equol is LIKELY SAFE when used for up to one year. Equol can cause some mild side effects such as constipation, bloating, and dizziness. It can also cause allergic reactions involving rash in some people.

Special Precautions and Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information about the safety of taking equol if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Breast Cancer: The effects of equol in people with breast cancer are unclear. Some research finds that equol might "feed" certain breast cancers because it can act like estrogen. Other studies have found that equol seems to protect against breast cancer. Because there isn't enough reliable information about the effects of equol in women with breast cancer, a history of breast cancer, or a family history of breast cancer, it is best to avoid using equol until more is known.

Interactions ?

    Moderate Interaction

    Be cautious with this combination

  • Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs) interacts with EQUOL

    Some birth control pills contain estrogen. In the body, estrogen can either be free or it can be attached to certain proteins. The free estrogen is the type that works in the body. Equol might increase the amount of free estrogen. Taking equol along with birth control pills might increase the risk of side effects from the birth control pills. These side effects include headaches, breast tenderness, painful periods, and weight gain.

    Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.

  • Estrogens interacts with EQUOL

    In the body, estrogen can either be free or it can be attached to certain proteins. The free estrogen is the type that works in the body. Equol might increase the amount of free estrogen in the body. Taking equol along with estrogen might increase the risk of side effects from estrogen replacement therapy. These side effects include headaches, breast tenderness, and weight gain.

    Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.

  • Testosterone interacts with EQUOL

    In the body, testosterone can either be free or it can be attached to certain proteins. The free testosterone is the type that works in the body. Equol might increase the amount of free testosterone in the body. Taking equol along with testosterone might increase the risk of side effects from testosterone replacement therapy. These side effects include acne, headaches, weight gain, and growth of breasts in men.

    Minor Interaction

    Be watchful with this combination

  • Water pills (Diuretic Drugs) interacts with EQUOL

    Equol has similar effects to "water pills." Taking equol along with "water pills" might increase the risk of side effects including low blood pressure, dizziness, and dehydration.

    Some "water pills" include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDiuril, Microzide), spironolactone (Aldactone), and others.

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For symptoms of menopause: 10-40 mg per day has been taken in divided doses for up to 12 weeks.
View References

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.