Aromatase–Part Three:  Natural Aromatase Inhibitors

Aromatase–Part Three:  Natural Aromatase Inhibitors

Anti-Aromatase Foods

We will look at two meta-studies here. The first examined seven vegetable extracts, and we will explore those first.


This study concluded that “the extract from white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) was the most effective in inhibiting human placental aromatase. A 50% inhibition of aromatase activity was achieved with 50 μL of 7.5XH2O mushroom extract. The active component in the mushroom extract appeared to be water soluble and heat stable.”  (Of the other vegetable extracts tested, only “celery had a modest inhibitory effect”.)

Notice that the study refers to “H2O mushroom extract”; clearly a simple water extract.

“These studies have been performed using the crude extract to avoid potential changes in efficacy by the purification process and to maintain a close resemblance to the composition as a food source.

Agaricus bisporus, known as the stuffing or button mushroom, has two color states while immature, white and brown, both of which had a powerful inhibitory effect against aromatase activity. A few other mushrooms also demonstrated significant anti-aromatase effects, specifically baby button, crimini, portobello, and shiitake.


This study also included some material from previous research done on soy foods: “There is compelling epidemiologic data in Asian women who have a four- to six fold lower risk of breast cancer than Western women. One of the reported differences between these two populations is the consumption of soy protein. A possible mechanism-based explanation for the lower incidence of breast cancer is that soy is high in phytoestrogens, phytochemicals that suppress aromatase.

(Meta-analysis 1: Source)

I will just briefly mention here that soy foods have been unfairly maligned in the recent past, due to a slander job done by the Weston Price Foundation, based mostly on rat and bird studies. Further adding to this mis-understanding is the medical profession’s seeming inability to understand the difference between estrogen and phytoestrogens. Thus doctors will tell patients with estrogen-sensitive cancers to avoid soy and flax, not understanding that scientific research has shown both those foods to have a protective effect against “bad” or excessive estrogens, due to the presence of phytoestrogens and anti-aromatase agents.  The following material is from a different meta-analysis of literature on the subject.


We have previously seen the potential of grape seed extract, so it is no big surprise this overview of food studies found that “phytochemicals in grape juice could suppress aromatase activity”.

And, when one thinks of grapes, one naturally thinks of wine (right?).

The natural product extracts that were most active in the microsomal aromatase inhibition assay  included five red wine varieties (Vitis L. sp.) from various wineries, with the most active being Cabernet Sauvignon from Tanglewood (France).

Another red wine showing good anti-aromatase activity was Pinot Noir, the particular one tested being from Hacienda (Sonoma, CA).

Considering that red wine is the alcoholic beverage most linked to increasing longevity, it may very well be that its anti-aromatase activity may be a big part of the equation.

Polyphenols are a class of micronutrients, loaded with antioxidants. There are some 8,000 types of polyphenols, including chlorogenic acid, flavonoids, tannic acid, and ellagitannin. Wine is high in polyphenols as are coffee, cocoa, and green tea, and all three of these foods were also found to “strongly inhibit aromatase”. All three, also like red wine, are considered to be longevity agents.

(“Red wine was shown to be much more effective than white wine in the suppression of aromatase activity.”)


Camellia sinensis is on this list due to population studies which found that those people with a higher intake of the tea-derived polyphenol EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) showed lower estradiol levels. Mouse studies confirmed that this was due to aromatase inhibition, and such inhibition was derived from both black and green teas.


Anyone who has already explored the use of supplements for inhibiting aromatase would have run across the most common agent, chrysin. Technically this should have been listed above, under Herb Extracts and Supplements, however, since one of the reference points is part of the meta-analysis of foods, it shall be included here.

This meta-analysis tells us that, while chrysin has shown strong aromatase inhibition in cell studies (in vitro), it was also “estrogenic at high concentrations”. (A similar tendency was also attributed to red clover flowers, commonly used in herbalism to treat menopausal symptoms. “The red clover flowers were found to inhibit aromatase at low concentrations and were also estrogenic at high concentrations.” Which is fine for menopause, since this condition requires extra estrogen, but not good for those worried about having too much estrogen.)

In a meta-analysis devoted solely to chrysin, “20 relevant articles were chosen from a total of 1721 articles. Only one study was performed on humans and two studies were assayed on rats, while other studies were evaluated in vitro. All the studies except one showed that chrysin had the potency of aromatase inhibition”.   (Source)

So,while that sounds promising, again, the majority of these studies were done outside of the human body, so it would not be surprising if too much could result in increased estrogen levels.

Our best approach here is to avoid taking chrysin as a supplement. Since chrysin (5,7-dihydroxyflavone) is a polyphenolic flavone (a class of flavonoids) it is found in high concentrations in some foods, particularly honey, propolis, and the herb passion flower.

(Meta-analysis 2: Source)


Commonly marketed as an aphrodisiac, for both genders, the herb damiana (Turnera diffusa) clearly has an effect on hormones. One clinical study determined that an extract of damiana “could significantly suppress aromatase activity”.   (Source)

Yerba Mate

This herb is extremely popular in South American countries where it is drunk as an alternative to coffee or tea. A study found that certain derivatives extracted from “maté ”were able to inhibit aromatase activity, but one component, “ursolic acid”, was able to do so as effectively as a steroidal aromatase inhibitor.   (Source)

This naturally leads one to assume that perhaps any food that is high in ursolic acid may be a valuable addition to our anti-aromatase arsenal. And, though ursolic acid can be found in supplement form, it is poorly absorbed and has limited human clinical trials showing it to be of benefit. Some studies (on cancer patients) have even found it to produce negative side effects in humans with cancer, so food appears to be the best way to go.

The foods richest in ursolic acid are rosemary, sage, and apple skins, followed by cranberry juice, grape skin, holy basil, oregano, and thyme.   (Source)


We all need to keep our hormones in balance, and in these days of omnipresent xenoestrogens, age is no longer the only pre-determinant of who needs to block estrogens, and protect the other sex hormones from metabolic breakdown.

One way we can do this is obviously to eat freely of the foods and herbs discussed, and in some cases add some of the supplements we reviewed in the previous newsletter. However, in addition, it can be of great benefit to use a product like AdrenalStart which can elevate DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), a “mother” hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Elevated DHEA allows the body to produce the sex hormones in the ideal amounts it requires for optimal functioning and to balance out those other sex hormones which have run amok, don’t belong (xenoestrogens), or have degenerated into damaging byproducts due to other health or environmental factors.

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