Although endometriosis is associated with rapid cell division and spreads to other locations in the body it is not cancerous. It is an estrogen-dependent disease. The start of endometriosis is a breakdown of the extracellular structure controlled by enzymes which are stimulated by estrogen. Angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels) is involved, stimulated by increase in a normal chemical called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
Current treatment of endometriosis is to reduce the patient’s estrogen activity. Older treatments, including progestogens*, have too many side effects. Puerarin**, a phytoestrogen (plant estrogen) from kudzu (Radix puerariae) is beneficial in cardiovascular disease, alcoholism, and neurological diseases. The current study is to test the potential of puerarin in the treatment of endometriosis in cell culture; it has been found that puerarin does inhibit angiogenesis in vivo and does have anti-estrogen activity.
Isoflavones, such as puerarin, are plant estrogens which have both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic activity. Puerarin comes from plants such as kudzu and has been demonstrated to have anti-estrogenic activity in endometrial tissue outside the uterine cavity. Endometrial tissue regresses when deprived of estrogen, and actively forms new blood vessels. This activity was suppressed by puerarin.
Puerarin has no severe side effects and may be used for long periods of time. It is now widely used as estrogen replacement therapy, amd is available as a dietary supplement.
CONCLUSION: Puerarin from kudzu can prevent the invasion and vascularization of ectopic (outside the uterus) endometrial tissues. It is suggested as a medical treatment for endometriosis.
NOTE: *Progestogens, which include progesterone, are a group of hormones which function mainly in pregnancy.
**Puerarin has been shown to be an aromatase inhibitor, which can reduce estrogen levels.
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