Q: I went to your health lecture at The Villages last week and I really enjoyed the talk. You said ipriflavone was helpful to people with osteoporosis and I wanted more information about how it works, the dosage and side effects. Can you elaborate? - S.E., Lady Lake, Fla.
A: Ipriflavone may have a strange name, but it's a powerful skeleton builder. I like it almost as much as I like the mineral strontium for people with osteoporosis. The article regarding strontium is still posted at my Web site. Ipriflavone is a bit different. It's not a mineral, rather a semi-synthetic compound that is derived from soy. Soy, as many of you know has effects on the body that are similar to estrogen. Ipriflavone and its broken down metabolites confer estrogen-like effects to the body and work in a similar way to the hormone estrogen. That's how it increases bone mass, especially in post-menopausal women. It also shuttles more calcium to the bones.
Ipriflavone is well studied and its benefits have been published in popular journals, including JAMA. It has been used in Italy, Japan and Hungary for many years, and is relatively new to the United States.
Most holistic practitioners recommend about 600mg total ipriflavone each day. You should divide the dosage up, for example take 200 milligrams three times per day or 300mg twice daily. I would suggest that you also take 500-600 mg calcium citrate (or calcium aspartate or other absorbable form of calcium) twice daily because ipriflavone and calcium work better together.
Avoid ipriflavone if you have an increased risk of infection because it reduces white blood cells, and you need those to fight off infections and maintain immune health. Remember, ipriflavone is estrogenic, so don't take it with prescribed hormones. And be aware that ipriflavone may fuel estrogen-driven cancers.
Ipriflavone may help you if you have Paget's disease, a genetically linked bone disease characterized by skeletal deformities and bone pain. A small study using higher doses than those recommended by me, showed improved bone turnover and reduced pain in patients suffering from Paget's.
Ipriflavone is also attractive to bodybuilders and athletes because it seems to build muscle mass and have other "anabolic" effects. It increases cardiovascular capacity, making your heart pump more efficiently for you. Simply put, it increases stamina so it comes in handy if you are seriously addicted to weight training, bicycling or marathons. So do I recommend it for body builders? Nope! It has estrogenic effects, remember? What good are those muscles if your guy sprouts manboobs or develops erectile dysfunction from long-term use of the stuff? Guys, I say leave this one for the frail, elderly ladies, okay?
Did You Know? Pain medications containing hydrocodone or oxycodone may cause constipation. Bananas, rice, meat and cheese will increase the discomfort.