Using a molecular docking approach researchers
identified potential estrogen mimics or
anti-estrogens in phytochemicals found in popular
dietary herbal supplements.
In this study, 568 phytochemicals found in 17 of the
most popular herbal supplements sold in the United
States were built and docked with two isoforms of
the estrogen receptor, ERα and ERβ (a total of 27
different protein crystal structures).
The docking results revealed:
6 strongly docking compounds in Echinacea,
3 from milk thistle (Silybum marianum),
3 from Gingko biloba,
1 from Sambucus nigra,
0 from maca (Lepidium meyenii),
5 from chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus),
2 from fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum),
2 from Rhodiola rosea.
Notably, of the most popular herbal supplements for
women, there were numerous compounds that docked
strongly with the estrogen receptor:
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) had a total of 26
compounds strongly docking to the estrogen receptor,
15 with wild yam (Dioscorea villosa),
11 from black cohosh (Actaea racemosa),
8 from muira puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides or P.
8 from red clover (Trifolium pratense),
3 from damiana (Turnera aphrodisiaca or T. diffusa),
3 from dong quai (Angelica sinensis).
Of possible concern were the compounds from menís
herbal supplements that exhibited strong docking to
the estrogen receptor:
Gingko biloba had 3 compounds,
gotu kola (Centella asiatica) had 2,
muira puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides or P. uncinatum)
had 8, and Tribulus terrestris had 6 compounds.
This molecular docking study has revealed that
almost all popular herbal supplements contain
phytochemical components that may bind to the human
estrogen receptor and exhibit selective estrogen
As such, these herbal supplements may cause unwanted
side effects related to estrogenic activity.
For example, estrogenic agents may be effective and
potent growth stimulators of estrogen-receptor
positive tumors and pose a hazard to patients with
breast cancer who have ER-positive tumors and who
are being treated with antiestrogens.
For more information
A molecular docking study of phytochemical estrogen
mimics from dietary herbal supplements