Soy (Glycine max)
Soy is a bushy annual plant that is cultivated widely for many uses. A member of the pea family, it has been a part of Asian diets for thousands of years. It is beginning to gain popularity in other cuisines as well as for other uses.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Soy is used in Chinese medicine to treat fever, insomnia, headache, chest discomfort from measles or colds and restlessness. Studies are showing that this herb may also be useful in helping to deal with menopause and post-menopause symptoms, hypertension, aging, benign prostatic hyperplasia and cancer. An ingredient found in the herb, lecithin, can be used to lower cholesterol, and the phospholipids can help liver disease and hepatitis.
Externally Soy oil is beneficial to the skin and can help with skin circulation and to revitalize the upper layers. The oil helps disorders of the connective tissue and can increase the production of collagen. It is good for aged skin. It may be added to sunscreens.
Other Uses Soy is a staple in the Asian diet. More people are eating it today then ever before. The beans can be cooked as a vegetable or snack, or added to soups, casseroles or stews. They can be roasted to make a coffee-like beverage. Tofu is made from the herb, sprouts can be added to salads, and it is also used to make soy sauce, miso paste, milk and many other foods. The oil can be used in massage as a carrier oil for essential oils. Fibers can also be manufactured from the leftovers of the tofu process to be used for yarns to make textiles.
Seeds, oil The seeds and oil are used medicinally.
Soy is considered safe for most people as a food or when taken for a short time as a supplement. Excessive use of phospholipids may cause diarrhea or loose stools, nausea, bloating or constipation. If you are allergic to the herb, watch for signs of breathing problems or rashes. Studies show that long time use of isoflavone supplements may increase the risk of endometrial hyperplasia.
Soy affects estrogen levels, but studies are still being done to determine the risks. If you are at risk of breast cancer or have breast cancer, use with extreme caution. This herb may interact with prescription medication, so tell your care provider if you take supplements.
Preparation and Dosage
Soy is available in dietary supplements in the form of capsules and tablets. It is also available as an oil and as foodstuffs like tofu, sauce, milk, miso and other foods. For dosages, follow the instructions on the supplement labels.