We have an exclusive interview with Dr Christiane Northrup and her world-renowned product line, Amata Life. Her products help to support women’s health by revitalising, invigorate and restoring women’s overall wellbeing. We sat down with Dr Northrup to discuss women’s health and what makes her products unique.
1. Tell us about your journey, how did Amata Life begin?
I was first introduced to the herb Pueraria mirifica at a retreat in Hawaii in the form of an intimate gel product that a participant gave me. I was intrigued at the benefits of this product and began researching this herb for its beneficial effects on estrogen sensitive tissue. At the time, there were no widely available products that I trusted for direct application to mucosal tissue, i.e., vaginal tissue. I set about figuring out how to bring the benefits of this herb to women worldwide. Amata Life — is the direct result of my research and product development. My sole reason for getting involved was that I knew it would help a lot of women.
2. Can you describe some of the holistic benefits you have seen with people taking Pueraria mirifica in women?
One of the first things that I noticed very often is that women’s sleep improved dramatically. Sometimes in as little as 4 days on the product. In addition, hot flashes (which had been keeping them awake) also dramatically decreased. In addition, their sex drive also improved. And there was an overall sense of well-being. Women often tell me that they feel as though their “waters of life” have been restored.
3. Pueraria mirifica contains phytoestrogens. How do the phytoestrogens work in the body, and what is the mechanism for how they help us?
Phytoestrogens are found in many foods— including many herbs such as Black Cohosh, and even, to some degree, in apples, almonds, and other foods. What is unique about them is that, though they exert estrogen-like activity in cells, their mechanism of action is different from that of prescription estrogen— or the estrogen produced normally in the female body. All of the dangers of excess estrogen come from the fact that the body’s own estrogen or prescription estrogen binds to the alpha estrogen receptor in vaginal, uterine, and breast tissue. The end result is often abnormal overgrowth of tissue. Conversely, phytoestrogens bind to the Beta estrogen receptor and help to modulate the effect of excess estrogen— whether from inside the body or from a prescription. They are known as adaptogens — term used by herbalists and those involved in naturopathic medicine. An adaptogen is said to “nourish and tonify” tissue. What that means is that if estrogen levels are too high, the herb prevents overstimulation of the alpha estrogen receptor, thus blocking excess cell growth. If, on the other hand, a woman doesn’t have enough estrogen, the phytoestrogen stimulates the beta receptor, giving an estrogenic effect on tissue. Pueraria mirifica which contains a very potent phytoestrogen known as Mirosterol. It is the most potent phytoestrogen known in nature, hence its effectiveness.
Because the skin contains many estrogen receptors, we also find that using our skin care products help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Pueraria mirifica also has beneficial effects on the collagen layer of skin — preventing it from breaking down which is another reason why it’s beneficial for skin.
4. What other health benefits does Pueraria mirifica have, in addition to the benefits to hormonal health?
Pueraria mirifica also has antioxidant properties meaning that it prevents oxidative damage to tissue. This also results in cellular inflammation — the root cause of all chronic degenerative disease like heart disease and cancer. Oxidative damage can be likened to what happens when you slice an apple and then leave it open to the air for a while. It turns brown. Same thing with an avocado. But if you dose the apple or the avocado with the well-known antioxidant vitamin C (in the form of lemon juice), this browning doesn’t occur. In the body, Pueraria mirifica acts like that lemon juice — protecting the inside of blood vessels and other tissues from oxidative damage.
5. What do people need to know about taking Pueraria mirifica (time of day, can it be taken with other supplements)? Are there possible side effects when taking Pueraria mirifica?
We recommend that people take the Pueraria mirifica in the morning and again later in the day. Some need more. Some need less. One of the possible side effects that we see is that perimenopausal women may start their periods again. This doesn’t last. And it is a very direct result of the hormonal balancing that takes place during the first couple months of use. This goes away within a month or two. And in addition, uterine biopsies have failed to show any abnormality associated with this transient bleeding. Some women also find that their breast size increases initially. In fact, this aspect of Pueraria mirifica has led to it being sold around the world specifically for this purpose. However, the effect is very, very small and usually insignificant over time. We don’t promote this aspect and we don’t get many women reporting it as an effect. The reason for this is that Pueraria mirifica prevents the breakdown of collagen in tissue. Hence, it’s beneficial effect on skin! This is not a hormonal effect — it is from the inhibition of an enzyme that breaks down collagen.
Our dosage formulations are designed to provide enough potency for a wide range of individuals. That said, some people get good results with just one dose in the morning or at night. Many women who are on prescription hormones want to get off them and try the Pueraria mirifica. The best way to make this switch is to begin taking the Pueraria mirifica as directed — either liquid or capsule twice per day. At the same time, gradually wean off the prescription hormones by taking one less pill every 3 days or so. The goal is to decrease the prescription hormones while also taking a full dose of Pueraria Mirifica so that the body easily moves from one kind of estrogen to the phytoestrogen in Pueraria mirifica. There is no need to go “cold turkey” when you can do a gradual shift. Most women find that the Amata Life product is all they need to maintain hormone balance without the need for prescription hormones.
One more thing — for those whose only problem is vaginal dryness; we recommend the use of the Pueraria mirifica vaginal gel— twice per day. Over time, as the vaginal tissue gets restored, you can decrease the use of the moisturizer. In many women, the daily use can be spread out to once a week. And sometimes, the changes are permanent and they can discontinue the use of the vaginal gel. Some women get an enhanced vaginal effect from taking the oral product. Others need both the capsules or liquid and the vaginal moisturizer.
6. What are the benefits for different age groups in women?
Though the majority of our products are marketed to midlife women and men, the PM capsules and liquid work very well for reproductive age women with PMX (Polymyxin B Hemoperfusion), menstrual cramps, or irregular periods. In this case, we recommend that they take the PM Plus from about day 14 of their cycle to day 28. After about 3 months, the normal cycle is restored. The PM Plus contains methylated folate, B12, Atlantic kelp for iodine — and selenium — these are co-factors that help the liver metabolize estrogen.
7. What is different about Amata Life’s formulation of Pueraria mirifica (as opposed to other supplements that contain Pueraria mirifica)?
There are many other products on the market claiming to be Pueraria mirifica. As it turns out, there are many different species of Pueraria mirifica. And only a few species contain the phytoestrogen known to be effective. So, you have to know your source. Amata Life uses well known sources of wild-harvested Pueraria mirifica in Thailand. Having visited these areas myself, I know what is involved with getting the right raw materials. These raw materials, consisting of tuberous roots grown in the jungle — are harvested and processed, they are shipped to the United States to a facility that is independently GMP (Good Manufacturing Processes) certified. This means that we guarantee that what’s on the label is what’s in the bottle.
8. How much is known about Pueraria mirifica outside of South East Asia, and when was its earliest use in the Western world?
Ancient writing about Pueraria mirifica that dates back 700 or years have been found in Buddhist monasteries. But there was little interest in the plant outside of the areas in Asia where it is grown until German botanist and physician A.F, G. Kerr published a scientific review of the plant and its properties. Quite frankly, I, as a board-certified obstetrician gynecologist with a back ground in holistic medicine, had never heard of the herb until the mid-2000’s! Now it is the first thing I recommend for women with menstrual or perimenopausal symptoms. And I also recommend it to men as a way to ensure prostate health.
9. What advice would you give to women who use the Amata Life products? What activities or diets can help optimise its use?
Overall hormone balance is very much related to both stress hormone and insulin levels. Excess blood sugar from starchy or sweet foods or alcohol tends to raise insulin levels. Excess cortisol and epinephrine from stress plus insulin from processed food can create hormone havoc. So, it is always best to follow a diet that keeps blood sugar at normal levels. (Cut out the sugar and starchy foods as well as excess alcohol.) It is also important to get enough good quality sleep, eat nutrient-dense organic foods when possible — and participate in pleasurable, stress-reducing activities on a regular basis.
The video below are testimonials of women who have used Amata Life and have benefitted from them.