While the research is lacking when it comes to ipriflavone’s muscle-building benefits, it’s still worthy of at least more research, especially when it comes to supporting bone and joint health and assisting the cardiovascular system.
Ipriflavone is a synthetic version of an isoflavone, which are plant-based compounds with estrogen-like effects that are found primarily in soy beans. Ipriflavone is a derivative of soy known as daizden and was the first flavone to make headline news.
If you’re an athlete concerned about the health and function of your skeletal and cardiovascular systems, consider ipriflavone. Or at least keep tuned in to Nutros.com—we’ll be sure to let you know as more research comes in weighing either positively or negatively on ipriflavone’s effects on both bone health and immune functioning.
No deficiency conditions are known to exist.
Research indicates that Ipriflavone may be useful in the treatment of:
Ipriflavone was developed in 1969 as part of a research project to create an isoflavone that would increase bone mass like estrogen yet avoid any of the potential negative side effects (not the least of which is certain cancers). Experiments in animals were conducted for seven years, and the human research began in 1981. Today, ipriflavone is sold and used as a drug to combat osteoporosis all over Europe and Japan. In the U.S., though, it remains an overlooked dietary supplement sold in health-food stores but unsupported by the health-care system.
While there is conflicting research, ipriflavone appears to prevent the re-absorption of bone cells into the blood, which leads to weaker bones in a process called “resorption.” Thus, it may be helpful for people concerned about bone weakness and osteoporosis. It may work by inhibiting a bunch of fancy-sounding chemicals, including parathyroid hormone, Vitamin D, PGE2, and interleukin 1B that are involved in bone resorption.
Some human studies show that it may prevent loss of bone mass in postmenopausal women. It may also spare bone by acting as an estrogen “sensitizer” and enhancing the effects of estrogen in bone, the thyroid gland, and the gastrointestinal tract. In bone, ipriflavone may make estrogen’s bone-sparing effect even more potent. Like the soy flavone genistein, it seems to work by entering the estrogen receptor. Ipriflavone also has been shown to reduce the pain of fractures caused by osteoporosis.
However, before you get too excited about its bone-building potential, some recent studies suggest ipriflavone may not increase resorption, although there is still more evidence that it improves bone strength than that it doesn’t.
Ipriflavone appears to make muscles, including the heart, more able to resist low oxygen conditions as found during exercise and even during a heart attack. It seems to prevent calcium ions from building up in the energy factories of cells, called mitochondria, which happens when there isn’t enough oxygen. When this happens, the cells can’t make energy and just crash and burn.
Ipriflavone may also lower cholesterol. But note that any cardiovascular benefits of ipriflavone cannot be attributable to estrogenic effects, since, according to researchers, it does not demonstrate estrogenic activity.
Some evidence (although admittedly a very small amount) suggests ipriflavone may improve body composition (i.e., reduce fat and increase muscle mass). You see, it’s believed to work as a nutrient-partitioning agent, moving nutrients into muscle and bone and away from fat storage.
In fact, it has been shown to increase muscle gain by up to 20% in livestock despite a consistent consumption of calories, causing an increase in nitrogen retention and methionine uptake by muscles, which indicates it’s building muscles, not fat. Even if there is little evidence that ipriflavone works to build muscle in humans at this point, it has the significant advantage over hormones and pro-hormones of not influencing levels of hormones in the body (potentially leading to side effects).
On a related note, it also improved endurance in animal studies. Rats swimming in cold water lasted much longer on ipriflavone (225 minutes versus 196). Of course, this effect also needs much more research.
Ipriflavone may be an effective supplement for battling bone loss. Plus, it’s been shown to enable heart muscle tissue to survive longer without oxygen. But when it comes to muscle-building effects, ipriflavone just doesn’t have enough research support. And, it also comes with some nagging safety concerns; namely, lowered immune functioning.
Between 250 and 1,250 mg of ipriflavone per day in divided doses without food has been reported. (Two hundred milligrams of ipriflavone 3 times daily has been used in studies, yet 300 mg 3 times a day may yield even better results.)
Ipriflavone doesn’t do well in the stomach and has a short half-life. If you ingest it, it may be destroyed quickly. That isn’t to say there’s no hope for ipriflavone supplements, but you should be aware and try to avoid consuming it with meals when your stomach juices are fired up. Other options are injections (used in studies but hard to administer on your own) or sublingual products.
Ipriflavone may be absorbed 8 to 20 times more effectively if taken with oils rich in essential fatty acids, such as flaxseed oil.
Calcium appears to improve the body’s ability to use ipriflavone: 1,000 mg of calcium daily can be used.
Watch out for ipriflavone if you are taking any drug metabolized in the liver since it might change the levels of that drug in your body. In fact, ipriflavone may negatively interact with a number of drugs, so please check with your doctor before use if you’re using any medications.
The vast majority of people who used ipriflavone in clinical studies saw no significant adverse effects. However, there is some evidence that ipriflavone may suppress the immune system.