Soy: Uses, Herbal Medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Soy Uses, Herbal Medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Some authors suspect that Glycine soja Siebold & Zucc. is the wild form of the soybean. Cultures from it can be found in Central and East Asia. Cultivation occurs mainly in China, Brazil, Argentina and the USA, less in Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, Canada and Southeast Europe.

Soy in herbal medicine

In herbal medicine, the seeds of the plant (Glycine semen), their proteins (soy lecithin, Lecithinum ex soja) or the oil (soy oleum) are used.


Soy: characteristics of the plant

Soybean is an annual herb resembling the French bean, reaching a height of up to 90 cm. The plant has 3-fold ovate and entire leaves with long stalks; the leaf veins on the underside are hairy. The upright plant stems are branched and primarily hairy.

Flowers and pods of the soybean plant

The flowers sit close to the stem, each with up to 20 flowers arranged in clusters. The short-stalked flowers are small, inconspicuous and purple to whitish.

The plant also bears about 1 cm wide, hanging or protruding pods of grey, black-brown or violet colour. As with pea pods, the 1-5 seeds in the pods can be recognized externally by bulges.


Soybeans as medicine

The drug material consists of slightly flattened or spherical soybeans, about the size of a pea. These are usually yellow but can also be white, greenish, blackish-brown, brown or two-tone. The surface of the seeds is smooth and slightly shiny.

Odor and taste of soybeans

Soybeans do not smell uncrushed; the powder gives a faint, peculiar smell. Only the powdered beans have flavour; they taste a bit bitter at first, then nutty and oily.

Soy – application

The seeds were not considered a drug by Commission E, although they play an essential role in folk medicine. Soy lecithin is used to treat mild dyslipidemia when dietary measures are unsuccessful. Soy lecithin is primarily used to treat hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol levels in the blood).

Applications of Soy

Furthermore, it has been observed that taking soy lecithin leads to a subjective improvement in loss of appetite and the symptoms of chronic liver inflammation (hepatitis). Soy lecithin generally has a protective effect on the liver.

Clinical studies have also shown that the drug can prevent gallstones and acute and chronic liver diseases (hepatopathies).


Folk medicine use of Soy

In folk medicine, soybean extracts are used to treat symptoms associated with menopause due to their isoflavonoid and lignan content. In addition, they are said to improve liver metabolism and lower blood lipid levels. However, the actual health benefits of the beans are controversial.

Soy in homeopathy

In homoeopathy, soy products are also used for menopausal symptoms.


ingredients of Soy

Soybeans, especially the yellow varieties, comprise a significant proportion (12-25%) of fatty oil, with linoleic acid, oleic acid and palmitic acid being the main components.

The beans also contain various phospholipids, such as soy lecithin, sterols and glucosterols, globulins, isoflavonoids and lignans. Soy lecithin comprises a mixture of phospholipids, the main component of which is phosphatidylcholine.

Soy: Indication

Areas of application for the medicinal use of Soy are:

  • dyslipidemia
  • blood lipid reduction
  • Hypercholesterinämie

Soy – dosage

The dry extract from soybeans is part of various dietary supplements, which can be taken as capsules and tablets, for example. Taking it in the form of tea is kept a secret.

Soy: Recommended Daily Allowance

The recommended daily dose for soy lecithin is 1.5-2.7 g of the phospholipids from soybeans for high cholesterol and to support the liver.


Soy – preparation and storage

Consuming soy products in the form of tea is not shared.

Soybeans should be stored dry and protected from light.


There are currently no known drug interactions or contraindications.

Soy – Synonym

German plant name: Soybeans

German synonyms of the plant: Fat bean, Japanese bean, Oil bean, Soya

Latin plant name: Glycine max L.

Latin synonyms of the plant: Glycine max (L.) Merr., Glycine hispida Moench, Glycine soja Siebold & Zucc., Dolichos max L.

German drug name: Soybeans 

Soy lecithin/soy proteins

German synonyms of the drug: Sojasamen


Latin drug name: Glycine seed 

Lecithin from Soy

Latin synonyms of the drug: Soya seed, Soya seed

English name: Soybean, Soja bean, Soya bean, Wild soya bean, Soy

Plant family Latin: Fabaceae

Plant family German: vegetables


Soy – effect

Phospholipids are part of cell membranes and are involved in numerous metabolic processes in the body. They exert a protective effect on the liver (hepatoprotective effect) because they stabilize cell membranes and regenerate them more quickly. Liver diseases can be positively influenced by accelerated liver cell regeneration.

effect on blood lipid levels

In addition, the phospholipids appear to lower blood lipid levels, but the mechanism still needs to be conclusively clarified. In this context, an improved return transport of cholesterol from the blood to the liver is being discussed.


Soy for menopausal symptoms

Isoflavonoids could have an oestrogenic effect, i.e. they mimic the effect of the hormone oestrogen, which is produced less and less during menopause. This could explain the improvement in menopausal symptoms, but the therapeutic benefit in this direction is viewed sceptically.

Soy: side effects

In rare cases, gastrointestinal tract symptoms, such as diarrhoea or stomach problems, have been observed when taking soya lecithin.

There are currently no known drug interactions or contraindications.

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