Botanical Estrogens and Cognitive Function
I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Neuroscience Program working with Dr. Susan Schantz. My research investigates how botanical supplements affect cognition. Botanical supplements are available over the counter and are largely unregulated in the United States. It is estimated that one in four women in the US will use a botanical supplement to try to gain relief from peri-menopause symptoms. However, little is known about the efficacy and safety of most commercially sold botanical estrogens. Estradiol has the potential impact cognition, thus it is important to investigate whether botanical estrogens could affect cognition as well. We have been working with biologically active components of licorice root including isoliquiritigenin (ISL) in an ovariectomized rat model. We have investigated the effects of ISL on a delayed spatial alternation task as well as on a hippocampus-sensitive metric change in object location task (MCOL). We have also investigated the effects of licorice root powder and licorice root extract on the MCOL task. Supplements containing these compounds are already being consumed by women and our work will contribute to a better understanding of any potentially positive or negative impacts these compounds can have on cognition.