Monday, July 17, 2006

Plants: A better source of entertainment than a source of estrogen!

` For the past few weeks, our Venus fly trap has been assigned to 'fruit fly-eating duty', and has done absolutely miserably... the fruit flies crawl in and out of the leaves without triggering the hairs that make them snap shut!
` When we bought the sundew, it had managed to kill almost all of the fruit flies. Here's a Crappy Digital Camera (CDC) photo showing the empty-jawed fly trap and the fruit fly-studded sundew... although you can't really tell because the CDC doesn't have a focusing apparatus.

` We then decided to move the fly trap to the bedroom where mosquitoes had begun to plague us. As you might be able to make out, it now has a couple of closed traps (filled with mosquitoes!).

` When they aren't busy eating potentially disease-bearing mosquitoes, they're still interesting to stare at all day... when you're in an altered state of consciousness, they seem to grow awfully fast!

` Yes, hours of entertainment can be had by watching the plants grow! I only wish I had more spare time!!

` Yet as amusing as house plants can be, several people used to tell me that soybeans were a also a good source of estrogen and could make my boobs really big. Since I believed this common myth, I avoided soybeans at all costs.
` Later on, when I became a vegetarian, I discovered that this wasn't true - plant estrogens are nearly incompatible with animals and thus will interfere with them by clogging up estrogen receptors! I think the ever-talented Cecil puts it well:

...Phytoestrogens are chemicals found in plants that mimic the female sex hormone estrogen. Female sex hormones give rise to female secondary sex characteristics, e.g., the enlargement (sometimes to an impressive degree) of the milk-producing glands whence the class Mammalia derives its name. Ergo, some would reason, phytoestrogens = more hormones = bigger tits.

Elements of said reasoning are not entirely without basis in fact. For one thing, some plants undeniably yield significant amounts of phytoestrogens when eaten, notably soy, hops, flaxseed, alfalfa, and red clover. Second, phytoestrogens do have a measurable impact on human biochemistry--one study showed that men given soy milk daily for two to four weeks experienced a 13 to 14 percent decrease in two key hormones. For those running a significant estrogen deficit, such as postmenopausal women or male-to-female transsexuals, it's not impossible that phytoestrogens could increase estrogen levels.

But probably not by much. The main phytoestrogen in soybeans, genistein, for instance, is only 0.1 percent as strong as the human-produced variety. For women who do produce enough estrogen of their own, phytoestrogens actually decrease overall estrogen activity by competing with the homegrown estrogen for positions on estrogen receptor sites; when phytoestrogens latch onto these sites, they push aside the real estrogen and provide only a weaker version. In fact, that could be their real benefit, some experts think--by lowering the body's effective estrogen level, phytoestrogens may reduce a woman's chance of developing breast cancer. But here's the thing: if so, they'd likely make breasts smaller, not larger.

In short, whatever uses phytoestrogens may have, increasing breast size isn't one of them. Many breast-enlargement products contain only small amounts of phytoestrogens anyway, and none has been proven to work in double-blind laboratory tests.

So if they don't work, why are people allowed to advertise them for breast enhancement? Because these products are sold as dietary supplements (like vitamins), not as medical treatments. As such, they don't require Food and Drug Administration approval and thus aren't subject to rigorous testing before hitting the shelves. ...
` Hooray! So, I wonder; if I eat more phytoestrogens, will my boobs get smaller? Hmmm....
` Because plants are oh-so amusing, and make life much more pleasant, Lou and I make sure our apartment is filled with them. This one, for example, is Sago, my little palm tree. It stands guard over my pillow (leopard print) while it's in storage during the day.

` We also have two hanging plants that I have secretly named Strangly and Dangly. They were put there to make sure nobody climbs up through the window... alive!

` And on top of the fridge by my filing cabinet, two living plants - and one dead plant, as an example for anyone within sight - guard the other living room window.

` And then we have The Plant That Lives On Water Alone... we torture it so that it's mad as hell - that way it will be especially pissed if someone should break down the door!

` Prettiest for last... our most social plants, including the lamp post tree I stole from Narnia!

` Perhaps someday, when I have ground enough, I'll be sure to have a huge tree: I find that these are especially amusing because you can attach swings to them! Also, you can graft little baby trees together and make all kinds of wacky shapes, as well as things like ladders and chairs, like Axel Erlandson did with his Tree Circus!
Now, children, pop quiz: Can anyone please tell me how else a living plant can be amusing (besides serving as an intoxicant)?


Galtron said...

I like it when my mouse climbs up the Ming aralia - I call him Molokai, Warrior of the Jungle!

Rodents: A better source of entertainment when climbing on certain plants!

Wed-nes-day said...

It's amusing to watch a plant show its disdain after a cat has used it's pot as a dumping ground.


S E E Quine said...

` Does Molokai have a little leopard-print outfit?
` Ha ha... yes, potted plants hate being used as a litter box.
` BTW, your spelled its 'it's'... and you're an editor! (And a damn good one, too!)
` Is there not irony here?

Galtron said...

Actually, it's tiger-striped and he looks quite dashing if I do say so myself.

crabcake said...

Sequin, I thought I already had you linked at the Cowpie field. But I looked and you weren't there. I'm sorry! I'll go link you now, kiddo.

PS. All houseplants fear me. When I walk into plantland they shiver in fear that I might consider taking one of their kind home. I have what is known in the world of greenery as ..... a homicial thumb.

S E E Quine said...

` Hey, thanks, Crabby!

` Indeed, I used to think I had a homicidal thumb until I realized that my cat had been eating them.
` Man... I miss kitty cats. I might get another one someday.

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