Black Cohosh for Menopause

CC BY-NC-ND by milesizz

Black cohosh, otherwise known as bugbane, bugwort, or rattleweed, is an herbal remedy sold in the United States to treat a number of conditions. One of the most common uses for this supplement is for the treatment of symptoms associated with menopause. In most supplements, the active ingredient is derived from the root or underground stems of the plant.

During menopause, a woman begins experiencing a decrease in the amount of estrogen and progesterone produced by the ovaries. Women experience a myriad of unpleasant symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, depression, and vaginal dryness. Several studies have been performed, using the Kupperman index to measure the severity of hot flashes, insomnia and depression have shown that the regular use of black cohosh during pre, peri and post menopause significantly reduces the severity of these symptoms without the use of concurrent hormone replacement therapy.

Scientists believe that black cohosh, when ingested by women, acts as a natural hormone replacement therapy, exhibiting many of the same characteristics of other hormone replacement therapies without the unwanted side effects. The active ingredient is thought to be the fukinolic acid derived from the extract of the black cohosh root. What’s even more interesting is that studies have shown that black cohosh seems to be able to improve the symptoms of menopause by elevating estrogen levels without affecting other hormones such as the lutenizing hormone or the follicle stimulating hormone.

The main side effects noted with taking black cohosh for the treatment of menopausal symptoms include stomach discomfort, headaches and weight increase. Most women were able to tolerate black cohosh without experiencing any or minimal side effects. However, no long term studies have been conducted to determine what the long term effects of using black cohosh exist to date. Individuals who are pregnant, nursing, have breast cancer, or who have liver disorders should not take black cohosh without discussing it with their doctors before beginning a black cohosh regimen.

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