From Mountain Rose Herbs:

Also known as

Cimicifuga racemosa, Actaea Macrotys, Actaea Racemosa, Baneberry, Black Snakeroot, Bugbane, Bugwort, Cimicifuga, Cimicifuga Racemosa, Phytoestrogen, Rattle Root, Rattle Snakeroot, Rattlesnake Root, Rattleweed, Squawroot. Do not confuse with the potentially toxic blue cohosh.


Introduction

Black cohosh is a graceful woodland plant bearing spikes of white flowers, native to New England and eastern Canada. Native Americans have used the herb to treat snakebite and joint problems, but primarily used the herb for women's health. The name cohosh is from the Algonquian tribe, and means rough, referring to the feel of the rhizome. Settlers adopted the herb for the same purposes, and in the late 1800's it became the key ingredient in Lydia Pinkham's "Vegetable Compound", a wildly popular over the counter medicine for menstrual problems,
infertility, and unpleasant symptoms of menopause. Lydia Pinkham's "Vegetable Compound" continued to be sold in the latter half of the twentieth century. It was given the name "bugbane" because the flowers have such a strong odor, and have been used to effectively repel insects. Today, black cohosh remains one of the most popular remedies in the world for women's natural health.


Constituents

Actein, cimicifugin, formononetin, salicylic acid, tannins, vitamin C.


Parts Used

Root.


Typical Preparations

Finely chopped, dried root in tablets, teas, or tinctures.


Summary

Black cohosh is a popular remedy for hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness of menopause. The herb does not stimulate the production of estrogen, but it may compensate for low or highly variable levels of estrogen during menstruation or in the menopause. In one well-designed study, 62 women going through menopause received black cohosh, estrogen, or a placebo for 90 days. Women who took black cohosh had the same reduction in hot flashes as women taking estrogen. Black cohosh did not stimulate growth of cells in
the uterus, suggesting that, unlike estrogen, the herb does not increase the risk of uterine cancer. Black cohosh also increased the thickness of the vaginal wall. The study also suggested that black cohosh could help prevent osteoporosis.


Precautions

In menopausal women, black cohosh is not likely to cause any complications other than mild stomach upset. Black cohosh must be avoided during pregnancy because of its potential ability to stimulate uterine contractions. The safety of black cohosh in breastfeeding mothers and the degree of transmission of black cohosh in breast milk has not been established. There is controversy regarding the safety of black cohosh in women with a personal history or strong family history of breast cancer.




What are the historical uses of black cohosh?

Black cohosh was used in North American Indian medicine for malaise, gynecological disorders, kidney disorders, malaria, rheumatism, and sore throat [3]. It was also used for colds, cough, constipation, hives, and backache and to induce lactation [4]. In 19th-century America, black cohosh was a home remedy used for rheumatism and fever, as a diuretic, and to bring on menstruation. It was extremely popular among a group of alternative practitioners who called black cohosh "macrotys" and prescribed it for rheumatism, lung conditions, neurologicalreproductive organs (including menstrual problems, inflammationuterus or ovaries, infertility, threatened miscarriage, and relief of labor pains) [4].

conditions, and conditions that affected women's of the

What clinical studies have been done on black cohosh and its effect on menopausal symptoms?

Black cohosh is used primarily for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. A number of studies using various designs have been conducted to determine whether black cohosh affects menopausal symptoms [5]. Few were placebo-controlled studies, and most assessed symptoms by using the Kupperman index, a scale that combines measures of hot flashes, insomnia, and depression but not vaginal dryness. Those with the best study designs are described below.



Who should not take black cohosh?


  • The use of black cohosh during pregnancy has not been rigorously studied. Thus, it would be prudent for pregnant women not to take black cohosh unless they do so under the supervision of their health care provider.
  • Women with breast cancer may want to avoid black cohosh until its effects on breast tissue are understood.
  • Individuals with liver disorders should avoid black cohosh.
  • Individuals who develop symptoms of liver trouble such as abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice while taking the supplement should discontinue use
    and contact their doctor.
http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/blackcohosh.asp

http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/learn/black_cohosh_root.php

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