Cohosh: Natural Menopause Therapy
In Europe, black
cohosh is used for symptoms such as hot flashes, headaches, psychological
difficulties, and weight gain associated with menopause. It is also reputed to
be helpful for premenstrual problems and painful menstrual cramps.
Native Americans prized black
cohosh and used it for a variety of purposes. The settlers learned about it
from the Indians, but by the middle of the nineteenth century it was renowned
as being helpful for women's problems, and other uses were more or less
Some of the evidence on
the clinical effect of black cohosh is impressive. In one study, sixty women
under forty years of age who had undergone hysterectomy were divided into
groups. One group got conjugated estrogen (available in the United States
under the brand name Premarin), one was given estriol (another form of
estrogen), a third received an estrogen-gestagen sequence, and the fourth group
of women took a black cohosh extract.
Bothersome symptoms such
as hot flashes disappeared slowly, over the course of four weeks, and at that
point there was no difference in response among the four groups. This suggests
that black cohosh may be as good at treating symptoms of menopause as are
conventional estrogen treatments.
indicates that black cohosh can lower cholesterol and strengthen bone, as
See more Natural
Menopause Therapy information.
The usual daily dose is
equivalent to 40 mg of the herb. It may take four weeks to get the maximum
benefit; the herb should not be taken for more than six months until there is
more information available on long-term effects.
Black cohosh was a key
ingredient in an immensely popular patent medicine, Lydia E. Pinkham's
Vegetable Compound. Black cohosh has been used for menopausal symptoms in
recent years. The portion of the plant used is underground: the rhizome and
roots. The main ingredients are triterpene glycosides, especially actein,
related compounds, and cimigoside. Black cohosh also contains tannins, fatty
acids, and phytosterols. In a laboratory test of estrogenic activity, black
cohosh extract did not bind to estrogen receptors.
American Indians treated sore
throats and rheumatism with this herb, but these uses have not been scrutinized
by modern medical studies.
Special Precautions :
Although black cohosh is not mutagenic or carcinogenic and does not cause birth
defects in animals, authorities caution pregnant women not to use it. There is
a report of premature birth associated with the herb and worries that it could
This plant, native to North American forests, has
a number of popular names: bugbane, black snakeroot, rattleroot, and squaw
root. It sends up graceful tall spires of white flowers; the black in its
common name refers to the root or rhizome, as does cohosh, Algonquian for
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