Black cohosh has been used medicinally by Native Americans for centuries. They showed the European colonists about the health benefits of black cohosh. This herb became a popular treatment for women in Europe during the mid-20th century. It was also used in traditional Chinese medicine as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory.
Do not confuse black cohosh with blue cohosh and white cohosh. They are similar plants but they have different properties and could be potentially dangerous.
This plant is one of the best herbs for women since it can help with so many hormonal problems, including menstruation and menopause. Its popularity has increased greatly because it is a safer treatment than HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). Low levels of estrogen can cause skin problems including wrinkles. Health benefits of black cohosh can also reduce vaginal dryness and prevent the loss of elasticity in the vulva and vaginal tissues.
Health benefits of black cohosh have also been used in folk medicine to treat malaria, pain, inflammation, rheumatism, uterine issues, anxiety and other conditions.
What is Black Cohosh?
Black cohosh plant is a member of the Ranunculaceae family. Those who live in colder climates can grow black cohosh at home as long as they can replicate a forest like condition. This plant grows quite tall, up to 8 feet in height, with pretty white flowers which attract pollinators. Health benefits of black cohosh are obtained from its roots and rhizomes. The plant must be harvested and dried.
Roots and rhizomes of black cohosh are made up of isoferulic acids (anti-inflammatory substances), glycosides (sugar compounds) and perhaps phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens). There are mixed opinions on whether this herb can increase estrogen levels in women. Some studies say it does, while others say it doesn’t. A plausible hypothesis is that it can act as a selective estrogen receptor modulator, which means it affects serotonergic pathways.
Black cohosh may also act as an antioxidant which can impact inflammatory pathways. It is also a sedative and an analgesic. Active ingredients include serotonin-like compounds, as well as tannins, isoflavones, triterpenes, essential fatty acids and some starches.
How to Use Black Cohosh?
Black cohosh is not a food item so you must take it in a supplement form. There are black cohosh pills or black cohosh tea available. Black cohosh liquid tincture is an extract which can be mixed with water.
General recommended dose is between 40 and 80 milligrams per day of a standardized extract. This dose is beneficial to treat menopause symptoms. For hot flashes start with a dose of 20 and 40 milligrams, taken twice daily, and increase if needed. Remifemin, a popular brand, sells 20 milligram tablets.
Tincture form can be used between 2 to 4 ml one to three times per day mixed in tea or water. Herbal teas are not as effective in relieving menopausal symptoms. But those who prefer to make tea can steep 20 grams of dried root in 34 oz of water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes to reduce the liquid.
Do not take black cohosh for over six months. It may take about two months on average to start noticing its effects. Black cohosh is often sold in combination with other herbal supplements including vitamin c, dong quai, chasteberry, red clover, St. John’s wort and soy isoflavones.
Side Effects of Black Cohosh
Side effects of the health benefits of black cohosh are quite uncommon. Some people have complained about suffering from stomach discomfort, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, constipation, weight problems, low blood pressure, headaches, and seizures after taking this supplement. However, this may also be due to manufacturers who misidentify the plant in the wild.
Using black cohosh can have a negative effect on the liver. People who suffer from liver disease or are taking medications or supplements that can cause liver damage should consult their doctor before taking black cohosh. Symptoms such as dark urine, abdominal pain or jaundice are a warning sign to stop using this herb and call your doctor.
Women who are in treatment for uterine or breast cancer should not take this herb unless supervised by a doctor because it can mimic estrogen. This also applies for women with endometriosis. However, health benefits of black cohosh may prevent the risk of breast cancer according to studies. Another study showed that the anti-estrogen activity of the herb helped stop the spread of breast cancer cells. More research still needs to be done on this subject.
Black cohosh can be taken to improve fertility and induce labor. Black cohosh is less dangerous than blue cohosh in preparation for labor after week 40. It is administered when contractions are weak. However, they both must be used under medical supervision. Do not use it if breastfeeding since there are no studies on its effects on newborns. However, traditional Native American medicine used black cohosh to increase breast milk production.
Health benefits of black cohosh can interfere with some drugs including birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, blood pressure medicine and sedatives. Children should not use this supplement, it is only allowed since teenage years.
Health Benefits of Black Cohosh
Most woman who use the health benefits of black cohosh are looking for menopause relief. Research is inconclusive for its ability to manage hot flashes. However, it is known that black cohosh is a natural remedy for menopause. Studies show that taking it regularly can reduce the amount and severity of negative symptoms of women’s hormonal problems.
Breast cancer survivors and men who have prostate treatment can also use the health benefits of black cohosh, which helps decrease symptoms such as sweating.
Black cohosh is also a safe alternative to HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). This therapy can increase the risk of developing breast cancer if used for over 10 years. Black cohosh is on the list of herbs for menopause.
Uterine fibroids are benign growths of the uterus. They are common during a woman’s best fertile years. Most steroid drugs used to treat this condition are called Tibolone. A study done in 2014 found that black cohosh was actually better at treating uterine fibroids than synthetic alternatives. Treating these fibroids may help relieve PMS symptoms including heavy, painful periods and menstrual cramps.
Manage PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
Some initial research shows that health benefits of black cohosh are as effective as pharmaceutical treatments used for PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).
The root of black cohosh can boost the immune system and help protect the body against diseases. It can also reduce inflammation in the body. Black cohosh contains salicylic acid which is a natural anti-inflammatory which can help with congestion, sore throats, cardiovascular problems and blood clot.
Health benefits of black cohosh include its antispasmodic abilities which help muscles and nerves function normally. The use of this herb will prevent and treat cramping and pains related to muscle strain, injury and chronic nervous tension. Antispasmodic benefits are linked with the natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of the herb.
Sleep helps balance hormones naturally. However, woman that are going through menopause report that this transition increases sleep disturbance. Lack of sleep does not allow hormones to regulate, even before menopause.
A recent study showed that using black cohosh supplements helped to improve sleep. It is best to combine it with zinc, hyaluronic acid, ginger and chasteberry according to a study. Better sleep also helps to increase energy levels, mood stabilization and weight loss.
Health benefits of black cohosh have been used historically to treat anxiety and depression. Recent research has shown that this herb can be used to manage anxiety symptoms. One compound found in black cohosh seems to have sedative, anti-anxiety effects because of its impact on GABA receptors.
Plants contain organic compounds with biological activity. Black cohosh has some biological molecules that according to research can reduce bone loss caused by osteoporosis. One molecular compound called ACCX has shown potential for osteoporosis treatment.
Health benefits of black cohosh extract Ze 450 may help the body reduce weight. A study was done on type 2 diabetes patients which showed that this herb could improve the processing of insulin within the body of a diabetic patient.