Review of Black Cohosh Effects

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What are the medicinal effects of black cohosh? Native Americans and American settlers believed that black cohosh could reduce several conditions , including menopausal symptoms.

Today, black cohosh is popular in Europe and America among postmenopausal women for its effects on the female reproductive system. Research on the effects of black cohosh is encouraging in some cases, ineffective in others and therefore not yet conclusive. Some experts believe certain women may be at risk by taking black cohosh. Users may wish to search for the results of the latest studies, and consult a doctor if in doubt in deciding if black cohosh is appropriate for them.

Beliefs about the Effects of Black Cohosh

Previous generations took black cohosh root to help them with many different health issues. Some believed that it eased gynecological problems, nervous disorders, respiratory or joint-related conditions and other challenges. In modern times, black cohosh is taken primarily for gynecological problems. European gynecologists have recommended black cohosh for decades. It is approved in Germany for helping with premenstrual symptoms, painful or difficult menstruation, and to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms. In the United States today, black cohosh is marketed to help address symptoms related to menopause, such as hot flashes, mood changes, sleep problems and  night sweats.

 

Research on the Effects of Black Cohosh
There are more than 20 studies published on the effects of black cohosh. Several suggest that it does help with menopausal symptoms, however others show it works no better than taking a placebo pill. More research is needed. Scientists may not yet fully understand how black cohosh works. Researchers have isolated different compounds in black cohosh that may be responsible for its effects. These compounds include fukinolic acid, actein, cimicifugoside, cimicifugin, caffeic acid, and isoferulic acid. Some experiments suggest that compounds in black cohosh can mimic estrogen, while other experiments have failed to find this effect. One theory says that black cohosh rebalances the levels of hormones in a postmenopausal women, although three studies on women taking black cohosh failed to find any effect on luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone levels.

The inconsistent results from different studies could be caused by their short duration, differences in the dosages given to subjects, differences in the source of black cohosh, and differences in the variables measured by the researchers. Others believe back cohosh just may not be consistently beneficial. Ongoing research should provide more definitive data. The current data suggests that certain people may want to avoid black cohosh,or at the very least consult with a health professional. For example, some experts feel pregnant women should not take black cohosh, because it may stimulate the uterus. Nursing women, women with breast, uterine or endometriosis concerns may wish to consult with doctor. 

Black cohosh generally is not recommended for children under 18 or people with liver conditions, a high risk of stroke or blood clots, seizure disorders, or allergies to buttercups or aspirin. Consult a healthcare provider before taking black cohosh if you are taking birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, sedatives, or blood pressure medications. People have taken black cohosh for centuries to address many different medical disorders. More recently, black cohosh has become popular for its effects on gynecological conditions. The research is contradictory and inconclusive. More research is necessary. Certain populations should consult with a doctor first about taking black cohosh. One should review current research sources to learn the latest news on the benefits, risks and effects of black cohosh.

 

Possible Effects of Black Cohosh

• Ease Menopausal Symptoms
• Help with Premenstrual Symptoms
• Assist with Difficult or Painful Menstruation

References:
1. Peterson Field Guide to Easter/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James A. Duke.
2. The Herb and Spice Companion by Marcus A. Webb and Richard Craze.
3. Black Cohosh Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. Office of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/blackcohosh/
4. Black Cohosh. Vitamins and Supplements Lifestyle Guide. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-black-cohosh
5. Black Cohosh. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/black-cohosh/NS_patient-blackcohosh
6. Black Cohosh. Non-timber Forest Products. Virginia Tech.
http://www.sfp.forprod.vt.edu/factsheets/cohosh.pdf
7. Lane Labs Website

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