Black CohoshBlack cohosh is an herb native to North America and is popular as an alternative to hormonal therapy. The primary use of black cohosh is to alleviate menopause symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes, palpitations, vaginal dryness and diaphoresis possibly for up to six months. This therapeutic activity of black cohosh can be due to activation of insulin receptors or some hormones, but more scientific evidence is required in this area.
Black cohosh (underground stem and roots) is commonly used fresh or dry in preparing strong teas (infusion), solid extracts (used in pills), liquid extracts (used in tinctures), or in capsules.
Health and black cohosh
- Black cohosh is gaining popularity as an alternative prescription to hormonal therapy and is used to treat menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, migraine headaches, sleep disturbances, mood disturbances, perspiration, heart palpitations and any other menopausal symptom. Black cohosh can also be used for relieving premenstrual syndrome, menstrual irregularities and inducing labor.
However this is derived from open trial studies and more double- blind long term follow up studies are required in this area.
- Black cohosh may be used as a joint pain cure in conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Side effects of black cohosh
Black cohosh should be carefully used with other drugs or herbs that have hormone like effects and should always be used under medical supervision.
- The efficiency of black cohosh is studied up to six months and is generally well tolerated if given in recommended doses. High doses of black cohosh when administered may have some side effects in some individuals that include dizziness, frontal headache, perspiration, constipation, loss of bone mass, irregular heart beat, muscle damage, low blood pressure, visual disturbances or stomach/intestinal discomfort, nausea and vomiting.
- The use of black cohosh is contraindicated during pregnancy as it may relax the muscular wall of the uterus and stimulate labor. Also tinctures containing black cohosh are not advised during pregnancy because of its high alcohol content.
- Products containing black cohosh might cause hepatitis (inflammation of liver) or liver failure. Thus it is advisable for patients with existing liver disease to avoid such products and consult a medical professional before starting a therapy.
- Based on the controversy of black cohosh having similar mechanisms to estrogen, its safety against hormone sensitive conditions like breast cancer, uterine cancer, or endometriosis is not well established.
- Patients with a history of blood clots or stroke, seizure disorder or on medication for liver diseases, hormone sensitive cancers, high blood pressure or known allergy to aspirin / salicylates should use black cohosh with a word of caution.