Black cohosh aka Cimicifuga racemosa is a herbal supplement taken by some women to help in dealing with some of the symptoms of menopause, namely hot flashes and to improve our quality of life.
It is a perennial flowering plant that grows in open woods and at the edges of dense forests in Canada, United States and in many many other parts of the world.
The word “black” refers to the dark colour of the rhizome (mass of roots). The name “cohosh” means “rough,” referring to the surface of the rhizome.
This herb is associated with a low incidence of adverse reactions.
The plant primarily got its name from its black roots. The roots are believed to have healing properties.
Black cohosh root has a long and illustrious history of being used for medicinal purposes.
Uses of Black Cohosh
- kidney issues
- rheumatoid arthritis
- joint inflammation
- sore throat
- helping with labour
- menstrual cramps
- PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome)
PCOS and black cohosh
In polycystic ovarian syndrome, the ovaries do not work normally and produce too much testosterone. Testosterone is referred to as the “male hormone.” Normally the ovaries produce very small amounts of testosterone, but in women with PCOS, they make greater amounts of the hormone.
Normally once a month, the ovaries make a structure called a “follicle”. As the follicle grows, it makes hormones. When mature this follicle releases an egg. This is “ovulation.”
In women with PCOS, the ovary makes many small follicles instead of one big one. More hormone is then made by all the small follicles creating higher than normal levels. Ovulation doesn’t happen every month the way it is supposed
Studies have investigated black cohosh for improvement in fertilization and pregnancy rates of women with PCOS with some success.
The Native Americans how to use black cohosh to treat snake bites, uterine issues, nervous disorders, and so much more.
From the early 1900s to present black cohosh has been used in medicine.
Today, black cohosh is mainly used to help treat symptoms associated with female issues and menopause.
How is black cohosh used?
The roots are dried and made into teas, liquid extracts, and put into capsule form. Sometimes, black cohosh is used as one ingredient in a herbal mixture.
Always Consult With Your Doctor Before Starting New Medicines, Vitamins or Herbs:
- Always check with your doctor before you use any new products as some products may interact with other drugs or natural products.
- Black cohosh may interfere with the results of your lab tests. Be sure to talk with your doctor about this and all the drugs you are taking.
- Do not use this product if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon. Use birth control you can trust while taking this product.
- Do not use this product if you are breastfeeding.
- Do not use this product if you are taking drugs for heart failure. These are drugs like captopril (Capoten), metoprolol (Lopressor), amiodarone (Cordarone), or losartan (Cozaar).
- Exercise caution if you are allergic to aspirin.
- Take extra care and check with your doctor if you have:
- Liver problems
- Heart problems
Don’t use black cohosh if you have a history of liver disorders. Also avoid it if you’re experiencing symptoms that can signal liver trouble, like abdominal pain, jaundice, or dark-coloured urine.
Side Effects of Black Cohosh:
- stomach issues/pain
- low blood pressure
- changes in heart rhythm
Since black cohosh is in the same family as the buttercup plant, people who have allergies to buttercups should not try black cohosh.
Other Considerations When Using Black Cohosh
Herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other plant extracts are considered a dietary supplement and do not require regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
If you’re considering trying the herb, first talk to your doctor. Taking black cohosh might help, but it’s not a substitute for tested medical treatments.