Black cohosh has been used for hundreds of years by many cultures to remedy pneumonia, joint pain, and sluggish labor. Native Americans used it to treat musculoskeletal pain and menstrual irregularities, and European settlers made a black cohosh tonic to support female reproductive health.
More and more research has revealed the potential dangers of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), when it comes to treating hormonal issues. HRT can create an even bigger hormonal imbalance that can worsen menopausal symptoms. Health-conscious women are looking for safer treatments to help balance hormones and relieve symptoms of menopause.
What Is Black Cohosh?
Black cohosh is a member of the buttercup family and it goes by many names, including black bugbane, black snakeroot, and fairy candle. The name is attributed to the plant’s black roots and rhizomes, which are the sections that are used for medicinal purposes. It has become widely used as a natural alternative to HRT in Australia, Germany, and the United States. You can obtain black cohosh without a prescription in the U.S.
Black Cohosh And Menopausal Symptoms
Since the 1950s, studies have yielded mixed results in regards to whether black cohosh is effective at managing menopausal symptoms. Some research has indicated that it has estrogenic activity, while others studies have shown that it does. The complicated part is understanding how and why black cohosh works for some and not for others. Scientists also have a loose grasp on whether it affects the levels of luteinizing hormone or follicle-stimulating hormone. A 2016 systemic review of randomized clinical trials examined herbal therapies, including the use of black cohosh, to treat menopausal symptoms. This review determined that black cohosh worked for some women and not for others, so more comprehensive research is needed.
The Health Benefits Of Black Cohosh
May Reduce Sleep Disturbances
Many menopausal women commonly experience sleep disturbances. Since sleep is essential to balancing hormones, lack of sleep disturbs the body’s hormonal management and production, ultimately worsening symptoms of menopause. A recent study on postmenopausal women with sleep disturbances found that black cohosh supplementation helped improve sleep, which in turn stabilized mood and increased energy levels.
May Reduce Bone Loss/Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a common problem for menopausal women. According to research, several compounds in black cohosh have biological activity and plant-derived estrogens, also known as phytoestrogens. Biological molecules in black cohosh have been shown to reduce bone loss caused by osteoporosis, but more research needs to be done on this matter.
May Reduce Hot Flashes
One of the primary symptoms of menopause is hot flashes, so black cohosh has been heavily studied as a potential remedy for them. Some research is inconclusive because exact dosage to reduce hot flashes is inconsistent. Even though findings are mixed, many women find that black cohosh greatly helps in the reduction of hot flashes. Certain systemic reviews have found that it is more effective than a placebo, and that taking black cohosh regularly can reduce the severity hormonal imbalance.
May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids, which are benign growths in the uterus, typically appear during the height of a woman’s fertile years. While Tibolone, a synthetic steroid drug, is used to treat fibroids outside of the United States, women with fibroids in the U.S. are commonly prescribed hormone-based drugs. In a 2014 study, black cohosh was compared to Tibolone to see the effectiveness of treating fibroids. The tests revealed that black cohosh may be a more appropriate treatment than the synthetic alternative.
As far as proper dosage goes, health experts generally recommend taking between 40-80 milligrams of standardized black cohosh extract per day. This is a typical dosage to help relieve menopausal symptoms. If you have hot flashes, however, start with a lower dosage of 20-40 milligrams, which you take twice daily and increase as needed.