Black Cohosh

Black Cohosh

Black Cohosh
Black cohosh is an herbal treatment for menopause. An alternative to hormonal therapy, black cohosh treats symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. Black cohosh may have estrogenic effects and also alleviates premenstrual discomfort and painful menstruation. Use of black cohosh should not exceed 6 months. As with any herbal remedy, please consult your health provider for treatment, correct dosage, benefits and risk factors.

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    Individuals with high blood pressure, a seizure disorder or problems with blood clots should be very cautious in using black cohosh. Some cases of hepatitis necessitating a liver transplant have been reported by individuals taking products containing black cohosh, but the correlation between the herb and the liver disease is not clear. Individuals with liver problems should consult their doctor before using black cohosh. The U.S. Pharmacopeia, the organization that sets standards for foods and drugs in the United States, has advised the following warning on black cohosh packaging: "Discontinue use and consult a healthcare practitioner if you have a liver disorder or develop symptoms of liver trouble, such as abdominal pain, dark urine or jaundice."

    In a few reports, women using black cohosh have experienced a miscarriage or vaginal bleeding, but the correlation between the herb and such adverse events is not clear.

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    Other names for black cohosh, which is available as a supplement, include black snakeroot, rattletop, rattleroot, rattleweed and macrotys. It’s also called bugbane and bugwort because insects tend to steer clear of this perennial plant (which has the scientific name Actaea racemosa).

    Black cohosh root is sometimes used to treat menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and irritability, and it’s found in many menopause supplements. It’s the main ingredient in Remifemin, a popular over-the-counter herbal treatment. Experts believe that black cohosh may have a hormone-like effect in the body. Before taking the herb or a supplement containing it, speak with your health-care provider about any potential risks.
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    Take black cohosh according to package directions or as directed by your doctor or herbal practitioner. Look for standardized extracts, tinctures and pill forms of this herb. The recommended dose of black cohosh ranges from 40 - 80 mg. (milligram) per day. Tablets of black cohosh should be standardized to contain one mg. of 27-deoxyactein per 20 mg. tablet; these pills should be swallowed with a full glass of water. Liquid forms of this herb should be measured in a dose-measuring dropper, cup or spoon; take two to four milliliters (ml.) of black cohosh in water or tea three times a day.

    You can make a tea from 34 ounces of water mixed with 20 grams of dried black cohosh root. Bring this mixture to a boil and turn down to simmer until the liquid is reduced by a third (approximately 20 to 30 minutes). Strain the liquid, pour into a covered container and store in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. Use a cup of this black cohosh tea three times per day.

    There is no recommended dosage of black cohosh for children. Do not take different forms of this herb at the same time unless directed to do so by your doctor.

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    Some drugs may interact with black cohosh, an herb that is sometimes taken in supplement form to treat hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, although its effectiveness hasn't been proved. The herb is sometimes used to relieve side effects of breast cancer treatment, but some doctors recommend waiting until treatment is complete.

    Black cohosh also contains small amounts of salicylic acid, so anyone allergic to aspirin should avoid black cohosh. Pregnant women and those with liver problems should not take black cohosh. As with any supplement, consult your doctor before taking black cohosh.
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    Black cohosh, also known as black snakeroot, has been linked to liver inflammation (hepatitis) or liver failure. However, these kinds of problems have been reported only rarely, and it's not known whether black cohosh actually caused them. Even so, experts recommend that people who have a liver condition steer clear of the herb.

    Black cohosh is sometimes used to relieve arthritis, muscle pain and menopause symptoms (such as hot flashes). If you take it for these reasons or to treat any other ailment, be aware that it can have side effects. Call your doctor immediately if you develop signs of a liver problem, such as your skin turning yellow, abdominal pain and/or darkening urine.
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    The same storage rule applies to black cohosh supplements as to any other supplement: Keep them cool and dry. Black cohosh and other supplements may be degraded by heat and moisture, so don't store them in the medicine cabinet in your bathroom, where humidity can reach more than 98%, or a kitchen drawer near a hot oven.
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    Black cohosh is not tested or regulated by the FDA. Its safety and effectiveness are not clearly documented. As a result, the potential risks and/or advantages of black cohosh are not well known. Since the use of Black Cohosh and prescription drugs in combination is not well studied, it is still possible that you could experience side effects and or an interaction when Blach Cohosh is used with Labetalol and Norvasc. If you are still concerned about menopause symptoms, you should talk to your primary doctor, cardiologist, or gynecologist before taking this supplement.
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    Researchers believe the herb, black cohosh, may have estrogenic effects, but studies are not conclusive and more research is needed. One of the compounds found in black cohosh, fukinolic acid, has shown antiinflammatory action. There are several other active compounds in this herb and research is ongoing.

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    Black cohosh is a hardy plant found in the forests of North America. Extracts of black cohosh are prepared from the plant's dried roots and thickened, underground robot-like stem (rhizome).

    In laboratory studies, extracts of black cohosh have shown estrogen-like properties. It is used for treating the following conditions:
    • premenstrual discomfort
    • painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea)
    • menopausal symptoms

    Black cohosh is available in a variety of product types. The recommended daily dose of a black cohosh product is the equivalent of 40 milligrams of the crude herbal preparation, which consists of dried roots and rhizome. Use of black cohosh should not exceed six months.

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    Check with your doctor before taking black cohosh supplements, or any dietary or herbal supplement. Black cohosh supplements come from the dried stems and roots of the black cohosh plant, which is native to North America and related to the buttercup. It has been used for treating menstrual and menopausal symptoms including cramps, hot flashes and night sweats for hundreds of years, dating back to Native American medicine. But few large, controlled studies have found it to be effective and safe, and certain people absolutely should not take it. These include women who are pregnant or  nursing or who have a hormone-sensitive condition such as endometriosis, fibroid tumors or cancer of the breast, ovary or uterus, as well as anyone with a history of liver problems.

    Black cohosh supplements may cause side effects ranging from headaches, weight gain and stomach pain to changes in heart rate and dizziness. Talk to your doctor so you can weigh the potential benefits and risks of taking this supplement.