Black cohosh is a favorite supplement among women for its reported ability to reduce the symptoms of menopause. But how does it work? We took a look at this herbal remedy and the history of its use.
The Basics of Black Cohosh
Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is a shrub native to North America. It's a member of the buttercup family and is a perennial plant. Medicines and supplements are most often made from the dried root and rhizome of the plant and black cohosh has long been a popular Native American remedy.
Benefits of Black Cohosh for Women
Women most often take black cohosh during menopause. When a woman begins the physical transition of menopause, her body beings producing less of hormones like progesterone and estrogen. On the other hand, the production of luteinizing hormones increases. These changes in hormone levels can lead to symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and weight gain. Black cohosh is said to have estrogen-like effects on the body, due to the presence of isoflavones and other active compounds.
A 2012 evaluation of sixteen published clinical trials published in The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. explained that while there wasn't enough evidence to firmly recommend black cohosh for the treatment of hot flashes, but the results thus far were promising and warranted further investigation. Black cohosh continues to be studied for its effectiveness. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a larger study is currently underway, funded by the NIH and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
Taking Black Cohosh Supplements
Black cohosh is available as a supplement on its own or blended with other herbs and nutrients to support women's health. You can find capsules and tablets or liquid extracts that can be added to water, juice or tea for the same benefits. As with any herbal supplement, begin with a lower dose and follow instructions for use. Once you assess your tolerance and benefit, you can increase the dosage.
As with all supplements, it's important to speak with your doctor before taking this supplement if you've been diagnosed with a medical condition or if you're currently taking medication. If you're undergoing hormone replacement therapy, you should also speak with your doctor before making any changes to your routine. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn't take black cohosh supplements.
There aren't known to be any major drug interactions or serious side effects with black cohosh at this time, but taking too much for an extended period of time could cause digestive issues or headaches.
Additional Tips for Women's Issues
The symptoms of menopause can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, but there are ways to make to process easier. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Dress in layers of light, breathable clothing, like cotton.
Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Avoid too much caffeine and sugar.
Place a cold pack in your pillow case at night.
Make sure you're getting plenty of B vitamins, which support energy production and cognitive health.
Choose bed sheets with a lower thread count to allow more air to flow through.
Exercise regularly for weight management and joint health.
Staying in communication with your physician can help you manage your menopausal symptoms. Shop for black cohosh supplements and more to make the transition easier at eVitamins!