Black Cohosh: The One Hot Flash Remedy for Your Menopause Health
Also known as bugbane and black snakeroot, black cohosh is a medicinal root most commonly used as a treatment for female hormone-related symptoms, which include menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause symptoms.
Black cohosh consists of phytochemicals that may play a role in your endocrine system.
It’s widely used in the United States, Germany and Australia.
Black cohosh is available without prescription in the United States and the German government has allowed it to be obtained as a prescription drug alternative for hormonal therapy.
The only known side effect of black cohosh when used in regular doses is stomach discomfort. Its effects on liver function is still not studied sufficiently yet and more research needs to be performed before it can be recommended for long term use.
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Uses of black cohosh
Black cohosh is used in traditional medicine for the following:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Premenstrual syndrome or PMS
- Dysmenorrhea or Menstrual cramps
- Insomnia or sleep disorders
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome(PCOS)
- Your overall health and well being
How it works
Women from all over the world, especially the US, have been using black cohosh to treat their “lady issues” such as menstrual cramps, PMS or their menstrual symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and irritability.
Perhaps the most troublesome one out of the list is hot flashes. Call them whatever you like, nature’s heat wave, personal summer or power surge… hot flashes are a huge pain in the butt and everywhere else.
Not only is it annoying, it won’t go away quickly either. It’s also one of the most dreaded symptoms of menopause – no surprise there.
Black cohosh has been recommended as an alternative to hormonal replacement therapy or HRT when a woman has too much trouble dealing with her hot flashes and night sweats.
When a woman’s estrogen levels begin to take a dip during her middle age, she begins to experience vexing symptoms such as vaginal dryness, night sweats, depression, hot flashes, weight gain and other nasty symptoms.
However, black cohosh may help by providing phytoestrogens to the women’s body. Phytoestrogens are plant versions of estrogens and mimic the actions of estrogen in the body.
They bind to the hormone receptors in the breasts, uterus and other parts of the body, thereby reducing night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings, headaches, vaginal dryness and other hormonal symptoms.
Some researchers even believe that phytoestrogens may inhibit tumor growth and prevent the body’s estrogen from fastening to breast cancer cells.
Hormone replacement therapy has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and blood clots.
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Therefore, women prefer choosing natural remedies for their menopausal symptoms as the risk of side effects and complications are very low when the remedy is taken in recommended doses.
Using black cohosh to treat your hot flashes is a harmless technique that may actually work.
Note that all women are different, so there’s a chance it may not work as well. It’s best to accept the reality of the situation and not get disappointed later. What’s important is that you don’t give up! You’re not doomed to live a miserable life due to menopause. There are plenty of remedies out there – you just need to look in the right places.
Black cohosh for Hot Flashes
A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study which included 80 menopausal participants examined the effects of black cohosh on menstrual hot flashes over a placebo and conjugated estrogens. Women were given a 2mg tablet of black cohosh daily and 0.625 mg of conjugated estrogens. Over a period of 12 weeks, the efficacy of black cohosh and the placebo was tested using the Kupperman index and the Hamilton anxiety scale. Results showed that women in the black cohosh group experienced a significant improvement in their anxiety levels and the frequency of hot flashes compared to those who took the placebo.
Black cohosh for osteoporosis
Degenerative bone loss is another effect of menopause due to the declining levels of estrogen during this period of a woman’s life. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), black cohosh may protect a woman against bone loss during menopause. Osteoporosis is one of the most common complications associated with menopause that weakens bones and makes them more susceptible to fracture as a woman ages.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, women tend to experience rapid bone loss during their premenopausal stage.
Black Cohosh and Breast Cancer
When a woman hits menopause, the first thing that pops into her mind is getting hormone replacement therapy done to treat her menopausal symptoms.
Hormone replacement therapy, although may help treat hot flashes, is not recommended for women with breast cancer due to the possible link between breast cancer and estrogen.
Regardless of what method of treatment you choose, it is always best to consult your doctor first.
The study published in the 2004 issues of Cancer Investigation, led by Dr. Barbara Pockaj of the Mayo Clinic, involving 23 post-menopausal women, among which 13 women had a history of breast cancer showed that black cohosh did not have the same effects of estrogen in the body. Thus, the authors concluded that further clinical studies may be required to understand and support the use of black cohosh for menopause symptoms.
As shown above, the research is mixed but this is a common scenario when you’re dealing with natural remedies. Fortunately, natural remedies cause little to no side effects and any adverse effects of black cohosh are still to be discovered.
So far, researchers promote the short-term use of black cohosh to prevent any unpleasant effects.
If you are considering the use of black cohosh to treat your menopausal symptoms or any other bodily issue, it is important that you discuss the benefits and side effects with your health care provider first.
Make sure you provide a thorough history of your past medical conditions, if any, so that the doctor can determine whether the supplement will be good for you.