The black cohosha white flowering plant native to eastern North America, was first used in Native American medicine to support women’s health and reproduction, body aches, coughs, colds, fatigue, and the weakness.
Today, the black cohosh is one of the supplements for women’s health More popular. As research on its effectiveness began to grow, scientists began to determine what it might help with and what benefits need further investigation.
What is Black Cohosh?
Black cohosh (Actaea racemose or Cimicifuga racemosa) is an herb used in traditional medicine for many years. While it is said to have many health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory and calming effects on the nervous system, it is best known for supporting women’s health, especially during menopause.
Black cohosh supplements contain the dried root or rhizome of the plant. Also known as:
- snake root
- fairy candles
- Jingle Bell
The magic of why certain herbs or botanicals work can’t always be explained, and researchers don’t yet fully understand the mechanisms behind black cohosh. While some suggest that the herb is useful for women because it acts as a phytoestrogen in the body, most studies have concluded that it has no estrogenic activity.
Benefits of Black Cohosh
While herbs are generally not always well researched (pharmaceutical companies have much more money to spend on clinical studies), black cohosh has many interesting studies examining their use.
Here’s what the science says about the benefits of black cohosh.
black cohosh for menopause
Supporting menopausal symptoms tops the list of reasons women turn to black cohosh, even though recent research has concluded that it has no estrogenic activity.
A chemical found in black cohosh called fukinolic acid may have weak estrogenic effects in the body, but experts don’t think it’s enough to fully explain why it supports healthy hormone balance.
Regardless of exactly how it works, black cohosh might help with menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, anxiety, and insomnia.
Multiple studies suggest that menopausal women who take black cohosh daily report significantly fewer night sweats, hot flashes, and less severity.
A study comparing black cohosh to a hormone therapy drugfound that both the drug and the supplement improved menopausal symptoms with no significant differences.
Another condition associated with menopause is bone health. As estrogen falls, it affects the activity of the cells that make up the bones. According to several studies, this herb may help maintain healthy bones in menopausal women, but more research is needed.
Hormonal balance with the use of black cohosh
Given the potential impact black cohosh has on menopause, it can also help with other areas of women’s health that are also related to hormonal balance. After all, that’s what it was used for in traditional medicine.
Here’s what science says about other women’s health conditions and black cohosh:
SPM and TDPM
Herbalists have used black cohosh for years to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric syndrome (PMDD), such as cramps, headaches, breast tenderness, and mood swings. There are not many studies to support it, but it may help due to the impacts on neurotransmitters and pain regulation mentioned above. One study found that when black cohosh was combined with dong quai and soy (two other hormone-supporting botanicals), it could help reduce the frequency of migraines.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Black cohosh may help with ovulation and, as a result, help support fertility associated with PCOS. A small study in women with PCOS found that black cohosh might have a positive impact on hormone levels (LH and progesterone) and ratios and increase the thickness of the endometrium to support ovulation even better than a drug that supports fertility. It can also help women with PCOS get pregnant when combined with fertility drugs.
In addition to studies explicitly looking at cohosh and fertility in women with PCOS, some studies also found that adding cohosh to Chlomid improved the chances of getting pregnant in women with unexplained fertility.
The root cause of fibroids cannot be attributed to one thing, but hormonal imbalance is a probable cause for many women. Since black cohosh can support estrogen levels in your body, it might also help with fibroids. While more research is needed, one study found that black cohosh helped shrink uterine fibroids by 30%. In contrast, fibroids increased in size in the group of women taking hormone therapy in this study.
It may help women experiencing hot flashes as a side effect of breast cancer treatment, although results are mixed.
While there was some concern that black cohosh might increase the risk of breast cancer due to its supposed estrogenic activity, several studies have concluded this is not true. One study also found that black cohosh could have a positive impact on the survival time of women with breast cancer. It may even have a small protective effect against breast cancer while helping women through menopause.
Again, many of the studies on the herb and its mental health improvements focus on the menopausal transition. According to some research, black cohosh may activate a receptor for serotonin (a feel-good neurotransmitter) and thus have a positive impact on feelings of depression or anxiety.
Herbalists have used the black cohosh for anxiety for many years, especially in menopausal women. A study looking at black cohosh and St. John’s wort, a botanical used to support mood, found that both black cohosh and St. John’s wort effectively helped mood, but improvements they were even more significant when the two herbs were combined.
Cohosh may support sleep by supporting how well you sleep while reducing sleep interruptions. It might also decrease the amount of time you stay awake after waking up in the middle of the night.
The main benefits of black cohosh for a better rest are not necessarily directly related to the quality of sleep. Instead, it can help reduce sleep-disrupting symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
Since weight gain is a concern during menopause, scientists are also interested in whether black cohosh might help women slow or stop weight gain associated with fluctuating hormones. Cohosh is not traditionally used as a weight-loss herb, and there is little research to support its use.
However, some small studies suggest that it might help regulate appetite and support estrogen-related weight gain.
Other Benefits of Black Cohosh
You may see some of the following benefits of black cohoshand some are considered traditional uses, but research is lacking:
- cognitive health
- employment support
- respiratory health
Side Effects of Black Cohosh
Black cohosh is considered safe when taken as recommended and from a trusted source. The most common concern associated with cohosh is liver toxicity.
While there were several reports related to black cohosh supplements and liver problems, a follow-up review concluded that black cohosh was not necessarily the cause of cases of liver toxicity. This was echoed by another meta-analysis that found no evidence of liver toxicity associated with black cohosh.
However, it was suggested that the liver problems may have been the result of black cohosh products “enriched” with ingredients not included in the list.
As with all supplements, it’s critical to choose a high-quality brand that is third-party tested for safety and purity.
Other side effects have been reported, although these are mainly associated with taking much more than the recommended dose:
Black Cohosh Dosage
The dose of cohosh depends on the reason you are taking it. The best way to use the correct dosage is to work with a healthcare professional familiar with black cohosh and your individual needs.
Clinical trials for menopause have different dosage recommendations depending on the formula. Doses can range from 40 mg to 400 mg in capsule form to 40 drops in liquid extracts. Therefore, it is best to follow your doctor’s advice or the dosage on the product label.