Black Cohosh is an herb that has been used by Native Americans for more than two hundred years, after they discovered the root of the plant helped relieve menstrual cramps and symptoms of menopause. These days the herb is still used for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes/flushes, irritability, mood swings and sleep disturbances. It is also used for PMS and other menstrual problems.
Black Cohosh, a member of the buttercup family, is a perennial plant found throughout the eastern regions of the United States and Canada. Its botanical name is Actaea racemosa or Cimicifuga racemosa.
Today, the rhizome (underground stem) and the root of the plant are easily available in the form of capsules, tablets and liquid extracts. Black cohosh is also available in tea form.
Benefits of Black Cohosh
Among the most popular Black Cohosh benefits is its effectiveness in managing problems associated with menopause such as anxiety, depression, vaginal dryness and hot flashes. Consumption of black cohosh is also believed to help soothe cramps and bloating that women go through during their menstrual cycle.
This herb also acts as a muscle anti-inflammatory and as an antispasmodic to nerves, muscles and blood vessels. The salicylic acid present in this plant contributes to its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also used to relieve headaches caused by various reasons such as overexertion, stress, nasal congestion and eye-strain. Black Cohosh is also known to stimulate digestion.
Studies on Black Cohosh
Over 20 clinical trials on Black Cohosh have been completed spanning more than 40 years with over 3,000 subjects. In a recent clinical study, the majority of women taking Black Cohosh saw the following overall reductions in their menopausal symptoms: 56% reduction in 4 weeks, 65% reduction in 8 weeks, and 70% reduction in 12 weeks. This was 25% better than the response seen in women taking a placebo.
A well known 1982 study of over 600 women found 80% experienced relief from such symptoms as hot flashes, perspiration, irritability, heart palpitations and depression after taking 80 mg of Black Cohosh daily over six to eight weeks. Common emotional problems such as tearing depression and anxiety also responded favorably.
A 1998 study by the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut concluded Black Cohosh was a safe alternative to estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) for women where ERT is contraindicated or declined. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has recommended the use of Black Cohosh for menopausal symptoms such as sleep disturbances, mood swings and hot flashes.
Those who are taking medication and are planning to take Black Cohosh should consult with their doctor before taking it Also, women with a personal or family history of breast cancer may wish to avoid using Black Cohosh until further research delineates the effect on breast tissue.
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