black cohosh plant
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A beautiful, flowering plant, black cohosh has been used by Native Americans and Chinese herbalists for years as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments. Today, black cohosh is often taken in capsule or extract form to provide relief for menopause symptoms like hot flashes.

While menopause is a natural transition in a woman’s life, symptoms of menopause can vary among women. Some experience mood swings and problems sleeping, while others may experience chills and hot flashes. Knowing about the healing qualities of black cohosh can make the difference between a woman transitioning to menopause comfortably or not.

What Is Black Cohosh?

If you were to take a look at the black cohosh plant, you may wonder where the plant got its name from, as the flowers are white. The roots of the plant, however, are black, and this is where the healing properties of the plant exist.

Black cohosh grows from June to September in North America and is often dried and transformed into teas, extracts, and capsules.

Uses of Black Cohosh

Black cohosh has been used for centuries to treat many different medical conditions, including:

  • Kidney issues
  • Malaria
  • Sore throat
  • Joint inflammation
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Labor
  • Snake bites
  • Uterus problems
  • Nervous disorders
  • Menstrual Cramps
  • Menopause

Today, black cohosh is primarily used to help treat symptoms of menopause. How much black cohosh is actually needed to alleviate symptoms is not set in stone, as it varies by individual.

Generally, 20 to 40 mg of black cohosh is the dosage women consume to help their menopause symptoms. It is suggested, however, that you speak to your doctor about the proper dosage before consuming any black cohosh.

Black Cohosh and Menopause

On average, women begin experiencing menopause symptoms about four years before they actually start menopause. This is called perimenopause, and some symptoms that a woman may experience include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Weight gain and slowed metabolism
  • Loss of breast fullness
  • Thinning hair
  • Dry skin
  • Mood changes
  • Problems sleeping

The effectiveness of black cohosh for women experiencing menopausal symptoms has been mixed. Some women find the herb to be helpful for reducing hot flashes, in addition to helping with sleep patterns and mood changes, while others report that they haven’t experienced as much relief.

Overall, from the studies conducted on the use of black cohosh, researchers haven’t found serious, harmful side effects. Most of these studies have been conducted on the use of black cohosh for about six months, which is why most doctors will suggest that black cohosh only be used for this length of duration.

Side Effects of Black Cohosh

Of those women studied who have used black cohosh for menopausal symptoms, the reported side effects have included:

  • Upset stomach
  • Feelings of dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Heart rhythm changes

These side effects vary based on the individual and could be a result of other factors as well. While side effects cannot always be avoided, it’s best to speak with your physician first about whether you have any current medications or health conditions that could interact with black cohosh and negatively affect you.

Black Cohosh for Hot Flashes

So far, the most compelling cases for the effectiveness of black cohosh involve its use for hot flashes. Whether the herb has been taken in extract form or in capsule form, its use seems to be the most beneficial when it comes to alleviating hot flashes.

Researchers still need more time to study how effective black cohosh truly is, especially in regards to long-term use and coming up with a standardized dose. If you’re considering using black cohosh for menopause relief, please talk to your doctor first. Never try a new herb or remedy without discussing the substance and dosage with your doctor first.

References

Black Cohosh. (2016, November 29). Retrieved April 09, 2018, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/blackcohosh/ataglance.htm
 
Black Cohosh: Uses and Side Effects. (n.d.). Retrieved April 09, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/black-cohosh#5