Black Cohosh is a member of the buttercup plant family and is native to North America. Native Americans first used black cohosh many centuries ago to treat female reproductive problems, including pain during childbirth, uterine colic, menstrual pain, snakebites and arthritis. Today, herbalists commonly use Black Cohosh to support healthy female reproductive function and relieve discomfort associated with perimenopause and menopause.
Black Cohosh Pharmacology
Actaea racemosa & Cimicifuga racemosa
Other Common Names
Baneberry, Black Snakeroot, Bugbane, Bugwort, Cimicifuga, Rattle Root, Rattle Top, Rattlesnake Root, Rattleweed, Sheng Ma, Snakeroot & Squaw Root.
Main Therapeutic Compounds
Triterpene glycosides, including cimicifugoside, actein and 27-deoxyactein, and other quinolizidine alkaloids, phenolic acids, including isoferulic and fukinolic acid, salicylic acids, resins, fatty acids and tannin
Black Cohosh Herbal Benefits
Menopause Symptoms || Hot Flushes || Premenstrual Syndrome || Muscle & Nerve Pain
Menopause & Perimenopause
Most clinical research on Black Cohosh has focused on its potential to manage and decrease the severity of various menopausal symptoms.
A 2020 study found that Black Cohosh can be beneficial for alleviating menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, sweating, mood swings, depression, anxiety, vaginal dryness and insomnia.
In a recent clinical human study, black cohosh and evening primrose oil effectively reduced the severity of menopause symptoms and improved quality of life; however, the researchers concluded that black cohosh seemed more effective than evening primrose oil at reducing the number of hot flushes and night sweats.
It is hypothesised that Black Cohosh may relieve menopausal symptoms by modulating serotonergic pathways or exerting antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, or selective oestrogen receptor modulating actions.
The compounds in Black Cohosh, including triterpenes and flavonoids, are believed to suppress luteinising hormone release (LH), which as a result, reduces the occurrence of menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, heart palpitations, and vaginal drying and thinning.
Muscle Pain & Cramps
Due to the potent anti-spasmodic properties of Black Cohosh, it has long been traditionally used to treat menstrual pain and relieve muscle cramps. The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving actions of Black Cohosh are likely due to its salicylic acid content. Black cohosh may be beneficial for aches and pains connected to muscle strain or chronic nervous tension because of its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
Black Cohosh Typical Use
Tea & Infusion
Dried Black Cohosh can be used to make a tea/infusion by boiling 10-20g of dried roots for 5 minutes. Consuming Black Cohosh as tea has been found to be the least effective at reducing menopause symptoms.
Dried Herb & Powder
Typical adult use of powdered or dried Black Cohosh root is 500mg - 2 grams daily in capsule, tablet or powder form.
Tincture & Liquid Extract
Typical adult use of Black Cohosh tincture or liquid extract is approximately 3 mls daily, or as directed by your practitioner.
Black Cohosh combines well with Chastetree, Sage, Zizyphus, Lemon Balm & Peony Root
Cautions & Safety
Black Cohosh is not recommended during pregnancy and lactation.
It is recommended to only take Black Cohosh for a maximum of 6 months before having a break due to rare and spontaneous cases of hepatotoxicity. Black Cohosh is best avoided in pre-existing liver disease.
If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical medications, please consult your primary healthcare practitioner prior to use.
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Rhyu, M. R., Lu, J., Webster, D. E., Fabricant, D. S., Farnsworth, N. R., and Wang, Z. J. Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa) behaves as a mixed competitive ligand and partial agonist at the human mu opiate receptor. J Agric.Food Chem 12-27-2006;54(26):9852-9857.
Amsterdam JD, Yao Y, Mao JJ, Soeller I, Rockwell K, Shults J. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Cimicifuga racemosa (black cohosh) in women with anxiety disorder due to menopause. J Clin Psychopharmacol 2009;29:478-83.
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