For centuries, the roots of the North American black cohosh plant have been
used for various ailments. Black cohosh is now a popular remedy for the
symptoms of menopause. This has been especially true since the risks of a
standard treatment for menopause -- hormone therapy -- were publicized in
Why do people take black cohosh?
Black cohosh is most often used to control the symptoms of menopause, such
- Hot flashes
- Mood changes
- Sleep problems
- Heart palpitations
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
Some studies have found evidence that black cohosh does help with these
symptoms. However, many experts consider the evidence unclear and say that
we need more research.
Other uses of black cohosh have less scientific support. Women sometimes
take it to regulate periods, ease PMS symptoms, and induce labor. Black
cohosh has also been used to relieve arthritis pain and help lower blood
pressure. There are some preliminary laboratory studies showing that black
cohosh may be useful in preventing or treating prostate cancer. Definitive
research has not verified black cohosh's effectiveness for these uses.
How much black cohosh should you take?
For menopausal symptoms, the dose of black cohosh used in studies has been
20-40 milligrams tablets of a standardized extract taken twice a day. More
than 900 milligrams a day of black cohosh is considered an overdose. There
is some reference in studies to tinctures of black cohosh, with a dose
range of 2-4 milliliters daily. Directions for taking black cohosh in other
forms will vary. Some experts say that no one should take black cohosh for
more than six months at a time.
Can you get black cohosh naturally from foods?
There are no food sources for black cohosh.
What are the risks of taking black cohosh?
from black cohosh include headaches and upset stomach. Side effects usually
occur at high doses. There have been some people who may have developed
liver problems after using black cohosh, the specifics of which are still
being investigated. Nonetheless, people with pre-existing liver problems,
or those taking any other medication/substance that affects the liver,
should either avoid black cohosh or check in with their health care
provider prior to use.
Black Cohosh may not be safe for:
Women who are pregnant (although it is sometimes used to induce labor)
Women who have -- or have had -- breast cancer or uterine cancer
Women who have endometriosis
Children under 18
People with liver disease, a high risk of stroke or blood clots, or seizure
People with allergies to aspirin
People taking birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, sedatives,
or blood pressure medicine should not take black cohosh without the
approval of their doctors.
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