Part of the family Ranunculaceae, black cohosh, or Actaea racemosa (also known as Cimicifuga racemosa) is also called by several nicknames, including “black bugbane,” “black snakeroot” and “fairy candle.” This flowering plant is native to North America, growing in a variety of woodland habitats.
The underground parts of the plant, the roots and rhizomes, are the sections used for medicinal purposes. They are made up of glycosides (sugar compounds), isoferulic acids (anti-inflammatory substances), and (possibly) phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens), as well as other active substances. The leaves and other external parts of black cohosh aren’t used for food or nutrition.
The specific preparation of black cohosh supplements affects what it will treat. One such manufacturer, Remifemin, is one of the most researched compounds in the reduction of hot flashes caused by menopause.
The roots and rhizomes of black cohosh, a flowering plant native to North America, are used to treat or relieve a number of hormonal issues, including menopause symptoms like hot flashes, trouble sleeping and bone loss.
Black cohosh provides a safe alternative to hormone replacement therapy, which is often used for menopause relief, and it can also help women manage PCOS and treat uterine fibroids.
In a research that was recently conducted to analyze the Efficacy of black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa L.) in treating early symptoms of menopause: a randomized clinical trial. the following results were also found at the end of the research:
Black cohosh reduced the GCS total score and all GCS subscale scores (vasomotor, psychiatric, physical, and sexual symptoms) during 4 and 8 weeks of treatment.
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8 Benefits of Black Cohosh
1. Reduces Hot Flashes
A great number of studies have been done on the effect black cohosh has on menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes. While some research is inconclusive, this is generally due to the fact that many of them have been based on a scale, rather than placebo-based observation. In addition, the specific compounds and dosages of the supplement have been inconsistent in many studies.
However, there is little doubt that black cohosh is an effective treatment for hot flashes and a natural remedy for menopause relief in general. Taking it regularly reduces the number and severity of hot flashes, greatly decreasing the negative symptoms that often overwhelm women with hormone problems.
And there’s more good news! Menopausal women aren’t the only ones who suffer hot flashes. Breast cancer survivors who have completed treatment have shown a decrease in hot flashes and sweating when using black cohosh.
As I mentioned earlier, a current study is also examining the management of hot flashes in men who have had treatment for prostate cancer.
2. Aids Sleep
One factor that worsens other symptoms of menopause is the sleep disturbance that often accompanies this transition. Sleep is vital to balancing hormones naturally, as lack of sleep disturbs hormone production and management, even in normal periods of life.
A recent medical trial for postmenopausal women with sleep complaints found supplementing their diet with black cohosh effectively improved sleep and may be a safe measure in managing menopausal sleep disturbance.
If you find that you frequently can’t sleep in the midst of menopause, it’s also important to sleep at the right time. To sleep best, endocrinologists (hormone experts) suggest sleeping at least 7–8 hours a night and ensuring that four of those hours fall between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. This will ensure the most effective and hormonally balanced sleep.
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3. Promising for Treatment of Diabetes
A breakthrough study recently showed positive impact of an extract of this plant, Ze 450, on type II diabetes. While this was a pilot study, the results indicated that Ze 450 may help reduce body weight and improve the processing of insulin within the body of a diabetic patient.
4. Helps Manage PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
Maybe related to its effects in potentially treating diabetes, black cohosh has also been studied regarding PCOS and the benefits it may give to women with the disorder. Initial results suggest black cohosh had a positive impact on the disorder and could match the treatment of the pharmaceutical agent it was tested against.
PCOS patients should do their best to use natural remedies that balance hormones without chemicals or medication, including using essential oils for hormones.
5. Provides a Safe Alternative to HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)
HRT is a dangerous therapy to choose for menopause relief. Women on estrogen replacement drugs have been proven to be 24 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women on no hormone therapy medications.
I understand that menopause is dreaded by most women, as the side effects often become debilitating. However, I don’t see the bright side of treating this drop in estrogen with drugs that are likely to cause even more health problems.
That’s why I like the idea of alternative options! There are several safe, natural remedies for menopause relief, and black cohosh is an important item on that list. Recent clinical studies have sought to find other menopause treatments to replace HRT, including the use of Actaea racemosa supplementation.
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6. Reduces Bone Loss in Osteoporosis
Most plants, including black cohosh, contain many organic compounds with biological activity. In the tissues and organs of Actaea racemosa, there is already evidence of phytoestrogens (plant-derived estrogens).
In addition, some of the biological molecules within the plant have been proven to reduce bone loss caused by osteoporosis. One particular molecular compound (deemed ACCX) has presented an encouraging lead in a new class of treatment for osteoporosis.
7. Treats Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are benign growths of the uterus, often appearing during years where a woman’s fertility is at its peak. In countries outside of the United States, these are often treated with a synthetic steroid drug, Tibolone. Inside the U.S., various other hormone-based drugs are commonly used.
However, a 2014 study compared the use of Tibolone to black cohosh to treat these fibroids, and found that the extract of Actaea racemosa tested was actually more appropriate than the synthetic alternative to treat uterine fibroids.
8. May Reduce Anxiety
One historic use of this perennial herb was treatment of anxiety and depression. While it has long been considered nothing more than a false remedy, recent research has proposed that it may have significant impact on anxiety, just as studies indicate how effective essential oils for anxiety can be. This is encouraging, considering that anxiety is another intimidating symptom of menopause.
One component of Actaea racemosa was shown to have sedative side effects and greatly reduce anxiety-related behavior in rats, suggesting further studies might be promising for the treatment of anxiety with black cohosh.