For some women, menopause symptoms are mild and can be controlled with simple lifestyle changes. For others, menopause symptoms make it difficult just to survive the day with their sanity intact. Hot flashes, moodiness, and irregular periods may be so bad you need more than a fan and a 30-minute workout session to relieve stress. When menopause symptoms get to be too much to handle, many women start looking for alternative remedies to help bring them relief. One option that has been studied for its possible menopause symptom relief characteristics is black cohosh.
Black cohosh is an herb whose roots have been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. According to Drugs.com, it grows from Ontario, Canada south to Tennessee and west to Missouri at forest edges. Over the years, it has been used to treat joint pain, influenza, smallpox, rheumatism, headache, cough, and some nervous system disorders. Recently, it seems to be gaining popularity as a method to treat menopause symptoms.
The parts of the black cohosh plant that are used medicinally are the fresh or dried roots and rhizomes (underground stems). They can be found in health food stores, some drugstores, and online. There are many forms to choose from, including teas, capsules, tablets or liquid extract forms. How black cohosh works in relieving menopause symptoms is not yet known. There is a possibility that black cohosh exhibits some estrogen-like activity, but the evidence is contradictory.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded and analyzed numerous studies regarding the effectiveness of black cohosh as a remedy for menopause symptoms. Some study results indicate black cohosh may help relieve menopausal symptoms, but other study results do not. Studies of black cohosh have yielded conflicting data, mainly because of the short time frame studied and differences in the quantity of black cohosh taken by study participants.
While studies on black cohosh show conflicting results, many women are taking this herb as a possible solution for their menopause symptoms. If you choose to try this for yourself, what is the appropriate dose? According to WebMD, the dose of black cohosh used in studies for menopausal symptoms has been 20-40 milligram tablets of a standardized extract taken twice a day. More than 900 milligrams a day of black cohosh is considered an overdose. Directions for other forms of black cohosh will vary. Six months is the maximum amount of time anyone should take black cohosh according to some experts.
Black cohosh is not without side effects. Some people may experience headaches and upset stomach after taking this herb. People with aspirin allergies or liver problems or who are pregnant or nursing should not take this supplement. If you are taking prescription medications, talk to your doctor before starting black cohosh.
Black cohosh may provide relief of common menopause symptoms for some women. While studies on this alternative therapy are inconclusive, if you are suffering from menopause symptoms and need relief, black cohosh may be a possible solution.
Black Cohosh. Drugs.com. Retrieved December 8, 2015. http://www.drugs.com/npc/black-cohosh.html
Black Cohosh Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More. About Health. Retrieved December 8, 2015. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/blackcohosh/a/blackcohosh.htm
Black Cohosh Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved December 8, 2015. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/BlackCohosh-HealthProfessional/
Vitamins and Supplements Lifestyle Guide. WebMD. Retrieved December 8, 2015. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-black-cohosh
Reviewed December 9, 2015
By Philip Sarrel, M.D. and Lorna Sarrel, M.S.