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Menopause Guide

Rosa Cabrera RN

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Black Cohosh—Some Studies Link it to Helping with PMS and Menopause, While Others do Not

By Alison Stanton
 
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As we talked about in the first part of this article, millions of women every day deal with the symptoms of either premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or menopause. Many women are turning to natural remedies to try to help them feel better, and black cohosh is one of them. One study of black cohosh found that taking it on a regular basis led to a relief of menopausal symptoms for up to six months.

Other research on black cohosh didn’t fare quite as well. A recent year-long study of 351 peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women found that taking the herbal remedy didn’t cause any benefits to women in regards to their hot flashes or night sweats. The study, which was conducted by researchers from the National Institute on Aging and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, gave the subjects either black cohosh, black cohosh with other herbs, black cohosh and other herb combo plus a soy-rich diet, hormone replacement therapy, or a placebo. As you can probably tell, the researchers really tried to test a lot of different combinations and products for the relief of menopausal symptoms, but each treatment group ended up having a pretty small number of women. The researchers who led the study admit that some changes might not have been noticed. So overall, it seems to me like black cohosh could stand to be tested some more in larger studies before any major conclusions are made about the herbal remedy.

You might have picked up on the fact that the last study mentioned tested hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, along with black cohosh. This is interesting because a lot of women have turned to herbs like black cohosh because they do not want to take HRT or they cannot tolerate it. While black cohosh does not appear to stimulate the growth of breast tumors like HRT has been linked to possibly doing, it also does not provide the protection from heart disease and osteoporosis like HRT may provide.

What about premenstrual symptoms? Black cohosh seems to do pretty well in this regard. Because it has been found to have natural substances that prevent spasms, it might help women who have super painful cramps.

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