Black Cohosh is a tall, flowering plant that is native to central North America. It’s found in the wild in rich, shady woods and has been long used by indigenous people for its medicinal qualities. Black cohosh is also known as black snakeroot, bugbane, bugwort and squawroot. The rhizomes and roots (both underground parts of the plant) provide the black cohosh health benefits.
Black cohosh contains glycosides (sugar compounds), isoferulic acids (substances with anti-inflammatory effects) and phytoestrogens, which are plant-based estrogens and assists with the human-produced estrogens. Extracts of the black cohosh plant are thought to possess analgesic, sedative and anti-inflammatory properties. 1,2
Black Cohosh Health Uses and Health Benefits
Black cohosh health benefits include being an effective treatment for symptoms associated with menopause including anxiety, hot flashes, irritability, mood swings and sleep disturbances. This includes being a proven reliever of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstrual pain.
There are also known black cohosh benefits for arthritis and osteoporosis. Studies suggest that black cohosh helps reduce the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and may inhibit bone loss as seen with osteoporosis. It’s suspected that the beneficial ingredient is a plant-based estrogen called a phytoestrogen. 1,2,4
Black cohosh is available in capsules, extracts, tablets and liquid tincture for the treatment of:
- Heavy Menstrual Bleeding - Menorrhagia is the abnormally long and prolonged menstrual bleeding at irregular intervals. It’s caused by abnormal blood clotting, disruption of normal hormonal regulation of periods, and disorders of the endometrial lining of the uterus. Black cohosh is a known treatment for controlling heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Perimenopause - Perimenopause means “around the menopause” or the transition years between the start of menopause and the cessation of menstrual periods or blood flow. Black cohosh helps the transition to menopause in the same way it assists in regulating menstrual flow.
- Menopause Symptoms - Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her body changes and her period stops. It’s a natural progression and usually occurs after the age of 45. Black cohosh helps relieve the symptoms of menopause which include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings and sleep disturbance.
- Osteoporosis - Osteoporosis is a silent disease that causes bones to be weak, brittle and prone to breaking. It occurs as people age and there are indications that osteoporosis may be hereditary. Black cohosh helps to increase bone density which leads to osteoporosis.
- Autism - This is a neurodevelopmental disorder where affected individuals have difficulty in social skills, communication, interaction, language and behavior. The actual cause of autism is unknown however the use of black cohosh is known to ease some of the symptoms and control behavior.
Black Cohosh Side Effects and Precautions
Black cohosh must not be confused with blue cohosh which is a nicotine-like herb. Blue cohosh has similar properties but has not been clinically tested to show any beneficial effects.
Black cohosh is not recommended for children and has some known side effects such as abdominal pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, vomiting, and weight gain. There are also potential liver issues with black cohosh and people with liver disorders should avoid black cohosh. Additionally, black cohosh should not be taken with alcohol. 1,2,3,4