What You Should Know
Black Cohosh is a supplement typically taken by women in menopause. While many women take black cohosh for this purpose, it has not been proven to work effectively to treat hot flashes or any other symptom of menopause. Black cohosh is derived from a flower related to the buttercup. It only grows in North America and may be listed on an ingredient label by one of many names, including, bugbane, bugwort and rattletop.
List of Ingredients
Black cohosh supplements are prepared from roots of the flower. Supplements are typically standardized for 26-deoxyactein. There is about one milligram of triterpene per 20 milligrams of black cohosh.
In history, black cohosh has been used for everything from colds to constipation. Its diuretic use has been noted in literature as far back as the 1800s. Again, none of these uses for black cohosh have been proven through clinical studies.
It is not known how black cohosh works in the body. There are a few theories that black cohosh acts like an estrogen in the body thus fooling the body into believing it is no longer in menopause (on a basic level). When menopause starts, estrogen levels disappear. Estrogen is a reproductive hormone, but it is also used in the body for other functions which is why there are menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and menopause migraines. Other important hormones affected by menopause include luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. These are not affected by a daily intake of black cohosh.
There are reported side effects associated with taking black cohosh, most of which have been reported while clinical trials were trying study the effect of black cohosh on menopause symptoms. These side effects include headache, stomach discomfort and a feeling of heaviness in the legs. Increase weight was also reported.
There is one cause that may link black cohosh to liver damage. A woman 47 years old required a liver transplant just three weeks after starting a black cohosh supplement program for menopause. Doctors could find no cause for the liver failure and no other changes in the woman’s life aside from the addition of black cohosh.
There are no weight loss benefits associated with black cohosh. The ingredient may be included in weight loss products for women over the age of 40.
- May help to reduce menopause symptoms.
- Relatively inexpensive.
- Is generally accepted as safe for consumption.
- Not proven to curb menopause symptoms.
- Will not induce weight loss.
- Could lead to liver problems.
Black cohosh is marketed for treatment of hot flashes. Women may find the supplement helpful or not, but the clinical proof to back up the claims is lacking. No weight loss benefits mean it should not be considered important for most dieters.