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Black Cohosh - Herbal Treatment for Menopause

Black cohosh is a woodland plant found in the eastern U.S. and Canada.  Its scientific name is Cimicifuga racemosa, and it is also known as bugbane, bugwort and black snakeroot.  This herb has medicinal purposes and is sold as a supplement in the United States.  Preliminary findings indicate that this herb is useful at treating some of the symptoms of menopause.


Black cohosh grows from 4 to 8 feet tall and produces white flowers in June, July and August.  The root is the part of the herb that is used for medicinal purposes.  Black cohosh contains several compounds that make it an effective remedy.  Contents of black cohosh include acetic-acid, ascorbic acid, oleic acid, salicylic acid and tannic acid.  This herb can be found as far south as Missouri and Georgia in the United States.

Medicinal Uses

Black cohosh has shown promise as a treatment for the hot flashes of menopause.  These hot flashes are caused by increased blood flow through the blood vessels, which can result in flushing and a feeling of warmth.  Menopausal women also frequently experience night sweats, which occur during sleep and can cause sheets and bedclothes to become damp.  Black cohosh gained more respect as a medicinal herb in 2007, when the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists determined that it may be helpful in treating the symptoms of menopause.

Black cohosh also has other effects on the female reproductive system, particularly after menopause has occurred.  Vaginal cells change after menopause, primarily because of the reduced estrogen levels in the body.  In a double-blind study of black cohosh, women treated with the herb experienced changes in their vaginal epithelial cells.  This herb can also be used to relieve stress, decrease sweating, reduce inflammation, prevent digestive spasm and remove excess fluid from the body.  The salicylic acid in black cohosh also makes it a good astringent for the skin.


While black cohosh has a number of benefits, taking too much of it can be harmful to the body.  According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, one of the National Institutes of Health, the most common side effects of this herb are headaches and stomach discomfort.  However, black cohosh has fewer side effects than other treatment for menopausal symptoms, so it is a good alternative to drug treatment as long as it can be tolerated.  Black cohosh can be used safely for short-term medicinal use, but no studies on the long-term effects of this herb have been conducted.  If the herb has estrogenic properties, it may cause changes in breast and uterine tissue.