With Updated Information about the Newest Research!
This article includes the new information about Black Cohosh Root, a herb that helps to stop the misery of menopause symptoms.
Bugbane, another name for this plant, is the most popular herb for hot flashes for good reason and one of the top selling herbal remedies in the US.
Doctors all over Europe commonly prescribe the standardized form Remifemin® for women with menopause hot flashes.
In recent years, exciting new research has finally answered some questions about how this herb relieves hot flashes. This research shows very promising results for women in menopause and also explains the mixed results of previous studies.
Black Cohosh Root is included in numerous hot flash remedies or used alone to treat menopause symptoms. The herb is available in the form of extracts, teas, capsules and tablets.
Black Cohosh Root for Hot Flashes
Women all over the world have used Black Cohosh root for hot flashes for years with good results for their symptoms.
Now we know more about this amazing herb.
Previous research has shown inconclusive results regarding Back Cohosh benefits such as help for hot flashes.
Most of these studies were poorly designed with various amounts of Black Cohosh root and for short periods. For a long time, researchers did not know how Black Cohosh worked, which hampered the research.
How Does Black Cohosh Relieve Hot Flashes?
For the longest time Black Cohosh was classified as a phytoestrogen because researchers thought that it had estrogen-like substances. But newer research has shown that this herb does not contain plant estrogen and has NO estrogen-like activity.
The actual activity of the substances is still not fully understood but there is some evidence that it acts on receptors in the brain that regulate body temperature, mood and hormones. Researchers now believe that certain chemicals in Black Cohosh influence the serotonin re-uptake, similar to the anti-depressants.
Doctors have long known that anti-depressants can help with hot flashes. Now their use is becoming more popular as an alternative to hormone therapy. However, anti-depressants have their own risks and side-effects. This makes the new research very exciting.
It could mean that in time women may have a natural remedy for hot flashes that is safer than hormone treatments and avoid the risk and side effects of anti-depressants.
Several studies in the laboratory showed that it does not influence the growth of cancer cells. This makes it a recommended herb for hot flashes for women with estrogen sensitive cancers.
Usage and Dosage for Menopause Symptoms
The standard dosage is 20-40mg of the dried root powder. If you use supplements, always follow the recommendation of the manufacturer.
Be advised that some supplements contain concentrated root extract that is more powerful than the dried root powder. This means that the dosage of Black Cohosh depends on the kind of extract and supplement you are using.
Some labels state things like: “Black Cohosh Extracts equivalent to …. mg” to give users an idea about the amount of Black Cohosh with each pill or capsule.
For women with severe symptoms, some practitioners suggest up to 80mg per day (i.e. this is the concentration of two tablets of Remifemin Good Night).
As a matter of fact, the newer supplements have much stronger concentrations of Black Cohosh root than previously found (up to 80mg per dose). Most use standardized concentrations of the active chemical in Black Cohosh called “triterpene glycosides”. This is the chemical that is responsible for the hot flash relief.
There is a reason that this is the most popular natural treatment for hot flashes and menopause symptoms. It is effective for most women and also safe. Use a standardized Black Cohosh supplement and don’t use it continuous for more than 6 weeks. Than take a pause for about a week before starting it again.
Nature’s Sunshine Flash Ease is a time release version of this formulation with 80mg Black Cohosh per tablet.
Black Cohosh – Benefits of Standardized Supplements
Not every Black Cohosh supplement is the same. Many supplements contain plant material that is collected in the wild. These supplements can vary widely in the concentration of the active chemical from batch to batch. Additionally, some supplements could also contain plant material that is not Black Cohosh.
So stay with standardized supplements from reliable manufacturers, even if you have to pay a little bit more.
Here are some examples:
Remifemin® is a standardized supplement that has been used for decades as an alternative to Hormone Therapy in Europe. Its safety and effectiveness has been the topic of numerous studies.
Remifemin® contains iCR-extract that is produced in a unique and patented process. This process results in a consistent concentration of the active chemicals in Black Cohosh. Standard Remifemin® contains the equivalent of 20mg of Black Cohosh extract.
Remifemin® Good Night (a formulation available in the US) contains a higher concentration of Black Cohosh (equivalent to 40mg) plus Valerian, Hops and Lemon Balm.
The manufacturer recommends 1 tablet in the morning and 1 at night. Many women use a standard Remifemin in the morning and a Remifemin Good Night before bedtime.
The new Remifemin® Plus is currently available only in Europe. It contains the newer formulation with a higher concentration of Black Cohosh extract together with St. John’s Wort. It is standardized to triterpene glycosides at 1mg per tablet (this is the chemical that provides symptom relief). This formulation is not available in the US, but hopefully it will be soon.
Nature Sunshine Flash Ease (time-release tablets) has also a higher concentration of Black Cohosh. It is also standardized to a 2.5% concentration of triterpene glycosides which makes it equivalent to 80mg of Black Cohosh root. Additionally it has some Dong Quai, a very popular phytoestrogen.
Side Effects of Black Cohosh
Millions of people have taken the herb without problems, but there are some potential side effects. Make sure you understand if it is safe for you.
Some people are allergic to Black Cohosh. Most side effects are mild and related to gastrointestinal problems.
One widely reported risk was the potential for liver damage. It appears that these reports were (surprise!) overhyped in the media regarding the danger. Newer research has not shown any risk for liver damage in controlled studies.
Also be aware of other active herbal supplements in the same plant family (Blue and White Cohosh) which have very different effects. DO NOT CONFUSE THE DIFFERENT VARIETIES.
Follow the link about more information regarding side effects of Black Cohosh.
What is Black Cohosh?
Black Cohosh is also known as Black Snake Root, Rattle Root or Bugbane. Its scientific name is Cimicifuga (or Actaea) racemosa, a plant in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae).
It is a pretty perennial which is found in the eastern United States and Canada. The mature plant can reach 4-7 feet and has airy spikes of white flowers that bloom in summer.
If you live in the right climate, you can grow Black Cohosh in your garden (USDA hardiness zone 5-9). The plant needs shade and can grow under hardwood trees. It would make a nice and useful addition to your herb garden.
The root stock and rhizomes are used medicinally either fresh or dried. Native Americans have used the herb for centuries to treat uterine disorders such as menstrual and menopausal symptoms.
But not just women in menopause benefit from its substances. It can be used for other ailments associated with pain, cramping and inflammation.
Summary about Actaea Racemosa
There is a good reason that this herb is the most popular natural treatment for hot flashes and menopause symptoms. It is effective and also safe for most women. Use a standardized Black Cohosh supplement and don’t use it continuously. Take a break ever so often (see recommendation above).
This herb has been approved in Germany for the treatment of menopause hot flashes for more than 50 years. It is generally safe and has few side effects (mostly gastrointestinal problems).
Newer research has finally shown how Black Cohosh root works for hot flashes. Contrary to previous beliefs, it does not act like a weak estrogen but stimulates the centers in the brain that are responsible for the core body temperature regulation (see the information about “What Causes Hot Flashes” if you want to know more).
It stands to reason to use one of the standardized supplements of Black Cohosh for maximum benefit and to avoid potential variations in potency or even contamination with other substances.