A phytoestrogenic plant that is found in the woodland areas of eastern North America, black cohosh is one of the most popular herbal treatments for menopause symptoms. It is mainly used to help symptoms such as anxiety, hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
Known scientifically as Actea racemosa, it is a flowering plant, and its roots have been a traditional part of Native American medicine. The black cohosh plant grows up to eight feet (2.5 m) tall, and usually, its roots are the part that is used to make supplements. Black cohosh is commonly recommended to treat hot flashes, the most common menopause symptom, though evidence for its effectiveness is mixed.
About Hot Flashes
Three out of every four women experience hot flashes during menopause, but among women, they vary in frequency, severity, and duration. Hot flashes are thought to be caused by decreased levels of estrogen during menopause. Some women are most susceptible to hot flashes because their bodies may have a narrower range for acceptable internal temperature. Once changing estrogen levels cause the body's internal temperature to leave this range, a hot flash occurs.
It is likely that if you are suffering from hot flashes, then you will be more susceptible to night sweats, which can be triggered by heat, stress, anxiety, spicy and hot foods, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, diet pills, and high blood sugar levels.
Hot flashes are described as feeling like sensations of heat that grow and spread across the neck, chest, face, and head. They are often accompanied by flushing and perspiration.
The Relationship between Black Cohosh and Hot Flashes
It is not completely understood how black cohosh works to help reduce some of the menopause symptoms that women experience. However, black cohosh contains phytoestrogens, which may act like estrogen in the human body.
Black cohosh also contains isoferulic acids, which may have anti-inflammatory action in the human body. Therefore, if a menopause symptom causes inflammation, black cohosh may help to reduce it.
Treating hot flashes can include simple steps like keeping water handy, take a cool shower before bed, using air conditioning, using cotton sheets, and wearing layers that can easily be taken off.
One of the most effective treatments for hot flashes is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This treatment works by replacing the estrogen during menopause. However, it does come with risks, so it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about its benefits and risks.
Black cohosh has helped many women reduce their hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. However, black cohosh still has potential side effects, can interact with other medications and supplements, and can impact some underlying medical conditions, so it is important to talk to your physician before you begin taking black cohosh. Click on the following link for more information about hot flash treatments.
- Office of Dietary Supplements. (2008). Black Cohosh. Retrieved November 3, 2015, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/BlackCohosh-HealthProfessional/
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2014). Black Cohosh. Retrieved November 3, 2015, from https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/black-cohosh