Review on October 20, 2009
Menopause symptoms occur in older women as a result of an imbalance in the body's natural hormone levels. Such menopause symptoms can include vaginal dryness and hot flashes. The Kupperman Index is a system which monitors the amount of a variety of symptoms present in the body, including hot flashes. Black Cohosh has been proven through placebo studies to help in the regulation of this menopause symptom. Black Cohosh has also been used with varying effectiveness in the treatment of vaginal dryness. The herb has had fluctuating results in regards its regulation of the menopause symptom of vaginal dryness. Some tests have proven it is capable of regulating the menopausal symptom of vaginal dryness, while other tests have shown it has no effect.
In the treatment of menopausal symptoms Black Cohosh works as an estrogenic herb. The perennial root has this name because it substitutes lost hormones in the body with plant like hormones. Such a method is sought after by menopausal women, because symptoms of menopause manifest due to an imbalance in the body's natural hormone levels. As a natural alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), the effectiveness of Black Cohosh has come into question.
In regards hot flashes however placebo based research has proven the herb reduced the occurrence of hot flashes in a sample group of 80 women. Some were given an extract of the herb (Remifemin twice daily), while others were given a placebo. Hot flashes in the Black Cohosh group lessened from 4.9 to 0.7. In the placebo group, hot flashes fell from 5.1 to 3.1. The Kupperman index and the Hamilton anxiety scale were used over a period of 12 weeks in order to gather these results.
Similarly to hot flashes, fluctuations in the vaginal structure and tissue amongst menopausal women are instigated by a hormone imbalance. One of the results of this is the occurrence of vaginal dryness. This is caused by lessening levels of estrogen, which directly affects the vaginal epithelium or vaginal tissue. One clinical trial has revealed that menopausal women consuming Black Cohosh, experienced positive changes in vaginal epithelium. Another study however found that menopausal women prescribed Black Cohosh experienced no changes in vaginal epithelium.
The use of Black Cohosh in regards treating menopausal symptoms is viewed with a degree of skepticism. Mainly due to the mix of results in regards its use in regulating the symptom of vaginal dryness. Such mixed results are due to the consistency of the studies used to test the effectiveness of Black Cohosh. Some studies were too short to properly test the full effectiveness of Black Cohosh competency in regulating certain menopausal symptoms. In addition to such skepticism using Black Cohosh over long periods carries with it its own health problems. Some studies have found that it can increase the severity of breast and uterine cancer by having a negative effect on those respective tissues.
- JAMA - The Journal of the American Medical AssociationArch Intern Med. 2006;166:1453-1465.