| Food & Diet

Can Black Cohosh Help Treat Menopause?

By Tyler Woodward


What Is Black Cohosh:

 What Is Black Cohosh

Black cohosh is an herbal remedy that has been used for thousands of years in traditional chinese medicine and korean medicine as a means of treating Premenstrual syndrome and menopause. Black cohosh is recognized and an herbal remedy, so there are not currently any approved medical treatments using black cohosh. Additionally, there is a lot of conflicting data regarding the effectiveness and how black cohosh actually functions in the body. 

Benefits Of Black Cohosh:

*All of these benefits are more or less anecdotal evidence from people that utilize black cohosh and potential benefits based off of black cohosh’s effect on hot flashes in menopausal women, but there is not much if any research-backed evidence to prove these claims.

Proposed Mechanisms Of Black Cohosh:

While the exact mechanism by which black cohosh functions is unknown there are a number of mechanisms that have been hypothesized for black cohosh’s extracts healing properties in the body.

  • Acts As A Phytoestrogen - A phytoestrogen is a compound that mimics estrogen in the body, resulting in estrogenic effects occurring in the body. Black cohosh has been shown to have estrogenic effects in the body through the selective estrogen receptor modulator, but it hasn’t been found to have any significant effects on raising serum estradiol (estrogen), testosterone, FSH, prolactin, or SHBG. The selective estrogen receptor modulator seems to act as an estrogen agonist (increasing estrogenic effect) in certain tissues while in other tissues it acts as an estrogen antagonist (decreasing the effect of estrogen). A number of studies have found that black cohosh administered an effect on increased cell proliferation, but there is some conflicting evidence. Due its potential estrogenic effects of black cohosh its not recommended for anyone with a family history of breast cancer, endometrial cancer, thromboembolic disorders, undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, endometriosis, and fibroids. 
  • May Be Serotonergic - Black cohosh’s effect on alleviating hot flashes have also been attributed potentially to acting as a neurotransmitter in the brain on the serotonin receptors. SSRI’s or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are a pharmaceutical drug used to increase the concentration of serotonin in the brain. SSRI’s have been found to effectively alleviate hot flashes in up to 65% of breast cancer survivors, but to the side effects of SSRIs many women stop taking them. 
  • May Act As An Antioxidant - An antioxidant is a compound that stops further oxidative stress from occurring by “absorbing” a free radical. Black cohosh’s use in Korean medicine for treating inflammation has led to the belief that black cohosh may function as an antioxidant helping to protect DNA from damage. Black cohosh extract also contains a number of terpene and aromatic acid compounds which have also been proposed for its anti-inflammatory effects.

Read More: How To Get Rid Of Estrogen : The All Encompassing Guide

Who Should Not Take Black Cohosh:

  • Those With A Family History Of Cancer- Due to black cohosh’s potential estrogenic effects its not recommended for those that have a history of cancer themselves or that within their family. Estrogen is a potent growth initiator in the body and in excess can lead to unrestricted cell proliferation, one of the predominant effects of cancer. But black cohosh has been found to not affect the likelihood of developing breast cancer and the study’s found it actually had anti-estrogenic effects.
  • People With A History Of Liver Issues Or Damage - Black cohosh has been found in a number of trials to potentially elevate liver enzymes leading to liver damage or disease of the hepatocytes.

Read More: The Benefits Of Dong Quai Root

Best Sources Of Black Cohosh:

For the most part black cohosh supplements all come in capsule form. When looking for a black cohosh supplement I would recommend finding a company that performs and releases extensive testing on the product including heavy metal testing and purity of the supplement. 

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