Black cohosh, a tall, flowering plant similar in appearance to goldenrod, has been used traditionally to provide relief from a variety of conditions and health concerns relating to women’s reproductive health. Black cohosh, native to North America, is also known as squawroot or black snakeroot and belongs to the buttercup family. Native Americans are believed to be the first to use black cohosh medicinally. The use of black cohosh continued into the early 1800s when early American settlers also began to use the root for a variety of medicinal purposes.
Black cohosh is one of the most popular herbal remedies used to provide women relief from the symptoms of menopause. Black cohosh is believed to be an effective, natural method of hormone replacement therapy, helping alleviate symptoms associated with menopause such as hot flashes, cold sweats, breast pain and cramping.
Black cohosh has been used traditionally to alleviate symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. For women who suffer greatly from premenstrual syndrome, black cohosh may offer relief and prevent the symptoms associated with the condition from interfering with her activities of daily living.
Breast cancer treatment side effects
Women who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer that includes drugs such as tamoxifen may be more prone to uncomfortable side effects such as hot flashes. Some studies suggest that the use of black cohosh alongside these treatments may help to reduce these uncomfortable side effects. Some studies even suggested that the use of black cohosh could help to prevent the further development of breast cancer.
Black cohosh is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This anti-inflammatory effect is believed to be even greater when combined with other herbals, such as willow bark, sarsaparilla, guaiacum resin and poplar bark.
Black cohosh may have a protective effect against the development of osteoporosis. In menopausal women, black cohosh may help to prevent bone loss that contributes to the development of osteoporosis.
Black cohosh has long been believed to promote gastrointestinal health, acting as a mild stomach tonic, assisting in the digestion and absorption of nutrients, while promoting the elimination of wastes through the bowels. Black cohosh has been used traditionally to offer relief from mild stomach upset and discomfort. Black cohosh may also help provide relief from diarrhea.
Among the more popular traditional uses for black cohosh is to treat mild to moderate pain, such as headaches, migraines, muscle cramps and joint soreness. Black cohosh, likely due to its anti-inflammatory nature, was believed to be quite effective in the treatment of mild to moderate pain.
Black cohosh is believed to be beneficial for multiple uses relating to female fertility. Black cohosh has been used traditionally to induce and regulate menstrual cycles, as well as reduce the level of pain and discomfort associated with menstrual cycles. Black cohosh may also provide relief from the pain associated with an irritable uterus, as well as reduce uterine contractions that could contribute to early miscarriage. Black cohosh may also assist in strengthening pelvic floor muscles, as well as addressing and correcting the symptoms associated with uterine prolapse.
The use of black cohosh is highly debated during pregnancy, however, under the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider, black cohosh may be beneficial for use among pregnant women. In the earlier stages of pregnancy, black cohosh may offer relief from morning sickness, nausea and insomnia. Black cohosh is believed to help regulate and strengthen erratic and unproductive contractions in late pregnancy, which may promote a healthier more efficient labor, as well as alleviate the symptoms associated with sciatica pain. Black cohosh is commonly used in the last two weeks of pregnancy to prepare the woman’s body for labor and birth. Following birth, black cohosh may assist in continuing contractions that allow the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size, as well as preventing hemorrhage and excessive blood loss immediately following birth.
Black cohosh is believed to help reduce muscle spasms which may benefit respiratory health. The anti-spasmodic properties of black cohosh may promote respiratory health be loosening mucous and phlegm caused by respiratory illness, as well as help reduce symptoms associated with asthma, allergies and bronchial irritation. Black cohosh has traditionally been used to treat pertussis (whooping cough) and croup in adults and children.
Due to its anti-spasmodic nature, black cohosh may be beneficial in reducing seizures and symptoms associated with epilepsy. Some research, however, suggests that especially high doses of black cohosh could contribute to increased seizure activity. When being used for this purpose, a qualified healthcare provider should be consulted prior to use.
Sleep and sedation
Black cohosh may be an effective herbal alternative to assist in the treatment of insomnia, due to its sedative-like effect on the body. This effect is also believed to assist in the reduction of high blood pressure.
Pregnant women should speak to a qualified healthcare provider prior to using black cohosh. Women who have breast cancer or other reproductive cancers should speak to their healthcare provider prior to using black cohosh.
Disclaimer: All information presented on this page is intended for informational purposes only. We strongly recommend speaking to a qualified healthcare provider before beginning any herbal supplement.
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