(NaturalNews) For women going through menopause, hot flashes, insomnia, and depression can be symptoms that interfere with daily life. Besides hormone replacement therapy, which has come under scrutiny in the past because of its link to certain types of cancer, there are not many options that safely and effectively address these symptoms. Black cohosh, an herb that is a member of the buttercup family, is a good natural option for addressing the symptoms of menopause.
How exactly black cohosh works to control menopausal symptoms is unknown, although the most popular hypothesis is that a certain component of black cohosh shows activity similar to estrogen. Menopausal women have lower levels of estrogen levels than women who are still menstruating. Because of conflicting research conclusions, it is still unclear as to how exactly black cohosh works.
Although the mechanism of action is unknown, what is agreed is the efficacy of black cohosh for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. At least eight separate studies have shown that black cohosh is just as effective as an estrogen supplement. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists support the use of black cohosh for a treatment period of six months for alleviating insomnia, hot flashes, and mood disorders.
A study done at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2004 evaluated the effectiveness of black cohosh in reducing hot flashes. Results showed that the daily hot flash mean reduced 50% and the weekly hot flash mean reduced 56% by the conclusion of the study. Also, participants reported less abnormal sweating, decreased fatigue, and better sleep.
In addition to being effective, black cohosh
has been shown to be safe. There are no known contraindications between black cohosh and medications (although there may be a possibility of interactions with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen). Side effects are mild and include headache and gastrointestinal complaints. When compared with side-effects from estrogen supplementation, side effects from black cohosh have a lower incidence.
Long-term use of black cohosh is not encouraged, mainly because all published studies have only studied women
who have been taking it for less than six months. Women with a family history of breast cancer should be aware that there is controversy surrounding the safety of usage for them because of the possible estrogenic effect of black cohosh.
Black cohosh has been shown to be an effective and safe short-term treatment of menopause
symptoms. Always consider family history when deciding on black cohosh as a supplement.
American Family Physician (http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/BlackCohosh...
Menopause Info Center (http://www.menopause-black-cohosh.org/black-...
National Institutes of Health (http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/BlackCohosh...
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Sheryl is a kinesiologist, nutritionist and holistic practitioner.
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