BLACK COHOSH (Cimicifuga racemosa)
also known as black snakeroot, rattleweed, rattleroot, bugbane, bugwort, squaw root
Do not confuse black cohosh with blue cohosh or white cohosh. These are unrelated plants. The blue and white cohosh plants do not have the same effects as black cohosh, and may not be safe.
Black Cohosh is an American herb, introduced into medical practice in America in 1828 and used briefly in Europe around 1860. Only recently has Black Cohosh been given attention once again as an herb for menopausal symptoms.
Black cohosh was used by Native Americans as a traditional folk remedy for women’s' health conditions, such as menstrual cramps and hot flashes, as well as arthritis, muscle pain, sore throat, cough and indigestion. The juice of the plant was used as an insect repellent and was made into a salve and applied to snake bite.
Black cohosh was also one of the principal ingredients in Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound.
Today, black cohosh is used primarily as a nutritional supplement for hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, vaginal dryness and other symptoms that can occur during menopause, as well as for menstrual cramps and bloating.
Side effects of black cohosh may include: indigestion, headache, nausea, vomiting, and heaviness in the legs, weight gain, low blood pressure, seizures, visual disturbances and slow or irregular heartbeat. There have also been a number of cases of liver damage suspected to be associated with black cohosh.
People with a history of blood clots or stroke, seizures, liver disease and those who are taking medications for high blood pressure should not use black cohosh. And because it may act like the hormone estrogen in the body, black cohosh could interfere with hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives.
Black cohosh may interfere with the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drug CISPLATIN. Also, combining black cohosh with the drug ESTRADIOL,(Alora, Combipatc, Estrace,, Estraderm, Fem Patch, Vivelle, ) could raise the body's estrogen level too high.
You should not use black cohosh if you have a hormone-sensitive condition, such as breast cancer, endometriosis, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, or fibroid tumors or, if you have liver damage or drink alcohol in excessive quantities. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid black cohosh as the herb may stimulate contractions and lead to premature labor or miscarriage.
It is suggested that you not use black cohosh for longer than 6 months
In August 2006, Health Canada advised consumers of the possible link between black cohosh and liver damage. In June 2007, the United States Pharmacopeia proposed that black cohosh product labels contain a cautionary statement
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The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicine by Charles W. Fetrow and Juan R. Avila
The Honest Herbal by Varro E Tyler
Natural Health Magazine Complete Guide to Safe Herbs by Chris D. Meletis
101 Medicinal Herbs by Steven Foster