Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa) is an herbaceous perennial plant that is a native of North America and is also known as Black Snakeroot or Black bugbane. The basal leaves are about 1m in length and width, with flowers being produced during spring and summer.
Herbal Benefits “ Black Cohosh is a medicinal herb which is an ingredient of dietary supplement meant for women and helps in relieving symptoms of menopause, pre-menstrual tensions and other gynecological problems. Recent research indicates that Black Cohosh works by binding on to serotonin receptors and is beneficial for treating depression, kidney problems, sore throats and other such disorders apart from treating gynecological problems.
Cautions – Black Cohosh is inadvisable for pregnant women as it is believed to cause abortion. It is also not recommended for lactating mothers. Black Cohosh is known to produce endometrial stimulation. It is believed to increase the blood flow to the pelvic regions during menstruation, and hence is not recommended for use during menstruation. Black Cohosh is also believed to contain tannin and hence prevents or inhibits iron absorption. Hence Black Cohosh should be administered cautiously, as it enhances menstrual bleeding, in addition to preventing iron absorption.
There is no evidence of safety in prolonged use of Black Cohosh in humans. Due to its estrogen-like effects, long term use of this herb is known to enhance the chances of estrogen-sensitive cancer through the stimulation of breast or endometrium. It is also said that prolonged use of this herb causes liver damage.
Apart from increase in menstrual bleeding and rare liver damage, the other side-effects associated with usage of this herb is diarrhea, nausea, gastric discomfort, dizziness, vomiting, seizures, headaches, low blood pressure, low bone density, and constipation.
Germany has approved Black Cohosh for treatment of menstrual cramps, menopause symptoms and PMS. It is a dietary supplement in the US. The roots of Black Cohosh are used for preparing infusions or teas. The herb is available in the form of pills, capsules and liquid extracts. Remnifemin, which an extract of Black Cohosh, is considered as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy due to the estrogen-like effects of the herb.